1990 Porsche 944S2

While cars like the Audi Quattro and BMW M3 may have popularized boxy flares with their racing credentials to back it up, in my eyes no one pulled off the muscle-bound economy look better than the Porsche 944. The addition of several inches of width and wider wheels to the 924 chassis meant an entirely new feel that mingled with supercar lines instead of Volkswagen lineage. Simply put, they were the most sensual looking German car in the 1980s, and that got even better late in the run with some subtle aero additions that enhanced and updated the look. The smooth Turbo bumpers and rear diffuser carried over to the S2 model, along with some lovely “Design 90” wheels that were also highlighting the 964 model. As Porsche moved to a full update of the watercooled transaxle cars with the introduction of the 968, the outgoing 944S2 even adopted the new “bridge” spoiler design from the not yet introduced model.

Turbo looks without the associated power wasn’t an unknown quantity for Porsche, but the 944S2 was no slouch in its own right. Powered by the M44.41 3-liter inline-4 that had been enlarged from the double overhead cam 944S motor, the 208 horsepower wasn’t as much as the 968 would sport but was still awfully close to what the original 944 Turbo had produced in power. Better yes, with instant torque the S2 was, and still is, a very entertaining drive. Hardly cheap, on paper they were not immediately the smart choice for a sports car buyer in 1990 and 1991, as twin-turbocharged monsters from Japan were all the rage and often less expensive than the best part of $50,000 a 944S2 would cost you. With only around 3,600 imported to the U.S., they’re a bit rare to see but offer great Porsche build quality, performance and even practicality in a very attractive package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 944S2 on eBay

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1987 Porsche 944 Turbo

1987 saw some minor changes to the fantastic forced-induction 944 Turbo; most notable was the addition of ABS, which meant no more Fuchs. Instead, higher offset ‘Phone Dials’ were added, with an option for the forged ‘Gullideckel’ polished wheels. The other change was in color combinations available. Azurite Blue replaced Copenhagen Blue in the dark tones, while two new standard colors were introduced – Lemon/Summer Yellow (LMIA) and Malven Red (LY3E). Both of these colors were a one-year only option on the 944, and both are pretty rare to see. I looked at a Lemon/Summer Yellow ’87 Turbo back in 2016:

Summer Dreaming: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo

But I think this is the first time I’ve seen a Malven Red Turbo, and it looks like a good one to consider:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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1986 Porsche 944 Turbo Cup

Update 3/1/19: This 944 Turbo Cup has a huge price drop for March, lowering from the original $149,995 ask to $109,900 today.

While Rob has left us, that doesn’t mean Porsche coverage will be! So I’d like to start the year with the counterpoint to Rob’s 911 Club Sport. I recently looked at a 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S, the details of which were sussed out by Porsche in the Turbo Cup race series. While the Club Sport purported to be track-ready, the Turbo Cup was a turn-key racer straight out of the factory.

Porsche built a limited group of 944 chassis each year which were heavily upgraded with lightweight parts, roll cages and turned up engines. Weight was dropped thanks to extensive use of magnesium for the intake and sump, along with deletion of most luxuries. Manual windows, no door pockets, no air conditioning or sunroof here! The engine was upgraded with more boost and a revised turbocharger, along with a strengthened gearbox. Inside a Matter cage reinforced the structure, a Recaro seat cradled the driver and of course the suspension was upgraded as well. Later Turbo Cup cars also featured magnesium Phone Dial wheels, alone saving on the order of 18 lbs, though early models were delivered with forged Fuchs. These cars were not only raced in the one-make Turbo Cup series around the world, but also utilized by Porsche and privateers in race series such as the SCCA Escort Endurance Championship in “Showroom Stock”. Each year only a handful were produced, making these cars some of the most sought transaxles out there:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo Cup on eBay

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80s 4-Banger Icons: 1983 Volkswagen GTI and 1989 Porsche 944S2

I’m back with another “Which would you buy?” scenario, but this one is quite a bit different from the twin S6s I took a peek at over the weekend. Today I’m looking at two very different 80s icons – the GTI and the Porsche 944. In their own right, both were also 80s film stars – the Porsche 944 in John Hughes Sixteen Candles, while the A1 Volkswagen appeared topless in nearly every other movie – most notably, ‘The Coreys’ License to Drive. Today’s subjects are higher performance, driver-oriented examples, and like last time both fall into driver-quality examples. Yet while the performance and original sticker prices of these cars is quite far apart, today in the market they’re not only within reach of budget-minded enthusiasts, but also they’re in direct competition with each other. So which would you score?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

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1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet

Any time I see an ad stating that a car is the nicest one available I like to imagine it being from an extremely conscientious seller who has looked through all of the available inventory and come to that conclusion. He even frequently checks for additional listings just to make sure his car remains the best one available and if not provides an appropriate update. This probably isn’t what happens, but it’s funny to me and makes looking at cars more entertaining. Is this the nicest 944 S2 on eBay? It very well could be! It certainly looks pretty good.

As the days have begun to turn colder I’m starting to reminiscence about the days of sunny, warm weather driving, and that makes this Cabriolet even more appealing. It is the promise of joyful open-top cruising. There are a lot of Porsches you could spend money on in order to achieve that goal, but if you desire something from an older vintage the 944 and 968 seem to offer some of the most promise for fewer dollars.

Here we have a Baltic Blue Metallic 1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet, located in Florida, with just 20,843 miles on it. I don’t know that the 944 is as pretty as a 968, but its lines are quite clean and classic and when looking good provide just the right elegance to balance its sporting pretensions. I obviously like 911s quite a bit, but the 911 Cabriolet’s lines don’t always seem to work as well as they do on Porsche’s front-engined cars. So if you want the top down a 944 could be both a less expensive and better looking option. Maybe even the better option.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet on eBay

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1988 Porsche 944 “GTS”

This Porsche 944 sold for $7,800

I don’t often look at plain 944s, especially late examples, for a reason. By the end of the run, the standard 944 was overshadowed by the introduction of the 944S and 944S2 with their twin-cam motors and even a Cabriolet. Of course there was still the 944 Turbo and for 1988, the pumped up Turbo S. Then there was the Special Edition and the 944 2.7. Nevermind that there was also the lightweight 924S Special Edition, too. In short, there aren’t too many reasons to look at a “normal” 944 from the late production run. But with 924 Carrera GT/GTS DNA pumped into it, this particular 944 is anything but normal looking:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 on eBay

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1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet

Like the Volkswagen Cabrio, the 944S2 Cabriolet isn’t a car that gets a lot of press on these pages. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the makings of a classic. Like the Cabrio, it sold in small numbers in the tight times of the early 1990s; Porsche claims it sold only 2,386 in the United States. And it has a potent power plant in the revised 3.0 16V inline-4; pushing 207 horsepower and 208 lb.ft of torque, it was nearly as potent as the first generation Turbo without the inherent lag or accompanying bills. Yet it shared the same perfect weight balance with the rear-mounted transaxle, Turbo brakes and larger roll bars along with the integrated Turbo-look nose and tail. The S2 also received the new “Design 90” wheels that helped to bring it in line with late 928S4 and 964 models.

However, the 944S2 Cabriolet has always been overshadowed. First, for the sporting drivers out there, most will be seeking the clean lines of the S2 Coupe. Then there is always the more popular 911 Cabriolet, but it’s real competition is the later 968 Cabriolet. With more power, revised looks and a 6-speed manual, those late 968s are by most accounts the ones to get. But to me, that means that a clean 944S2 is a better value while offering you most of the experience of the VarioCam. Let’s consider this beautiful LM3U Velvet Red Metallic example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet on eBay

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1987 Porsche 944 Turbo

I think this will be the first 944 I have posted, which is kind of weird. Any time I find myself looking at a model I don’t typically write about the first thing I do is search through our archives just to make sure we didn’t already feature it. And then a funny thing happened. I was reading through a few of Carter’s old posts on the 944 and how the model never really has commanded the attention of enthusiasts the way the 911 and 928 have. Whether we think of the 944 during its actual production or on the present secondary market they aren’t the Porsches people dream about. They never were a poster car. Suddenly I found myself nodding my head. He might as well have been explaining my own thoughts to me.

