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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

11 Search results
Porsche 944
2000 45175 GBP
  • Porsche 944

    £20,000 - £25,000 est. £20,000 - £25,000 est.
    Auction Date: 06 Mar 2016
    • Engine size: 2479
    Auction Date: 06 Mar 2016
    Silverstone Auctions
    +44 (0) 1926 691 141
  • 1990 Porsche 944 S2

    £11,995 £11,995

    Philip Raby Porsche Porsche Sales and Service This Porsche 944 S2 is finished in rare Tahoe Blue Metallic and looks absolutely stunning. It has had just four owners from new and has obviously been well looked after and is very original, inside and out. It really is a joy to behold and to drive. The interior is finished in Linen leather and is all in refreshingly good condition, with a sunroof. There is a modern Sony radio/CD head unit and remote locking and immobiliser system. The Porsche is complete with a sunroof bag, luggage compartment blind, and original toolkit and tyre compressor. The car comes with all its original booklets in their leather wallet, and the service record has been kept up to date, with stamps in the book and some invoices. The all-important cambelt was changed at 117,000 miles. The S2 was the last and best of the 944 range, with a wonderfully torquey and powerful 3.0-litre engine. The combination of front engine and rear-mounted transmission gives a near 50/50 weight distribution which ensures predictable and precise handling. This, coupled with unsurpassed build quality, makes the 944 a formidable machine. It is an increasingly sought-after modern classic t

    • Year: 1990
    For sale
  • Porsche 944


    My 1989 Porsche 944S2. Started life as a 2.7litre automatic, light gold, black cloth interior, sunroof, 106,000km. It had a minor accident on the front left corner. I got an abandoned 89-944S2 and converted. The swap included: engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, fuel lines, computer, wiring harness, fuse box, instrument cluster front fender/wings, front bumper, rear spoiler, side trim, side skirts. New parts include: timing belt, water pump, tensioner rollers, clutch, torque tube bearings, air filter, fuel filter, fuel pump, oil filter, differential oil, engine oil, cam chain tensioner, steel braided brake hoses. The car runs perfect. The only issue is a poor colour match on the front fenders.

    • Year: 1989
    • Mileage: 67000 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    Robert Wilson
  • 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo

    £45,175 £45,175

    Porsche has had a checkered past when it comes to its entry-level cars. The 914 was fraught with political controversy from very early in its life, thanks to a handshake agreement between Porsche and Volkswagen gone awry when VW ushered in a new chief and Porsche was left footing the bill for development. In classic Porsche fashion, they persevered and the 914 went on to be sales success. But by 1975 production had ended and a replacement was badly needed. The 912E, a stopgap built for one year only, was not a well-built car. Porsche scrambled to find a suitable entry level offering, so it seemed a bit curious then, that they would again look toward Volkswagen for partnership in its junior sports car. A new front-engine, rear drive sports car was already being developed by VW and Audi, to be sold by VW, Audi and Porsche as part of their marketing alliance. But just like the 914 before it, VW/Audi pulled out financial support and killed the project. Porsche, being left high and dry yet again, took over the project and developed the car into the 924, which utilized an Audi-sourced, water-cooled 2-liter four cylinder engine and rear mounted transaxle. Buyers and critics enjoyed the be

    • Year: 1986
    • Mileage: 9720 mi
    For sale
    Hyman Ltd
    314 524 6000
  • Porsche 944 S2

    £12,995 £12,995

    Having been meticulously maintained throughout its life by Porsche main dealers or specialists, the 944 is in excellent mechanical order. It had the all-important cambelt change at 82k miles and a replacement clutch at 90k miles. The last service was undertaken in August this year at 100,717 miles, less than 60 miles ago.

    • Year: 1992
    • Mileage: 100772 mi
    For sale
  • PORSCHE 944 2.5 1983

    £2,000 £2,000


    • Mileage: 35800 mi
    • Engine size: 2.479
    For sale
  • PORSCHE 944 S2 Cabriolet

    £9,994 £9,994

    Type: Used Year: 1992 Make: PORSCHE Model: 944 Trim: S2 Cabriolet Body: Convertible Trans: Manual Mileage: 95000 Engine Size: 3000 Ext Color: White with Blue Hood with Blue Leather

    • Mileage: 95000 mi
    • Engine size: 3000
    For sale
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