In its second full year for production, Porsche’s entry-level 924 model sped out of the gate – at least, in terms of sales. Some 11,638 traded in 1978, the model’s single most successful year by quite a margin. In fact, if you find an early non-Turbo 924, odds are it’ll be a ’78 since about 30% were when new. Obviously, the appeal of a (relatively) inexpensive Porsche worked; consider that even in the heyday 80s, Porsche never sold more than 2,700 928s a year here – often quite less – and the 924 comprised about 70% of the firms sales in the 1970s. This is the model that kept the lights on, Mr. Turbo Carrera.
Of course, by itself that doesn’t make an early 924 excited, nor is it solely a compelling reason to buy one. But there were some neat options for the early 924, not least of which was the Turbo. There were also a plethora of limited edition models, from the most famous Martini World Championship model to the Sebring ’79 edition, the ’78 Limited Edition, the M471 S models and the Weissach Commemorative Edition to consider. And that’s if you choose to ignore the much better later 924S model, too!
This car is none of those models. Yet, I think it’s still worth a look, so let’s see why:
You don’t have to cast a very wide net to get a needy Porsche 924. Heck, you don’t need to cast a wide net to get a pristine 924, either! That fact alone makes the requisition of a 924 in need of restoration not only financially irresponsible, but downright ludicrous. But there are reasons which sometimes defy common sense and logic.
Now, if you wanted to grab a tired 924 that would be special, there are plenty to choose from. A few years ago there was a ’88 Special Edition near me for a song. I still regret not going to check it out. But any late 924S offers a budget sports car with a special badge, and the 944 crossover parts mean it’s easy to keep them going. Moving to the early chassis, there are of course Turbo models that are popular, but also a plethora of special editions – the Sebring, the Martini and the Limited Edition being the most notable here.
Today’s car is none of those models. But if anything it’s much more rare, and that’s why it’s worth a closer look. That’s because this car has the very rare M471 Sport Group Package. While often associated with the Turbo, it was also available but seldom chosen on the naturally aspirated model. The M471 package came with 5-bolt hubs, Turbo 4-wheel disc brakes, 15″ ATS mesh wheels, Koni sport shocks, Euro Turbo 23/14mm sway bars, and the Turbo rear spoiler. Early models also came with a special “S” decal on the hood. With only a claimed 100 imported, it’s one of the most rare configurations of the 924:
Recently I looked at the Porsche 924S. For $5,000, it was a ridiculous deal. A decent chunk of 924s appear in good shape from loving homes and that particular 924S looked no different. Lower miles and Euro bumpers only added to its appeal. But not all 924s are created alike. The early Turbo model has been on the rise in value as collectors have begun the hunt for the next deal. That means there’s been speculation among asks on the 931, and prices are all over the market. In January I looked at a solid 1980 that sold for just over $4,000, while a later ’82 I looked at last year sold at nearly triple that amount.
Today we get to see both ends of the spectrum from this duo of ’81 and ’82 931s. And there is more that is interesting beside just the asking prices:
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?
Yesterday’s Scirocco is a reminder of the original Volkswagen project for a sporty car based upon pedestrian internals. That project was EA425, and as Volkswagen shifted away from rear-drive platforms towards the new, efficient and cheap to manufacture front-drive arrangement, Porsche continued to develop the prototype. Released nearly in conjunction with the new Golf and Scirocco, the 924 was the first to introduce the world to a water-cooled, transaxle Porsche in late 1975. Yet as they’ve done with so many other models and though the affordable and efficient 924 was a relative hit out of the marks, immediately Porsche began offering special limited models to tick the price up and spur sales.
The result was that effectively every model year early on got its own special model. Today I’ve got two of the early examples; the 1977 Martini World Championship edition and the 1978 Limited Edition model. While neither have much in terms of performance gain, either is an affordable entry-level classic:
Edit 9/30/2017 – The asking price has dropped to $11,995.
Back in June and into early July, I spent some time covering the various iterations of the 924. In each case, there was something unique or interesting about each variation of the model generally overlooked in Porsche history, but nonetheless important to the survival and success of Porsche as a company. Paving the way for the 944 model, the 924 was an efficient, reliable and (reasonably) affordable premium sports car that lived through an economic and resource crisis period. Without it and the subsequent 944/968, Porsche may well have been forced to close its doors a few times.
I looked at a 924 Turbo a little over a month ago. 931s are broken into two periods – Series 1 (launch in ’79 -late ’80) and Series 2 (’81-’82). Series 2 cars all had the 5-lug, 4-wheel disc upgrade that only some of the Series 1 were equipped with. Additionally, they had a revised ignition system, improved intake, higher compression pistons but a smaller turbocharger. The transmission was shared with the B2 Audi inline-5s. They were mostly loaded examples, so like this one they have power windows, locks, mirrors, air conditioning, rear wiper and sunroof. Outside of the wheels, these changes were mostly invisible to the eye, and generally speaking don’t make a difference in the value of the vehicle. What does is condition, and when you’re looking at a 924 Turbo you want to buy the best one that you can afford. Is this the one?
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:
Update 1/17/2019: the seller of this clean 924 apparently hasn’t had any luck selling it, and it’s back on eBay with a $4,500 asking price today.
Update 8/11/2017 – the Buy It Now has been lowered to $6,500.
Another 924? Sure, but there were so many special models during the production run that popped up that they could occupy most of a week alone! Recently, I’ve looked at a ’87 924S, a modded ’78, a Carrera GT replica and a clean ’80 Turbo.
Today is one that’s slightly different in that, at least on the surface, it’s not a special edition. However, what is interesting about this car is that it appears to have several of the items from the ’81 Weissach Commemorative Edition. One of the 2,100 1981 924s imported, the Platinum color, mudflaps and two-tone ATS wheels seem to match the limited model. Is it one, after all?
I’m going to continue my string of 924s with an interesting 1978 today. This car represents the early run of the original design. It was a simple, no-frills, lightweight sports car – in essence, what Porsche was all about. However, Porsche’s headlining cars had moved on to powerful 6- and 8-cylinder designs, and turbocharging ruled the roost in performance options – so the EA827 derivative normally aspirated 4-cylinder from corporate partners Volkswagen and Audi was selected. That relegated the 924 to only about 100 horsepower, but with good handling and excellent aerodynamics they were still entertaining – albeit relatively slow – drives.
And, at less than $10,000 new, they were an affordable sports car with good build quality and a name established in winning prestigious races around the world. Yet, as Porsche does, sales success didn’t stop them from launching marketing-targeted limited production models nearly every single year – and charging a lot more money for them with options (up to around $15,000!). Today, if you want to collect an early 924, they’re generally the ones to grab. 1976-7 saw the Martini World Championship cars, while in 1978 you could have the Limited Edition model, and in 1979 the Sebring model. There was a 1980 Le Mans edition and further specials that we’ve seen, too. Along with the addition of the Turbo to the lineup in 1980, then, there generally isn’t much of a call to look at a non special edition early 924. But, this is one that might buck that trend….
It’s always a little interesting to find something rare in the German world. The 924 Turbo does qualify as a bit rare; only about 6,800 of the early turbocharged models made it to the U.S., and the 1980 model year represents about half of that total. But teething problems, low residual values, higher cost of ownership and maintenance and the some 36 years that have passed since this car was produced mean there aren’t a huge glut of nice 924 models out there. But this car has something a little more unique than the already unusual 931. This particular car appears to have been modified in period utilizing Al Holbert’s D-Production body kit and magnesium BBS wheels. Rare? You betcha.