Buying Guide to a Porsche 944
I've owned a number of classics and a number of 944's, the 944 S being the latest of the transaxle classics. I ran into many problems with this car that cost me a lot of money. Although there is no guarantee of buying a classic car, that in of itself is a risk as these cars are 30 years old.
The appearance of the 944 is what drew me in and considering this came out in 1982 - it has aged incredibly well. When pulling up in a petrol station be prepared to be stopped. The car has an 'every man' style about it that is appreciated by many.
But I think now with knowledge gained from experience, a rare car isn't what you really need. That is unless you have a fleet of cars and then you need the Porsche 944 Turbo S - the most expensive and top of the range. These are around £30k+
What I'm talking about is actually living with a classic, and it could be your only car as these can be daily drivers.
Porsche parts are expensive whether you have a 993 RS or a 944 LUX. That is certainly something to consider before going for one of these.
Some parts are cheaper at the Porsche main dealer, for example the rubber blocks the boot pins sit on. Ebay and other Parts shops were actually more expensive than going to Porsche direct.
Here are my 2 cents worth on the 944.
When viewing one of these take someone with you who has some knowledge of general car mechanics.
Things to look for when buying a Porsche 944:
Check the history file for engine work. Ask the owner questions about what he has spent on it.
- Check for service records performed by Porsche specific garages. Once a year these need a check over even if doing no miles.
- Check the timing and balancer shaft belts replaced. If not, when were they changed? every 40,000 miles or three years and a new water pump every 80,000 miles.
- Check if the cam-chain tensioner has been changed on the 944 S.
- Vibration at idle could be due to the engine mounting or clutch’s thrust bearing. Test the latter by resting your foot on the clutch: if it’s failing, the vibrations stop.
- Smoke on start-up is due to worn valve stem seals; smoke in general running is due to the cylinder liners.
- The transaxles do whine. While clutches can last 70,000 miles, they can be expensive to change.
- Check for a leaking master cylinder. I changed mine when it failed and I needed a 'power bleeder' to bleed the clutch. Not a huge job.
944 Steering, brakes and suspension:
- Some 944's were non-power-assisted and vague steering could indicate a worn rack. For power-assisted ones, look for steering pump leaks.
- If you can hear clonking noises or front-wheel shake, then this could be worn suspension bushes.
- Check for general paint condition, people can cover these things in wax and hide a poor paint job.
- Rust: Check the sills, rear wheel arches, suspension mounts and front jacking points.
- On early cars, check the fuel tank.
- Accident damage - check for uneven shut-lines and ripples in the body. Check for colour changes of the paint if it's been resprayed.
944 Wheels and tyres:
- Check for cracked alloy wheels and look out for perished tyres. A positive sign of a careful owned is that he's bought new tyres for it. Many don't bother.
- I've done another article about water leaks and 944's can be dreadful for it, and pay the price in rust. Check for any damp carpets - in the front and back - lift carpets up behind the seats.
- Check for leaks, behind the rear lights and in the rear wheel wells.
- Ensure all the motors work, pop up lights, and the fascia isn’t cracked.
944 Air Con:
- If you can buy one for aircon then definitely do so. Without aircon in the summer with the amount of glass this has is like driving a greenhouse around. Absolutely sweltering.
Porsche 944 S
I would personally now steer clear of the 944 S. One of the reasons would be purely for the scarcity of parts for the 16v engine. This model was made between 1987-88. It has 190bhp which is more than the standard model of around 160bhp.
It took me a while to locate my S, the miles were 85k, and I wanted good service and it to have been kept in a garage with no to minimal rust. This ticked a lot of boxes. The interior and exterior were in good condition.
But the achilles heel is the 16v engine in the 2.5 litre guise and for me I found it very difficult locating parts. Although I did a lot of work on the car myself, when I had an idle problem (common issue) I felt a Porsche Specialist Garage would be best.
My engine has an idle issue and this was actually a number of issues - the AFM unit, the Throttle body, and an Oil Breather hose.
The AFM had already been 'reconditioned' but in fact you can't fix the metal strip, so I had to purchase one from Germany - this unit is particular to the 944S.
The throttle body was £700 to replace with the O Ring and labour.
The Oil Breather Pipe could not be acquired and the garage asked for my help. This was an alarm bell in that no garage had every contacted me to help them. There was one used in a the USA and one unused in Denmark. I couldn't find another one anywhere on the internet. I managed to get this one and along with these parts being changed the car then ran.
But I think this is a warning that this model in particular could be problematic for parts now and in the future. So I would select a different model.