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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2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T

I’m a huge “Why buy this, when I can buy this for the same price?” kind of person. Very much so when it comes to cars. Obviously this can go very wrong when you need to spend $20,000 on a mini van for your family and you come home with a 2004 Maserati Coupe Cambiocorsa with the clutch hanging on for dear life. The next thing you know your writing a Craigslist ad with the first words being ***MUST SELL*** while calling your insurance company back to take the car off your policy. This kind of thinking isn’t so bad when it comes to cars that are meant to be cars that you aren’t hauling around your family to your mother-in-laws house. Case in point, Porsche 911.

The 991.2 Carrera 911 T was a car that Porsche certainly didn’t have to build. I went over the specifics of them before when I looked at one back in February, but the short of it is the car is mash-up for parts across the 911 range meant to be an “enthusiast option.” It slots in price wise between the Carrera and the Carrera S, and when looked at on paper, is a ton of a value when talking about new 911s. However, new 911s are still $100,000. So that brings me to never of ending question of do you buy this, or a boat load of other cars for around $100,000? Tough call in my eyes.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T on Rennlist

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2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring

Guards Red is one of those Porsche colors you can recite without thinking about. It was immensely popular on the G-body cars and naturally carried on to the 964, 993, 996, 997, and now the 991. I don’t think you’ll hear anyone argue it didn’t look good on those early cars, but now that the 991 is roughly twice the size as an original long hood car, you end up looking at a lot of paint. This seems to be true with the 991 with its extra wide hips and overall really big stature when it comes to what are suppose to be light, nimble sports cars. So when I saw this GT3 Touring come up for sale, I had to take a look. I think I’m still on the fence about it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring on eBay

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1996 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Tiptronic

A little over a month ago I checked out a 964 Porsche 911 C2 in a great spec until you noticed it was equipped with the Tiptronic transmission. Nothing really wrong with that, but I felt like it shouldn’t be priced on the same level as the 5-speed cars given the what recent 964s are selling for. Would I kick it out of my garage? Of course not. Would it be my choice all dollars being equal? Of course not.

Building on that, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the next generation 911 with the old slushbox, the 993. The transmission was exactly the same, a ZF box with four forward gears, as opposed to the standard 6-speed you get with the manual cars. Even worse, the Tiptronic was 55 pounds heavier. Even worse than that, it sucked up the power big time. A 0-60 time in a C2 with the 6-speed was around 5.3 seconds while the same car with the Tiptronic box was 6.2 seconds. Yes, not great. However, this 1996 C2 painted in the lovely Guards Red could be cheap enough for you to consider it, right?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Tiptronic on eBay

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2004 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

For some reason I’ve been really itching for a Porsche 911 of late. I’ve done all the scenarios in my head from a G-body all the way up to an early 997.1. Naturally the most cost effective way to get into a 911 is a 996.1, but given their less-than-beautiful looks and dreaded IMS issues that the internet compares to a same amount of severity as a tsunami, it might not be the most enjoyable car to buy. However, bump the budget up another $10,000 and you can slide right into 996 Turbo looks without 996 Turbo cost or of course, power. The C4S in my opinion is a great looking car given what you want to work with on the 996 body, and I love they went with a heckblende across the rear like generations past. Today’s car, a 2004 C4S up for sale in Washington state, is painted in the always nice Guards Red and even has a handful of nice little options on the inside.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S on eBay

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1987 Porsche 924S with 17,500 Miles

‘The Poor Man’s Porsche’

Not that one would consider the 924 very affordable by the end of the run, mind you – but, then, it was cheap by Porsche standards. In 1986, the Scirocco had grown 8 more valves and was a competent performer – more than the match for most of the competition. Base price had also grown to almost $14,000, and equip one with power options to match its more luxurious Audi and Porsche cousins and suddenly you were close to $16,000 out the door. But it was still a big leap to the Special Build Coupe GT, which crested $21,000 with a few options. While it offered a bit more luxury than the 16V, there wasn’t any improvement in performance from the 130 horsepower NG 2.3 10V. To get more grunt, you had to turn to Porsche.

Porsche’s “budget” 944 had also grown in price, and by ’87 you were looking at – no surprise – a $5,000 increase over the Audi to get a more prestigious badge. The new 16V 944S was even more expensive though it looked no different. So to bring the 944 back to its sub-$20,000 base price roots, Porsche brought back the 924. The car that was originally suppose to be the Scirocco and was, for some time, the bread and butter of Porsche’s sales was a 924 in body only as it now had 944 underpinnings. The Super 924 was therefore a bit of a sleeper, offering slightly better performance than the base 944 due to better aerodynamics of the pure design and lighter weight. Base price was briefly $19,900, so in dealerships that sold both Audi and Porsche products, this was a heads-up competitor to the late GTs. And though they ostensibly had similar missions, they were remarkably different cars. As we’ve recently looked at the Scirocco and Audi, let’s take another gander at what you’re missing with the 924S:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 924S 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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1987 Porsche 924S

Update 8/28/18: This clean 924S sold for $5,000. What a steal!

Rounding out my trio of affordable VAG 2-doors is, of course, the Porsche 924. Not that one would consider the 924 very affordable by the end of the run, mind you – but, then, it was cheap by Porsche standards. In 1987, the Scirocco had grown 8 more valves and was a competent performer – more than the match for most of the competition. Base price had also grown to almost $14,000, and equip one with power options to match its more luxurious Audi and Porsche cousins and suddenly you were close to $16,000 out the door. But it was still a big leap to the Special Build Coupe GT, which crested $21,000 with a few options. While it offered a bit more luxury than the 16V, there wasn’t any improvement in performance from the 130 horsepower NG 2.3 10V. To get more grunt, you had to turn to Porsche.

Porsche’s “budget” 944 had also grown in price, and by ’87 you were looking at – no surprise – a $5,000 increase over the Audi to get a more prestigious badge. So to bring the 944 back to its sub-$20,000 base price roots, Porsche brought back the 924. The car that was originally suppose to be the Scirocco and was, for some time, the bread and butter of Porsche’s sales was a 924 in body only as it now had 944 underpinnings. The Super 924 was therefore a bit of a sleeper, offering slightly better performance than the base 944 due to better aerodynamics of the pure design and lighter weight. Base price was briefly $19,900, so in dealerships that sold both Audi and Porsche products, this was a heads-up competitor to the late GTs. And though they ostensibly had similar missions, they were remarkably different cars. Today, little has changed but that the two remain in the same price bracket:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Porsche 924S on eBay

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1989 Porsche 944S2 ROW

Although the United States is one of the most important market for its sales, the 944S2 is a case where a majority of the cars sold were “Rest of World” examples. Total S2 production was 19,945 units, and of those about 6,036 came to North America. When you compare that to the 944 Turbo, 25,107 were built with 14,235 sold in the United States alone. Typically, the European versions of the 80s cars we look at had more power, but that was not the case for the S2. The M44.41 was a world engine, meaning it was only available with catalyst and rated at 207 horsepower (211 according to Porsche, although that’s the motor’s PS rating rather than HP). So what did a “ROW” 944S2 get you? Well, the shorter and lighter rear bumper treatment for one, side indicators just ahead of the rub strips, and in front you got integrated dual fog lights/driving lights rather than the fog/dummy setup on U.S. cars. In the case of this particular ’89, you also got the option for a really neat Studio cloth interior:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Porsche 944S2 on eBay

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1987 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

How can you talk about 1980s Volkswagens and not mention the Scirocco? Karmann’s lift of the Giugiaro Asso di Picche, Asso di Quadri and Asso di Fiori designs was plainly evident, but that they were borrowed really should come as a surprise. After all, the reception to the master Italian designer’s other pens – the Golf, first generation Scirocco, Audi 80 (4000) and Coupe GT firmly established both companies in the public limelight. In the case of Volkswagen, it defined a company emerging from the shadow of the air-cooled generation; for Audi, it modernized designs and capitalized on the success of the 100 lineup in the 1970s. But Karmann had been integral in the production of the first two as well, making an easy transition from ItalDesign to Volkswagen’s go-to special production for the second generation Scirocco.

But while the design was all grown up and modern for the 1980s, the underpinnings were the same; little changed dynamically between the 1981 and 1982 model year, and though upgrades came over the next few years with higher-spec trim and a bit more power, it wasn’t until 1986 that VW coupe fans finally got to rejoice as the addition of the PL 1.8 liter dual-cam inline-4 finally joined the lineup. Now with 123 high-revving horsepower, the Scirocco went a bit more like the wind it was named after. The wide-ratio, economy-minded gearbox of yore was gone too, replaced by a close-ratio gearbox. Like the GTI and GLI, 14″ ‘Teardrop’ wheels and a new bodykit heightened the boy-racer appearance, and the 16V models got all matchy-matchy before the Golf and Jetta, too, with body-colored painted bumpers.

Perhaps this was a shot across the bow of the other Giugiaro-designed, sporty 2-door coupe on the market – the Isuzu Impulse Turbo. Because as much of a VW nut as I am, let’s be honest – the Impulse was cooler. It had much better integrated bumpers, for example, and looked even MORE modern than the Scirocco. And it had cooler wheels. And it had a turbo, and as neat as having dual cams was, having a turbo got you into pants in the 1980s. While it only had one cam, the intercooled 4ZCI was good for 140 horsepower in 1985. That power was channeled through the back wheels, too, with near perfect weight distribution. To top all of that off, in 1987 you could get the “RS” model which was painted all white – yes, even the wheels. My ‘87.5 Coupe GT Special Build was even jealous. They came fully loaded with electronic gizmos, and mostly unlike the VW, they worked. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, GM links created the “Lotus Tuned Suspension” package for the 1988 model year. If one of these rolled up to the party you and your Scirocco were at, you were going home lonely (and, slower).

But this isn’t “low-production Japanese cars for sale blog”, so we’ll look at the Scirocco.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen Scirocco on eBay

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