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Porsche 944 - Good Idea?

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Sep 7, 2009
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They are decent cars, but you need to have an emotional attachment to them to make it enjoyable. That means researching and doing the little fixes on your own, which usually requires a second (reliable) vehicle, OR having deep pockets.

To me it's a great second car for a mid 20-something to tinker with. NOT a good first and only car.

Like everyone else said... miata, or something more common is a better bet. I've seen too many kids essentially ruin their young driving life by having a car that is down 90% of the time.. which means bumming rides and such.
 
Sep 7, 2009
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I don't buy that they're great cars and all that. For the time I'm sure, but now you can get much better cars that will be cheaper to run

I mean... yeah... but that holds true to about any older car.

There's more to automotive enjoyment than 0-60 and .95 g's on the skidpad.

It's a lot more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slow.
 

Fritzo

Lifer
Jan 3, 2001
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The 911 is the only Porsche I'd buy from that era :) Of course, you're closer to a $20K pricetag instead of $10K, but you can usually sell them for around the same price you bought them for. The only 944 worth a damn is the 944 Turbo, but they're still going to be out of your price range.

Anyway, have you considered a BMW Z3 or 3 series or (as others mentioned) a Miata for that money? More modern and just as fun.
 

JCH13

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2010
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I like to see how things shake-down on the race track to prove out truly durable older cars, and Lemons is the perfect spot for that:

http://blog.caranddriver.com/lemons-wisdom-vs-conventional-wisdom-17-cars-that-should-dominate-but-dont-camaro-supra-gti—ahoy/

Porsche 944

We’ve already covered the agony of LeMons Porsche racers at some length, so we’ll summarize here: The 944 offers a team an excellent shot at a Most Heroic Fix trophy. No LeMons car manages to combine mediocre on-track performance, horrifically difficult repairs, and expense of replacement parts as effectively as the 944 (and, to a lesser extent, the 924). At the Chubba Cheddar Enduro at Road America last month, it took five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro to propel a well-prepped 944 to victory over a bone-stock 1971 Simca 1204—and it was close, too.
http://blog.caranddriver.com/lemons-goodbad-idea-of-the-week-character-building-porsches/
 

Fritzo

Lifer
Jan 3, 2001
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LOL:



You can tell things aren’t going well in Porsche-land when you see this sight in the pits.
 

JCH13

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2010
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^Indeed!

3 out of 3 NHMS Lemons races I've driven in has seen a 944 team win a 'heroic fix' or 'got screwed' award. One year two 944 teams won both IIRC...
 

Zenmervolt

Elite member
Oct 22, 2000
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Eh...

I know a lot of people that run very hard in the 944 and don't have those issues. But they're playing with $7,000 to $10,000 cars and not $500 cars.

The problem with a $500 944 is that parts cars that have been totaled by insurance companies routinely show up with owners asking $1,000 to $1,500 for them. A $500 944 would have to be in such bad shape to begin with that a person would have to be crazy to race it.

The 944 is just starting to climb in value. A decade ago a decent "20 footer" for street use could be had for $3,500 to $4,500. Now they're in the $5,000 to $6,000 range. They're never going to hit Mecum or Barret Jackson numbers, but they've essentially bottomed out and are now holding with inflation.

The 24 Hours of LeMons is decent at picking out cars that can take a lot of beating but another critical part is that the cars haven't held value well. Any "desirable" car is going to be harder to manage when the race puts a $500 limit on the cost of a car because price is not just a function of age and condition, it's also a function of desirability and availability. Plus, as they point out, the 944 is devilishly time-consuming to repair.

ZV
 

JCH13

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2010
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We have to normalize against SOMETHING to make an even comparison, why not money? That's OP's limiting factor.

Cars that do well in Lemons generally do not require a ton of money, time, or exotic preparation to do well, and they are cheap to buy. This is also what many people look for in their normal cars.

Sure, you can probably find a 944 that (with lots of money, time, and very careful preparation) can withstand a ton of abuse, like a Lemons race. However, it is telling of the maintenance and parts cost that you cannot find one for $500 that will.

To draw directly from personal experience: $500 MR2 vs $500 944. The MR2 is more durable, cheaper to maintain, consumes less fuel, and is considerably easier to prep for Lemons. I believe the same would hold true for a $10,000 MR2 vs a $10,000 944. The MR2 would last longer, require less maintenance, and do better on fuel than a 944.

The fact that 944's are appreciating in value would be a strike against buying one. It means I'll have to pay more for the 944 vs another car of the same quality/mileage/condition, the other is just less desirable to an enthusiast/collector, or is more common. These are VERY good things when it comes to owning a street car: cheaper parts, more people know how to fix them, etc.

If, however, the pooch badge is something that you have to have... well... that's another story.
 

Fritzo

Lifer
Jan 3, 2001
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On a side note, when did they stop spelling it LeMons? I swear to God I was saying "WTF is "lemons"? Some kind of race featuring unreliable cars?" :biggrin:
 

monkeydelmagico

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2011
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old porsche 944 for new driver. lol. Some days will be epic and others not so much. Bonus points if OP is in the auto tech program.
 

Vdubchaos

Lifer
Nov 11, 2009
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First car?

Get yourself a beater, it will get ruined anyways.

Although this porsche is probably more reliable than most, at that mileage and price I would be suspicious.

For a first car? NEVER
 

Zenmervolt

Elite member
Oct 22, 2000
24,520
5
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We have to normalize against SOMETHING to make an even comparison, why not money? That's OP's limiting factor.

