There are rare Porsches, and then there are rare Porsches. The 968 Turbo S is a car that very few will ever get to see and a fair amount of Porsche enthusiasts in the U.S. don’t even know exists. The ultimate streetable front-engined Turbo coupe from the end of the run, the Turbo S took the old 2.5 8V turbo inline-4 to new heights of power by utilizing the newer S2/968 3.0 block with the earlier 944 Turbo S bits on top. Power reached over 300, a healthy bump over the existing 944 turbo and 968 16v. But there were only a handful made – around 14 between racing and street versions, making it one of the rarest Porsches ever made. This means you’re not likely to see one anytime soon – making the prospect of owning this replica much more appealing:
Recently I took a look at the ultra-exclusive 968 Turbo S. With only 14 produced as far as anyone can tell, they are just about as good as the 968 got:
1994 Porsche 968 Turbo S
I say “just about” because, of course, there was an even more special model – the Turbo RS. This was the ultimate front-engine 4-cylinder Porsche, and it was intended just for racing. Perhaps ironically, Porsche introduced the 968 Turbo RS first and then brought the Turbo S to market in order to homologate the RS for racing. They were intended to compete in the ADAC GT series, and Porsche developed two different models – one for sprints, and one for endurance. At least one car went on to travel to the famous races of Le Mans and Sebring, but although these Turbo RSs were the ultimate 968 they were never developed fully to win races. Four were produced; one red ’92, one yellow ’93, one blue ’93, and one black ’94. That’s it.
Almost completely forgotten by nearly everyone including Porsche, one of the four Turbo RSs is for sale today:
Although it certainly added up to more than the sum of its parts, on paper the Porsche 968 was a bit lacking compared to most of its competition. For example, for $2,000 less than the base price of a non-Sport package equipped 968, you could get a twin-turbocharged 300 horsepower Nissan 300ZX packed full of the latest technology. Or the also twin-turbocharged Dodge Stealth/Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 twins. Or the sublime turbocharged Mazda RX-7. And while the Supra Turbo came at a higher price, its performance was also on another level. One thing was clearly missing from the 968 package in order to compete.
Porsche’s Motorsport department, under the leadership of Jurgen Barth, solved this problem in 1993 by offering a turbocharged version of the 968 Clubsport. The 16V head was dropped for a development of the 944 Turbo S head and turbo, but the car retained the 3-liter bottom end. This comprised the M44.60 engine. The result was 305 horsepower and 368 lb.ft of torque. Unlike the 944 Turbos, the 968 Turbo S also got the 6-speed manual (G44.01) and 75% locking differential out of the Clubsport, too. Outside, an homage to the 924 Turbo came in the form of twin NACA ducts on the hood, and the Turbo S gained a huge spoiler in the rear with an adjustable center plane. The Turbo S also nabbed 911 goodies in the form of Turbo brakes and 3-piece Speedline wheels. The Clubsport’s 20mm lowered suspension was dropped even further. For good measure, Porsche Motorsport chopped another 45 lbs off the already lightened Clubsport, too. They featured the lightweight Clubsport interior, no rear seat, and few options. The performance figures were reportedly good enough to best 911 Carrera 3.8 RSRs of the period.
As well as anyone can figure, Porsche only constructed 14 968 Turbo Ss – 11 ’93s (VINS ending 061-071) and 3 ’94s (VINS 001, 061, and 062). Because they’re so rare and were never sold in America, in fact, even some Porsche fans on this side of the pond aren’t aware of their existence. They don’t come up for sale very frequently, but -001 is available right now:
The 968 occupies a strange space in the Porsche world. Limited in production, good looking, well-built and with good chassis dynamics and performance, it should have all of the hallmarks of a collector car in today’s market. Many prominent automobile publications have bashed you over the head with that, too – it’s not just me banging on here. Petrolicious posts an article (the same one, usually…) seemingly every week about the Porsche 968 Club Sport, Hemmings has repeatedly said it’s the best of the breed, and Hagerty told you to get on board last year and buy one. And when Bring a Trailer sold one in late 2017 at $36,250, it seemed 2018 was poised to be the year of exploding values on the 968.
But it wasn’t. Bring a Trailer has, so far to date, failed to present match to that one-off. It’s not for lack of trying – fifteen came up for sale on the site in 2018, yet none cleared $25,000, and most traded well below that. So here we are in 2019, wondering exactly where the values on these cars will head. But if today’s example is any indication, things could be interesting:
In yesterday’s Corrado SLC post, I referenced both how Volkswagen’s coupe was another attempt to create the “poor man’s Porsche”. Of course, at the same time that VW was perfecting its craft with arguably the best of their front-drive creations in the Corrado with the VR6 in the nose, Porsche wasn’t exactly napping at the wheel. They, too, had perfected their own pauper Porsche. The problem was, of course, that not many paupers could afford it.
