1988 Porsche 944 ‘Celebration’ Special Edition

In my recent double Porsche 924 post, the rhetorical and problematic question posing entry-level Porsches arose – ‘why not just get a 944’?

It’s a very valid question. Indeed, why would you choose a 924 – even a very nice, limited production one – over a 944? The answer is simple. Price.

When the 924S Special Edition was last on the market in 1988, you could stroll down to your dealer and pick one up for around $23,000. If you wanted to step up to the 944 – which offered no practical improvement in performance, mind you, as it was actually slower than the 924S – you’d have to shell out an additional $10,000. In many ways, that gulf of value perception remains today; it’s possible to find deals on 944s, but equal 944s to the two 924s I looked at? They don’t come cheap, at least not in asking price.

Yet while I’ve spent considerable time talking about the 924S Special Edition and what a cool package it offered you on the cheap, we never really look at its 944 equivalent. Often referred to as the ‘Celebration Edition’, just like the 911 and 924S the 944 received a Special Edition package in 1988. Built to commemorate the 250,000th 911 produced but coinciding with 100,000 944s made, too, Porsche officially referred to the 944’s trim as the “Special Edition Package”. What did you get?

For $2,437, Porsche equipped your car with option code M757. This gave the car “a unique leatherette/gray-plaid cloth interior, silver velour carpeting, and a commemorative plaque which may be personalized with the owner’s name” according to Porsche. You also had to select metallic paint, a $645 charge, in one of two colors; Satin Black Metallic or Zermatt Silver Metallic. Otherwise these cars were pretty well loaded; the antithesis of the lightweight, stripped-down 924S SE.…

Face Off: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo v. 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition

Increasingly as some of our childhood (or, adulthood) heroes get priced out of sensibility for weekend warrior on a budget status, there are still some bastions of hope for the shoestring enthusiast. One of the best must undoubtedly be the underrated Porsche 924. As Sciroccos, GTIs, 944 Turbos, Quattros and the like take off in value, here lies a plethora of well-cared for, well-built and fun-to-drive cars that have good parts accessibility, reasonable repair costs and surprising amounts of practicality. Sure, it’s ‘just’ a 924, and Porschephiles will probably poo-poo your choice. So, too, will most of the rest of the automotive world. Their loss is your gain. Try as they might, outside of some very special 924 Carreras, these models that helped to keep Porsche afloat in the 1970s and 1980s still haven’t caught on with collectors.

So today I have two special 924s to consider once again. The first is a lofty Turbo model; finicky even in period, they’ve developed a reputation for lack of reliability and expensive repairs, but then have you ever seen the bill on a proper flat-6 rebuild? I’m going to compare it to the end-of-the-run 924S, and this one is the lightweight Special Edition model, too. Both are quite affordable and both appear to be in great condition, so which one is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition with 9,800 Miles

News broke this morning that the brand new RS4 Avant is unsurprisingly not coming to the United States. While this is no doubt disappointing to the twelve people who actually would have bought it and the 1.8 million who claim on the internet they would if given the option, it follows a long tradition in German motoring of leaving the best of the breed in the homeland. When it came to the GTI, not only did we have to wait several years before we got the hot Golf, but indeed it was a bit watered down and heavier when it did arrive. The same continued in the next two generations; more weight, less power. Both in the second and third generations we also lost out on supercharging, all-wheel drive and special body kits available in the European market.

Once again in 2001, a neat Golf was launched that – of course – wasn’t coming to the United States. But of all of the special editions that weren’t sold here, perhaps this one made the most sense to be excluded. It was called the 25th Anniversary Edition and you didn’t need to be good at math to realize that there was no GTI sold here 25 years before 2001. Since the “18 year Anniversary Edition” didn’t make much sense from a marketing perspective even in spite of Volkswagen’s continual spotty judgement in that regard, it was no surprise that it wasn’t offered. That was too bad, as it had a lowered suspension, better brakes, a bit more power, fantastic Recaro seats and the best looking BBS wheels fit to any Volkswagen, ever. Volkswagen enthusiasts in America drool inwardly and shouted openly, so in 2002 Volkswagen finally did bring the special edition here. Again, since “19th Anniversary” didn’t make any sense, we instead got the “337” Edition.…

Feature Listing: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini World Championship Edition

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini Championship Edition on Hemmings

1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition

Why the enthusiast world hasn’t thoroughly warmed up to the Porsche 924S is a bit beyond me, and that’s especially true of the 1988 model year. Not only was compression slightly up resulting in 160 horsepower channeled through the rear wheels, but Porsche also signed the model out with a fantastic lightweight special. The 924S Special Edition was also marketed in Europe as the 924S Le Mans; limited to 500 copies in each market, the U.S. models were black only. In classic Porsche “add lightness” style, the 924S SE had manual windows, no air conditioning or sunroof, and they even dropped the passenger mirror off the car. While power didn’t increase, the car did get more suspension in the M030 factory Koni suspension and wider Phone Dials in the back with integrated mud flaps. Also lightweight was the interior fabric, which was so thin it doesn’t seem to be able to actually cover the seats even on a low mileage example like this:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition on eBay

1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition

The last 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition I wrote up in November was an interesting one, as it languished in a second-hand dealer with low miles and recovered seats with a seller who was apparently unaware exactly what it was but was still asking close to top dollar. Well, the secret is out on that particular example, at least to some extent. Just before Christmas, the listing was updated from around $9,000 to just shy of $19,000 in order to account for the new description which listed the car as one of the 500 “Le Mans” edition cars. While the seller’s claim is semantically incorrect, it appears they finally did some research and figured out that this indeed was one of the Special Edition U.S. spec 924S models (as a reminder to those less versed in the 1988 924S model, the “Le Mans” edition was a European equivalent Club Sport model). While that car isn’t really realistically priced anymore, there’s another of these defacto Club Sport models on eBay right now in the same scenario – at least from the listing, the seller is unaware that it’s the Special Edition model:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 924S Special Edition on eBay

Porsche 924 Roundup

The Porsche 924 represents some of the best aspects of automobile enthusiasts, while simultaneously embodying two distinct and very different decades. From the 1970s comes the upright, modernist and simple dashboard, but while it nods to the decade that bore it, the exterior is immediately identifiable as the 1980s signature silhouette with a low-slung, long hood, pronounced bumpers and flip-up headlights. Quite a few cars in the late 1970s and 1980s attempted to mimic the design of the 924, including the notable RX-7 and you could even argue the 280/300ZX. You can even see influence of the groundbreaking 924 design in the Miata of the late 1980s as well as such modern GT cars at the AMG GT-S. For enthusiasts, though, it was the near perfect weight distribution, the torquey inline-4, the manual gearbox and the all-important Porsche badge of engineering and build quality that led to the 924 being a hit. It didn’t hurt that it was the most affordable Porsche, either, and arguably still is so today. I’ve rounded up a group of 3 distinct and neat 924S models from late in the run to see which offers the most bang for your buck:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 924S “GT” on eBay

1988 Porsche 924SE

As we watch 911 and 928 prices from the 1980s soar and the 944 Turbo, long considered the go-to value of the Porsche world, has started the march up the valuation ladder, where is a budget-minded Porsche enthusiast to turn? Without a doubt, the best place to get your low-cost thrills still is the “poor man’s” 924. Spanning just over a decade in production, values on early 931 Turbo models have also started to creep up, but if you look you can still find a good value on the later and arguably better driving 924S models. Reintroduced in 1987 with the underpinnings of the 944, the 924S was a budget Porsche. While the roughly $23,000 entry price certainly wasn’t cheap in 1987 dollars, it wasn’t much more money than a similarly equipped Audi Coupe GT. Dynamically, there aren’t many differences between the 1987 and 1988 models; ’88s got a few more horsepower than the ’87s thanks to a compression bump, but otherwise they’re the same – that is, except for the limited run “SE” model, perhaps the absolute best value in the Porsche world right now:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 924SE on Phoenix Craigslist

337-off: 2002 Volkswagen GTis

Let’s discount, just for a moment, the reputation of the fourth generation water-cooled, front engined platform from Volkswagen. Yes, they’re known for not having the best build quality, and they were a bit pudgy. The electrics were sketchy and Volkswagen’s venerable 1.8T, which found its way into nearly every VAG product in the late 90s and early 00s, is certainly not without fault. But in many ways, the Mk.4 platform offered some exciting options for the Volkswagen faithful. First, the introduction of the turbocharged engine into the platform redefined the possibilities of the hot hatch. It was available not only in the top-spec GTi, but you could get a 4-door 1.8T, too – a first for Volkswagen, who had offered hot 4-door hatches in Europe but not the U.S. previously. Then, in 2002, Volkswagen upped its game even more with the introduction of the 25th Anniversary Edition in Europe. “But the GTi didn’t come out until 1983” U.S. fans said, forgetting that 1977 was the launch year of the 1.6 original in Europe. It seemed, for some time, that the U.S. would get snubbed again. After all, it wouldn’t be very smart for them to offer a 25th Anniversary Edition of a car that didn’t exist here, and “19th Anniversary” doesn’t have the same ring. But then, at the New York Auto Show in 2002, Volkswagen surprised U.S. fans by offering the near-identical package to them. The name was the GTi 337 Edition; the name harkened back to the original project code for the Golf GTi. Beefed up with 180 horsepower, a 6-speed manual, an awesome set of Recaro seats, aero tweaks and with some awesome shot-peened BBS RC wheels, it was an instant hit. Volkswagen sold 1,500 of these models to U.S. fans, and then when they had sold out, recreated the magic in 2003 with colorful options in the 20th Anniversary Edition.…

1989 Porsche 911 25th Anniversary Edition

Of all the sports car manufacturers, I think Porsche loves special editions the most. Racing focused editions, touring editions, anniversary editions, they’ve done them all and they’ve done them well. I’m a big fan of the 991 50th Anniversary edition, I’d go so far as to say I think it’s the best looking 911 ever made but not necessarily the one I’d want over all others. That would be the 930 Turbo but these days I’d say I have a better chance of owning the former given where the market is headed. I suppose it makes sense then that I’m such a fan of this car, the 911 25th Anniversary Edition.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 911 25th Anniversary Edition