Cheap Gray Market Find: 1980 Porsche 928

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Every now and again, there is a car on the list of “for sale” listings to write up that I just want to run out and buy immediately. This is one of those cars. It’s a gray market Porsche 928, and while it is tired as heck cosmetically, it’s a runner that retains its Euro-spec running gear and has all of the other features that sets it apart from a standard U.S. model. I love the European-spec sports cars, and even with the automatic transmission, I’d give this one a serious look if I lived closer. Find the 1980 Porsche 928 here on craigslist near Louisville for $5,900.

With its peeling clearcoat, it’d look right at home parked next to my junkyard find Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16. The seller doesn’t go into the details of how this Euro-spec car got here (which is usually one of the best aspects of a find like this) but does recognize it made more power than the examples sold at domestic dealerships. The European market cars made 300 horsepower and were lighter as well, while the U.S. cars made do with 228 b.h.p. and heavier curb weights undoubtedly due to safety equipment and other performance-killing modifications. Another tell-tale sign is the side marker turn signal indicators on the fenders.

You can find the 928 with a stick, but most of them have the automatic. This isn’t a deal-killer, as the 928 is more of a grand tourer than anything else so a slushbox doesn’t really kill the driving experience. The cosmetics are tired all around, inside and out, but nothing is so bad that you can’t still drive it while improvements are made. The seller notes the electronic features work as intended and that the car runs well. He recommends doing some fluid changes and has included the necessary ingredients to do so, but more helpful would be some additional details around his comment about the engine being “gone through” seven years ago. The heat and air conditioning, surprisingly, still work.

Nothing about this 928 is clean, including the engine bay. I’m not sure how much I’d worry about this as the car is clearly a project. The title is rebuilt which the seller claims could have more to do with it being imported as a gray market car rather than any sort of catastrophic accident. I’m not sure how much stock I’d put in either train of thought but I also wouldn’t let it stop me from buying this awesome project car. The fact that it runs, drives, stops, and has working A/C are all super encouraging when it comes to buying a cheap 928, and the Euro-spec features like the H4 headlights, additional horsepower, and lighter curb weight all push it firmly into the “win” column for me. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Chuck F. for the find.

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  1. alphasudMember

    I bought a euro 1983 928 with the automatic. This car may have the hotter engine but without looking at the engine number stamped on the block there is no way of knowing. My 83 got the digital ignition and a higher compression ratio. It also got the 4-speed auto whereas US models still made due with vacuum advance and a 3-speed auto which this one has. The 928 can be obscenely expensive to put right and that exterior and interior should give the new owner what they are up against. Unfortunately not worth it. Now if it was a 5-speed with Pasha interior then yes. Once fixed up you will have to swat the drooling Porsche buyers away.

    Like 8
    • Mike

      There was a guy with a 1978 petrol blue, pasha interior that would clean up at the PCA concours events in the 80-90’s. That one would be a lottery car for me.

      Like 1
      • David RaezerMember

        Petrol blue is a favorite of mine. I believe I have seen that color combination. Was it the gold Pasha? Pretty spectacular car.

        Like 0
  2. Bakyrdhero BakyrdheroMember

    One of my all time favorite cars. My uncle bought a used chocolate on beige leather 1980 928 in 1987. To this day when I smell real leather that car pops into my mind. The keys were red and black plastic and had a built in push button flashlight so you didn’t scratch the paint looking for the lock tumbler at night. These cars were special, I hope someone cleans this one up and enjoys it, I’ll bet this car has a few stories to share.

    Like 10
  3. Grant

    928s are not the car to buy in this condition. These cars can be reliable with proper maintenance over the years, but without it, look out. Plus, this car needs a stick. Of course, all cars need sticks, but that is another conversation.

    Like 5
  4. douglas hunt

    another one I always hoped to pick up to play with …..but I cant stomach the automatic, I just cant :-(

    Like 3
  5. Steve

    I’d leave it ‘as is’ and drive the heck out of it.

    Like 1
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Absolutely! I so agree. As long as it’s mechanically sound and everything is safe to use, enjoy it!