The 968 stormed out of the gates and straight into the early 1990s recession wielding 236 horsepower from its VarioCam-equipped development of the 3.0 inline-4 from the 944S2. Evolutionary bodywork linked the model more closely with both the 928S4/GT and the 911 range. But with more power on tap than the standard 944 Turbo had in the mid-eighties, the base price was pretty much out of reach for most mortals. In 1992, the MSRP was $39,950 for a stripper Coupe. If you wanted the Cabriolet, you’d pay more than $10,000 additional. And if you opted for a Tiptronic transmission you’d be at $55,000. In 1992, mind you! That’s over $100,000 in today’s buying power and nearly double what a base 718 Boxster stickers for today. Even the basic Coupe in 1992 was double the sticker price of the 968 hardtop.
That made the Corrado a lot more compelling to consider in period, even with the 968’s stellar poise and road manners. It’s no surprise, then, that Porsche only managed to sell 2,234 968 Coupes here – compared to over 14,000 944 Turbos imported. A bulk of the Coupes, 1811, were 6-speed manuals, thankfully. But as we discovered yesterday, just because they were really expensive when new doesn’t mean that holds true today:
I don’t feature the 968 all that often. I do, however, tend to feature just about anything I come across in Riviera Blue. I simply can’t turn away from them. Here we have a 1994 Porsche 968 Cabriolet painted in that bright blue. This one also has the very desirable 6-speed manual transmission. Riviera Blue often is associated with the 993 and we rarely think much of it when it comes to other Porsches. But this 968 shows the color off almost as well and even if its sporting pretensions are not quite elevated to the same level as the last of the air-cooled 911s, I’m sure this one will have no trouble attracting attention in a crowd of Porsche enthusiasts. It looks in very good condition and the mileage even is pretty reasonable when we consider it is nearly 25 years old.
The 928 gets the vast majority of the love when it comes to Porsche’s front-engined machines and there’s very good reason for that. The 968 provides its own unique appeal and definitely creates quite an ardor among its fans. And relative to a ’90s 928 prices tend to be much more attainable.
I believe this is a first for me. While I’ve written about the 968 previously, I’m fairly certain it’s never been the Club Sport. They’re rare so that’s not too surprising, but still given how often I’m on the lookout for early-90s Porsches you’d think at some point it’d have happened.
Like most any Porsche Club Sport model, the 968CS was a lightened and more potent version of the standard 968. While the 968 never was the most popular of Porsches they remain a lovely design even today and the Club Sport itself a highly sought after model. It was one of the favorite cars of our former editor, Paul. He featured them as frequently as was possible given their rare nature and the fact that they couldn’t be imported into the US. With it now being 25 years since they were first produced that problem should be more easily surmountable. If these were one of the cars of your dreams, then here’s your shot at one of these rare machines:
A Speed Yellow 1993 Porsche 968 Club Sport, currently residing in Canada, with 47,224 miles on it. This 968CS originally was delivered in Japan. There’s no word in the ad on when it made its way to North America, but it is said to come with extensive records so hopefully prospective buyers can work out those details.
At the beginning of the 1990s, pretty much everyone was stepping away from twin-cam inline-4s. While they had been the rage in the 80s and “DOHC” was nearly as popular as Miami Vice, buyers demanded more power and refinement. Sure, you could make 200 horsepower from a high-strung four-pot; but making it tractable for daily driving, passing emissions, and reliable? That was another ball-game. As a result, most major manufacturers went to larger displacement 6- or 8-cylinder motors in their small performance cars.
Everyone, that is, except for Porsche.
Porsche dialed in the 944S2 a bit more with updated 928-inspired looks and a new ‘VarioCam’ adjustable valve timing on the 3-liter inline-4. Now with 237 horsepower and an impressive 225 lb.ft of torque, it roamed the sports car elite field like a small dinosaur. Porsche added another speed to the mix, but since this was a relatively expensive 4-banger coupe based on a twenty year old design, they didn’t sell particularly well. A total of 2,234 Coupes were imported between 1992 and 1995; the last year was the worst seller, with a scant 259 making the journey. This particular last-year example may just be the best one left in the country:
A few weeks ago, I took a look at a trio of Porsche 968 6-speeds. One was a rare 1995 model; only 259 were sold from that model year. As is often the case with 968 Coupe 6-speeds, the asking prices of two of the three were quite high and they still linger on the market, unsurprisingly. Well, today we have another double take of ’95 specific 6-speeds – how do they measure up to the last three we looked at?
The Porsche 968 Coupe 6-speed is a fairly infrequently seen package, but one that is generally considered to be the “ultimate development” of the water-cooled transaxle 4-cylinder models. Only about half of the cars that were imported to the U.S. were Coupes (4,242 sent to North America, 2,234 of which were Coupes), and when equipped with the 6-speed manual the number dwindles to just 1,811. That puts production of these models on par with the E28 M5 in terms of rarity, and the group of enthusiasts who enjoy them are about as avid if not moreso. However, they also often overvalue their cars in the marketplace, making them expensive options relative to the performance on tap.
Today I have a group of no less than three 968 Coupe 6-speeds for sale – a rare Christmas treat to see. Which is the winner of the group?