Turbo Time Capsule: 1986 Porsche 944

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Sitting in this garage is what many people believe to be the forgotten hero of the 1980s Porsche range. The 944 Turbo combined muscular looks, impressive handling, and an engine that provided neck-snapping acceleration. Our feature car is a first-year Turbo that presents extremely well. It appears to have enjoyed a sheltered existence and is ready to find a new home. The seller has listed the Porsche here on Facebook Marketplace in Charles Town, West Virginia. They set their price at $45,000, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Jay L. for spotting this German classic.

Porsche introduced the 944 to its model range in 1982, making it no secret that it and its front-engined siblings would eventually replace its aging 911 range. However, customer backlash resulted in the company shelving those plans. It decided it wanted a reasonable return on its development costs, with the 944 continually evolving until production ended in 1991. Porsche unveiled what many believe to be the most significant change in 1986 when it released the 944 Turbo. It featured performance that could match almost anything available in the 911 range but in a package providing more predictable handling. The first owner ordered this Turbo in Alpine White. The seller indicates it features the optional factory sunroof, which is difficult to spot in the supplied photos. The paint retains a healthy shine, and while the photo quality isn’t first-rate, prone areas like the front bumper appear free from significant scratches and chips. The panels are as straight as an arrow, and there is no evidence of rust. Many cars from this era are prone to deteriorating plastic, but this Porsche hasn’t suffered that fate. The glass is crystal clear, and the color-matched Fuchs wheels are the perfect finishing touch to this classic’s exterior.

This Porsche’s impressive presentation continues when we examine its interior. The seller claims the car has a genuine 36,000 miles on its odometer, and the interior condition is consistent with that statement. The Burgundy leather seatcovers are free from wear, particularly on the outer edges. The remaining upholstered surfaces are spotless, and there are no signs of cracks in the dashpad. The dash is immaculate, and I see no evidence of aftermarket additions. I am unsure whether it features air conditioning, but the new owner receives power windows, power locks, a power driver’s seat, and an AM/FM radio/cassette player.

Lifting the hood reveals what sets this 944 apart from its siblings. The “garden variety” 944 featured a 2.5-liter four-cylinder powerplant delivering 143hp and 137 ft/lbs of torque. It provided respectable performance, but many buyers craved more. Porsche heard their pleas and released the Turbo in 1986. Its engine and drivetrain underwent significant upgrades, including stronger transaxle internals and larger brakes. The company fitted the engine with a turbocharger and intercooler, boosting performance enormously. Drivers felt the change immediately, as power and torque rose to 217hp and 243 ft/lbs. The normally-aspirated 944 could cover the ¼-mile in 16.2 seconds on its way to 130mph. The Turbo slashed the ¼-mile ET to 14.4 seconds, while the top speed skyrocketed to 152mph. The 944 has always been appropriately maintained and is in excellent mechanical health. Crucially, this attention extends to the timing belts. Potential buyers should consider it a turnkey proposition.

I have never hidden the fact that I don’t feel passionate about Porsches. That doesn’t mean that I dislike them because I respect the engineering employed by the company to produce cars with surprising performance from relatively modest powerplants. Porsche proves that a car doesn’t need a million horsepower to be fast, and how it utilizes its available power is more important than the figure itself. This 944 looks like a gem, and if an in-person inspection confirms that impression, it may only be a few days away from finding a new home.

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  1. Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

    My brother in law bought one in Japan, back then Porsche was a status cymbal. It cost him more for a garage lol.
    Sadly when he left Japan to take a professorship in the USA, no one wanted to buy it, because he was a “westerner”
    Upon reaching the USA he bought an STI WRX, lol

    Like 3
    • Kerwin G

      Symbol, not cymbal.


      Like 0
      • Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

        Thank autocorrect or auto correct, lol

        Like 2
  2. bobhess bobhessMember

    As a former 924 owner I can say that this was a quantum leap in the series. Still one of the best handling cars ever built and extremely comfortable as a cruiser. Don’t know about the price but there is nothing that says this isn’t one of the best cars Porsche ever built.

    Like 8
  3. HarryQ

    The 944 Turbos have transaxles, a pretty nice mass distribution, where, like a tightrope walker with a pole that slows down how fast you have to react to an imbalance, allowing the tightrope walker to recover before they fall off, the 944 is way easier to drive on a race track than a 911.

    For showroom stock racing, when they were being clobbered by the C4 Corvettes, Porsche built a few — I think less than 10 — lightweight ones with big brakes borrowed from the 959, and manual steering, windows, etc. called 944 Club Sport, I think they had fiberglass front ends. They still got beat by the C4 Corvettes, mostly because of understeer and front tire wear. If only the fenders could house larger ones. The front-engine Porsches were styled by Anatole “Tony” Lapine, born in Latvia, whose family came to the US after WW II, and who worked at GM in Detroit before going to Opel and then Porsche.

    The 944s have stood the test of time better than the C4 Corvette, and seem to have more durable interior finishings.

    The seller is asking a big number, but if you wanted to build a hot rod, at the risk of offending Porschefiles, this would be a great beginning for an unlimited budget LS swap.

    Like 1
    • JRE

      There are many alternative 944s or 928s at a lower price point more appropriate for grafting an LS into. The condition of this survivor would be best served as presented and enjoyed for what it is. To tear into this car – ‘Porschefile’ or not is blasphemy. Beautiful auto – GLWTA

      Like 4
  4. DonC

    In the latest issue of Panorama, there are 4 1986 Turbo 944s. There is one with 45,000 miles and Condition2 (which I think one is as well) going for $89,500. I think that’s high but for such low mileage perhaps this white beauty here is worth what they’re asking.

    Like 2

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