Double Take – Both Baltic: 1989 Porsche 944S2

I’ve been ignoring the 944. It’s not that I have changed my opinion, or no longer love the thorn-in-Porsche-purists collective sides. But after spending plenty of time telling everyone what an incredible value the 924/44/68 series are for a while, I just capitulated that the market was unwilling to lift these well-built sports cars to a level which they deserve to be. Or, at the very least, I really felt like they should be on level footing with models that were their contemporaries; the Turbo, for example, which still regularly trades well below Quattro and M3 prices despite superior performance.

Yet while my attention swayed, some light has been shed on the model. As insane prices continue to reign in Munich and the Quattro has begun to rise precipitously over the past year, what was once a sure-bet value has commenced rapid appreciation – at least, in some cases. The high-water mark recent was just set with a 66,000 mile Grand Prix White 968 Coupe which sold for $36,250. That’s big money for the big four-cylinder. While not every single example is going to similarly take off, the writing may be on the wall.

So today I’ve got two 944S2 models to consider. Down on power (211 v. 237 with VarioCam) and a gear from the later model, they’ve always played second-fiddle to the Turbo S/89 Turbo models and the updated 968. Both are presented in the neat color of Baltic Blue Metallic. One is pristine, and one’s more of a project. Which is the one to grab?

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1989 Porsche 944S2

The Porsche 944S2 took the twin-cam out which had debuted in the short-lived 944S for the 1987 model year to the next level. Bumped from 2.5 liters out to 3.0, the new motor crested 200 horsepower, producing nearly as much twist as the standard 944 Turbo had only a few years before but with no turbo lag. Beefed up too were the looks, which mimicked the Turbo’s design with smoothly integrated bumpers, brake ducts and fog lights as well as a rear diffuser. Wheels looked visually like the Club Sport, but were a different offset. The new “Design 90” style was also seen on the 928 and 911 model and became the signature Porsche look for a half decade. Though many point to the 968 as the ultimate development of the transaxle 4-cylinder, the 944S2 offers most of that package with the chunkier looks of the 951. Few come to market looking as nice as this example does:

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1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet

I can remember vividly when the Porsche 944 Cabriolet first debuted. As a young child, I would eagerly await those car magazines arriving by post each month, giving me the opportunity to set eyes on concepts, spy shots, prototypes and all the newest models. When the first images of the 944 Cabriolet appeared, I felt like something was missing. The proportions somehow didn’t seem right, as I had been used to seeing this transaxle Porsche design in fixed roof form for years. The folding roof and rounded off rear end seemed a world apart. However, I think time has been kind to this design and it’s a very unique model that appeared at the dawn of a decade that would bring about some of the most drastic changes in Porsche history. This 944 Cabriolet for sale in California has a mere 12,000 miles on the clock and while the Linen Gray Metallic isn’t necessarily suited to this sports car, it doesn’t offend either, looking sharp sitting on those Gullideckel alloys.

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1991 Porsche 944S2

While cars like the Audi Quattro and BMW M3 may have popularized boxy flares with their racing credentials to back it up, in my eyes no one pulled off the muscle-bound economy look better than the Porsche 944. The addition of several inches of width and wider wheels to the 924 chassis meant an entirely new feel that mingled with supercar lines instead of Volkswagen lineage. Simply put, they were the most sensual looking German car in the 1980s, and that got even better late in the run with some subtle aero additions that enhanced and updated the look. The smooth Turbo bumpers and rear diffuser carried over to the S2 model, along with some lovely “Design 90” wheels that were also highlighting the 964 model. As Porsche moved to a full update of the watercooled transaxle cars with the introduction of the 968, the outgoing 944S2 even adopted the new “bridge” spoiler design from the not yet introduced model. Turbo looks without the associated power may have seemed strange for Porsche, but the 944S2 was no slouch in its own right. Powered by the M44.41 3-liter inline-4 that had been enlarged from the double overhead cam 944S motor, the 208 horsepower wasn’t as much as the 968 would sport but was still awfully close to what the original 944 Turbo had produced in power, and with instant torque the S2 was, and still is, a very entertaining drive. Hardly cheap, on paper they were not immediately the smart choice for a sports car buyer in 1990 and 1991, as twin-turbocharged monsters from Japan were all the rage and often less expensive than the $50,000 a 944S2 would cost you. With only around 3,600 imported to the U.S., they’re a bit rare to see but offer great Porsche build quality, performance and even practicality in a very attractive package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Porsche 944S2 on eBay

1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet

For as long as the 944 was in Porsche’s lineup, it’s surprising it took so long for an al fresco version to come about. It wouldn’t be until the end of the 1980s and the 944 was in its twilight years that the 944S2 Cabriolet would appear. A mere 2,402 examples would find their way stateside for those seeking an alternative to the usual air-cooled convertible solution from Porsche. This 944S2 Cabriolet for sale in Florida is approaching 50,000 miles and looks sharp in Dove Blue Metallic.

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To Force or Not to Force? 1987 944 Turbo v. 1989 944 S2

For some time, there has been an ongoing conflict in my head. All of me agrees that the Porsche 944 is a pretty awesome car; great looks, handling and performance in a bargain package with classic Porsche reliability and build quality. But I fight with myself over just which of the Porsche 944s I prefer. Some days, the forced induction Turbo captures my imagination; there’s been a 1989 Turbo in my family now for two decades and it’s a wonderful car. But I have to admit that it’s not been without its problems, and while it’s a cool package it seems almost too predictable as the “go to” “cheap” Porsche. Should it be criticized for being a spectacular performance bargain? That may not be fair, but just like the BMW E30 represents a good balance of performance and practicality, it’s sometimes just too popular for me. What’s the alternative? Well, the 944 has its own answer: the 944S2. Visually, the two are nearly indistinguishable to most non-enthusiasts. But the driving experience is quite different; the M44/51 turbo motor is legendary as a tuning platform and offers typical ’80s lag-prone explosive launches, while the M44/41 big 3.0 16V motor has seemingly effortless torque at your disposal but loves to run up the tach as well. Stand on it in a drag race, and the Turbo will win – nearly a second faster to 60 miles per an hour and 5 m.p.h. faster on the top end. But if you’re a clever S2 driver and catch the Turbo slightly off-guard, you’ll be right with them – and the S2 isn’t about drag racing, it’s about making a better all-around driver. So the S2 is the better choice? Well, perhaps – but then there’s the mystique of the Turbo model. Who doesn’t want to say they own a Porsche Turbo, really?…

1991 Porsche 944S2

The 1990s was considered a watershed moment for Porsche, for many reasons. True, the company was battling for solvency in an ever demanding marketplace, but some of the most interesting and most sought after models emerged from this decade. The 964 Turbo 3.6, 928GTS and 968 Clubsport are all examples of vehicles that represented the ultimate expression of their breed. True, there would be one more air-cooled 911 Turbo after the 3.6, but this would be the last non all-wheel drive Turbo outside of the limited production GT2 we would see, except for those out of specialist tuning houses.

In addition to the colorful model lineup, the variety of hues themselves that was available was impressive. I’ve never seen a 944S2 in Rubstone Red, but I’ve got to say, it certainly catches your eye. It probably is a bit polarizing for what is normally seen as a more masculine sports car, but in some odd way, it works for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Porsche 944S2 on Mobile.de

Motorsports Monday: 1990 Porsche 944S2 Firehawk – REVISIT

The 1990 Porsche 944S2 Firehawk series car that I wrote up back in early August is back on eBay, having failed to sell its first time around. The price has been lowered $2,000 this time, but it remains pricey by 944S2 and track car standards at $23,100. That amount does buy you a solid race car platform with an interesting history with the look of a Turbo Cup car, but I’d guess it’s still a bit too expensive for most people’s blood. If it could be had in the mid to high teens I’d think there would be more interested parties.

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The below post originally appeared on our site August 4, 2014:

Motorsport Mondays: 1990 Porsche 944S2 Firehawk

In a recent discussion regarding why values of the E30 M3 had taken off while the Porsche 924/944/968 had remained affordable, one of the comments suggested that the reason was because the Porsches did not enjoy the race pedigree than the M3 did. While one can’t deny the success of the E30 M3 on track and even in rally venues, that answer belies the many races and different series that the 924 and 944 competed in. Indeed, the development of the 944 and 944 Turbo motors came about in part because specifically of the race programs. In everything from local SCCA races straight up to the big dogs at Le Mans, the Porsches were racing right beside some of their more famous 911, 935, 936, 956 and 962 brethren. On top of that, the factory also fronted 924 Carrera GTS cars in the World Rally Championship, many of those that were involved later to move to Audi’s program. Then there were the one-make 944 and 944 Turbo Cup races around the world. But into the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of the hottest contested, affordable race series in the U.S. was the “Firehawk” series put on by IMSA and the SCCA. One of the more competitive cars in those race series were the late 944S2 and 968 models, offering serious reliability, surprising speed and excellent balance to make a fantastic race car. One of the original 944S2 Firehawk cars is up for sale today:

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10K Friday Poor-sche Edition: 928S4 v. 944 v. 944 Turbo v. 924 v. 944 S2 v. Boxster v. Boxster S

“Poor Man’s Porsche”; while it’s a moniker usually attached to the 924 series, the reality is these days it applies to everything outside of the 911. The surge in 911 prices has been so great, that it has also pulled other lesser alternatives to the 911 up as well – try to get into a clean 912 and you’ll be surprised by the price. Even the lowly, forgotten 914 is in the mid teens for a really clean example of a flat-4 model up towards $100,000 for original 914-6 models. So does this mean you need 6-figures to be a true Porsche enthusiast? I don’t believe that’s the case – I think there are a plethora of great options at or around $10,000, so I’ve lined up an assortment. Which do you think is most worthy of wearing the crest of Stuttgart?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 928S4 on eBay