Update 1/17/19: This ’88 944 Turbo S has been relisted at $27,000, down $2,000 from December.
Here’s an interesting one. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was one of the very special and very limited ‘Silver Rose’ 944 Turbo S models. All painted in unique Silver Rose Metallic (F1) with multi-tone maroon studio cloth, and ushered in a long list of revisions to the standard 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. So too was a beefed up radio.
But the interesting thing about this particular car is that it’s not a Silver Rose. The original purchaser of this car ticked the $5,510 option box for the Turbo S M758 options, then paid a further $685 to have it painted Stone Gray Metallic:
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:
I’ve looked across the 924 range over the past week, from the well-optioned 1980 Turbo through the interestingly-modified 1978 924 base model. But in the case of either of those, the strong argument if you just want a nice driving, cheap entry level Porsche is the later 924S.
Offered for only two years in the U.S. market, nevertheless a bulk of the 924S production was sold here. Some 16,669 were made in total, with 9,137 making the trip across the Atlantic from Neckarsulm. Of those, the much more prevalent to find would be the first model year, with 6,947 accounting for 1987 production. Yet there were few changes across the run; 1988 received a slight bump in compression for a 5 horsepower gain, and there was the limited run of Special Edition final models that were quite special. But all offer lightweight driving fun with near-perfect balance and poise, reasonable running costs and sprightly performance. Plus, since many 924 owners treasured their foray into Porsche ownership, it’s possible just about any day of the week to find a really nice condition 924S like this impressive 43,500 mile Zermatt Silver Metallic example.
What’s not to like?
The Porsche 924 represents some of the best aspects of automobile enthusiasts, while simultaneously embodying two distinct and very different decades. From the 1970s comes the upright, modernist and simple dashboard, but while it nods to the decade that bore it, the exterior is immediately identifiable as the 1980s signature silhouette with a low-slung, long hood, pronounced bumpers and flip-up headlights. Quite a few cars in the late 1970s and 1980s attempted to mimic the design of the 924, including the notable RX-7 and you could even argue the 280/300ZX. You can even see influence of the groundbreaking 924 design in the Miata of the late 1980s as well as such modern GT cars at the AMG GT-S. For enthusiasts, though, it was the near perfect weight distribution, the torquey inline-4, the manual gearbox and the all-important Porsche badge of engineering and build quality that led to the 924 being a hit. It didn’t hurt that it was the most affordable Porsche, either, and arguably still is so today. I’ve rounded up a group of 3 distinct and neat 924S models from late in the run to see which offers the most bang for your buck:
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:
Last week, Paul wrote up a clean Guards Red 1987 924S. Along with black examples, it seems that Guards Red was the other preferred color for the 924S, and I’ve written up quite a few of them. Despite there seemingly being an overabundance of these examples, they still look great every time I see one. This car is no exception; it appears to be a clean, honest survivor that has been well cared for. As there is a 1987 example in a similar shade – or once was – parked down the road from me on the street replete with massive dents down the side, I’m acutely aware of what a poorly treated 924 can look like. Also setting this car apart is the light ivory Porsche script interior, which with some completed repairs looks to be overall in very good shape and is unusual to see in these cars, most of which had black interiors: