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

Update 8/15/18: The ask on the 16,000 mile 944 Turbo S has dropped further to $59,995.

Update 6/1/18: The 16,000 mile Turbo S in this post has dropped $5,000 in asking price to $64,995.

We’ve managed to stick to a red interior theme so far today, and I’m going to further that just a bit more. But while red interiors in the 70s and 80s were super chic, few for me match the sheer audacity or execution of today’s twin 944 Turbo S Silver Rose models. And as I’ve spent the last few transaxle posts dancing around special models, it would seem fitting to cover what many consider to be the most special of all. Coincidentally, outside of some exceptional limited production models like the Turbo Cup, 968 CS or Turbo S, and 924 Carrera GTS, few are worth as much as this model either.

1988 saw numerous changes in the 944 Turbo lineup. The new option M758 “Turbo S” included a new turbocharger with redesigned vanes and a remapped DME which increased boost to a max of 1.82 bar. The resulting M44/52 had 30 more horsepower and 15 lb.ft torque to a max of 247 and 258, respectively. But the “S” package was far more than just more boost, as the cooling system was revised, the clutch and transmission were beefed up with hardened first and second gears.

Brakes were borrowed from the 928 S4 and now measured 12″ in front with four piston aluminum calipers. Wheels were Club Sport 16″ forged, polished and anodized units measuring 7 inches in front and 9 in the rear. Suspension was also beefed up with the M030 package; this included adjustable rebound Koni shocks and adjustable-perch coilovers in front. Limited slip differentials (Code 220) were not standard, but a must-select option.

Within the already limited edition S (of which about 1,900 were shipped to the US), there was another special edition. The “Silver Rose” launch cars took all of the special aspects of the M758 S package and added a unique color (Silver Rose Metallic, LM3Z) and a very unique Burgundy Studio Check interior. Outside of the Turbo Cup cars, these very limited (claimed 339) original models have become the most desirable of the 944 Turbos, and few are presented like these two today which have combined only managed to cover 24,494 miles in 30 years:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S Silver Rose at Porsche Warrington

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Motorsports Monday: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo Cup

Continuing on the 944 theme, there are of course a few transaxles that actually are worth some big bucks right now. The development models – the 924 Carrera GT, GTS and GTR – are pretty well priced out of this world. In the 944 run, the Silver Rose cars are highly valued, too – but value-wise, they’re relative bargains compared to this car. Yet I’ll still claim that this car is a relative bargain compared to its contemporaries. Let me explain.

As a promotional series in 1986, Porsche teamed with Rothmans for sponsorship of a one-make support race series in Canada. The result was the 944 Cup, which ran normally aspirated lightweight examples of otherwise stock 944s in 1986 and 1987. Every once in a while, one of these rare rides (there were only 31 sold) pops up and we’ve covered them before. The big draw on these cars are the lightweight aspect thanks to no sunroof and manual windows, and of course the Rothmans livery.

But the series proved successful and in 1987 Porsche followed up with the more developed, more powerful and more excited Rothmans 944 Turbo Cup. In fact, the Turbo Cup cars were developed for single-race series around the globe – in total, there were 5 series and just shy of 200 Turbo Cup cars produced. Like the prior 944 RC, the formula was pretty simple – lighten a 944 Turbo, leave the engine “stock”, and fit it with race equipment. But Porsche, being Porsche, went a bit above and beyond.

Though the Turbo Cup looked for all intents and purposes like just a 1987 Turbo with racing colors and a cage, the reality was far from that. The engine retained most of its stock components, but Porsche fit magnesium oil pans and intakes to lighten the load. The turbocharger was uprated as well to develop more twist. Magnesium carried over to the transmission bits and even the wheels, which copied the production series designs but were much lighter. Inside the Turbo Cup gained a cage and a Recaro race seat, but lost its climate control, the glove box, the radio console and even door pockets. Power steering and air conditioning were yanked. Gone too were the rear wiper, remote hatch release and power windows. Like Audis from the period, the brake system was anti-lock, but included an on-off switch to disable the system. Bilstein provided upgraded damping, and Porsche also fit larger roll bars front and rear. The result was that they managed to get the road going 944 Turbo down to 1,280 kg (2,800 lbs) while simultaneously making it more powerful.

As some of the most limited 944s out there, and coupled with a popular race series featuring some of the most famous names in 80s sports car racing, the Turbo Cup cars have developed a cult following and bring some of the strongest bids in the transaxle world:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo Cup on eBay

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Velvet Unreserved: 1989 Porsche 944

The takeaway from yesterday’s twin Baltic Blue 944S2s was that, while the model is generally a good bet for collectors, neither of the examples was a stellar buy. But they’re not alone; even though I’ll continue to argue that they’re undervalued relative to what they are, the reality is that many come to market with price tags that are just too high. Even though sellers’ ‘whataboutme’ attitude towards the model is arguably justified, the asking prices usually aren’t.

Yet today we’re looking at another 944. And not a top tier one at that – generally speaking, this particular model is the least appealing of the end of the run. It’s the last-year 8-valve motor, so you can imagine that if the 944S2 was overshadowed by the Turbo, this model was positively left in the dark. You got early 944 appearances with the slightly punched-out 2.7 liter inline-4. That gave you a bump to 162 horsepower, up from 158 in the high-compression 2.5 from the previous year. That didn’t sound like much, but with revised gear ratios and a healthy bump in torque, these ’89s are claimed to be the quickest of the 8V normally aspirated run. But without a “S”, “S2”, or “Turbo” script adorning its rear, and with the 924S gone to greener second-hand dealers, the regular old 944 assumed the position at the very bottom of the totem pole in the Porsche lineup.

So why buy it?

Simple. Price. It’s very easy to forget just how darn expensive Porsches were in the late 80s – even the 4-cylinder ones. That was why the 924S was so appealing. Sure, it wasn’t the glitziest Porsche out there. But it was also the only one you could buy new in the $20,000 range. By 1989? If you wanted a Turbo, you’d pay the best part of $45,000 delivered. The S2 wasn’t much better, ringing in at registers as $42,000. So it’s there that you can start to see the appeal of the base model, which had most of the look of the higher-spec models but could be yours for $33,000. Today? It’s the same deal:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944 on eBay

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Double Take – Both Baltic: 1989 Porsche 944S2

I’ve been ignoring the 944. It’s not that I have changed my opinion, or no longer love the thorn-in-Porsche-purists collective sides. But after spending plenty of time telling everyone what an incredible value the 924/44/68 series are for a while, I just capitulated that the market was unwilling to lift these well-built sports cars to a level which they deserve to be. Or, at the very least, I really felt like they should be on level footing with models that were their contemporaries; the Turbo, for example, which still regularly trades well below Quattro and M3 prices despite superior performance.

Yet while my attention swayed, some light has been shed on the model. As insane prices continue to reign in Munich and the Quattro has begun to rise precipitously over the past year, what was once a sure-bet value has commenced rapid appreciation – at least, in some cases. The high-water mark recent was just set with a 66,000 mile Grand Prix White 968 Coupe which sold for $36,250. That’s big money for the big four-cylinder. While not every single example is going to similarly take off, the writing may be on the wall.

So today I’ve got two 944S2 models to consider. Down on power (211 v. 237 with VarioCam) and a gear from the later model, they’ve always played second-fiddle to the Turbo S/89 Turbo models and the updated 968. Both are presented in the neat color of Baltic Blue Metallic. One is pristine, and one’s more of a project. Which is the one to grab?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944S2 on eBay

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