Porsche 968 ~ 1991-95
Porsche's last evolution of the water-cooled 4-cylinder, front engine rear transaxle, appeared in August 1991. This last rear wheel drive model was named the Porsche 968, but should have been named the 944 S3 instead. Porsche once more needed an entry-level sports car, but went through the 944’s profit fund and mainly had to reskin the 944 S2.
Porsche went on to restyled the nose making it resemble the one found on a 928 and changed the rear lights into a red unit flushed with a rear wing also seen towards the end of the 944’s life. To accommodate the new headlight set, the front fenders were reworked, but they still were beautifully flared as well as the rear fenders. The side mirrors also were changed from a rectangular design to a more teardrop and aerodynamic shape as seen on the 911s of the time (964, Aug 91).
The interior was exactly the same as a 1985.5 Porsche 944 and its "Oval" dashboard layout, this again allowed Porsche to develop and produce the 968 at a lower cost. 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. Also from the start the 968 Cabriolet produced by the American company ASC in Germany was available, and as the 944 S2 Cabriolet it had a flat trunk lid and beautiful small soft-top giving the 968 Cabriolet a fantastic speedster look with its lowered windshield of 2.6 inches / 6 cm.
The only engine available was the 3 liter / 182 cu in, 16 valves water-cooled inline-4 found on the 944 S2 with its two counter-rotating balance shafts to smooth the big four out. In the 968’s case though it produced not 211 ps, but 240 ps / 237 hp at 6200 rpm all due to Porsche’s “VarioCam” (Variable valve timing) system allowing more low and mid-end torque. The transmissions were also new with a 6-speed manual offered as standard, and an optional automatic 4-speed "Tiptronic" transmission taken from the 911 (964) where you also could manually change gear via the gear lever.
All this new gizmo tech made the 968 achieve 6.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill with a top speed of now 156 mph / 251 Km/h instead of 6.9 seconds to 60 and 149 mph / 240 km/h in top speed for the 944 S2. But the Porsche 968’s sales in the early 90’s economic crisis didn’t take off. The problem was that the 968 was now so well sorted out with its almost perfect weight distribution that you felt a little removed from the driving experience, and customers still saw a 944 through the expensive price tag of the 968. To make things even worse, BMW introduced its new 6 cylinder E36 M3 in 1992, this second generation M3 had 286 ps in European trim and 240 hp in US with seating for four adults, a large trunk and all this for less money than the 968.
Times looked grim for Porsche so they went on to build a lightweight model like the 911 RS. The 1993 Porsche 968 CS for "Club Sport" was unveiled, this model was 110 lb / 50 Kg lighter. To reduce the 968’s weight, Porsche engineers removed all the 968 standard amenities, included the rear window wiper, sound deadening and the two small rear seats, while replacing the front seats by light, non electric Recaro bucket seats with matching color coded rear seat frames. The suspension was firmer and lower with bigger anti-roll bars, while the body color matched wheels were available with the Sport Package on the “standard” car. The Porsche 968 CS performed better, with a 6.3 seconds time to 60 mph and a new top speed of 160 mph / 257 Km/h.
Aside from not being as practical as the Standard 968, and having a limited choice of five flashy colors also adorning the wheels and rear wing, the Porsche 968 CS made you look like a street racer a bit, especially with its enormous and tacky “Club Sport” script all along the fenders and doors.
Sadly the 968 Club Sport with all of its track praise didn’t sell. A last effort to revive the 968’s image was the production, also in 1993, of the Porsche 968 Turbo S exclusively for the European market. Only 15 Porsche 968 Turbo S were produced, nothing abnormal when knowing that the little inline-4 Porsche as expensive as a 911 Turbo. The Turbo S had a lower front spoiler, two NACA air intakes on the hood, an adjustable rear wing and a superb 2-wheel piece set. It produced 305 ps at 5400 rpm with an 8 valves, single-cam engine instead of the 16 valves VarioCam unit. Capable of reaching 60 mph in 4.7 sec and with a top speed of 175 mph / 282 Km/h this Turbo S is the ultimate inline-4 front engine from the 924/944/968 blood line aside from the 4 Porsche 968 Turbo RS racers built for competition. Sadly the end arrived in 1995 for this very accomplished Porsche when BMW unveiled in Europe its Series II BMW M3 E36 now boosting not 286 ps, but an impressive 321 ps with 6-speed, and M5 brakes.
At last but not least Porsche introduced the "968 Sport" in UK only from 1994 to 1995. The Porsche 968 Sport was an attempt to save 968 sales in UK by introducing somewhat of a cross between a "standard" 968 and a Club Sport at a lower price than the "standard" 968.
Today the Porsche 968 has its place amongst collectors who want the ultimate evolution of Porsche's water-cooled front-engine inline-4 models. As of 1996 Porsche haven't replaced the 968, which left Porsche's catalogue for another cult entry level sports car, the Porsche Boxster.
|Porsche 968 Turbo S
|Porsche 968 CS
|Designer||Porsche AG - Harm Lagaay (924 design)
Porsche AG - Anatole Lapine (fender flares)
|Engine Type||Front All Alu I4
|Front All Alu I4
|Front All Alu I4
|Capacity||2990 cc / 182 cu in|
|Fuel Feed||Fuel Injection
Bosch L Jetronic
|Power||240 ps / 237 hp @ 6200 rpm||305 ps / 237 hp @ 5400 rpm||240 ps / 237 hp @ 6200 rpm|
|Torque||225 lb-ft / 305 nm @ 4100 rpm||369 lb-ft / 369 nm @ 3000 rpm||225 lb-ft / 305 nm @ 5000 rpms|
|Transmission||6 Speed - RWD
Opt. 4 Speed Auto. "Tiptronic"
|6 Speed - RWD||6 Speed - RWD|
|Top Speed||156 mph - 251 km/h||175 mph - 282 km/h||160 mph - 257 km/h|
|"0-60" mph - 0-100 km/h||6.5 sec||4.7 sec||6.3 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/
Tube Shocks, Anti-roll Bar
|Brakes||Disc all around + ABS|
|Front Tires||205/55 ZR 16
Opt. 225/45 ZR 17 (Sports Pack)
|235/40 ZR 18||225/45 ZR 17|
|Rear Tires||225/50 ZR 16
Opt. 255/40 ZR 17 (Sport Pack)
|265/35 ZR 18||255/40 ZR 17|
|Steering||Rack and Pinion
|Weight||3020 lb / 1370 kg||2866 lb / 1300 kg||2910 lb / 1320 kg|
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Production Num.||10 838
(Total 12 776 + 4 Racing 968 Turbo RS)