if there can be such a thing as a ‘forgotten Porsche’, the 928 is it. Although built for a remarkably long period – about 17 years – it’s not a car you read much about in the classic press. And yet the 928 is quick, extremely comfortable and has a big V8 under the bonnet. What’s not to like?
‘Thirst and complexity’ are the usual retorts. It’s true that 20mpg is a best-case scenario for any 928 – but with most of the survivors now being kept as second cars, that’s less of an issue. And while there seems to be an awful lot of engine shoehorned under the bonnet, it’s really a straightforward design that can rack up enormous mileages.
Of course, the 928 was an expensive car when new, with commensurately high servicing bills. But today’s non-franchised specialists charge more reasonable prices and there are plenty of secondhand parts around – sadly, good cars are still being stripped out for track day or race use.
Despite its recently discovered potential as a race car, the 928 was always marketed as a GT and about 80% were sold with automatic transmission. Manuals are now sought after for track days, but the 928’s big V8 is ideally suited to an auto ’box and gives a relaxing drive.
You won't hear a bad word said among 928 owners about Paul Anderson (above). He has been specialising in the cars for the past ten years, and race-prepping them for six – as a 1970s model, the 928 is fast catching on among the historic race and rally crowd.
‘928s are definitely on-the-up at the moment,’ he says, before adding: ‘…but prices are lower than they were four years ago. Interest goes in peaks and troughs, and it’s the current price of fuel that dictates values.
‘Condition is more important than model or year. A superb car, early or late, might be £15,000 but good examples start at around £5000, slightly less for an S2. A GT will be at least £6000-6500 and the GTS £8000 upwards.
‘That said, you can pick up a 928 for much less if you’re lucky. One of our customers recently bought a tidy 928S for a grand…’
IN A NUTSHELL
First, the good news: the 928 bodyshell was galvanised right from the start of production, so structural rust is rare. Early cars will typically show the odd bubble around rear windows or hatch (where trim clips have broken the galvanising), but usually corrosion is restricted to paint scabbing on the alloy bonnet, front wings and door skins.
Mechanical parts also last well. Cambelt failure is the biggest danger: on 4.7-litre and later engines the valves can then collide with pistons (4.5s aren’t affected). The belt should be changed every four years/60,000 miles; it’s wise to renew the water pump at the same time, which accounts for over half of the c£500 that a specialist will charge.
The 928’s suspension hardly changed during production: ‘You could, in theory, fit GTS suspension to a 1970s car,’ claims Paul Anderson. OE -spec dampers are now hugely expensive but Paul offers a set of specially produced gas-filled units for £700.
The 928 has its gearbox mounted just ahead of the rear diff, and it’s connected to the engine by a torque tube. Manual ’boxes don’t have the sweetest changes but are tough, while the automatics are Mercedes-Benz units, so very reliable. However, failure to check the flex plate tension regularly can lead to a worn crank thrust bearing and, ultimately, a wrecked engine block.
928s do suffer electrical gremlins if not driven for any length of time – ‘but the wiring is actually quite easy to trace,’ says Paul – while air-conditioning will rarely work on an older car and may cost £500-600 to repair. Interiors last pretty well but the 1970s pyschedelic-check trim known as Pascha eventually falls apart at the seams; it’s hard to find, even secondhand.
Chances are that if you fancy a 928 you’ll already know what you want: either the design statement of the original car (no spoilers, no side strips, Pascha interior, telephone-dial alloys) or the sheer speed and greater luxury of the S4-and-later models. Buyers tend to fall into one or other camp.
The late-’70s cars are by far the rarest now and are the only 928s likely to have any longterm investment potential. They are not particularly fast by modern standards but they’re the simplest and cheapest to run.
Moving on a few years, a 1980s S or S2 still has a certain period appeal, retaining the egg-shaped rear of the original car. With decent examples available from £2500, they’re amazing value. Among the restyled cars, the S4 is the sensible buy – ‘its engine is bulletproof,’ says Paul Anderson – while the GTS is the most hardcore and most expensive to fix, having unique brakes and engine.
Buying any older high-performance car is a gamble. But one thing’s for sure: petrol is never going to get any cheaper…