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Porsche 944

Published: 16th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Porsche 944
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Fancy owning a motorsport legend for road and track use? Paul Davies looks at true classics that made their names on stages and circuits, and still provide fine drives today

It’s the early Seventies, and Volkswagen wants to build a sports car. They commission Porsche to work on a few designs. Volkswagen changes its mind. Porscheneeds a replacement entry-level car for the lack-lustre 914. Agrees to take over the project. Porsche 924 arrives in 1976. Which, in a nutshell, explains why anything as grand as a Porsche should be so totally different from the rest of the range of the time from the Stuttgart manufacturer, and powered by an Audi manufactured engine that first saw life in the VW LT van (and the Audi 200-ed). But because it was a Porsche design the 924 – which with a production run of some 137,500 cars saved Porsche’s bacon at a particularly rocky time – was also pretty clever. True the two-litre, front mounted, engine was basic, but the use of a stiff torque tube to connect it to the gearbox positioned in a rear transaxle was genius. The 924 was as perfectly balanced as a race car should be.But the single cam motor only gave 125bhp. From the outset Porsche knew it needed a turbocharger (they’d already applied forced induction to the 911 with great success) and so they entered a blown version for Jurgen Barth and Roland Kussmaul to drive on the 1979 Monte Carlo Rally. But something went wrong, and the required homologation didn’t happen in time. The near-standard car did not disgrace itself, finishing 20th overall. Later in the year the duo would drive a similar, conventionally aspirated, 924 to 8th place on the tough Repco Rally in Australia. Once Porsche got the production (170bhp) 924 Turbo running, the development started seriously, with the 310bhp Carrera GT finishing 6th, 12th and 13th at 1980 Le Mans. The nonturbo 924 did make its mark in racing in its lifetime. Porsche GB ran a one-make series sponsored by dealers in 1978, motoring journalist Tony Dron taking the honours, and the following year Win Percy and Juliette Slaughter won Group 4 in the Brands Hatch 6 Hours race. In the USA, Al Holbert prepared cars ran in SCCA racing, with Tom Brennan winning the ‘D Production’ category in 1981. And that was the end of the competition career of the 924 – except ten years later a Porsche racer by the name of Jeff May invented the budget-price British 924 series for near standard (150bhp) cars. It was an instant success, even ran with Colway retread tyres for five years, and spawned well known racers, including Richard Lloyd, Ryan Hooker, James Neal, and Mark McAleer who won the Porsche Club Championship in 2007. After 17 years the series is as strong as ever, and with base cars for a couple of hundred quid, and fully race prepped ones for four grand or less, it’s probably the cheapest way to go proper motor racing and make a decent classic car into the bargain for road use. The cheapest way to go motor racing is in a Porsche! That’s got to be good enough to make the lowly 924 a Sporting Hero of the first order – even if it’s not ‘real’ Porsche…

Porsche 944 Summary


1976-1985: 137,500


Engine: Front mounted, four-cylinder in-line, with single overhead camshaft driven by belt. Two valves per cylinder. Bosch K-Jetronic injection. 1984cc.
Power: 125bhp. Turbo versions to 170bhp.
Gearbox: Audi four-speed in rear mounted transaxle, Porsche five-speed from 1980.
Drive: Rear wheels.
Suspension: Front struts with coil springs; Independent rear with torsion bars.
Brakes: Front disc, rear drum. (Rear discs on Turbo).
Steering: Rack and pinion.

Claim to fame

The VW sports car that made good! One-make race series in Germany, UK and USA. Brief rally career – 20th on 1979 Monte Carlo. Basis for budget UK Porsche 924 Racing Series from 1992, which still continues. 924 Turbo and turbo Carrera GT(S) success in racing 1980-82, before replacement by 944. Winner Porsche Club Speed Championship (Dave Dennett)

Famous names

Jurgen Barth, Andy Rouse, Tony Dron, Win Percy, Barrie Williams, Juliette Slaughter, Nick Faure, the late Gerry Marshall and Tony Lanfranchi, Doc Bundy, Ken Williams, Tom Brennan, Al Holbert, Dave Dennett, Caroline Lucas, (recently deceased) Richard Lloyd, James Neal, Ryan Hooker, Mark McAleer, Gary Duckman, Matt Davies (2008 924 champion).

Where to buy

Almost anywhere. Porsche specialist magazines, Classic Cars For Sale, local press, E-Bay, Porsche racing web site. Cars are rarely seen nowadays at Official Porsche Centres but try a bombsite trader!

What to look for

Rust around front wings (bolt-on) and centre rear panel. R/H engine mount fractures and causes vibration. Engine almost bullet-proof, but valve guides often wear, gearboxes go stiff if oil not changed regularly, clutch spigot bearing can seize. Early fascia panels prone to cracking and expensive to replace. Most parts available S/H from specialist suppliers like Porsch-apart ( and Pro-9 (

What to pay

Project cars from almost nothing (the editor nearly bought one for £200) through to £2000 for a low mileage, top, example. Fully prepped 924 series race cars available from £3500 upwards.


The Porsche Enthusiasts Club: Porsche Club of Great Britain:

Classic sport

One of the cheapest ways to go proper racing is the Porsche 924 series ( Full race preparation and track management from Harvey Racing (01992 462662) and EMC (Tel: 0121 328 2225/2227). The 924 can also make a reasonably good sprint/hillclimb car in its category. OK for trackdays too!

Competitive Rating: 7

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