Ever since the 924 arrived in 1975, it’s been stigmatised as ‘the entry-level Porsche’. While the 924S used a Porsche powerplant, earlier cars featured an engine with an identical cylinder block to VW’s LT van, and a cylinder head that was the same with the exception of fuel injectors being fitted. But it also featured a stronger crankshaft and most importantly it offered Porsche driving to those who couldn’t afford the more exclusive models offered by the Stuttgart company – and that’s still the case.
Porsche initially developed the 924 for VW Audi, the aim being to produce a flagship sportscar for the group using as many components as possible from the company’s parts bin. But in 1973 there was a change of management at VW, which felt that with the oil crisis at that time, there would be no market for a VW sportscar. As a result, VW pulled out of the project even though it was nearly finished. Porsche persevered and put its own badge on the cars – but the 924 was stigmatised as it was viewed by many as nothing more than a rebadged Volkswagen. Things have now changed, with the car recognised for what it is; an affordable sports car with a healthy dose of practicality.
Which one to buy?
All 924s featured one of two different engines. The 1984cc VW/Audi-based unit was fitted to most cars and the 2479cc item was fitted only to the 924S; it was a detuned 944 engine. They’re completely different units, the bigger one designed by Porsche, and much more complex. Not only is the 2.5-litre engine more expensive to maintain (many parts cost twice as much as for the 2.0-litre unit), but anything more than basic routine maintenance is best left to a specialist. The 924S is a much better car for not much extra money though. Besides, as long as servicing schedules have been adhered to, the 2.0-litre engine despatches 100,000 miles with ease – but the 2.5-litre unit will take 250,000 miles in its stride.
Some 924s came with a reliable but potentially leaky three-speed automatic gearbox, while manual 'boxes were available with four or five ratios depending on model – the most desirable is the five-speed manual, standard on the Turbo.
Although the 924S is the pick of the bunch to drive, it’s much harder to maintain at home – so work out whether your priorities lie behind the wheel or in the workshop. Early cars are now very rare, but 2.0-litre cars use a lot of VW and Audi parts (Golf steering rack, Beetle drums, Audi 100 callipers), so running costs aren't as high as they might be.
Performance and specs
Porsche 924S (1985-1988)
Engine 2479cc, four-cylinder
Power 150bhp @ 5800rpm
Torque 144lb ft @ 3000rpm
Top speed 133mph
Fuel consumption 25mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Kerb weight 1111kg
• The floorpan and rear wings were always galvanised; from 1981 the whole bodyshell was coated. Even now, rust should have been held at bay in these later models.
• On pre-1981 cars the bonnet, front wings or doors may be rusty along with the bonnet’s leading edge and door bottoms. The front wings are vulnerable to corrosion as wheelarch liners weren’t fitted.
• Genuine new panels aren’t available, but some pattern items are. The quality varies, which is why used panels are generally better. Panels for early cars are now very scarce.
• Knocking from the back when driving over bumps suggests the tailgate glass has delaminated from its frame. It can be rebonded, but only professionally.
• The front screen is also bonded in, and the rubber perishes. Again, the screen can be rebonded but it may break in the process.
• With a 2.0-litre engine, if oil is being burned under acceleration, the piston rings and/or the cylinder bores have worn. With the 924 Turbo, smoke under acceleration may mean the turbocharger is worn – or it could be tired bores/rings. Remove the rubber boot from the throttle body on the cylinder head to see if it’s the rings/bores or the turbocharger that’s at fault.
• If a 924S cylinder bore is damaged, the engine has to be scrapped, as the bores have an Alusil coating. This is extremely hard, and can’t be repaired. But smoke could simply be worn piston rings.
• All 924 engines have a cam belt; the 2.0-litre unit isn’t an interference fit but the 2.5-litre unit is. The belt should be renewed every four years or 40,000 miles.
• Gearboxes are strong but first gear synchromesh wears out – the normal fix is to fit a used gearbox. Parts are scarce for early gearboxes (the ones with a dog-leg first gear), as fitted to five-speed 924s built before 1980 and most UK-supplied Turbos.
• Accelerate hard through the gears and see if the clutch is slipping. Although clutches aren’t weak, replacement is a pain – there's a window in the bellhousing to check for wear.
• Clicking at low speeds or clunking as the drive is taken up betrays worn CV joints.
• A sound like glass bottles clinking together belies worn torque tube bearings. These locate the propshaft within the tube that carries it, but no damage will be caused.
• The steering column is above the exhaust manifold; its universal joints suffer from heat exposure, causing them to dry out and wear rapidly.
• If the electrical system works erratically, check the fusebox, on the bulkhead under the battery tray. The battery leaks acid onto the fusebox, destroying it.
• The engine’s exhaust heat shields are often left off, which cooks the starter motor.
1975: 924 debuts at Frankfurt Motor Show and production begins in November.
1976: 924 goes on sale in US.
1977: First 924s sold in Britain, with four-speed manual box; auto and five-speed manual are options. First special edition 924 is introduced – the Martini. 100 are built.
1978: 170bhp 924 Turbo announced, with five-speed gearbox, uprated brakes (discs on rear) and suspension.
1979: Five-speed gearbox standard for all cars from August and 210bhp Carrera GT exhibited at Frankfurt Show. First Turbos arrive in the UK and 50 Doubloon special editions built.
1980: 924 Turbo is uprated to 177bhp from August and a month later 100 examples of the Le Mans special edition are produced.
1981: 400 Carrera GTs are built and a 924 refresh brings better ventilation and interior trim, sports suspension and extra badging.
1982: 924 Turbo is discontinued and 100,000th 924 is built.
1985: 924S replaces 924.
1986: The 924S gets a 160bhp (944) engine.
1988: Last 924S is built.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
Summary and prices
Getting hold of a good 924 used to be an easy and genuinely cheap business, but today it’s slightly more difficult. Good original standard cars can fetch up to 7500 (although some concours cars have been know to sell for more). Rough and ready cars start at about £1500, while projects can be picked up for £500.
The 924 Turbo and later 924 S both carry a slight premium over the regular model, however as you might expect values really boil down to a car’s history and condition. The most valuable 924 by some considerable margin however is the Carrera GT, which complete with its wide arches and angry-looking air intake is now worth in excess of £100,000.