Let’s get the not-so-subtle elephant in the room out of the way – this car isn’t, and probably never will be, a collector example of a 944 Turbo. Heck, perhaps the 944 Turbo will never be appreciated on a more grand scale, either, though I personally find that one pretty baffling.
Okay, can we move on?
Let’s say that instead of just hoping that some day your car will be worth a mint, or indeed even caring what other people think about your vehicular choices, you just want have a car which looks good and is enjoyable to drive. Let’s not forget, this advice is coming from someone with somewhat polarizing vehicle choices…so, take the advice with a grain of salt, but I’m going to persist in my argument that the 944 Turbo is the car for you. A true David of the 1980s, the 944 Turbo was the understated and unassuming Goliath slayer, turned down by the factory so as not to have its performance overshadow the 911 range. Being faster than a 911 is pretty much verboten in Germany and especially in Stuttgart, but nearly everyone that experienced a 944 Turbo in the 1980s came away with the impression that in every statistical (and in some non-statistical ways) it was a better car than the Carrera.
But, as one of our astute readership noted, certain cars – the Audi Quattro, the BMW M3 and M5, and of course the 911 range – were the cars of certain groups of individuals dreams. The 944 Turbo really wasn’t. There weren’t many people that hung 944 Turbo posters on their walls, because there was always something from Porsche that was a little bit more special – the 928 was more futuristic, the 911 was more comforting as a predictable classic and “Turbo” was synonymous with only one Porsche in history.…
The world of collector cars is full of hyperbole. Yesterday’s Quattro is a great example of this; take a legendary car and start pontificating about how it’s a collector model, and reason, objectivity and affordability fly out the window. Certainly we’ve seen this most in the Porsche world; the whiff of air-cooled over the past half decade has translated into moving the decimal point one position (or more, in some cases) to the right.
But that doesn’t mean automatically that all cars that come to market are fakers. Some are the real deal – good values in the marketplace and a collector car that should be both a good return on investment and enjoyable to own. They can be quite eye-catching, too, so while you’re rolling down the street looking like a million bucks your smile will be all the wider.
So which scenario is this 1986 944 Turbo – the real deal, or more fluff for the nutter market?
The market rage surrounding BMW’s M products and their lesser stablemates and all things Porsche air-cooled continues to mask one of the best all-around performers of the period – the Porsche 944 Turbo. This was the car which brought supercar performance to the masses in a package that was both reliable and practical. Perfect balance meant you could approach the limits of the chassis, and it rewarded you for doing so. Over 200 horsepower gave you super-human acceleration normally reserved for small-batch thoroughbreds. And there was even a race series to give the 944 Turbo the credentials to back up the Stuttgart crest on the hood. They were exceptionally well built using high quality materials, and quite a few people who owned them treasured their foray into the exclusive world of pioneering Porsche forced-induction. The original purchaser and steward of this 951 appears to have done just that:
Occasionally we don’t have the time to get to all the auctions that catch our eye. With that in mind, we’re going to be putting together some auctions that are interesting and may offer you a good value – or we’re just curious where they’ll end up!
Click for Details: 2000 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
This 2000 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG looks great with only 93,000 miles on the clock. Condition throughout seems to be very good and records are present, as well as a clean bill of health on the CarFax. But the real draw is the no reserve auction format – at time of writing, the car sits under $6,000!
Click for Details: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo
The 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo isn’t the most desirable model year, but this one looks nice in Guards Red over Linen leather. While it’s a TMU car, there’s a healthy bit of recent service history and the overall presentation looks like a nice driver. The TMU and 1987 build status should keep bids down, but the auction is no reserve. It will be interesting to see where a 944 Turbo driver ends up!
Click for Details: 1992 Porsche 911 Turbo
It’s a strange world we live in when you can ask close to MSRP for a 25 year old car and it suddenly seems reasonable. But that’s the case with this 1992 911 Turbo. Technically, it’s a no reserve auction with a $95,000 Buy It Now, but a single $85,000 bid would win it unless the seller ends the auction early.
Click for Details: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300E
We looked at this Glacier Green 1992 Mercedes-Benz 300E before, but it’s back on a no reserve auction with a starting bid below $2,000. Though it’s got a lot of miles and isn’t 100% original, it still seems like a nice driver with a lot of work done.…
Where does the 944 Turbo lie in the collector market? That’s a fantastic question. For such a limited model produced over a relatively short span of time, there’s an amazing array of models and changes that occurred over the run that alter the car’s perception, the car’s performance, and – most importantly – the car’s value.
Starting in 1985, the “951” took the idea which had been pioneer with the 924 Turbo and Carrera GT/GTS/GTR and brought it to a much larger audience in a much easier to digest package. Every successive model year saw some changes, from the addition of anti-lock braking in 1987 to the upgraded “S” package in 1988, replete with Cup-inspired Koni suspension and turned-up engine performance for near 250 horsepower. This package carried over, largely unchanged minus the deletion of the S designation, for the entire 1989 model year in the U.S.. Of course, the power, performance and package of the 944 Turbo immediately brings it into comparison with the other two revolutionary small displacement sports cars of the time; the BMW M3 and the Audi Quattro. Each had their own unique character, each has their heavily devoted, mind-can’t-be-changed-that-they-were-the-best-ever fact sheets, and each has their flaws. So how to they stack up in the market today?
Following up on Rob’s “presence” post about the 928, here we have the embodiment of presence and speed in the 944 Turbo S. But we have much more than that, too, in this particular example.
As I talked about at length in the last 1988 Turbo S post, there was a lot that made this car more special than the regular Turbo – and, arguably, more special than the 911, too. But the market on 944 Turbos has been all over the map, with nice examples struggling to break $10,000 at times and excellent examples three to four times that. So where does this Turbo S lie?
Well, we have a great combination of factors that make it quite desirable. First, it’s one of the S models. Second, it’s a claimed one owner car that appears to be close to 100% original. Third, it’s got very low mileage, with only 37,700 accrued. But the coup de grâce that beheads the typical unrealistic asks in the Porsche world is that this is a no reserve auction. Rarely do we get to see all of these things combine and get a real feel for the market.
Here’s a listing I am genuinely interested in seeing end in a few days. Why? Well, I’ve covered a string of 944 Turbos recently, and we’ve seen some very nice examples trade for quite reasonable amounts. But today’s 944 Turbo is special for a few reasons. First, it is one of the last of the run, S-spec 1989 models. Properly, they’re not called “Turbo S” models, but only because all of the 1989 models came equipped with option code M030 – the Club Sport Package, featuring adjustable Koni suspension, forged Club Sport wheels, upgraded 928 brakes, and 30mm/25.5mm swaybars. It also meant by default you needed to select option code M220 – the 40% limited slip differential. Coupled with the upgraded M44/51 turbo motor producing nearly 250 horsepower, these are the Ninjas of the Porsche lineup in the 1980s – silent supercar killers. Today’s example is especially desirable since it comes from a single owner, is claimed all original, and has only covered 43,000 miles:
We’ve talked quite a bit about increasing values on Porsche 944 Turbos, and especially the high market price of the 1988 944 Turbo S and S-specification 1989 models which are highly prized. While in 1989 you could not opt-out of the S trim features (hence no S designation), in 1988 you could. With more power, bigger brakes, and better suspension, why would you? Well, because in 1988 ticking the “M030” option box to get the S-specification cost you a staggering $5,510, and Porsche then declared you “needed” another $2,000 worth of options like cruise control and a nice radio – but, ironically perhaps for Porsche, not a limited-slip differential, which you had to tick option 220 to get, too (*it was a mandatory option in 1989). That brought your already pretty pricey 4-cylinder Porsche from $40,000 to a nose-bleeding $48,000 – around double what you’d pay for a Porsche 924S. So, it was no surprise that while the S specification was popular, it was not chosen by roughly 2/3rds of 944 Turbo buyers in 1988. Still, it feels almost unusual to see a non-S 944 Turbo today as so much attention is focused on the special upgraded model. When you see a 944 Turbo that looks like today’s example does, though, it’s worthwhile choosing the lesser:
We’ve often lamented on these pages about when enthusiast cars used to be more affordable. Pick your poison; there were days you could buy a pretty sorted E30 M3 for under $10,000, a clean 911 in the teens, a pristine W113 Pagoda for under $20,000. At least for the foreseeable future, those days have left us, and enthusiasts on a modest budget need to pick and choose between the few remnants of a once vibrant sub-$10,000 market. I’ve spent a fair amount of time predicting and watching the ascension of the 944 turbo – the understated, underrated giant killer from Porsche. It’s been no surprise to see soaring values on clean 944 turbos, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that once again another classic has been priced out of sight. But if you’re willing to prioritize driving over shows, there are still some great deals to be had out there:
Kicking and screaming, enthusiasts are watching super heros from the 1980s slowly (or not so slowly, depending on the model) move firmly out of affordable price ranges. The last bastion of performance to rise is one of the best available, proving that the market doesn’t always recognize what theoretically should be the best cars. 944 Turbos, just as they did when new, have been rapidly accelerating in value and the top of the heap for road models are the ’88 Turbo S and the S-spec ’89 Turbos (properly, without S – more later). In my time writing for GCFSB, I’ve watched nice examples move from mid-teens to firmly into the 20K range. But Hagerty currently values them even higher, with a sharp spike in 2015. 2016 forecasts have the market cooling slightly, but it’s still at record highs for several models. The current top value on a 1989, at least according to Hagerty, is $36,400. Today’s car is priced at $39,000. Is it better than perfect?