Buyers Guide Porsche 944

Buyers Guide Porsche 944

Soon to be celebrating its fortieth anniversary, the 944 has finally come of age. Here's what you need to be aware of before buying this modern classic… Words Dan Furr. Photography Dan Sherwood.


944 (1982-1991) What to be aware of before a test drive.

Following in the footsteps of the much maligned 924 and as a more straightforward sibling of the futuristic V8-powered 928 'land shark', the 944 was viewed by many motoring journalists as Porsche's attempt to merge the best of both models. If you’ve flicked to this page, chances are you’re thinking about buying a 944 to call your own. Echoing sentiment expressed elsewhere in this magazine, fast-appreciating prices make this a good time to seek out a modern classic Porsche. After all, how long will a spotless 944 Turbo remain cheaper to buy than a tatty 911 SC in need of a rebuild?

Buyers guide 1982 Porsche 944

If you’re not bothered about forced induction, the 944 becomes even more of a bargain. At the time of writing, little more than six grand gets you any one of a number of tidy pre or post-facelift coupes or cabriolets, with a choice of Porsche engines ranging from 2.5-litre eight-valvers to three-litre sixteen-valve units.

Launched in 1982 as a purely Porsche project following the joint Volkswagen-Porsche parentage of the 924, the wide-quartered 944 not only inherited its basic shape and styling from the older car, but also much of its interior trim. Indeed, anybody stepping into the new Porsche’s cabin space would have noted the 924’s decidedly dated 'square' dashboard and dials. Porsche would get around to updating the 944’s cockpit and exterior styling for the launch of 1986’s 944 Turbo, when forced induction was joined by a redesigned front end and a beautifully presented ‘oval’ dash.

Drivers of naturally aspirated 944s would have to wait a further three years for these age-defying features to be rolled out across the range, at which point, engines free of forced induction were boosted to three-litres of displacement. It should be noted, the launch model’s 2.5-litre inline-four was briefly enlarged to 2.7 litres prior to the rollout of the three-litre lump, which arrived with a new model designation: 944 S2.

At first glance, this new breed of 944 looked exactly like the Turbo. Power wasn’t far off, either. Where the Turbo kicked out close to 220bhp (an updated Turbo in 1988 added an extra thirty ponies) from its eight-valve beating heart, the S2 produced 208bhp from what was the world’s largest four-cylinder production engine. The S2 also received an updated transmission better suited to the demands of the torquey three-litre unit, which helped the Turbo-kitted new arrival reach 62mph from rest in just 6.8 seconds, topping out at 150mph. Helping to keep power planted was a sporty suspension package with a desirable cost-option limited-slip differential. Flat-faced Design 90 alloys were fitted as standard equipment.

The S2 introduced a cabriolet to the 944 line-up for the first time, though coupes outsold drop-tops by a ratio of almost three to one. S2 sales on the whole, however, were good, with almost twenty thousand units shifted worldwide in the two years preceding the arrival of the 944’s successor, the 968, in 1991. This was exactly the injection of cash Porsche needed at a time it was in serious financial difficulty.

High-volume production means you won’t have trouble getting hold of a 944 today. Furthermore, a wide range of paint colours and interior finishes were available to Porsche customers when the model was being offered in main dealer showrooms, meaning not only are there plenty of available 944s currently waiting for a new home, you can be choosy about the look of the Porsche you’re hoping to buy. Read through the following pages for an overview of what you should be aware of before arranging a test drive.


As ever, let's address the basics first. The 944 you’re looking at should display a matching Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on its V5 registration document and on the identification stamp located on the bulkhead. Elsewhere on the V5, you’ll see the engine number. For early cars, the engine number is stamped into the left-hand rear crankcase, visible when looking top-down in the engine bay. For model years 1988 through 1991 (and, incidentally, for the 944's successor, the 968), the engine number is stamped into the right-hand rear side (UK offside) of the engine, just below the number four exhaust outlet.

