The Porsche 944 is no longer the bargain it once was

Is the 944 a thrilling Porsche on a budget, or just an overpriced and expensive-to-fix four-banger? That depends on who you ask.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/12/28/porsche-944-no-longer-bargain

I actually have an '86 944 N.A. and there is a great likelihood that it will never be worth big money and that’s fine with me as I bought it to drive it, not to have a garage queen.

However, the parts aren’t as hard to find as you would think, and many of them while not inexpensive aren’t bank breakers either. Furthermore, instructions for every major repair procedure can be found on the internet, so it makes a great father-son/daughter project car. With the exception of a few major jobs (clutch comes to mind) the repairs can be made in a home garage. I’ve basically taught myself how to re-build a car working on mine and the experience has been amazing.

Most of us who grew up in the 80’s when our preferences for cars were being fashioned had posters of the Countach, the Testarosa, etc. on our walls, and right up there was the 944 and 928. I still think the 944 is one of the most attractive cars Porsche has ever put out. Of course, I was 10 years old in 1984 and the 944 was the peak of style then.

When you compare the 944 to other cars from the era, most of them, including the upcoming Japanese models rusted to pieces, had terrible build quality, and were just as doggy on the road. Let’s be honest, the 80’s were a wasteland of terrible, ugly cars with low power, especially in the first 2/3 of the decade (K-cars anyone?). Hell, the base Camaro in '83 had 92 BHP 4-cyllinder. If you got the V6 it got up to a whole 112 BHP. To get two horsepower less than the non-turbo 944, you had to get a V8. Pathetic. When put with that company, the 944 shines. When you compare cars of the era with a more modern car they will always pale in comparison on specs. But the 944 was a great car for the day and while most Porsche purists won’t admit it, it was actually good competition for the 911s of the era.

People who know these cars also know that the driving experience can’t be beat. They are hella fun to throw around corners on a windy road and though they only have a 4-banger inside, it’s a large 4-banger, and does feel great rowing through the gears. I’ve put tons of miles on mine grinning the whole way.

Other cars might be cheaper to maintain and run, but few of the era were built with the quality of a Porsche, and regardless of what the market thinks, those of us who own 944s and drive them will continue to state that they’re well worth the investment. Someday, everyone else might catch-up, but frankly most of us are ok with being outliers. Keeping 944s inexpensive means I may buy another one. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Well said @ashley_eckhoff. I own a perfectly maintained 1983 944 that I drive as often as I can on nice summer days and I have a much faster modern car with all the gizmos and comforts. There is no comparison between the 2. The 944 has a soul, it feels special, people regularly give me the thumb’s up or the double take when they drive by me. 143hp is more than adequate, my car is light, no power steering, power brakes, no assist whatsoever. I bought my car because my dad owned an identical one 35 years ago and in my 12 year old mind, it was the coolest car ever and I would never be able to drive it (he only kept it a few years). Finding one in perfect condition was a dream come true. I had little expectations as to how the car would handle but it’s an amazing experience every time.

I couldn’t have said this better. I own 6 Porsches of the 944 series (1985 944 spec racer, 1989 944 turbo, 1992 968 coupe, 1995 968 cab and 2 salvage cars (for parts). They are a joy to drive and are much classier than the Boxter. They are evenly balanced with the engine in front and tranny in back, better than the Boxter or 914 which have all the weight in the middle so although also evenly balanced they spin like a top. The 944 is like a giant dumbbell with two big weights to hates to spin (angular momentum, you know) but once spinning hates to stop. As a spec racer, with stock engine/tranny and 800 lb of weight removed, they are as nimble as anything on the track (eg a Viper) but lack straight line acceleration (140 vs 600 hp) so they lose me on the straights but I catch them in the corners :slight_smile: I too have done most of my own work (except taking apart a tranny) and although not easy to work on, it is possible, unlike the newer cars. I have rarely seen many people with the same passion for the newer cars that we have for these older classics.

