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Shed Of The Week

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Friday 1st February 2013


SOTW: PORSCHE 944

Shed-money Porsche appeals, 'proper' engine position or not


For most powerfully-built PH types, and indeed most normal people, Porsche means a distinctive body shape, the howl of a flat six in the rear, and eye-watering dealer servicing costs. But there is an alternative Porsche, one that's about as different to the 911 as it's possible to get. The 944.

Some may say 'it's not a real Porsche', whatever that means, but more than 163,000 folk were happy enough to buy the first-gen eight-valvers between 1982 and 1989. Shed is no stats geek but he feels in his water that this makes it the biggest selling Porsche ever. And you can see why. This shapely 2+2 coupe still looks sharp today. It's well-built, comfortable and surprisingly practical, with plenty of room not just in the cabin but also under that big rear hatch.

Attractive finish to the intake manifold...
Attractive finish to the intake manifold...
At the other end, the alu-headed and blocked oversquare 2.5-litre SOHC engine is (in terms of design, if not parts interchangeability) one half of the 928's V8 engine, with twin balancer shafts to pacify the inherent roughness of a big-displacement four. Unless you know different, the subsequent 968's 3.0-litre unit holds modern motoring's capacity record for big fours.

Brake and suspension improvements over the weedy 924 created a chassis that was once again well ahead of the engine, with the Grail combo of near 50/50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive. No ABS on this '85 specimen - that didn't come until 1987 - but you can count on the car's exceptional handling to keep you out of trouble. It was one of Car & Driver's top 10 cars for three years running in the mid-'80s.

Underneath the tat, this attractively painted Shed with more than six months' MOT has some allure at £950. Power? Depends. Some say 143hp, others 150hp, still others 161hp. Whatever it is, that peak output is delivered at a lofty-sounding 5,500rpm, but the good news is you don't need to wring this motor's neck to pack away big trips at a surprising rate. Expect a 0-60 in the high sevens and a top speed in the mid-130s, along with economy that was considered excellent at the time and is still more than acceptable today. 30mpg is easy, 25mpg normal in everyday use.

Bodykit may dissuade but it's not too offensive
Bodykit may dissuade but it's not too offensive
The 944 got a refresh (curvier dash, tele-dial rims, bigger fuel tank, new suspension bits) in mid-1985. Pre-update cars are a bit lighter and therefore a bit more sought after (kerbweight estimates again range from 1,180kg to 1,280kg). Hard to be sure that this one is pre- or post-refresh, as there are no cabin shots, but peering through the passenger side, the dash does have a certain blockiness about it, and those wheels look like original 'earlies', so you could be in luck.

One thing is for sure: solid early 944s are getting hard to find. Sills, lower front wings and where the body meets the rear beam axle are all hot spots for rust. Beyond this car's various skirts and Delboy add-ons the bodywork looks clean, with 'shiny' paint, always a nice touch. The vendor specifically mentions an absence of the brown stuff, so if you're hoping for a Shed keeper (excuse the oxymoron) and are happy to replace bits as they fail, this one could be a better risk than many,

It's a 28-year-old car, so some parts will simply be worn out, or on the way out. Proper maintenance paperwork is highly desirable with any Porsche, but none is mentioned here. That's a gamble the Shedman takes with a devil-may-care guffaw, but it would certainly be useful to know from the owner whether the belts and water pump have been renewed recently.

'Shiny paint' and no rust says the advert
'Shiny paint' and no rust says the advert
The gearbox is strong, but the normally aspirated car's weird rubber doughnut clutch is a weak point. They shred. The giveaway is clunking when you apply power. Switching to the 944 Turbo's solid unit is a common move.

Watch out for front engine oil seals and leaky steering racks. Flaky oil cooler seals will allow oil to contaminate the coolant. Electric window switches, fan sensors, fans, CV joints, fuel pumps, starter motors, engine and seat mountings and factory alarms can all play up. If it's got non-functioning AC, get used to it. Check the carpets too: if they're damp, there'll most likely be rust holes in the battery tray. You could always dry the rugs out with the heat from the bonfire you'll be throwing those stick-on bits onto, though.

Again because of the age, the sunroof could be an issue. Rear hatches leak too, and they're a potential swine to fix: sometimes a replacement hatch is the easiest solution. Shed reckons that 924 hatches will fit, but he doesn't say what size hammer is required for that job.

Shed rather likes the absence of a doorhandle on the driver's side as he believes it might confound the bone-idle opportunist tealeaf. That bonnet badge means that OE parts are expensive, but one advantage of a VW-ish heritage is that you won't always need Porsche-labelled stuff. Owner forums will give you the inside story there. The pop-up headlamps appear to work, and as the owner also mentions, insurance needn't be a problem either. That's one of the benefits of age, as Shed is always telling his missus.


Here's the ad.

Porsche 944 2.5 manual. Mot till August 2013. Tax till end of January.
Nice and clean example of classic car. Rust free, good condition bodywork and still shiny. Tinted rear window. Always kept in the garage and cared well.
All tyres in very good condition. Cheap insurance if bought in classic car insurance company. Driver side doorhandle is missing.