The 944 was an evolutionary development of the super successful 924 that transformed a recession-hit Porsche sales during the late 1970s. The 944 was announced in June 1981 with production starting November 1981.
The 924’s main driving asset was its well-balanced handling and this transferred to the 944. What the 924 needed – badly – was more power and this came with the 944’s new, all aluminium, 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine.
2.5-litres is big for a 4 cylinder, but clever balance shafts either side of the crankcase gave the overhead camshaft engine a silky smoothness. The interior came from the Gen 2 924 Turbo and the appearance, perhaps the 944’s greatest attraction, was an aggressive makeover in the style of the limited edition 924 Carrera GT.
The bottom line was a thoroughbred Porsche that was easy to drive around town, yet had agile overtaking and cruising ability combined with interior refinement. A new 5-speed gearbox gave the model long legs for easy cruising (a 3-speed auto was also available but rarely chosen).
Another asset inherited from the 924 was the staggering versatility of its design. The opening tailgate brought unheard of practicality to owning a Porsche. With the rear seats folded flat, this was a car into which you could get most medium sized domestic appliances!
January 1985 saw the launch of the 944 Turbo – the top-of-the range model in the 944 model line. This model had an aerodynamically enhanced front apron with integrated fog lights and high-beam headlights. The black rubber buffers of the 944 were omitted. Below the rear bumper was a rear diffusor painted in exterior colour. The 2.5-litre turbo engine generated 220 hp, while the Turbo S version of model year 1988 produced up to 250 hp thanks to its larger turbocharger.
All cars from 1986 on were designated Series 2. ABS became available across the range in 1987 (standard on the Turbo) and the suspension was heavily revised, necessitating new wheels with very different offsets.
For 1989, the 944 Turbo received the same engine as the Turbo S model and as of 1990 it featured a bow-shaped black rear wing.
In the last model year (1991), the 944 Turbo was also available as a Cabriolet.
No previous Porsche model had sold so well or quickly as the 944. By the time its production ended in 1991, a total of 163,302 units of the 944 had been produced, with 25,245 Turbo variants.
The 944 was intended to last into the 1990s, but major revisions planned for a 944 S3 model were eventually rolled into the Porsche 968 instead, which replaced the 944.
This 944 Turbo promises to impress with its performance, astound with its handling (Even today the 944 Turbo is considered to be one of the best handling rear wheel drive sports cars of all time), and draw countless admiring glances.
Despite the Porsche 944 no longer being the bargain it once was, it remains a good investment opportunity. With many cars sold for scrap, crashed, or simply succumbed to neglect, cars in good condition and particularly Turbo variants are being increasingly favoured by investors for safe year-on-year returns.
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