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:
For some time, the 968 has enjoyed a stellar reputation as one of Porsche’s best all around cars. Comfortable yet quick, great around town and on the highway, perfectly balanced and capable of carrying a greater load than the 911, the 968 is a supremely versatile chassis coupled with a great motor. While it wasn’t quite as explosive as the Turbo S models were out of the box, the 968 with the 6-speed nevertheless was a more flexible package – easy to loaf around town in but also capable of dashes up the tach. The torque is constant and omnipresent; there’s no ‘floor it and wait for the boom’ of the Turbo here. Yet despite the great reputation for longevity, the nicely updated looks with integration of the 928 lineage, and being the last of the front-engined Porsches until the Cayenne and Panamera, the 968 has not grown in value anywhere close to the 964 and 993 have. That means as an enthusiast you get one heck of a bargain in performance:
Our lineup has recently been bolstered by contributing author Pablo, a wealth of information on all things front-engined, water-cooled Porsches. One of the models he really touts as the best development of this setup is the 968, and it’s easy to see why. With near perfect balance, great looks, daily-driver practicality and a very flexible engine, the 968 was a package that could actually be enjoyed on both road and track. Unlike their rear-engined counterparts from the same time period, values have not yet taken off in a frenzy; this means that you can get one of the best packages out of the box from Porsche for a relative steal. But the 968 is still a Porsche, and as Pablo has outlined as the miles creep up on 968s the potential repairs to the engine can get quite expensive. Therefore, while it’s tempting to jump into a $10,000 car with some miles on the clock, that price could easily be doubled quickly in maintenance that was deferred due to expense by the previous owners. Perhaps, then, the answer is the best, low mileage example you can find: