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Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991)

Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991) Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991) Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991) Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991) Stellar performance, a rock-solid image, bomb-proof build quality and decent practicality. Sounds like the sort of dream classic we’d all like to own, but such a car would be financially crippling, so it could never be a reality. Or could it? Yes it could, because for a criminally small amount of cash you could have a Porsche 944 that offers all of these things, with a healthy dose of style thrown in for good measure.

While the 924 did Porsche’s image no favours, the much more masculine 944 was just the ticket. With its flared wings and wheelarches covering wider alloy wheels, and a proper Porsche powerplant (the alloy 2479cc four-pot was effectively one bank of the 928's V8), it was no surprise that the 944 quickly became the fastest-selling car produced by the marque. Now it’s a classic, the 944 makes a huge amount of sense, but you need to buy carefully.

Which one to buy?

If the car you're looking at doesn't have recent service history from a known specialist then you're probably better off walking away. There are plenty of cars that have this, and without it there's a very good chance of some serious grief materialising very quickly.

On the face of it the 944S is the one to go for from the original series, but engine parts for these are especially expensive and poor torque makes them less pleasant to drive. So unless the car is priced to sell you're better off giving them a wide berth.

As a result you’re better of either finding a Turbo or a 944 S2, the latter offering all of the real-world performance you’re ever likely to need. However, if you want the ultimate it’s worth tracking down a good Turbo; you’ll pay more for it, but it’ll always be the most valuable of the breed so it’ll prove to be the best investment – and it’s also superb to drive.

Performance and spec

Engine 2479cc, four-cylinder
Power 220bhp @ 5800rpm
Torque 243lb ft @ 3500rpm
Top speed 153mph
0-60mph 6.0sec
Consumption 21mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual

Common problems

• Thanks to a fully galvanised shell, major corrosion isn’t common, but check the rear panel where the latches and numberplate are mounted, plus the bottom of the front wings. Corroded sills are also common, so ensure the underseal is intact.

• Poor crash repairs abound, given away by uneven panel gaps. Focus on the shutlines between the bonnet and front wings plus those between the pop-up headlights and the nose panel as well as the wings.

• The rear panel should have a Porsche factory sticker on the inside – it could have come off, but if it's there the car hasn't been shunted from behind.

• A strong smell of petrol from the load bay on a pre-1986 car means the fuel filler pipe seal has given way. Later fuel tanks were plastic, but earlier ones corrode and replacement means dropping the transaxle and rear suspension.

• Sunroof leaks are common because the drainage holes get blocked and the seals also get damaged, allowing water into the cabin. Check around the sunroof aperture plus the seats and carpets for signs of damp.

• A 944 engine lasts well if properly maintained. Oil and filter changes are required every 6000 miles on pre-1986 cars & Turbos, and every 12,000 miles on later cars. Also check if the cam belt has been replaced within the last 40,000 miles or four years.

• A vibration at idle is a failed engine mounting. A vibration at 2800-3200rpm suggests problems with the balancer shafts, because the shaft timing is out or the drive belt has failed.

• Normally aspirated cars and pre-1989 Turbos have an integrated oil cooler that's a radiator in the water jacket of the cylinder block. If its seals fail the engine's oil will be mixed with its coolant. Later cars use a separate oil cooler; it’s better, but the pipes rust and crack. Also ensure the boost gauge shows 0.8 bar when the turbo is in action, indicating a healthy system.

• Turbo exhaust manifolds crack, along with the wastegate. Replacing either is expensive so make sure the exhaust isn’t blowing when cold.

• On the 944 S2 a chain links the two camshafts. If this breaks the engine is wrecked so the chain and tensioners must be replaced at 90,000 miles. Also, all 944 engines have Alusil-lined bores, so reboring isn't straightforward; it’s generally cheaper to source another engine.

• Clutch master cylinder leaks are common so check under the dash and on the bulkhead for fluid.

• The fitment of power steering (standard from 1985, optional from 1984) brings leaking pumps and racks; fluid collects on the engine undertray then leaks through its ventilation holes.

• The universal joint in the steering column wears. Look into the engine bay and get someone to wiggle the steering wheel; any wear will be evident.

• Brake callipers seize if not greased regularly, with rear callipers especially prone.

• On cars with a sunroof check the condition of the roof lining. This tends to shrink as it dries out over time, leading to tearing.

