Swap or Rebuild: 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo

We received this tip about a 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo with a busted oil pan from Barn Finds reader Dean, who enthusiastically suggested its candidacy for an LS engine swap. It’s an obvious choice for a car like this, but the original turbocharged mill remains on the engine stand in need of a basic resealing. Which would you choose? Find it here on craigslist for $3,400.

The 944 looks quite solid up and down the sides, with no major cosmetic blemishes to report. It sounds like it was running fine with 140,000 miles on the clock before hitting an errant rock and busting the oil pan. This is not the end of the world unless the driver continued on their way, not realizing the engine was emptying itself of its lifeblood.

The interior features an aftermarket three-spoke steering wheel, missing radio, and some incomplete work under the dash in the area of the glovebox, usually a prime spot for removing the computer and sussing out ECU-related issues. The seller doesn’t provide much detail on what’s been started restoration-wise, just that it comes with a host of extra parts from another 944 they had access to.

The 951 cars featured a turbocharged and intercooled version of the naturally aspirated mill, and it was a strong performer when new, capable of clicking off a sub-six second run to 60 m.p.h. This one has been parked on a stand for a full re-seal, but the seller says they will not be tackling this straight-forward job. The question to me is whether any damage was done internally by the rock strike, but some of you may wish to debate Dean’s point about swapping in a domestic V8. Thoughts?

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Comments

  1. RichieRich

    My 924S was acquired suffering the same problem with a holed oil pan although in my case it was a slow leak rather than a dump and seize issue. If there is no internal damage then it’s not a big deal. Going back a few years I spent about $100 on a replacement used pan from an Audi, a new gasket and moved a few baffles around and another 8 hours – $800 at the time – in labor to get the old one out and new one installed. It is a PITA to get at. Engine off the mounts, removal of suspension, cross members etc. The Audi-based engines are, if nothing else, fairly robust.

    Like 4
  2. Dean

    A 924S uses a 2.5L Porsche-sourced engine. A 924 uses an Audi 2.0 L

    Like 6
  3. Superdessucke

    If you had time to go through all the trouble to take the engine out and, presumably, organize all the parts you took off, then why wouldn’t you have time to fix the oil pan? Something doesn’t seem to add up here.

    Like 7
  4. strawboy

    Renegade Hybrids, definitely.

    Like 1
  5. brianashe

    I’d rather have a non-turbo but properly-running 944 for another $1-2k. (Though I admit I strongly prefer this style of nose.) The tow hook in the front bumper worries me as much as anything else.

    Like 2
  6. Fiete T.

    LS…makes more sense

    Like 3
  7. 68custom

    Ls and back half it! Wont handle as well but it will look coll and be a stop light terror!

    Like 1
  8. Steve

    My brother just bought a running and driving 1983 944. 1500 bucks. Needs battery. Cars are way overpriced a lot. I just can’t see paying 3400 for a car that needs an engine.

    Like 3
  9. Robert ,G.

    I know someone who installed an LS engine in one of these. It’s a very tight swap. And in spite of having more power to weight ratio, the car did not handle well.
    Even with the aluminum V8, It was just too heavy in the front end to handle well. Other, (lower horse power), cars were always passing it. He never could get it to handle well.

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