1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S Silver Rose with 7,000 Miles

Ultra-low mileage cars always present a bit of a conundrum. Lust worthy? Without a doubt; I certainly look at every car that I have owned and wished that it was effectively in brand-new condition with no prior signs of ownership or the years that have passed. But what’s the cost of having had someone lovingly look after the car you’d desire today? Well, it’s relative in some regards. Let’s look at this 1988 944 Turbo S and break it down – is this mega-priced 944 Turbo S Silver Rose Edition still the giant killer it was 27 years ago?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S on Autotrader

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1988 Porsche 944 Turbo with 9,200 Miles

Well, from zero to two in a week, here’s the second non-S, non race car 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo I’ve written up. Like the last one, this one appears quite pristine and mostly stock. It’s in a pleasing color combination, and even has low miles. Really, really low miles. At a shown 9,223 miles covered, it’s also one of the lowest mileage 944 Turbo I’ve seen since new – but amazingly, not as low as the 5,000 Mile 1987 Paul wrote about in February. That car sold for $30,000; is this car the match for that example, and will it make it to that price?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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1986 Porsche 944 Turbo

Why hasn’t the enthusiast community for classic German cars jumped all over the Porsche 944 Turbo? While this question doesn’t keep me awake at night, I still find it baffling. Take the E36 M3, for example – not only was the U.S. press ablaze when it was launched with a staggering 240 horsepower back in the day, but the enthusiastic base that supports the M models still finds them an awesome deal in the teens. Yet the Porsche 944 Turbo offered all of the performance and handling of the M3 a generation prior, and with some simple tuning they can easily outpace the Munich missiles. Is there a comparable from Audi? Sure, if you could find one of the ’85 Quattros around – or the lone ’86 that was imported – they’re similar in many ways, but you can’t touch them for the price of the 944 Turbo and frankly in terms of performance they’re not a match. Even the unappreciated Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16V seems to have stronger support, and drive one back to back with a sorted 944 Turbo and you’ll wonder why people are willing to pay the same amount for them. Why, then, does most of the world pass them by? Because they’re not a 911? Seems silly to me:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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10K Friday: Practical Performance Edition – S4 Avant v. 944 Turbo v. S600 v. Passat TDi Variant v. M5

One of the things I love most about these 10K posts is the breadth of selections and ideas that I dream up to try to pull together. Today’s thought was about practical performance – what’s the most your can buy for $10,000? As a result, we have quite a diverse selection to make it through today, ranging from a 2.0 TDi gas sipper through a 5.5 liter, twin-turbocharged V12 torque monster. In their respective ways, each is a great car (at least, in premise) and probably defines its category. What’s your favorite of this group?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi S4 quattro Avant on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo

Without a doubt, for many years my favorite sleeper deal in the realm of factory Porsche race cars was the 944 Turbo Cup. Constructed for one-make support races around the world, the Turbo Cup model has some really neat features – notably, the inclusion of a healthy amount of magnesium to help lighten the car, plus a bit more boost to motivate it. For some time, 944 Turbo Cups were just downright cheap for a full factory racer, but recently they’ve spiked up in value and are now pretty much out of the reach of most mortals. Of course, if you’re willing to forgo the factory Cup build status and a few of the more pricey magnesium details like the original wheels, you can still find great track or race bargains in the 944 Turbo:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo Race Car on eBay

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1986 Porsche 944 Turbo

My first experience with a 944 Turbo was very memorable; I was a passenger in a ’89 Turbo at Lime Rock Park with a very experienced instructor. Though I knew he was a good driver, my 13 year old mind couldn’t cope with the way the car gained speed; I was transfixed in fear and exhilaration as the g-forces pulled my legs off the floor over the uphill. When I finally got the chance to drive one a few years later, I figured this performance was instantaneous; seeing a gap in traffic that was just large enough for a French Poodle, I popped the clutch and floored it – grasping the wheel with all my strength for the impending carrier launch that was about to occur. But as my mind played Kenny Loggin’s Danger Zone, a realization slowly crept over me – I was barely moving. I looked in the mirror, fully anticipating the crunch of impact as I was rightly rear-ended by the driver I had just cut off. But as the grill loomed large and I winced in pain, the engine came on boost – suddenly, there was no road ahead of me, only sky. The car launched forward with an enthusiasm I can still feel. I was used to quick acceleration, growing up with a E28 M5 in the family – but this car was different. The all-or-nothing throttle pedal made you feel as if only you knew how to drive the car; it was like a secret that hid supercar performance. Push a little and you’ve got an economy car getting 30 m.p.g on the highway – push a lot and you’re gaining speed in 30 m.p.h. increments:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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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

