Porsche 944: The Retro Sensation

The breakthrough that Porsche needed, the satisfaction that Porsche fans wanted, the sensation that the market required, all these questions had only one answer- the Porsche 944.

Table of Contents

Porsche 944 front picture on road

The Porsche 944 was introduced in 1982. Being the upgradation of the legendary Porsche 924, it featured a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. All the trims had in-line four-cylinder engines with the standard trim called Lux. Below is the 924 on which platform the 944 was based.

Porsche 944 back picture on road

With more than 163,000 units built, The Porsche 944 wasn’t a regular Porsche sports car. One might think that the 944 would also be like those esteemed inline-six, rear-engine coupé or more powerful, but no, as the Porsche 944 offers a greater deal. This iconic sports car was unconventional. This light and fast rocket was known to be the underdog in the classic Porsche era. In its prime, this sensational sports car was known to be the most flourishing sports automobile in its manufacturer’s history. Not only is it the most likable and desired car of its time, but the Porsche 944 is still highly regarded, has a huge fan base, and is still one of the most desired classic Porsches.

A little flashback of the Porsche 944’s history

Initially, the Porsche 914 was immensely criticized by Porsche fans as, after the 911 and the 356, the 914 was a total crash. Porsche failed to return to the glory days but couldn’t with the 924. The next model manufactured was the 928, which also didn’t take off, and Porsche’s performance was deeply despised by its enthusiasts. In parallel times, Volkswagen had also acquired Porsche’s major competition, Audi. Porsche needed a strong and instant impact for them to be back in the business.

3rd angle for the Porsche 944

Then came the Porsche 944. Launched with hope manufactured with precision and sense, the Porsche 944 became a sensation of its time. Porsche manufactured it by itself and knew exactly what the fans hoped for. Built on the structure of its predecessor, the 924, the Porsche 944 was one of a kind. This car helped Porsche gain popularity and increase revenue due to massive sales of this model.

Trims/Models years for the 944

A walk through the past

1982 model Porsche 944 in Beige
  • For the 1982 model year, Porsche released the 944. Despite having a lower drag coefficient, it was quicker, more equipped, and more tuned than the 924.
  • According to the manufacturer, it takes fewer than 9 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60, but per Scott Faragher’s “Porsche the Ultimate Guide,” it took 8.3 seconds.
  • North American legislation mandated that the auxiliary lights be replaced with larger bumpers and a larger rubber part on the front bumper for vehicles sold in that region.

In conjunction with Porsche, the US-Spec 944 turbocharged package was made available in 1983 by American tuning business Callaway Cars.

The regular 2.5 L inline-four engine’s higher compression ratio of 9.5:1 and complicated Bosch Motronic engine management system made it susceptible to failure when subjected to forced induction. Hence, the engine was not appropriate for forced induction.

1986 model Porsche 944 in black
  • Porsche released the 944 Turbo, often known as the 951, for the 1986 model year.
  • The 944 engine in the Turbo was a turbocharged, inter-cooled variant that produced 217 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute.
  • 1985, the Frankfurt Auto Show debuted the first Porsche 944 Cabriolet prototype.
  • The American Sunroof Corporation (ASC) was awarded the contract to create the new design in 1987.
1987 model for Porsche 944 in white
  • For the 1987 model year, changes were made. The 1987 944 Turbo model sold in North America was the first mass-produced vehicle in the world to come standard with driver and passenger side airbags.
1988 model for the Porsche 944 on grey, in the rear is the Audi R8 in white
  • Porsche released the 944 Turbo S 1988 with an upgraded engine that could produce up to 246 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque at 4,000 rpm.
  • Using a bigger KKK K26-8 turbocharger housing allowed for this increased output.
1989 model for the Porsche 944 in turquoise
  • The 944 S2 was unveiled in 1989.
  • A reworked gearbox and gearing were added to the 944 S2 to match the 3.0 L M44/41 engine.
  • Its performance allowed the automobile to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 6 seconds.
Porsche 944 S2 cabriolet 1989 in blue
  • Before the new Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet started leaving the ASC manufacturing line, it was already January 1989. Construction of the S2 Cabriolet was extremely challenging.
Porsche 944 Turbo cabriolet in silver
  • Porsche launched the 944 Turbo Cabriolet in February 1991, combining the cabriolet body design created by ASC with the 246-horsepower engine of the Turbo S.

Porsche 944’s power and performance back in the day

Porsche 944 going fast on road

Engine for the Porsche 944

Porsche 944 engine inline four cylinder

As mentioned earlier, all the trims of the Porsche 944 possessed dynamic inline four-cylinder engines. The standard model Lux came with a 2.5-litre unit capable of pushing out 161 horses with a torque of 205 Nm. This entry-level, work of art, standard trim did 0-60 in neither too much disappointing nor exciting 8 seconds. But the fun begins when we traverse the list to high-performance frames. The Porsche 944 Turbo offers more blazing performance, boasting 217 brake horsepower and 350 Nm of torque, scorching itself from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.9 sec.

