Recently I took at look at the underrated 944S2. Well, the even more underrated example in the 944 lineup must be the short-lived 1987-8 944S. Porsche introduction of the “Super” 944 was perhaps obscured by other developments in the lineup, including the Turbo, Silver Anniversary model, and revisions to the base model in ’87. 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 at all, but a Guards Red example popped up on eBay this week:
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In the late 1980s, the front-engined Porsche lineup started to get a bit convoluted – especially amongst the 4 cylinder variants. In 1986, you could choose between the the base 944 with the 150 horsepower 2.5 liter inline-4 8 valve motor that had reinvigorated the revised 924 chassis into the 944 for 1982, or if you were gunning for the big boys you could select the 217 horsepower Turbo model. To bridge the gap in performance between the two, Porsche introduced a mid-range model in 1987; the 944S. Based in part on the development of the 924 and 944 GTR Le Mans race cars from a few years earlier, the M44.40 double overhead cam 16 value motor split the difference between the two previous offerings; essentially half the 928S motor, the new “Super” produced 190 horsepower slotting itself almost perfectly in the middle of the other two offerings. Added to the S were a host of Turbo items, including springs and parts of the brake system, as well as some exotic parts such as the use of magnesium in the engine bay to keep weight down. Outside, only discrete “16 Ventiler” badges on the front fender trim differentiated that this was a special model. Coupled with the reintroduction of the 924S model, Porsche now offered four different variants of the 4-cylinder transaxle cars for enthusiasts of differing budgets. The 944S’s base price was around $5,000 more dear than the 924S, but it was considerable $8,000 less than the Turbo model’s base price. Add some options in and these 944Ss could easily crest $30,000, around what it would have cost you to walk out of the dealer with this particular example: