Porsche 944 – The Next Collectible?

Porsche 944

For the last decade plus, Porsche 911’s have been appreciating at a meteoric rate.  So much so that getting your hands on a decent example from the 993 generation on back will have you asking yourself some pretty tough questions. “Do I really need 2 kidneys?  Do my kids really need to go to college?”.   In short, barring the poor, lamented 996, older 911’s are bank and relatively unattainable by the general enthusiast population.

And as in any market, when one product becomes prohibitively expensive, the eyes turn to as closely-related an alternative as can be had.

Enter the Porsche 928. 

The “Risky Business” Porsche has been filling that void in the market and their prices have steadily been climbing in recent  years.  What was once known as a sub-$10k also-ran Porsche, is now well into 5-figure territory for decent runners.  I firmly believe there is still a way to go on 928 prices, but they no longer represent the unbelievable speculative value they did just a few years ago 🙁

So, what’s next?   That questions answered pretty simply with the question, “Well, what’s left?”  

The once lowly 914 has also been experiencing somewhat of a revival in the last few years and its prices are starting to get up there…and try as I might, I can’t ever see the 924 (aka: the little Volkswagen that could) becoming desirable in any way shape or form as it is pretty well devoid of any personality whatsoever.  It’s future lies in 24-Hour of LeMons racing competition and I’m fine with that.

And then there was one: the Porsche 944.

I’ve always loved the Porsche 944.  Growing up in rural NH, my good buddy’s dad had a 1985 in triple-black and it was just the coolest, most bad-ass thing our small-town eyes had ever seen.  It was just exuded worldly sophistication and also happened to be a hoot to drive (sorry Mr W).

Never known as a particularly fast car (altho the Turbo was certainly no slouch), the 944’s shining talent was its handling and Sweet Baby Jesus was it sublime in that regard.  The car just flows thru corners, allowing you to maintain your inertia and forego the brakes entirely in many circumstances.  It felt glued to the road, holding steady thru undulations, off-camber turns and quick direction changes in a way I haven’t felt much in a car since.   

And as far as looks, I think its damn near perfect, with a few caveats.  Those are wheels and the rear end.  For stock 944 wheels, in my opinion the “cookie cutter” wheels (top pic) are king, especially on a black car.  The “phone dial” rims (below pic) just ruin it for me and would immediately find their way into Craigslist should I get a car outfitted with them.  If neither of them strike your fancy, the good news is you have pretty much the entire Porsche wheel catalog to choose from, with notable standouts being later 928 units as they fit the 944 perfectly and give it a more modern look.      

Phone Dial Wheels = No Bueno

The other aesthetic issue I have with the 944 is the rear end on the earlier cars.  Specifically, the lit center “Porsche” piece that connected the taillights sections.  It looks cheesy, way too busy and needs to be avoided.  It was removed in later models and its omission cleans up the rear nicely (below pic).

So, the looks are spot on, the handling is world-class and the price is right. The only thing I feel the 944 could use more of is power.  The car can handle wayyy past the paltry limits of the stock naturally aspirated engine so adding some horsepower to bring the entire package in balance I think is a good idea.  And the good news is you have options in area.  The 944 Turbo is itself great out of the box and can be made into a beast with some mods, but you will be subject to that 1980’s turbo lag which some hate but others think adds to the charm of these period cars.  If you don’t plan on entering your 944 into any hoity toity concours, you can go the route of an engine swap. Companies like Renegade Hybrids out of Las vegas have built a pretty good business for themselves grafting in General Motors’ ubiquitous LS V8s into Porsches but the forums are awash with other options and people more that willing to help you thru the process.  

But even if you don’t want more power and just want to enjoy the Porsche 944 as it was intended, you will not be disappointed.  It still looks great after 30 years, oozes class and in my mind, is one of Porsche’s cleanest designs. 

Grab one today before they start appreciating…

Image Credits: Rennlist, Bring A Trailer

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