Reader Ride Success Story: Buying the Perfect 944 Turbo

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Back in April, I wrote up a quite low mileage 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo. While we write up quite a few cars on a weekly basis, it’s not often that we hear that one of them was bought; even more rare is to find one of our regular readers that has ended up with the prize. But this 944 Turbo was special; with only 30,000 miles on the clock and in near perfect condition, the listing was a bit vague and it flew under the radar just a bit. Luckily, the person who ended up with it chimed in almost immediately that he had bought it and, if anything, it was better than it first appeared. I asked the new owner to tell us a bit about his experiences and his garage, because while not all of us are lucky enough to have stumbled upon the perfect 944 Turbo and add it to our collection, we can all enjoy the story:

GCFSB: What made this Turbo “the one”? Were you considering other cars too?

Jeff: I was actually in the market for an 80s M6 – I’m still looking for the right M6. There’s just something about late 80s German cars. I’m kicking myself for not buying the Bronzit M6 you featured in March. It was a mile from my house and in great shape and reasonably priced. Not sure why I waited on that one, and then it was gone. Lesson learned.

Anyway, GCFSB is one of only a couple of sites I troll daily for something to catch my eye and then in April I saw your coverage of the Stone Grey Metallic 951. I hadn’t considered a 944/951. The color combo of this one got my attention. But, what REALLY made the difference for me was your coverage and link to the previous ad which was much more in depth and showed a thick binder of service history. I’m certain if that ad or at least the information regarding documentation was in the then current ad the car would have gone for much more money.

Taking the lesson learned from losing out on the M6, I clicked the link over to eBay, put in my highest but still below market bid. A few days later my Targa had a 951 stable-mate.

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GCFSB: Were there any problems with the purchase, and what did the post purchase reveal relative to the original description?

Jeff: The purchase went very smoothly. It was a Porsche specialist called Road Scholars in North Carolina that was selling the car. I wired the funds and they overnighted me the title, bill of sale and the service history. The service history on this car was even better than I had expected. The binder contained almost every single document from the very first owner at 1150 miles. It was not chronologically organized and took me an entire day spreading it all out on my living room floor, but it turned out to be truly worth the effort. The history showed how well cared for this car was. It was even a winner at the North New Jersey Region PCA concours in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Unfortunately the window sticker got lost between the most recent owner and Road Scholars though, so I had Stuttgart Studios reproduce a copy. I also sent away for a Porsche COA which confirmed color combo and options. The only misstep in the car’s history was when the most recent owner had an extensive and costly service performed at his BMW dealer in Colorado in October of 2014. The invoice was missing the last two pages. I was able to get in touch with him and he was able to get me a copy of the invoice. Several items that were serviced by that dealer needed to be corrected by my independent Porsche specialist.

-They replaced the motor mounts with incorrect units. Porsche used hydraulic mounts on these without them there can be too much vibration felt.

-They replaced the compressor on the air conditioner, but the condenser was leaking and had to be replaced.

-The owner reported a rough idle that they supposedly “adjusted” but it turned out to be a bad vacuum line.

– The timing belt/water pump had been replaced, but the belt was improperly tensioned. Fortunately the belt was still on good shape and just need to be retensioned correctly.

I asked my indy (Performance Auto of Malvern, PA) do a full going over of the car and aside from those four items which have since been corrected they said it was the cleanest, nicest, most well cared for 944/951 they had ever seen. They even remarked how the belly pans were still in place as these tend to almost always be removed. Can’t say enough good things about Paul, Pete and Ken at Performance Auto. These guys REALLY know their way around these cars and they are VERY reasonably priced.

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GCFSB: Now that you have this low mileage example, are you planning on keeping it as a show and occasional car to keep the mileage down, or will you drive it without worry? Does the car have any needs to address, or any modifications you’re planning?

Jeff: I’m a huge fan of all original lower mileage documented cars. I’ve been down the restoration and customizing route in the past. The costs of those projects always seems to outweigh the enjoyment of the cars and the cars spend most of their time being worked on rather than being driven. With all original cars you just have to be a good steward for the next owner. It’s a no brainer, just maintain and enjoy until you’re ready to move on to the next one.

Cars need to be driven. The worse thing for a car is to let it sit. I really like to drive my cars. I’ll take them on my short commute to work, to Cars and Coffee West Chester, PCA events and The Radnor Hunt Road Rally each year. I can’t stand sitting at shows being judged. Each week I have a Google calendar reminder for which car should be driven that week so no one car gets more use than another. It works out quite well.