I write about the 911 a lot and the 928 somewhat frequently. Those are the cars that attract my notice; they are the Porsches that linger in my mind; I notice them on the road. The 944? Not so much. I typically pass them by. Even if I see one on the road today I might only give it a second glance if it’s in very nice shape. So how did we end up here with this Alpine White 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo appearing as one of my posts? Pretty much for exactly the reason just mentioned: it looks really good and comes in a pretty eye-catching color combination. Bright red interiors were quite the thing in the ’80s and it doesn’t get much brighter than Can-can Red. Contrasted with Alpine White it really stands out!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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1983 Porsche 944

Update 12/2/18: This Euro 944 ultimately sold for $7,944.

Update 6/7/18: The seller has increased the price again to $8,944 but with a no reserve $5,944 opening bid auction.

Update 5/23/18: The price of this Euro 944 has dropped from the original $9,440 ask to $6,944.

An interesting counterpoint to yesterday’s GTI is today’s early 944. They were produced at the same time; the waning days of the normal A1 production, while Porsche was at the same time accelerating production of its watercooled transaxle lineup to meet the demands of the heady 80s. There are other similarities as well; the shape is iconic, they have an oversized (for their class) 4-cylinder and a manual transmission. Both are no-frills, relatively speaking; few electronic or power gadgets adorn the interiors here. And both are heralded as driver’s car, with intimate connection to the road and experience through each corner.

But while the A1 GTI is pretty much universally lauded as a legend, the 944 remains firmly an “also ran” for enthusiasts – even within the water-cooled arena. Perhaps that’s because there were much more potent versions of the 944 out there. Beyond the mid-’85 refresh, 1986 saw the introduction for U.S. fans of the new Turbo model, 1987 saw the 16V version launch and a larger 2.7 8V – and, of course, then there were the 944S2, Turbo S and 968 models. Early 944s, then, are about as unloved as the Volkswagen Dasher.

If you’re an enthusiast, though, that means great return on your investment. And like the GTI, it’s not just entry price that is relatively low on these 944s; compared to the 928 and 911, repairs are far less expensive and the glut of examples (nearly 57,000) brought to the U.S. means used parts – or even entire parts cars – are quite easy to find. So while all of them are worth at least consideration, every once in a while a really neat example pops up that is worth a longer look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Porsche 944 on eBay

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1987 Porsche 944S with 15,000 Miles

It’s no great revelation that values of the transaxle Porsches are all over the place. I looked at two of the most expensive you could buy recently with the twin low-mileage Turbo S Silver Rose examples:

Double Take – 25,000 Miles Total: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S Silver Rose

In impeccable condition, it was no surprise that the asks were out-of-reach for nearly all enthusiasts. On the other end of the spectrum sits the lowly 924; you recently had your choice of either of these very clean examples for about $4,000, both special in their own way:

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

But I have to say, the one I covered recently that bothered me the most was the $20,000 ask for the 1988 944 Special Edition, or “Celebration”, model. Sure, it had one of the coolest interiors offered by Porsche in the period, though it’s soundly outdone by the Silver Rose.

1988 Porsche 944 ‘Celebration’ Special Edition

But I just can’t wrap my head around why you’d want to pay a premium for one. For the 924S Special Edition, it makes sense, in a way. The delta between normal and SE values is small and there are tangible performance gains for the Special Edition. But the Celebration was effectively just a loaded 944 with a neat interior. Surely, there must be a better option?

There was.

Alongside the appearance package offered on the regular 944, Porsche introduced the “Super” 944. The new M44/40 double overhead cam motor upped power output substantially to nearly 190, but outside of the subtle “S” badge on the rear and the embossed “16 Ventlier” on the side trim, there were no signs of the performance gains under the hood. There was a substantial change, however, to the base price, which cut the middle ground between the ~$32,000 944 and ~$40,000 Turbo at around $37,000. I always felt like Porsche’s pricing versus power gains on these models seemed a little too convenient; you got the impression that they could do more with the model, but didn’t want to tread on the 911’s toes. Apparently, so did buyers at the time. The 944S failed to sell as well as the normal 944 or the Turbo, with about 8,800 imported over the short two year production cycle before it was replaced by the even more potent and better looking S2. Few appear today like this 15,000 mile Zermatt Silver Metallic one does:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944S on eBay

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