Spend a couple of quid at, where you can download a history report outlining any insurance claims, change of registration number, recorded mileage and whether there’s any outstanding finance on the car. You should also enter the vehicle’s details into the DVLA’s free-to-use MOT history database, which can be found at The service will return all test passes, failures and advisories registered as far back as electronic records are stored (which is helpful in identifying any ongoing mechanical or safety issues) and, if you have the V5 document number at your disposal, you can even see which test centre carried out the inspection.

Damage may have been inflicted upon 944s driven in anger, so check panel gaps to make sure they’re straight. Look for signs of mismatched colour and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You might be eyeballing a Porsche which has simply been tapped with a trolley in a car park, but then again, the car might have been stacked into a tyre wall at a race circuit. Either way, Porsche body repairs shouldn’t be done on the cheap, so ask to see receipts relating to the work, if applicable. A paint thickness gauge will help you to determine if you’re looking at quarters full of filler.

Almost all 944s have required new inner and outer sills at some point in their lives. When the work was carried out will largely be determined by how the car has been used (e.g. in all weather) and how it has been stored (e.g. outside). Remember, 944s — especially naturally aspirated models — spent decades at the lower end of the Porsche price spectrum, with spend on maintenance reflective of the vehicle's financial worth. In other words, money spent on the upkeep of a 944 is likely to have been commensurate with the car's past value. Bear this in mind when you're examining service history documentation. Thankfully, renewed interest in the model (not to mention an increase in the financial worth of well-presented examples) means many of today's owners are treating their 944s to corrective surgery in order to ensure their car's survival for decades to come. Demand for sills means they can be bought from any one of a number of parts suppliers at reasonable cost, while new door panels and wings are simply bolt-on items that can be replaced with brand new components or salvage spares.

Dirt collects behind wheel arches, trapping moisture and causing rust to form. Blocked roof drains, those flowing rainwater into the cavities behind the rear wheels (below the battery tray), compromised tailgate glass and sunroof seals also prove problematic. Have a good poke around to ensure the car isn't suffering water damage through moisture ingress.


Regardless of the 944 you buy, be sure to observe a service schedule involving the replacement of spark plugs, fluids and filters every 6,000 miles (turbocharged models) or 12,000 miles (naturally aspirated models). If your 944 only comes out on sunny days, be sure to service it at least once a year irrespective of how much ground is covered. Always use the recommended grade oil. Refer to your owner's handbook. It’s also a good idea to have the car’s fuel injectors ultrasonically cleaned. They’re unlikely to have been serviced in the car’s lifetime, but are prone to trapped dirt particles resulting in inconsistent fuel spray patterns inhibiting performance. Expect to pay £10-20 per injector when using

The majority of 944s feature single-piston calipers and vented discs at each corner. Turbos and S2s, however, benefit from four-piston 911 Turbo (930) Brembos as standard equipment. The famous M030 cost-option gave lucky owners even bigger Brembo calipers able to house larger discs. These parts are more difficult to get hold of than the standard Turbo calipers and discs, but came as standard equipment on the 944 Turbo S and some special editions, including the rare 944 S2 SE (the inspiration for the 968 Club Sport). Premium quality aftermarket discs and pads can be ordered direct from British manufacturer, EBC Brakes, as a package deal or as separate components. EBC braided brake hoses can also be purchased. 944s built after 1986 feature aluminium control arms altered in design to allow for an updated wheel offset. Many say this change negatively affected the quality of the 944 driving experience. Test different cars to determine which setup you prefer. It's also important to remember rubber bushes perish with age. Fit-and-forget polyurethane replacement parts are available from a variety of manufacturers.

As for engine modifications, before you’re tempted to tinker, make sure the car is properly serviced and is running without fault in a standard state of tune. Once you’re satisfied this is the case, airflow updates unleashing trapped ponies can be easily bought and fitted to your 944. A direct-fit K&N panel air filter, an enlarged stainless steel exhaust system (Dansk and Fabspeed should be your first port of call) and renewed hoses will make a world of difference to the performance of your Porsche, especially if it's a 944 loaded with forced induction. Unlike modern ECUs, the 944’s electronic brain can’t be mapped, meaning chipsets need to be installed on the original circuit board. These old-school parts should improve the torque curve of your car whilst raising its rev limiter.