The next introduction was of the Porsche 944 S, which had a 2.5-litre atmo engine pumping out 187 horses and 230 Nm of torque, which would help it do a 0-60 mph run in 7 seconds. And at the top of the line trim, which ranks the highest performance-wise, is the Turbo S. This sleek and speedy limited edition trim with the same 2.5-liter engine thumped out 247 bhp and 350 Nm of torque. Courtesy of its larger turbocharger. The 3-liter S2 models also mean business. These numbers are just utterly wild as we think of that era.

Transmission for the Porsche 944

The Porsche 944 was a performance-packed car that came with two transmissions

  • Optional five-speed manual transmission.
  • Three-speed automatic transmission.
Porsche 944 parts

Most of the people back then preferred the manual transmission. Porsche never compromised the performance of the 944. Even on the roads, the Porsche 944 is as smooth as possible. The perfect weight distribution because of the front-mounted engine and the transmission at the back, 12-inch Brembo brakes, precise shifting with short throw and tight clutch, and the stiffer suspension provide the near-perfect balance and sublime control on windy roads.

A focus on the exterior point of view

Porsche 944 side angle photo

The Porsche 944 itself is a very streamlined car. Its aerodynamics make the driver maneuver it smoothly with accuracy. The S2 and the turbo had optional airbags and ABS brakes, rocker extensions, rounded bumpers, underbody trays, rear diffusers, and the most likable pop-up headlights in all trims to make them more handsome.

Porsche 944 rear spoiler

The famous rear-spoiler for the 944 gave it’s iconic Porsche look.

Porsche 944 parts showing

A rear-mounted transaxle also provided elite stability while cornering, increasing nose dive, and decreasing body roll. The Porsche 944 turbo and the S2 were also available with M030 suspension and club sport wheels for track-focused performance.

The classy interior of the Porsche 944 surely had its impact.

Porsche 944 interior in white leather

Not only is the exterior sleek, but the interior of the Porsche 944 is very well-appointed. The seats are comfortable, the vents mounted on the dash, a couple of control buttons, and plain and simple analog gauges give a very elegant look. The steering wheel also has a very modern design.

Porsche 944 guages
Porsche 944 interior

Climate and stereo controls are there; a ten-speaker Blaupunkt stereo system with an equalizer sets the cabin in the right vibe. If, by chance, someone has kept it as it deserves to, this car would feel like true automotive heaven. The trunk space is not as big as it is a coupe. The tight back seats fold to give only 8.8 cubic feet of space.

Insider to the biggest cons of the Porsche 944

Obviously, what is there not to like about the Porsche 944? But very few know this major inconvenience about the 944, which can pose a hefty penalty on the owner if not taken care of.

First up, the 944 has an interference engine. Interference engine means that the piston and the valves are all placed together closely in a unit. If the timing belt falls, the whole machine collapses, resulting in a costly repair and a big displeasure. Owners are consistently told to change their Porsche 944’s belt every 28,000 miles to keep the tension constant in the belt and make the running smooth. No room for error is given. Another big problem with the Porsche 944 is that the water pump is not fairly reachable. A lot of hard work and forking out of different parts is required to reach the water pump, making it problematic for the owners.

How much would the Porsche 944 cost?

The Porsche 944’s original launch price was $36,990, and $43,350 for the Turbo S, but nowadays, people are very keen on keeping these vintage sensations, which would show that their prices might still be high, but that is not the case. Buyers can find clean units of the Porsche 944 for well under $15,000, while those seeking a project car can find examples well below $5,000.

Fuel consumption of the Porsche 944

Porsche 944 fuel cap

The base 944 gives a combined average of 24 mpg, which is impressive. The turbo variants of the Porsche 944 turbo provide a combined average of 19 mpg. However, this car wasn’t supposed to be budget-friendly. It was supposed to be a perfect combination of grace on the roads and a menace on the track.

What’s the expert’s take on the Porsche 944

Danny Kayne from Revolution Porsche says:

“I’m a big fan of the 944. With the engine in the front and the gearbox in the rear, it has brilliant balance and is an amazing track car,

He also tells the consumer to be cautious and regularly check the timing belt, water pump, and balanced belts.


Porsche 944 rear close up showing 944 S 2 badge

The breakthrough that Porsche needed, the satisfaction that Porsche fans wanted, the sensation that the market required, all these questions had only one answer- the 944. Not only is this car fashionably well-equipped, but it also provides everything a driver could ask for from a vintage Porsche. With the perfect combination of style, speed, and handling, the Porsche 944 proved one of the best Porsche has ever produced. 1985/86 Lux models, early S2 examples, and late Turbos are the elite of the Porsche fleet one can buy, and the rest is history.

Pros and cons of the Porsche 944:

Despite being a Porsche, it is an old car and has it’s cons and pros.


What makes the Porsche 994 stand out from other classic Porsches?

Although the body of the 944 was based on that of the 924, it had a much more distinctive shape. What’s more, the 944 was fitted with a 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder engine developed by Porsche itself. This made the 944 a “real” Porsche in the eyes of customers.

Is the Porsche 944 a good investment for classic car enthusiasts?

This car isn’t fast, or worth a lot of money. Sure, the new 718 Boxster and Cayman are fun “affordable” sports cars and all, but there’s just something magical about driving a 30-year-old front engine, rear-wheel-drive Porsche you’ve paid only six grand for on a warm summer’s day. Especially if its beige and has pop-up headlights.

Written by: TAZ

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