In 1976, Porsche won the World Sportscar Championship for makes with successful runs in both the 935 and prototype 936 chassis. The 936 was triumphant at Le Mans in the already famous Martini livery, while a series of 935/76s carried the colors in Group 5 FIA sports car racing. It was there that Porsche introduced the ‘slant nose’ aerodynamic bodywork that became the hot mod on 911s in the 1980s; however, in the 1970s you could get a very nice slantnose Porsche – replete with Martini Racing colors – for a lot less than a 911 Turbo.
To commemorate the success of the 1976 season, in 1977 Porsche released a limited run of Martini-colored 924s. Option M426 was the Martini World Championship Edition, and it cost $450. Add in a removable roof like this one for about $350, and the sticker price of this car just passed $10,000. For that sum, Porsche gave you quite a lot of visual enhancement; bathed only in pure white, the 924’s 8-spoke alloy wheels were color-matched to the body. Martini stripes ran the length of the sides, their design mimicking the wedge shape of the 924. Inside, a special two-tone interior of scarlet corduroy and black leatherette was offset with Martini stripes stitched into the upper portion of the seats and blue piping ran throughtout. A commemorative plaque was added to the back of the center console, too, reminding you that the car you were driving was from the house of a champion. You held a real leather steering wheel, and helping execute your commands was achieved by Porsche adding sway bars to the suspension both front and rear. It was a series of small changes that resulted in a neat package, and one that is sought by collectors of the transaxle design today:
A few weeks ago, I took a look at a trio of Porsche 968 6-speeds. One was a rare 1995 model; only 259 were sold from that model year. As is often the case with 968 Coupe 6-speeds, the asking prices of two of the three were quite high and they still linger on the market, unsurprisingly. Well, today we have another double take of ’95 specific 6-speeds – how do they measure up to the last three we looked at?
Last month I wrote an article for The Truth About Cars where I covered the special models of the Porsche 924. Recounting the various special editions drew into sharp focus the general lack of any performance gains with those models. Sure, some had sway bars and fog lights – two of the best known performance upgrades in the 1980s. But generally speaking, most of the Porsche 924 limited models were just a special color stripes and/or special interior. The 1976 and 1977 World Championship Edition 924 is probably the best example of that, but before it’s completely dismissed as a mega-poser, it’s worth a look if for no other reason than it’s quite the looker:
Continuing on my theme of watercooled transaxle Porsches in famous livery, in 1976 Porsche won the World Sportscar Championship primarily with its 935 and 936 models in Martini Racing livery. To commemorate this achievement, in 1977 if you walked into your Porsche dealer and selected option M426 (Code E19) on a new Porsche 924, you’d be handed the keys to a uniquely colored coupe. The outside of each was Grand Prix White, and along the side were triangularly shaped stripes in the now famous Martini Racing livery. The “Tarantula” alloys were color-matched white as well. Underneath, the Martini cars were equipped with front and rear sway bars – the only real performance option. Inside was what really set the car apart, though, with scarlet carpet and seat centers, contrasting piping, a leather steering wheel and of course a commemorative plaque to let you know you were in the house of a World Champion!
As Rob said in his recent 964 Carrera 4 Widebody post, the flared variants of the middle generation 911 can be polarizing. Even more polarizing are the extra-widebody Nakai-san Rauh-Welt Begriff creations. That Akira Nakai is an artist is unquestioned, but whether his creations are genius or blasphemous depend on your definition of art I would suppose. Nakai takes the stock 911 and turns it up to 11, with custom molded, hand crafted flares and widening the lines of the 911 to outrageous proportions. Fitted with giant wheels, lowered suspensions and custom front and rear bumpers, they are the embodiment of the Japanese tuning scene but with a decidedly European feel. Indeed, you don’t need to look far into Porsche’s own developments to find the inspiration for these models from Stuttgart’s own work. Indeed, many of Nakai’s works look a lot like the 964 Turbo S Le Mans racer and later 993 GT2 race car, with their giant gold BBS wheels, huge spoiler, vents and wide flares. Personally, I think that Nakai does an exceptional job mimicking the best of the 911 race car design whilst simultaneously introducing his own style. That becomes more obvious when you see a non-Coupe RWB such as today’s Targa model – I believe the first open-air RWB I’ve seen:
Over the past few decades, the classic car market has been so crazy in some cases that former race cars have been reverted expensively back to street models in order to capitalize on their greater value. Factory race cars obviously retain their appeal – sometimes even if they were never raced – yet cars that were converted by your average enthusiast retain the prospect of a return to their former street-worthy status. One of the most popular cars to convert to track use has traditionally been the Porsche 911, a car that since it’s inception was a gentleman racer in the making. But with values in a shocking climb, will we see these 911s leave their ancestral home at the track and head for climate-controlled garages with heavy specialty insurance premiums?
