Why The Porsche 944 Is No Poor Relation to Germany's Dominant 911

Calum Brown
1991 Porsche 944

There are those who continually bash the 944 as an 'imitation Porsche'. Fools! They are seriously missing out on one of Stuttgart's greatest...

Porsche 911 purists claim that the Cayman, no matter how dazzling its road manners are, ultimately has the engine in the ‘wrong place’. Turn back the clocks four decades, to when Duran Duran ruled the airwaves and the shoulder-pad/perm look was still in its infancy, and you’ll find that the 944 suffered identical alienation.

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As with the Cayman today, the 944 was branded by Porsche cliques as an imitator. It wasn’t the ‘real thing’. However, thanks to the toffee-nosed snobbery of many, Germany's 944 remains a tad cheaper to purchase than a high-end 911, with prices under $30k for good ones. Examples such as this 1991 S2 specimen with only 64,000 (102,000 km) miles on the clock. 

The result for your hard earned cash? A solid example of the best-handling Porsche from the Regan/Thatcher era. That should ruffle a few feathers... 

1991 Porsche 944

With the engine out in front and the gearbox at the back, the 944 boasts almost perfect weight distribution, and a handling balance many modern sports cars can only dream of. The four-cylinder engine is also the perfect introduction to those wanting to own a Porsche; without turbo lag slashing life expectancy to your first overtaking manoeuvre.

The chassis offers a direct response, the styling remains tear-jerkingly retro and the power comes in spades. Picky 911 owners don’t know what they’re missing – it’s all the fun without the seriousness.

1991 Porsche 944

The easiest aspect of the 944 for marque purists to criticise is the powerplant. Its' 924 predecessor may have had a 2.0-litre NSU/Audi unit as used in the boxy Volkswagen LT van, but a fresh Porsche powertrain meant the engine bay received a mark-up transformation for the 944.

Critics were correct in saying the original 944 offered a mere half of the Porsche 928s monstrous 5.0-litre V8, but they missed the point. Not only was the 944 easier to run, but it was easily controllable compared with the wild 928's murderous characteristics. 

1991 Porsche 944

Power steering came as standard as of 1985, alongside a freshened interior, larger fuel tank and new suspension set-up. There had never been any doubt that the chassis could cope with more power, and the much sought-after 944 Turbo arrived at the party the same year Roger Moore stepped down as 007.

With its 220bhp capacity raising the bar for others to follow, and a nought-60mph sprint in six seconds, the 944 Turbo came incredibly close to equaling the 911 Carrera. It's at this point, we believe, that embarrassed 944 bashers continued on their quest of bemoaning an imposter; simply because they couldn’t admit they had been wrong.

Yet, they were quivering up there on their pedestal as the 944 prowled around below. With an attached turbo, the 944 now held no prisoners. 

1991 Porsche 944

The car's most appealing trait today is the ability to provide supercar performance on family sedan money. The call of the Turbo is hard to ignore, but all engines in the 944 range are seriously good. We're not kidding; the units give the same punch as a Scottish MP at a Westminster bar.

If a 944 has been maintained properly, it’ll perform like it’s just rolled out the factory gates. While cheap-ish to buy when compared to more cosseted Porsches, running it will be another matter. But if you want to use an old Porsche as an everyday car, then you either need deep pockets or your head examined.

1991 Porsche 944

So, what about this one? Finished in Schwartz with full Linen leather interior, there are little over 64,200 miles from new recorded upon the odometer. Factory specification includes sunroof, electric windows, central locking, 4-way electric seats, headlamp washers, ABS brakes, PAS, and alloy wheels fitted with crested centre caps.

Supplied new on 25th January 1991 and serviced by an official Porsche dealer for the next six years, from 2000 onwards, maintenance was carried out by Britain's highly regarded Northway Porsche. More recently, in April 2017, the cam belt was replaced by famed Porsche specialist Steve Bull – this included the replacement of the balance belt, tensioners, water pump and auxiliary belts.

1991 Porsche 944

The history file includes invoices from both main dealer and Porsche specialists and old MOT certificates dating back to the first in 1994. A stunning example in a most desirable colour combination, this makes for the perfect addition to any modern classic collection. Get a closer look here