• Later cars have the radio aerial incorporated into the windscreen. The connections break or the aerial stops working and the only solution is a new windscreen or the fitment of an aerial in one of the wings – something that isn't easily reversible.

Model history

Sep 1981: The 944 debuts at the Frankfurt motor show.
Apr 1982: The 944 goes on sale in the UK with a 163bhp 2479cc engine.
Apr 1985: Revisions bring a bigger fuel tank, redesigned dash, better ventilation and 40 other modifications.
Oct 1985: The 220bhp 944 Turbo arrives with a revised nose.
Jul 1986: The 944S arrives with 190bhp.
May 1987: The 944 Turbo gets ABS as standard.
Oct 1987: The 944 Turbo SE appears, with 250bhp. Just 70 RHD examples are built.
Jul 1988: The 944 Turbo is now offered with a Club Sport chassis, featuring adjustable suspension.
Feb 1989: The 944 S2 debuts, with a 2990cc 211bhp engine.
Jun 1989: A 2.7-litre engine is now fitted and the 944 S2 cabriolet arrives.
Aug 1990: The 944 Turbo Cabriolet appears.
Sep 1991: 944 S2 production ceases.

Key clubs and websites

• www.944online.com
• www.944forum.com
• www.944central.com
• www.944time.com
• www.944uk.com
• http://944-world.com
• www.tipec.net
• www.porscheclubgb.com

Summary and prices

While the Porsche 944 is still very much at the affordable end of the Porsche spectrum, nice examples are really starting to pick up, with prices for top condition early cars nudging £11,000. More usable examples will come in at £3500-£6500, although the more powerful S models do command a premium.

Turbo models top out at around £15,000, but look to pay between £7000-£10,000 for good example. Project cars can still be found for as little as £2500. The naturally-aspirated S2 model is arguably the best to drive, with prices matching those of the faster Turbo model. Add around 25 per cent for the Cabrio models.

Words: Richard Dredge
Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991) Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991) Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991) Porsche 944 buying guide (1982-1991)
Last updated: 6th Jul 2015
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Porsche 944 cars for sale

8 Search results
Porsche 944
4995 45175 GBP
  • This like new 944 Turbo with just 9700 original miles has just arrived. A complete description is coming soon. Please call us for full details.

    • Year: 1986

    Last update: 1 Day Old

    • Mileage: 9700 mi

    For sale
  • Hyman Ltd
    314 524 6000
    see details
  • PORSCHE 944 S2 RACE CAR,THIS CAR IS FULLY PREPARED FOR 2014 CLASS 2/3 OF THE PORSCHE CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP/DUNLOP PORSCHE CHAPIONSHIP OR FUTURE CLASSIS,THE ENGINE HAS BEEN RBUILT WITH NEW BIG ENDS MAINS HEAD GASKET ETC AND IS UP TO MAX POWER,COMES WITH KW CLUBSPORT SUSPENSION,LSD DIFF,ALL NEW BRAKES FULLY WELDED IN ROLL CAGE.5 POINT SEAT BELT AND SEAT ALL IN DATE,PLUMBED IN FIRE EXSTINGUISHER IN DATE,THIS CAR IS READY TO GO RACING AND IN VERY COMPETITIVE CAR IN THE RIGHT HANDS PLEASE CALL FOR MORE INFO

    • Year: 2014

    Last update: 6 Days Old
    For sale
  • Strasse
    0113 2340 911
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  • Vehicle Specification Located at Our Romford Showroom, Comprehensive Service History inc 10 Porsche Services. Spec inc Electric Seats, Royal Blue Power Hood, Alloy Wheels and All Usual Refinements. Recently Re-Commissioned. www.imperials.co.uk ------ Please call us to Confirm which of our 3 Essex Showrooms your desired vehicle is located at before travelling to see us Romford 0208 599 4662, Emerson Park 01708 449726 or Chelmsford 01245 248007 ----- For up to 20 images of this vehicle and an Instant Finance Quote please view our Award Winning Website www.imperials.co.uk. For Out of Office Hours Enquiries please call Tony 07956 564440, Jim 07811 208138, or Kenny 07875 539530 and they will be happy to help. We are also good buyers of all prestige, Sports and 4x4 vehicles so why not give us a call for a price on yours for out of hours call Steve on 07411 461177. Please Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter. Thank You. www.imperials.co.uk

    • Year: 1992

    Last update: 18 Days Old

    • Mileage: 95000 mi

    For sale
  • Imperials
    01708 449726
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