      Like 0
  6. Thomas L. Kaufman

    This is my favorite model of all the Porsche cars, but alas, the one guy had it right, they are too expensive to maintain. I had a good friend who worked at a Porsche dealership, and he said just to take it in for a valve adjustment would cost around $3500.00. Too steep for my blood.

    Like 3
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      This is my favourite Porsche car as well.

      Like 0
    • Elliott Everett

      When I owned mine, I was lucky enough to find a VW mechanic who worked on all kinds of other foreign cars too. But i was able to save bookoo bucks using this guy. Sometimes there are mechanics that can do it, if you get the parts, a good mechanic is a good mechanic. Granted, I got lucky that he liked working and building fast VWs, so the 928 wasn’t a stretch for him by any means.

      Like 0
  7. Military Guy

    I bought a 1979 929 euro spec for $700 a few years ago. And that’s all I would spend on a purchase of one of these cars

    Like 1
  8. Dennis

    Sadly, paint and interior alone will probably require $12-20k before getting to the mechanicals. Fuel system will need a complete going through (CIS) doesn’t like to sit and then who knows what else beyond tires, but there will be more. If it’s got the 300 HP engine, it could be a very nice driver, but it’s still at least $25k away from being a $20k car.

    Like 0
  9. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. Although I was too young to drive at the time, I remember seeing cars like the Porsche 928. I thought it was Porsche’s best looking car. I still find them quite attractive, probably more so than today’s Porsche.

    Like 3
    • douglas hunt

      yes, I have always liked the look of the 928….

      Like 2
  10. FrankDMember

    Automatic $$$ pit.

    Like 0
  11. Fran

    Have a beautiful 1981 euro 928. Then had a nightmare 1980 euro 928. In fact that bad one makes me say “never again”

    Like 1
  12. Car Nut Tacoma

    If only more pics were posted. It’s just like craigslist to only post a few pics of a car and that’s it.

    Like 0
  13. Jonathan Q Higgins

    A car that I’d always wanted to own. I had a thought that I might be ahead of the game if I bought a used Panamera instead. That seems like a spiritual successor to the 928. And newer and theoretically more reliable. Joined a couple Panamera forums and it seems like those guys drop 5k for repairs fairly routinely. So maybe a 928 IS a reasonable option.

    Like 0
  14. Gerard Frederick

    A cheap Porsche any model, is like a cheap Maserati, namely the most expensive car you are likely to ever own.

    Like 0
  15. MLM

    My favorite Porsche. I like these better than the 911.

    Like 0
  16. Claudio

    Is it difficult to change timing belt?

    Like 1
    • alphasudMember

      Not really. If you are a competent mechanic it’s just like any other timing belt replacement. You does a special tension tool to get the belt tension right. Nice thing about the 2 valve 928 engines is that they are non-interference. Even the euro spec. with high compression.

      Like 1
  17. Samingold

    How long does the timing belt last?

    Like 1
    • Martini ST

      Change the timing belt with every oil change seems to be what the 911 guys say on rennlist. But seriously, 20,000 miles is a reasonable (yet ridiculous) interval. The nice thing is that this single cam two valve motor is a non-interference unit, unlike the four-cam four valve lump used from 86.5 and beyond

      Like 0
  18. KurtMember

    Always liked these but I can adjust my own valves for that kind of money, thank you very much! Be interested to see what it sells for.

    Like 0
  19. Martini ST

    The Euro spec 300 hp engine had K-Tronic fuel injection which looked different than the US spec LH-Jetronic injection pictured here, it’s also got and mph speedo. It has the Dagmars and no euro fog light in back, I dunno about the euro-spec part.

    Like 0
  20. Mitch

    This isnt a thing i want to own. Any V8 in the world produces
    torque only Poosh built a 300hp engine without. Back in time
    some auto testers referred about real 272 hp it brings to its
    back tires.

    Like 0
  21. Fran

    Where is the rear fog light? Opps

    Like 0
  22. chrlsful

    yup, like many other makes, this is the one model to have in my opinion (so far from ‘a porsche guy’ as to be a joke). Just pick the right yrs of the 18. 4 speed auto is fine too. A Panamerican and a Chayene come in occasionally, glad they don’t need extensive wrk. (‘porsche guys’ say they arent ‘real porsches” nor is this one). W/the 928 I’d need some new tools !

    Like 0

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