Pretty lousy article, overall- seems to have been written by someone without any understanding of what makes these cars so wonderful, or why every car magazine raved about these, from '83 to '89/'90, in practically every issue. I’m now on my second '87 924s, with the same “detuned,” e.g., slightly lower top speed, engine as a base 944, and never had any problems being left behind by some fantasy traffic. Considering that 99% of people on the road are behind the wheel (poorly) of a semi-autonomous smart-phone “crossover” Korean blob of nannies, or Salt Life pick-up truck going 15 mph under the limit, full of sound and fury… and signifying nothing, I breeze right past them beautifully on the highway, including the DC Beltway at 85+ mph. On back roads, forget about it, but even then, who cares- we love these cars for ourselves, how they look, feel and behave. A clean, overly detailed, well maintained stock 944/924s on good tires is a true joy, a wonderful, pretty time machine, where even the door-closing click is sexy. We don’t think about “aww shucks, my car is slow, I only have 143 horsepower.” “It will take me over 8 seconds to get to 60. Dammit, I better not drag race that “murdered out” 2003 Civic 4-door with the fart can muffler.” We think simply that “I love these cars, and feel at home in them; I feel where I belong, and who I am- it’s still the 80s, despite having less hair, some wrinkles, some scars and some pounds. Everything here FEELS RIGHT.” Porsche knew what they were doing, and the importance of this platform- look no further than the long-overdue love those 70’s/early 80’s Audi-engined 924s are receiving, finally.

Take off the giant sunroof, crank the Blaupunkt to some Def Leppard “Foolin’,” know that you’re dressed for the concours, but choosing the forgotten, lonely country roads and floor it. These cars make everything else in the world go away, when you hit that 2-3 upshift.

Great response Ashley. I have an '84 911, '95 911, and '86 944. Love them all, and although not as fast, the 944 is plenty fun to drive. It’s a beefy 4 banger and so much fun to drive. Such a unique design, most people comment on what a great looking car it is, particularly today with ALL cars looking so similar.

I have a 1988 944 with 130,000. Had it around 10 years. Great car with a sturdy engine, takes turns on curvy roads like a slot car. Yes, it’s not all that fast but certainly fast enough. Parts are not that expensive and easily found on the internet ( except for mufflers!)

It was 1983 and the Porsche 944 was on sale. In my 1976 Corvette, I drove to the Santa Monica Porsche dealership, Steve Taub. In the showroom, I gazed upon a gorgeous Guard’s Red 944. I was taken back with the lines, the interior and the overall stance of the car. Three hours later, they rolled the 944 off the showroom floor and I nervously drove it home. The most I ever paid for a car was $5,000. The 944 cost me $22,000+ and I was petrified to drive the car. I will never forget the experience.

Like most if not all, you never really own a Porsche unless you have a 911 body style. Since my 944, I have had a 911 SC and 2006 Cabriolet. Maybe it was my first Porsche, but I still remember how well balanced the 944 is (weight distribution close to 50/50) and the power of half the 928’s engine. As I challenged curves on Mulholland, Laurel Canyon, Coldwater Canton, Malibu Canyon and Kanan Road, I still believe it was the best handling Porsche I owned. Porsche 944 is a car that is truly underpriced and under appreciated.

Hurray Ashley! Your education via your 944 is EXACTLY what the sports car experience should be. And you accurately point out that it does not need to be an overly expensive proposition to own and repair a Porsche, especially an older model. I hope you find a way to get 10 more Porsches. The marque needs more owners like you. Cheers!

I agree with everyone about the inexpensive parts and handling. My 83 has just rolled over 100K. Best car ever. It’s a driver. What about the galvanized steel body, plus the aluminum hood. Many parts are shared with other Porsche’s. Rear suspension with the torsion bar looks like it came from a 911. The hatchback is amazing. I’ve used it for camping, have put my racing bike in there and every year it is used to pick up a Christmas tree.

