It would be fair to say that the enthusiast community didn't welcome the four-cylinder Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster with open arms. It still isn't warmly received, really, a fresh attack on the 2.0- and 2.5-litre cars seemingly unleashed with the announcement of the 4.0-litre GTS. Which is a shame, because the 718s were still the Cayman/Boxster we knew and loved and remained some of the best handling cars on sale. A point brought into sharper focus with the T models, which were great. But perhaps Porsche missed a trick; maybe the way to get the die-hards on board with the four-cylinder idea would have been to properly pay tribute to the 718's racing namesake and strip away even more. After all, the last four-cylinder, track-focused Porsche turned out pretty well...
Hard as it is to imagine now, Porsche was struggling in the nineties, big time. The line-up was old, and sports cars weren't exactly popular in the aftermath of a global recession. Into that maelstrom the 968 arrived in 1992, a heavily updated 944 that wasn't going to solve any of the surrounding problems. In an attempt to gee up some enthusiasm, Porsche employed a much-loved tactic: heaved out weight from the old bus, painted a script down the side and gave the enthusiasts a proper driver's car at the end. The 968 Club Sport was raw, uncompromising Porsche - and suddenly an icon.
Today, when opting for a Club Sport Porsche seemingly has more of an effect on residuals than anything else, the levels the manufacturer went to with the 968 seem even more extreme. At its lightest more than 100kg was saved, with sound deadening, rear seats, central locking, electric windows and even some of the radio speakers deleted. The Club Sport was a real bare bones special - even ditching the airbag, so it couldn't be offered in the US - which really helped restore the faith of many in Porsche after a few less than impressive years.
Not least because it drove superbly, balanced in a way no 911 ever could be and endlessly rewarding. Which is why so many Club Sports were stripped further and submitted to a life of track days; as a demonstration of just how good lightweight, front-engined, rear-drive cars could be, there was nothing better. And as they weren't 911s, the 968 always remained reasonably affordable as well.
To some extent, that remains true even in 2021. This Club Sport is marvellous, unmodified and with little more than 60,000 miles recorded. Black and red isn't one of the iconic CS colour schemes, but it looks in impeccable condition. It's approaching 27 years-old and has 28 stamps in its service book; if you're after a Club Sport - and there are plenty of reason why you might be - then it's hard to imagine finding a better one.
There are those with lower mileages and higher asking prices, but who wants one that can't be driven? And on the other hand, while those circuit-prepped cars will be even better to drive, a standard car is always going to be easier to sell further down the line. This one is being offered at £33,000; when anything up to £60k is being asked for restored cars and £30k for those with another 50,000 miles, that doesn't look bad value. And that's before considering 911s: it's impossible to get in a 964 for less than £30k, and that's for a Tiptronic cab with 170,000 miles. Which is frankly a hard sell. For something interesting, a 964 like this one with some upgraded parts, you're looking at £20k more than the 968. And that's for the Porsche that everyone says isn't as good to drive...
SPECIFICATION | PORSCHE 968 CLUB SPORT
Engine: 2,990cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 240@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 225@4,100rpm
Recorded mileage: 61,758
Year registered: 1994
Price new: £28,975 (1993)
Yours for: £33,000
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