Despite wide hips affording it a poorer drag coefficient, the 944 was far better equipped and more refined than the earlier 924. Like the older Porsche, however, the 944's near even front-to-rear weight distribution (50.7% at the front, 49.3% at the rear, a split achieved thanks to a nose-mounted engine and a rear-positioned transaxle assembly) gave it class-leading handling abilities, a trait which would be further refined for 1991's 968, a car considered by many to be one of the best-handling Porsches ever produced. Of course, 944s equipped with the factory M030 suspension package (adjustable Koni dampers, among other features) and limited-slip differential are desirable, but it's worth keeping in mind this equipment, if present, will be close to forty years old. If the original dampers haven't already been replaced (we suspect they are long gone), then renewal will be on the horizon. Fortunately, a range of better specification aftermarket alternatives are available for the 944 range, be they GAZ adjustable coilovers, a Quaife ATB limited-slip differential or any one of many more options available direct from their respective manufacturers or third-party parts retailers, such as Design 911, Frazerpart, Porsche Spares UK (Woolie's Workshop), FVD Brombacher, Heritage Parts Centre or Rose Passion. Check for coolant, oil or vacuum leaks by observing the condition of hoses while the car’s engine is running. Rubber perishes over time, which is why many owners replace OEM fluid and airflow pipework with high-performance parts made from reinforced multi-ply silicone. Many manufacturers, including Roose Motorsport and Samco Sport, produce these parts in a range of colours, but they also offer them in matte black for purists who wish to improve performance whilst retaining a factory (or classic) finish.

Look for evidence of a recent timing belt change. If you can find no supporting paperwork to support claims the work has been carried out, factor the cost of parts and labour into the purchase price of the 944 you’re looking at. Most known Porsche specialists will undertake this work for you, though the 944 enjoys a reputation for being a home mechanic's dream come true, so don't be afraid to get busy with a set of spanners and a Haynes manual.


During its time in production, the 944 was fitted with a range of different engines varying in displacement. Power ranged from the 150bhp of early cars through to the 250bhp of late Turbos, with special edition variants and limited-run race cars delivering even more in the way of performance. Unlike the 924 before it, the 944 was a Porsche-only project, meaning with proper care and maintenance, even examples with high mileage should provide you with hassle-free fun on the road (or track), although it’s fair to say low mileage cars in a standard state of tune tend to hold their value far better than those owners have seen fit to tinker with.

Be wary of Turbos producing blue smoke from their exhausts. Any such condition should be treated as a huge bargaining chip — there’s potential for a big bill to come your way if a replacement or repaired turbocharger is required. Thankfully, there are many specialists who can help with the rebuild or upgrade of the car’s forced induction equipment.

It’s worth noting the 944 Turbo’s engine (as pictured above) wasn’t put together by simply bolting a snail-shaped bhp booster onto the side of the standard 2.5-litre naturally aspirated powerplant. Different pistons, connecting rods, a revised cylinder head, an uprated valvetrain and a free-flowing intake system were all specially commissioned for the model. A strengthened gearbox with model-specific final drive, standalone oil coolers for both the transmission and engine, stiffer suspension, bigger wheels (optional Fuchs or staggered sixteen-inch 'Teledials' were offered in place of the standard 944's fifteens) and 911 Turbo (930) brakes also formed part of the package. Needless to say, the cost of 944 Turbo ownership is far greater than stepping into a standard 944, with prices of the turbocharged transaxle regularly fetching four times that of naturally aspirated variants.

Those who are prepared to take the financial plunge are rewarded with a very special sports car. This was the first production Porsche to make use of a ceramic port liner and also the first car to deliver the very same power output with or without a catalytic converter in place, amounting to a sprint from rest to 60mph in 5.9 seconds. Further improvements came with the arrival of the limited-run 944 Turbo S, boosting power to near 250bhp and 258lb-ft by way of a bigger turbocharger and new ECU software, maintaining boost at 10.9psi up to 3,000rpm and reducing it to 7.5psi at 5,800rpm, matching boost with fuel and ignition for optimum efficiency. The standalone transmission cooler was ditched, the speedo now read 180mph, ABS was an available option and the suspension was revised to reduce scrub radius. Now making use of the famous Porsche M030 setup, the wheel arches were rolled, bigger wheels were fitted, as were thicker anti-roll and torsion bars and chassis stiffening brackets. A limited-slip differential with a forty percent lock also came as part of the Turbo S package. This was a seriously sorted 944 and found itself classified as the fastest four-cylinder production car of the day. Then, in 1989, two years before 944 production ceased and coinciding with the arrival of the S2, all Turbos adopted S trim, save for the M030 kit and Fuchs, which were optional.

As mentioned earlier, the S2 took most of its styling from the 944 Turbo, but presented its own powerplant in the form of a three-litre, sixteen-valve, twin-cam inline-four. Porsche had already upgraded the 944's engine from the original 2.5-litre lump to a 2.7 with a bore of 104mm and stroke of 78.9mm with a rated power output of 162bhp and a significant increase in torque. In addition to the hike in displacement, the new engine featured a revised block design and a different cylinder head. For the S2, displacement was increased yet again, resulting in the largest four-cylinder production engine up until that point in time. The race to 60mph from rest was completed in six seconds dead, while top speed was 150mph. In total, 14,071 944 S2s were produced, making it an easy find on the used Porsche market today.


Early 944s share the same square-type dashboard as the 924. In late 1985, Porsche provided the later car with its own curved dash in response to unhelpful comparisons between 924 and 944 trim from disgruntled motoring hacks. Door cards and switchgear were also updated, as was in-car audio equipment, sprouting extra speakers as the years went by.

944 seat fabric is known to bleach and fray if left exposed to sunlight for long periods. Replacement cloth is available to buy from Lakewell and It’s a poorly kept secret this is where Porsche buys replacement fabrics for cars restored by its various Porsche Classic Partner Centres, but rest assured there's a selection of automotive upholsterers with huge experience serving the Porsche scene and the skills available to bring your 944's tired interior back to its best. Contact Classic FX, Dave the Trimmer, Southbound and Awesome Classic & Custom. These guys serve many of the leading Porsche specialists involved in award-winning restorations and bespoke builds. They're also ready and waiting to take your call.

On the subject of interiors, while 944 seat fabrics (including Pasha and Porsche script in various colours) aren't renowned for being hardwearing, 944 leather is generally pretty tough and is considered to be much better quality than the hide used in many later Porsches, including the Boxster. That said, the larger bolsters of Sports seats are prone to scuffs leading to rips — drivers slide in and out of the hot seat without care, dragging their jeans across the seat bolster, sometimes rubbing the seat belt across leather at the same time. This is behaviour more than capable of resulting in an expensive repair bill. Speak to premium marque detailing specialist, Cambridge Concours, if you think the cabin furniture of the 944 you’re interested in buying requires a cosmetic lift.

Hey, you! What’s that sound? Not the original stereo system, that’s for sure. It’s highly probable the factory head unit has been replaced with a 1990s aftermarket compact disc player. We'll also wager the standard speakers are long gone. Check to make sure the door cards haven’t been butchered in the process. Also evaluate all in-car electrical systems, including seat movement, switchgear, heater controls and the effectiveness of air-conditioning. Extend your testing to electric window operation, exterior mirrors, central locking and, importantly, remote hatch unlocking. If the lid doesn’t pop up, the fault might be a duff solenoid, but then again, the catch itself might have come unfastened, requiring you to climb into the boot space via the rear seats in order to open manually. We wish to you good luck and happy 944 hunting!

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