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.