I’m a sucker for two things: great deals on underdog cars and crazy color combination. Welcome to today’s 951!
I’m not going to hide my love of the transaxle 4-cylinder Porsches. I think they’re still some of the best deals going in the Porsche world, provided you know where to look. For example, I provided you with a stellar example of a 924S just a few weeks ago:
1987 Porsche 924S with 17,500 Miles
As I mentioned there were two ways to consider that car. On one hand, I don’t think you could get a better condition, lower mileage Porsche for any less. But on the flip side, there were plenty of other cars that were a lot more desirable for similar money. This 944 Turbo is one of the cars that I referenced. Granted, it’s not quite as pristine as the 924S was, but I still think it has a lot to offer:
Porsche is famous for launching a special edition just about every six minutes, and in the late 1980s they launched quite a few for 1988. First off, they created a special edition of the 944 Turbo. 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 original models have become the most desirable of the 944 Turbos:
Here’s a listing I am genuinely interested in seeing end in a few days. Why? Well, I’ve covered a string of 944 Turbos recently, and we’ve seen some very nice examples trade for quite reasonable amounts. But today’s 944 Turbo is special for a few reasons. First, it is one of the last of the run, S-spec 1989 models. Properly, they’re not called “Turbo S” models, but only because all of the 1989 models came equipped with option code M030 – the Club Sport Package, featuring adjustable Koni suspension, forged Club Sport wheels, upgraded 928 brakes, and 30mm/25.5mm swaybars. It also meant by default you needed to select option code M220 – the 40% limited slip differential. Coupled with the upgraded M44/51 turbo motor producing nearly 250 horsepower, these are the Ninjas of the Porsche lineup in the 1980s – silent supercar killers. Today’s example is especially desirable since it comes from a single owner, is claimed all original, and has only covered 43,000 miles:
I’m guessing that if you’re a fan of the 944 Turbo, you’re reading this with a slight tinge of regret that you didn’t bid on the two no reserve 944 Turbos I posted the other day. Both were unique in their own ways, but the condition and pricing made them compelling options. The Nougat Brown car traded for a staggeringly low, “why the hell didn’t I jump in on that auction” $8,100. The Alpine White car, with a bit better presentation and neat options, has just broken $10,000 with a few hours remaining. The 944 Turbo is one of those cars that keeps me thinking, wondering when they too will be out of reach for most enthusiasts. Today I have another interesting configuration, low mile Turbo to consider – is this one worth the plunge?
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of low mileage, crazy asking price 1980s cars – they’re out there, and in reality not particularly hard to find. But then there seems to be a gulf between the cars that are above average with sellers hoping to capitalize on market trends, and forlorn project cars in need of more help than their value. While it would be wonderful to contemplate the salvation of every single example, it’s simply not economically viable. Nor, too, is the idea of just buying the best example in existence and paying a ridiculous premium.
Look in the right place and there is still a happy medium for enthusiasts. Today I’ve located two quite affordable options of 944 Turbos. The miles aren’t crazy, the condition of both is quite good, they each have unique options that make them appealing in their own way. And, each is a no reserve auction. So which is the one you’d want to take home?
We’ve talked quite a bit about increasing values on Porsche 944 Turbos, and especially the high market price of the 1988 944 Turbo S and S-specification 1989 models which are highly prized. While in 1989 you could not opt-out of the S trim features (hence no S designation), in 1988 you could. With more power, bigger brakes, and better suspension, why would you? Well, because in 1988 ticking the “M030” option box to get the S-specification cost you a staggering $5,510, and Porsche then declared you “needed” another $2,000 worth of options like cruise control and a nice radio – but, ironically perhaps for Porsche, not a limited-slip differential, which you had to tick option 220 to get, too (*it was a mandatory option in 1989). That brought your already pretty pricey 4-cylinder Porsche from $40,000 to a nose-bleeding $48,000 – around double what you’d pay for a Porsche 924S. So, it was no surprise that while the S specification was popular, it was not chosen by roughly 2/3rds of 944 Turbo buyers in 1988. Still, it feels almost unusual to see a non-S 944 Turbo today as so much attention is focused on the special upgraded model. When you see a 944 Turbo that looks like today’s example does, though, it’s worthwhile choosing the lesser:
For some time, there has been an ongoing conflict in my head. All of me agrees that the Porsche 944 is a pretty awesome car; great looks, handling and performance in a bargain package with classic Porsche reliability and build quality. But I fight with myself over just which of the Porsche 944s I prefer. Some days, the forced induction Turbo captures my imagination; there’s been a 1989 Turbo in my family now for two decades and it’s a wonderful car. But I have to admit that it’s not been without its problems, and while it’s a cool package it seems almost too predictable as the “go to” “cheap” Porsche. Should it be criticized for being a spectacular performance bargain? That may not be fair, but just like the BMW E30 represents a good balance of performance and practicality, it’s sometimes just too popular for me. What’s the alternative? Well, the 944 has its own answer: the 944S2. Visually, the two are nearly indistinguishable to most non-enthusiasts. But the driving experience is quite different; the M44/51 turbo motor is legendary as a tuning platform and offers typical ’80s lag-prone explosive launches, while the M44/41 big 3.0 16V motor has seemingly effortless torque at your disposal but loves to run up the tach as well. Stand on it in a drag race, and the Turbo will win – nearly a second faster to 60 miles per an hour and 5 m.p.h. faster on the top end. But if you’re a clever S2 driver and catch the Turbo slightly off-guard, you’ll be right with them – and the S2 isn’t about drag racing, it’s about making a better all-around driver. So the S2 is the better choice? Well, perhaps – but then there’s the mystique of the Turbo model. Who doesn’t want to say they own a Porsche Turbo, really? Today I have an example of each – which will be the winner?