Easy Entry to the Porsche Party
Affordable Dream Car: The Poor Man’s Porsche
Porsche 944 / 944 Turbo
Price When New (1985): $25,550 / $33,255
Expect to Pay: ~$8,300-$36,000 (good condition)
Model Years: 1982-1991
Engine: 2.5-liter inline-four, 2.7-liter inline-four / 2.5-Liter Turbo inline-four
Horsepower: 147 / 247
Weight: 2,932 lbs / 3,122 lbs
Before the mid-engined 718 Cayman and Boxster established themselves as Stuttgart’s entry-level benchmark, their predecessors made do with a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup – and left some massive shoes to fill. From 1976-1995, the 924, 944 and 968 were each progressively better performance-wise. And when design and current going prices are factored in, the 944 is a perfect balance. It’s the Goldilocks option of the three.
Despite working with a front-engine architecture, Porsche built the 944 with a near perfect 50/50 weight balance. Between the 147 horsepower of the base model and the 247 hp output of the turbo, the chassis was never overpowered. Rounding corners, it’s poised and predictable and lauded as one of Porsche’s best-handling cars, on top of being one of its best-selling, ever.
A modern sports car equivalent is the Mazda MX-5 Miata. It’s that good. While other ’80s-sports cars were trying to kill drivers with massive power curves, zero electronic aides and short wheelbases (namely, Porsches own 911 Turbo), the 944 kept an even keel. It was easily controllable and enjoyable to almost everyone.
A total of 56,921 standard 944s, 13,982 Turbo models, and over 14,000 944 “S” variants made it to US shores, so the entry-level Porsche isn’t exactly a rare find. And seeing as how they’re relatively ubiquitous, it’s easy to come across one in absolute disrepair sitting right next to another in mint-condition on the same site. Usually, when a Porsche is described as “mint-condition,” buyers will have to shell out heaps of cash. But not the 944. A pristine 944 can run from below $10,000 to just below $40,000 for a turbo model. Considering they’re known for classic Porsche performance and handling, these are absolute bargains and an easy way to be part of the Porsche party.