Porsche 944 ~ 1982-91
Once more Porsche was in the position of needing a new low price point sports car, but had no money to develop and produce one. The 2+2 Porsche 924, which lasted until 1988, was a good base with its front water-cooled engine and rear transaxle model line, so Porsche executives decided not to scrap the idea but to “evolve” it into the 1982 Porsche 944 also called 944 Lux in some markets.
The Porsche 944 was basically a 924 but it took a lot of cues from the 924 Carrera GT with its muscular flared fenders drawn by Anatole Lapine over Harm Lagaay’s 924 original design. This time the rear flares were part of the fenders while the engine was a real Porsche unit and not a VW/Audi motor. This time, to make things even more official, the 944 would be built by Porsche and not VW. The design was stunning; the flared fenders really made the 944 into a sports car dripping with character. It looked mean and transformed the car into a real Porsche especially with the optional blacked-out Fuchs wheel set. Besides the wide shoulders, the two part front bumper had an optional pair of driving lights and a fog light set on the front valance. The rear valance had a lower lip, which helped to plant the 944 to the ground. At the back, the hatch/rear window base still had the large wrapping around rubber black spoiler from the 924, but it looked better on the more muscular 944. In North America, two rectangular rubber overriders were installed on the front and rear bumpers ruining the design a bit, but the four long side markers on each fender were a definite improvement over the 924’s big round units.
The engine chosen was still a four cylinder, but this time the engine was created from a “split” 928 V8, the result was a 2.5 liter (151 cu in) single-cam inline four genuine Porsche engine. To reduce unwanted vibrations usually caused by large four cylinder engines, the Porsche 944 used two counter-rotating balance shafts to smooth the big four out. With 163 ps at 5800 rpm in European trim and 143 ps at 5500 rpm in US, the Porsche 944 was capable of 8.1 seconds (8.3 in US) to get to 60 mph and the top speed was now 137 mph / 220 Km/h.
In February 1985 (85.5), the Porsche 944 was now distancing itself even more from the 924 by changing its three sunken dial dashboard design by a beautifully enveloping “Oval” layout. Four dials were encased into an oval binnacle, and the imposing center console gave the 944 a sense of quality and value. The rear seats were just here for children but the backrest could be lowered to transform the rear seats into a practical parcel shelf, while the rear window acted as a hatch for easy rear access.
The other big news for 1985 was the introduction of the 944 Turbo with the use of the 2.5 liter four cylinder. The chassis was revised with stiffened-up suspensions and beefier brakes with an optional ABS in 1987, then standard in 1988. The power now was 220 ps at 5800 rpm, giving 6.3 seconds to 60 mph with a top speed of 152 mph / 245 Km/h. For the 944 Turbo a new one-piece front bumper “a la 928” housing turning signals and fog lights looked very sharp, giving a more solid appearance to the 944, while the rear "944" marking was simply changed to "Turbo".
In 1986 the more powerful 944 S entered the arena, the engine was the same, but now the 16V twin-cam heads gave 190 ps / 188 hp at 6000 rpm. The 944 S was promising on paper, but the “lack” of torque gave a new 0-60 mph time of 7.9 seconds and 142 mph (228 Km/h) in top speed. For the 944 S, the “Cookie-Cutter” wheels got replaced by the “Telephone-dial” wheel set.
In 1988, the Porsche 944 Turbo Cup (EU) / Silver Rose (USA) was supposedly offered as a limited model of only 1000 cars to celebrate the success of its "944 Turbo Cup" racing program, but by late 1988 every 944 Turbo received the “Turbo Cup" specs simply naming the new turbo the “Turbo S” or "Turbo SE" in UK. With a bigger Turbo, the new 944 Turbo S produced 250 ps at 6000 rpm with 258 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. This new-found power rocketed the 944 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds while the top speed was 161 mph / 261 Km/h. To stop the 944 Turbo S, the 928 S4's ABS braking disc system was used, and the suspensions were again stiffened and used Koni adjustable dampers. The steering and grip from those fat rear 245 tires allowed the last 944 to run neck to neck with the current 911 at the time, the 964. This confirmed Porsche’s ability to mature a model like no other.
In 1988 the base 944 now had 160 ps no matter which continent you bought yours from and a year later in 1989 the engine got enlarged to 2.7 liter (164 cu in). The power only rose to 165 ps at 5800 rpm, but the torque went up, making it more tractable. This engine ended up to be available in Europe for one year only.
In 1989, Porsche introduced what many consider the best 944 of all, the Porsche 944 S2. The 944 S2 wasn’t the most powerful with 211 ps / 208 hp at 5800 rpm, but with a 3 liter (182 cu in) twin-cam engine, it was the most tractable 944 with 80% of its torque available under 2000 rpm. With a total of 206 ft-lb of torque at 4000 rpm the 944 S2 acted like a small V8 with immediate responses from low revs, while still being very economical, not to forget that it had the Turbo S looks along with its braking system, which again came from the 928 S4. Good for 149 mph / 240 Km/h and a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds, the S2 was in the big boy category, and it felt like it. Its suspensions were stiffened up from an "S" but many still found it too soft, so if desired you could get the optional braking setup found on the 944 Turbo S.
A Cabriolet version of the 944 S2 finally appeared in 1989 after a long wait. Although after much debate the “chopping” job was finally given to ASC, an American company based in Germany who succeeded to strengthen considerably the open car by only adding 70 kg /154 lb to the mix. This made the 944 S2 Cabriolet, one of the first convertible sports cars to "almost" feel like its coupé brother in terms of body rigidity. It also looked great while doing it with its “a la Speedster” lowered windshield of 6 cm / 2.4 inches, small sporty soft-top and the cabriolet’s unique and elegant flat trunk deck.
The last year in 1991 the German brand produced a limited number of 625 Porsche 944 Turbo Cabriolets based on the “Turbo S” but only available in Europe. Also that same year Porsche UK offered the 944 SE, which was a well equipped 944 S2 with sport suspension and 225 ps from its 3 liter 4-cylinder engine.
The beautiful Porsche 944 was a fantastic success for Porsche; practical, relaxed, and easy at the limits with its nearly 50/50 even front to rear weight distribution; it allowed for Porsche to get out of the red financially speaking and proved that Porsche could make something else than a 911… as if anyone had any doubts.
|Model/Year||Porsche 944 (Lux)
|Porsche 944 Turbo (951)
|Porsche 944 S
|Porsche 944 S2
|944 Turbo S
|Designer||Porsche AG - Harm Lagaay (924 design)
Porsche AG - Anatole Lapine (fender flares)
|Engine Type||Front All Alu
I4 SOHC 2V/8V
|Front All Alu I4
KKK K26 Turbo
|Front All Alu I4
|Front All Alu I4
|Front All Alu I4
KKK K26-70 Turbo
|Capacity||2479 cc / 151 cu in
2681 cc / 164 cu in (Eu 2.7L 1987)
|2479 cc / 151 cu in||2479 cc / 151 cu in||2990 cc / 182 cu in||2479 cc / 151 cu in|
|Fuel Feed||Fuel Injection
Bosch L Jetronic
|Power||163 ps @ 5800 rpm (Eu)
165 ps @ 5800 rpm (Eu 2.7L 1987)
143 hp @ 5850 rpm (US)
|220 ps @ 5800 rpm
217 hp @ 5800 rpm
|190 ps @ 6000 rpm
187 hp @ 6000 rpm
|211 ps @ 5800 rpm
208 hp @ 5800 rpm
|250 ps @ 6000 rpm
247 hp @ 6000 rpm
|Torque||151 lb-ft/205 nm @ 3000 rpm (Eu)
165 lb-ft/225 nm @ 4200 rpm (Eu 1987)
137 lb-ft/186 nm @ 3000 rpm (US)
|243 lb-ft/330 nm @ 3500 rpm||170 lb-ft/230 nm @ 3000 rpm||206 lb-ft/280 nm @ 4000 rpm||258 lb-ft/350 nm @ 4000 rpm|
|Transmission||5 Speed Transaxle - RWD
3 Speed Auto (US & Japan - 82-87)
|Top Speed||137 mph - 220 km/h||152 mph - 245 km/h||142 mph - 228 km/h||149 mph - 240 km/h||162 mph - 261 km/h|
|"0-60" mph - 0-100 km/h||8.1 sec (Eu)
8.3 sec (US)
8 sec (Eu 2.7L 1987)
|6.3 sec||7.9 sec||6.9 sec||5.7 sec|
|Chassis||Galvanized Steel Monocoque|
|Weelbase||2400 mm / 94.5 in|
|Front Suspension||MacPherson Struts, Coil Springs,
Tube Shocks, Anti-roll Bar
|Rear Suspension||Semi-trailing Arms,
Transverse Torsion Bars
Coil Springs, Tube Shocks
|Brakes||Disc all around|
|Front Tires||185/70 VR 15 Cookie Cutter
Opt. 205/55 VR 16 (Fuchs)
(1985.5) Telephone Dials 195/65 VR 15
|205/55 VR 16||195/65 VR 16
Opt. 205/55 VR 16
|205/55 VR 16||225/50 VR 16|
|Rear Tires||185/70 VR 15 Cookie Cutter
Opt. 225/50 VR 16 (Fuchs)
(1985.5) Telephone Dials 195/65 VR 15
|225/50 VR 16||195/65 VR 16
Opt. 225/50 VR 16
|225/50 VR 16||245/45 VR 16|
|Steering||Rack and Pinion
Power steering for some markets as standard. Globaly Standard in 1984.
|Weight||2601 lb / 1180 kg||2976 lb/1350 kg||2822 lb/1280 kg||2888 lb/1310 kg Coupe
3042 lb/1380 kg Cabriolet
|2976 lb/1350 kg|
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Production Num.||117 790||20 063||12 831||14 201 Coupe
6 075 Cabriolet
(2402 Cabrio USA)