Cars that do well in Lemons generally do not require a ton of money, time, or exotic preparation to do well, and they are cheap to buy. This is also what many people look for in their normal cars.

Sure, you can probably find a 944 that (with lots of money, time, and very careful preparation) can withstand a ton of abuse, like a Lemons race. However, it is telling of the maintenance and parts cost that you cannot find one for $500 that will.

To draw directly from personal experience: $500 MR2 vs $500 944. The MR2 is more durable, cheaper to maintain, consumes less fuel, and is considerably easier to prep for Lemons. I believe the same would hold true for a $10,000 MR2 vs a $10,000 944. The MR2 would last longer, require less maintenance, and do better on fuel than a 944.

The fact that 944's are appreciating in value would be a strike against buying one. It means I'll have to pay more for the 944 vs another car of the same quality/mileage/condition, the other is just less desirable to an enthusiast/collector, or is more common. These are VERY good things when it comes to owning a street car: cheaper parts, more people know how to fix them, etc.

If, however, the pooch badge is something that you have to have... well... that's another story.
Oh, I agree with you on the "don't get a 944 as your first car" angle. That's why I warned him against it. ;)

But I don't think the poor LeMons performance is as indicative of raw durability as your previous post made it seem. I'll concede durability per dollar, and that should be important for the OP, I agree. But my experience with the 944 is that if you follow the maintenance properly (and don't flog the transaxle in the non-turbo cars) they're damn near indestructible. The maintenance, as I mentioned in earlier posts, isn't cheap though.

By $10,000 though, a non-turbo, non-S2 944 should be an absolute creampuff. New tires, all documentation, clean engine, extremely good compression test numbers, replacement spring-center clutch, gearbox in good shape, recent belts/rollers/water pump, etc. Basically, a $10,000 8-valve 944 should be one you can get into and drive from Maine to the California with no problems along the way. I sincerely doubt a $10,000 MR2 would last longer than a $10,000 944. Maintenance for the 944 would absolutely be more, yes, but there are enough people I know with 300,000 miles or more and no major power loss or oil consumption on their 944 without breaking apart the engine to make me believe in the longevity of a well-maintained example. The Aluasil cylinders especially tend not to wear much at all. As for fuel mileage, the non-turbo MR2 comes in at 19/26 and the 8-valve 944 at 18/25. It's effectively a wash there too. The MR2 will be cheaper to maintain (probably MUCH cheaper) but it won't necessarily last longer or save you a meaningful amount in fuel.

ZV
 
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exar333

Diamond Member
Feb 7, 2004
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A car loan for this car is crazy. Get a dependable car and buy this as a toy to play with and tinker. Just my $0.02.
 

Hans Gruber

Senior member
Dec 23, 2006
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You would get laughed at by Porsche owners if you drive a 944. Those were selling for $3000-$4000 way back in the 90's. It's 911 or nothing from that era. No, not even 928. 911 or nothing.
 

Fritzo

Lifer
Jan 3, 2001
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You would get laughed at by Porsche owners if you drive a 944. Those were selling for $3000-$4000 way back in the 90's. It's 911 or nothing from that era. No, not even 928. 911 or nothing.
944's are gaining traction. They were actually solid and well built cars with decent performance. The '85 and up Turbo S being the most desirable. Those cars had like 250HP on a light chassis, so they're pretty tossable.
 

Fritzo

Lifer
Jan 3, 2001
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I’m going to go look at an ‘84 Porsche 944 tomorrow. What questions should I be asking? The link is from Craigslist - https://orangecounty.craigslist.org/pts/d/orange-porsche/7052469315.html
Undesirable year, engine not mentioned so it's probably the 2.5L (which was good for about 160HP). In 100% pristine condition that model would go for about $15000 give or take. It looks like it needs about $10-$12K worth of work, so if you want to restore it, it will be a wash.

Hold out for a 85 or higher.
 

JCH13

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2010
4,971
63
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You would get laughed at by Porsche owners if you drive a 944. Those were selling for $3000-$4000 way back in the 90's. It's 911 or nothing from that era. No, not even 928. 911 or nothing.
One of my coworkers had a 944 for some time. He said it was really cool how other Porsche owners were so welcoming to him at Porsche events.
 

Fritzo

Lifer
Jan 3, 2001
40,597
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One of my coworkers had a 944 for some time. He said it was really cool how other Porsche owners were so welcoming to him at Porsche events.
I had a 914 for a while. PCA chapters love the brand and all cars are unique. The most attention goes to the less common cars because they all have unusual quirks. For instance, the manifold design on the 944 is crazy...it's like they designed the engine and forgot to leave room, so they crammed it in there resulting in some odd cabin contouring. The braking system is still one of the best of any production car ever made. They have nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution, so it's like driving on a rail on the road. The interior is suprsingly comfortable and roomy. The console is easily upgraded due to the minimalist dash.

They're cool cars. Bad side effect is they're less common, so parts tend to be more expensive, and being 30-40 years old, you're going to run into annual repairs. These cars also need to be driven to keep the seals and gaskets wet. If they dry out it'll start leaking like a sieve.

My 914/6 didn't last too long because I'm WAY too big to fit in it. It was essentially a VW with a 6 cylinder, but it was really easy to work on and it handled like a Mini Cooper without power steering. Used to love the engine note too...it had a throaty growl that would catch people off guard. Had to wash and wax the thing constantly to prevent rust though. Wouldn't mind trying another one as they make seat kits these days to accommodate taller drivers. Those cars were so tiny it would essentially fit in your garage along side your lawn tractor :)
 

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