Well, I hope this will stir some interest, as I think this is a bit of an interesting comparison. What level of performance can you buy for $10,000 (give or take) these days? Surprisingly, there are a lot of options – and those options vary pretty seriously in their execution and packages; there’s a wagon and a sports car, two sedan-based coupes and a hatchback. Engines range from a 2 liter turbo to a V8, with a bit of everything in between. Yet, what appears to be a very strange comparison linked only by price is revealed to be much closer when you look at performance figures:
E36 M3: 240 hp, 0-60 6.0 seconds, 3,200 lbs
944 Turbo: 220 hp, 0-60 5.9 seconds, 2,900 lbs
CLK500: 302 hp, 0-60 5.7 seconds, 3,800 lbs
S4 Avant: 250 hp, 0-60 5.6 seconds, 3,700 lbs
GTi: 200 hp, 0-60 6.6 seconds, 3,200 lbs
The range is much closer than you’d expect – especially when you consider that these figures could easily be equaled in margin of error, driver skill and reaction time. In the twisties, the lower powered cars like the GTi catch up to the higher power CLK and S4. All are, in one way or another, practical choices. Some are destined (or already) classics, while others will likely fade away. So what would be your choice? Let’s start with an M3 we’ve already seen:
Although the appeal of the budget speed of the 944 Turbo is certainly large, the actual driving experience around town can sometime be a bit lacking and the expense of 25 year old turbocharged technology can be a turnoff. Luckily, Porsche offered its own solution with the 944S2. Well covered on these pages, the S2 offers early Turbo levels of performance from its 3.0 16V motor, with no turbo lag. I’ve said it was perhaps the best all-arounder Porsche has ever built, and I think overall that’s a realistic look at the S2; if all-out speed wasn’t your goal, the S2 offers practicality, lower ownership costs and enough power to take advantage of one of the best handling chassis ever made. Take a look at this 1989 example:
While yesterday I hinted that the E46 M3 might be the next 944 Turbo, let’s not forget that the original 944 Turbo is still alive and kicking. While generally speaking the 1988 Silver Rose Turbo S cars seem to be the most valuable of the street cars, the 1989 Turbos came in “S” specification, complete with the M030 suspension, more power and those special wheels. I’m lucky enough to have spent a fair amount of time in one of these; my father bought a 1989 just like this, but with white sport seats. It’s an amazing car, capable of effortless acceleration, swallowing huge trips in a single gulp, and yet gets good mileage and is comfortable. It’s one of those strange “fish story” cars; it just shouldn’t be as good as it is, and yet it is still largely overlooked as a performance value. While clean examples of the performance bargains in the 1980s and 1990s have steadily been on the rise, the 944 Turbo remains attainable. Today’s 1989 example is one of the better ones:
If you want a water-cooled, front engined Porsche collectable, there are several bulletproof standbys to look at. There’s of course the always popular 944 Turbo and Turbo S, a performance bargain that’s sure not to last much longer. Then there’s the curvy 968 and it’s lesser appreciated brother, the 944 S2. Enthusiasts in the know love them and seek out clean examples that challenge and exceed Turbo pricing. Those on a budget or less interested in the box-flared 44s look towards the short production 924S – a hidden gem of affordable Porsche ownership. Heck, even the lowly 924 Turbo has a cult following, as do the niche models like the 924 Carrera GT and GTS. But for your hard-earned money, there are two very rare models that 944 enthusiasts seem to forget. These models are slightly more affordable than their more-sought after brethren, but as the market climbs it may just be these lesser known models that appreciate more. These models are the 1987-1988 944 S 16V and the 1989 only 944 2.7. Today there are two clean examples, one of each model, on Ebay. Let’s start with the 16 Ventiler:
Model: 944 S
Engine: 2.5 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 96,664 mi
Price: $8,990 Buy It Now
RARE FIND! 1987 Porsche 944 S with only 96K orginal miles. With only 2 previous owners in the last 26 years this car comes with a long list of service records that date back to the original owner, Engine was rebuilt few years ago from previous owner, we just recently serviced this Porsche with New A/C Compresser, New battery, New Windshield, New brakes, New Power Steering pump, New Fuel Filter, New Fuel Pump, New Plugs, Wire and Caps, New Transmission Seals, New Gasket Seals, New Axles Seals and much more!