GCFSB: In your decision process for buying this type of car, were you looking for something that you thought would be an appreciating asset? Or were you looking for this particular package – and why?

Jeff: I buy what appeals to me at the time. If I can drive it and enjoy it for a little while then it’s been worth it. I don’t think of them as investments. Although it appears 951s have gone up in value since I bought this one. So, I think I’ve done alright with her.

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GCFSB: Besides this pristine 944 Turbo, would you share other cars that you currently own, or notable ones you owned in the past?

Jeff: I was recently up to seven which for me is a tipping point. I really only have room for six max, but four would really be best. So I recently sold one and I’m going to try to replace instead of add from here on out.

Notably the 951 currently shares garage space with a 1987 Guards Red Porsche 911 Targa and a 1987 Buick Grand National. Both are lower mileage, fully documented examples. The Targa is particularly pristine and with all original paint that just looks amazing. There is just nothing like a cool summer evening, targa top off and the sound of that air cooled lump right behind you. I never understood the “air-cooled 911 thing” until I owned one. Now I TOTALLY get it and will never be without an air-cooled in my collection. I just love that funky little car. The Buick is like driving a freight train. Just push on the gas and hold on. I graduated in 1986, so this era of cars are like reliving my youth.I’ve owned dozens of cars. Mostly late 60s to late 80s – a few Mercedes’ (GREAT cars), a couple of Jags, a couple of Mustangs, a Volvo T-5R, a Saab 900 Turbo. I went through an old Cadillac/Lincoln phase for a while and then had nothing but Corvettes for a couple of years. I had a Fathom Green over Saddle ‘69 Corvette convertible, big block, factory air, 4-speed, yadda-yadda-yadda. Beautiful to look at, but it was like playing roulette to see if I’d make it home every time I took it out. I just sold my last Corvette a month ago – a pristine silver over red C3. Local car, one owner with 33,000 miles. Great car. But, I’m just completely over Corvettes and pretty much all American muscle.

The German cars of the era are just soooooo much better and more enjoyable to drive. I’ve never had a BMW, and would really like to try an M6 and/or an Audi Ur-Quattro. Also, I have my eye on 89/90 Nissan Skyline GT-R now that they’re starting to show up here. Maybe someday a Ferrari 348GTS, but my wallet runs a hides every time a start to look at those.

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GCSFB: Jeff, thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us. It sounds like the Turbo is in great hands, excellent company and will enjoy some time both in and out of your garage! Enjoy and keep us updated on what’s next!

-Carter

Motorsports Monday: 944 Turbo v. M3

If you were to believe the history of Motorsports as told by some E30 enthusiasts, nothing would have existed before the M3 and nothing can compare since. Sure, the M3 was an impressive car and had a long and illustrious career, and in terms of a single type of racing it won more than any other single model has. But was it more dominant than the Porsche 956/962, for example? 8 overall wins at Le Mans is certainly quite impressive in a life that spanned over a decade. Or how about the all-conquering Lancia Delta, which won the WRC Championship for 6 years straight? Or Ferrari’s successive and evolutionary F2002, F2003GA, and F2004 – one of the most dominant streaks in Formula 1 history – the F2004 won 15 out of 18 races and nearly all of the track records it set that year still stand over a decade later. While I’d agree that it doesn’t diminish from the achievement of the E30, I’d argue that it’s not the most impressive achievement in Motorsports history. Still, that winning heritage paid dividends for BMW in the sales and reputation department, and the E30 M3 has become a rocketship still heading towards its apogee. $90,000 for an E30 used to sound laughable, but suddenly it’s the market reality for the limited and low mileage examples. Even track-dog M3s are experiencing a resurgence in value; which raises the question – would you rather have the legend of the M3 or something of racing pedigree from the same generation but with a much higher performance envelope?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on eBay

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1987 Porsche 944 Turbo

The last few transaxles I’ve looked at have been a bit eclectic; the 944S was a well priced, good looking driver candidate, but the Turbo S and 924S were both high dollar, ultra-low mileage examples. Is there still a mid-ground? Absolutely, because if you’re willing to look just north of the asking price of many of the normally aspirated models from the 1980s, you can look at the lovely and high performance version of the breed, the 944 Turbo. Introduced in 1986 and upgraded virtually every year, each Turbo model has impressive driving dynamics, are capable of triple digit cruising and are capable and reasonable reliable exotics. Today’s example is presented in more rare to find Nougat Brown with brown Porsche Script interior:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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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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1988 Porsche 944 Turbo