I have owned and driven a 944 for 35 years and probably will do so until the end. Of me or it. To put things as simply as I can, try to find a car with a comparable scale weight and weight distribution that you would want to even own much less want to drive. I keep looking, can’t find one. Sure I like Miata’s but the last one I got into had me looking over the top of the windshield. It should be noted that light (hell) bronze is probably the nicest color ever sprayed on the body of an automobile. And I also must quote a certain German gentleman “the front wheels are for steering and the rear wheels are for thrust”…

Being a general all around car guy, I have found something to like about my trucks, sports cars, air cooled VW’s, rear engined Fiat, the Lotus’s and other British brands, German and Japanese cars, and American cars (I even liked my Chevette and love minivans and SUV’s). For the record, I think modern vehicles are wonderful, but my newest is a 2001 and the rest are from the early '70s. Outside of a 914 I’ve never had a Porsche. But what I read here suggests that the build quality is very good, consistent with the brand. For me, a good car is a good car when it stands on it’s own merits. My Series Land Rover taught me that. I perceive that the 944 can be a great ownership experience. That’s why the prices rise. Watch the promo video put out by the factory that shows the way the 356 Porsche was made and it could make you want what that company makes including the 944. Low power? My older cars have 80hp. It’s fine.

Great news for my 944 brothers… sorry not a mention of 928’s.

I guess I jumped on the bandwagon a bit late, but I casually looked in my local area for a good condition 928 or 944 for two years until last summer when I found the exquisitely maintained '87 944 N/A that I drive now. Everything’s original, even the (mostly) working Blaupunkt radio, Guard’s Red paint job is refreshed, interior is mint, and I thoroughly enjoy slinging it around town with all 147hp glory! It is absolutely charming and proudly wear’s its 80s badges like the hatchback and flip up headlights. I still want a 911 but I"m keeping this one for life. I love it!

The “Radwood” 80s-90s Transaxle cars (924/944/968) are perfect examples of up and coming collector cars of the future. Affordable, practical, balanced, precise, with iconic styling of the era (and yet a timeless design), 944s were popular then (their sales success saved Porsche), with an enthusiastic following now. An Everyman car from a premier automaker that is fun to drive on rallies and poker runs, but simple to maintain. Tired of cranky, bulky, ugly old cars that are uncomfortable or unreliable over distances? Try a Transaxle.

1 Like

I am extremely disappointed with this article. I have owned a 1986 turbo for 16 years and have driven every Porsche ranginging from a 356 speedster to a modern gt3. This article is written by someone who has had very little seat time in a 924 or 944 series car. When I purchased my turbo I looked into 911s of the same vintage and frankly walked away thinking great car, but lacking balance and refinement. Drive a 944 on a back road and you come away overwhelmed with its balance and precision. They are truly one of the greatest balanced cars ever made.

As for comparing this car to other cars from this vintage or even into the 90s there are very few cars that combine the looks, handlinlg, build quality, and power (turbo guise) that the 944 posseses.

As others have said, maintenance can be a bit pricey, however most if not everything can be done by a good at home mechanic. If you don’t like working on your classic then any classic will be expensive to own.

I definitely have an issue with this article. Lets be clear, these are not 911’s or boxsters. They are their own flavor of cars. Growly 4 cylinder. Engaging handling. Great brakes. This car is a wonderful analog experience. I don’t get the whole 944 NA s are too slow. An alfa GTS is slow, but people lives those cars for their driving experience.

No IMS disaster to worry about, although the aftermarket seems to have mitigated the risks there. Air cooled 911 maintenance is expensive now. 944 are not the expensive to maintain compared to other classics.

I have a 86 944 with 345k runs like a champ

I recently got a babied Porsche 944 with 47,000 miles for a super bargain. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/a1Dyifydgcg They’re still out there!!

Wow so wonderful to see the same enthusiasm I have for my 85.5 944 among so many folks. The cars are truly drivers cars. Porsche designed them to be “perfect” balance, efficient, power (80’s power). I have owned many american sports cars, mustangs, camaros, firebirds, and corvettes. None of them was as fun as my 944. Faster yes, more engaging. no. These are cars for folks who enjoy driving - so let them say what they will.