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1987 Porsche 944 Turbo

Everyone wants a perfect car, let’s be honest. But I often feel that I could accept a reasonable amount of flaws to have a car that I felt completely comfortable driving. Make that car a classic Porsche, and you’d still be talking big bucks, right? Well, not so fast – if you look around, you can still get some remarkable deals on 944 Turbos, one of the best driving cars from the 1980s. Present that car in the rare shade of Nautic Blue with tan leather, and you’ve got one heck of an understated looker with performance to back up the badge. Would you drive it?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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10K Friday Performance Edition: M3 v. 944 Turbo v. CLK500 v. S4 v. GTi

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW M3 on eBay

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1986 Porsche 944 GTR

Let me get this out of the way first – the asking price of this 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo is $120,000. There, I said it. If you’re still reading, you’re either intrigued or horrified. In either case, the next set of numbers is equally staggering – 650 hp and 2300 lbs. Still reading? How about this – they only made seven of them. You thought the 962 was rare? Nope, they made over 90 of those. The 917? Wrong again, with somewhere around 65 of those made. Allow me to introduce what many consider to be the ultimate front engine Porsche – the 944 GTR.

A little background history – the 944 evolved through the racing program of the 924 – and specifically, the 924 Carrera GT, GTS, and GTR. In the early 1980s, these cars dominated their classes in IMSA racing. In 1981, Porsche Motorsports built a highly evolved version of the 924 GTR called the 924GTP or 944GTP Le Mans, which finished 7th overall at Le Mans sporting a newly developed 2.5 liter motor which would be, in part, the basis for the road going 944. At the same time, the U.S. based Fabcar run by Dave Klym had modified some winning Porsches for Paul Miller and Bob Akin. Al Holbert, who was head of Porsche Motorsports North America, contracted Klym to make a new evolution of the 944 which would be called the 944 GTR. Below is a development photo from Fabcar and not the actual car listed:

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Unlike its predecessors, the 944 GTR was a tube frame race car, meaning it had no connection to the road car. Brakes and wheels from a 962 were fitted, and the 944 GTR received a specially developed all aluminum 2.5 liter turbo under its silhouette body. The early 2.0 and 2.5 liter turbos had developed between 250 and 450 horsepower; the new unit in the GTR developed between 525 to 650 hp. Here is a photo, again from Fabcar, of the development motor:

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A veritable who’s who of Porsche motorsports history worked on these cars, including McLaren and Andial. Slated to race in both the SCCA Trans Am series and IMSA GTO, the GTR achieved moderate success but ultimately fell victim to bad timing and a lack of funding following the death of Holbert. Despite this, they were the fastest front engine Porsches ever raced. The cars were sold off to private parties, which is how this one comes up for sale today:

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Year: 1986
Model: 944 GTR
Engine: 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: Miles unknown
Price: 120,000

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Porsche 944 GTR on eBay

1986 Porsche 944 GTR turbo race car chassis # 2 of only seven built for trans am at Fabcar. 650 hp engine full tube frame with Hewland 5 speed gearbox.This car is race ready to race in PCA, HSR and SVRA. 3 sets BBS wheels and spares package. 770-596-4844

The listing is lacking many details that would be really helpful in a purchase of this magnitude. Many of these cars were modified after their initial launch so it’s difficult to say if it retains the original – and very valuable – all aluminum engine, or what race history it has had. It also seems to sport a different nose than the original cars had, hinting at some body damage. Obviously, a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a knowledgeable race shop would be a must if you were serious about buying it.

In terms of value, Carrera GTS and GTR values are typically at or above this level, and the purchase price is a fraction of what it cost to develop these cars originally, but judging race car values depends in large amount on the race history and condition. Running this car on track – where it deserves to be – would certainly be an expensive proposition, but I would estimate running costs to be roughly on par with a 996 or 997 GT3 Cup Car, for example. That’s rarefied air for sure, but you would own a really unique piece of automotive history that would be as welcome at a Porsche Club car show as it would be at historical races.

-Carter