It may sound strange, but this is – I believe – the first non-S, non-Cup 1988 944 Turbo we’ve written up on this blog. While that may not sound outrageous, the 944 Turbo is a staple of these pages and considering the thousands of cars we’ve written up – virtually with every production year covered – it’s a bit strange to me. But as with 1987, 1988 was a year of change for the 944 Turbo; while the standard model carried over the ABS and airbag changes from the previous model, there were no major changes (the DME chip was changed from 24 to 28 pin; that’s about it). However, the big change was the half year introduction of the “S” model; standard M030 suspension and upgraded power were the highlights. While the power increase wasn’t huge at only 30, the limited run status, additional power, cool Silver Rose colors and upgraded suspension mean that it’s the model that we often concentrate on. Of course, that means we overlook the standard Turbo, and that’s a shame – because like the ’86 and ’87 cars, they were still great performance values and offered significant forced induction street credentials. It was, after all, a Porsche Turbo you were cruising in; select Guards Red from the color pallet and you’d have completed the Yuppie dream coupe recipe:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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1986 Porsche 944 Turbo with 30,300 Miles

Such is the value of the 944 Turbo, it has become almost a cliche on these pages. I suppose that I could go back and count the number of phenomenal 944s that have rolled across my computer, but I’d say that it’s on par with the amount of overpriced, over-hyped E30 M3s and 911s. It seems that we keep saying the same thing, too – “values are certain to rise”, “finding another in this condition will be hard” and the like. Turbocharged performance with a classic Porsche kick, stunning through corners, capable of high-speed long distance rides with ease and even semi-practical as a daily driver, the 944 is arguable the Jackest of all-trades from classic Porsches. From an aesthetic perspective, there were very few changes to the U.S. bound Turbo models; outwardly, all that changed over the run were the wheels and a few special colors. While that hides some updates like ABS and more power under the skin, early and late Turbos have a decidedly different flare. While I enjoy the performance and look of the later “S” specification cars with the forged Club Sport wheels, there’s always something about a clean Fuchs equipped 1986 model. 1987s wouldn’t have the Fuchs option anymore as ABS meant the offset of the wheels was different. It’s one of the very few applications of black wheels that somehow is just perfect:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 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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1987 Porsche 944 Turbo with 5k miles

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The Porsche 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951, is leading the charge in terms of the 944’s popularity with collectors. As such, prices have been on the rise for these forced induction coupes, as P-car enthusiasts begin to view them as worthy alternatives to the almighty 911. We saw a low mileage 1986 944 Turbo sell last month for $21,500. Good examples are regularly approaching and exceeding the $20,000 mark. Now comes along this 1987 944 Turbo with just under 6,000 miles. Surely this is one of the lowest mileage examples we’ve seen yet at GCFSB. The asking price is also one of the highest we’ve encountered. Worth the price of admission for an almost new 944 Turbo?

Click for details: 1987 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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Motorsports Monday: Porsche 944 Drag v. Circuit

While there are a lot of Porsche enthusiasts who love to head to the track, the reality is that few can afford to support the costs of a GT3 Cup car or even Cayman S, as illustrated in my last post. Even a modestly prepared car can be an expensive undertaking. As a result, for some time the biggest bang-for-the-buck has been the Porsche 944. Robust, tunable and naturally well balanced, the cult-classic 944 has taken to many different forms of motorsport; autocross, circuit racing and even the occasional rally. But today, while I’ve got a fairly typical 944 Turbo track build, we also will look at an odd place for the 944 to turn up; the drag strip:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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Is there a replacement? 1986 944 Turbo v. 1988 944 LT1

Contemplating these two cars, two phrases came to my mind. The first is the old adage “there’s no replacement for displacement”; a saying which certainly could be questioned poignantly today given the plethora of high output turbocharged motors that are available. The second is a advertising campaign that Porsche has now utilized for several years – “Porsche – there is no substitute”. Combining these two expressions of automotive certainty and black or white belief systems has been the Porsche 944, which amongst other models has become a popular platform to swap American V8s into. Quick power, good balance and cheap parts seem to justify the swap, and in the case of some of the more recent LS motors the weight difference is negligible compared to the turbocharged inline-4 that came in the 951. What you get is instant power – a lot of it. So for comparison’s sake, today we have two Stone Grey Metallic 944s that take different routes. First is an original 944 Turbo from 1986 followed by an F-body LT1-swapped ’88 944. Which is the better option?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo on eBay

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