[£10,000 Buying Guide]


The expert's view

Two-hundred-and-fifty horsepower, by far the most powerful of our quartet, and it's a Porsche too. Can things really be this good! Well they can, but don't get carried away - there's a Lot of digging to be done first. As well as getting on in years, the 944 is mechanically the most complex of all the choices here (just check out the crowded engine bay) and, as Harry points out, it was by some distance the most expensive at the time of its original sale. What this means is that if you don't pay attention there could be some very large bills heading your way. Yes, it does possess the Teutonic build you'd expect from Porsche, but a substantial number of Turbo owners can only be described as mechanically unsympathetic hooligans, leaving some 944s in a far from perfect condition. Tread carefully.

The turbocharged 944 began Life in ]uly 1985 after some four years of development. A 220 bhp version came first; we had to wait another three years for the 250 bhp model. At that time it was known as the Turbo SE and many owners believed there was only to be a Limited run of 1000 cars.
Those guys were therefore slightly miffed (much like the first Clio Willy buyers), when this became the mainstream Turbo model six months Later. Production continued Largely unchanged (except for the turbo Logo and the pink interior that Harry's so fond of) until the 944's death in ]uly1991

Our ten big ones will bag us the best of the 220 bhp cars, or a slightly more run-in, early version of the 250 with the added benefits of ABS and a Limited-slip diff. The secret to a wallet-friendly experience Lies in finding the right car in the first place. When a car is almost 15 years old, there's plenty of scope for clocking and selling-on accident-damaged goods. so take a good Look, especially at that service book, and make sure everything is original.

The fully galvanized body should be perfect; if it isn't, move on. Some will have been resprayed - the nose suffers badly from stone chipping - but make sure any respray doesn't hide anything more sinister. Next have a good ferret about under the bonnet, checking that the oil and filter are clean - they require renewing every 6000 miles with a good-quality synthetic brand. If the oil on the dipstick or on the filler cap contains white specs or has a slightly milky appearance then water has got in after the engine has overheated. Cam-belts and balancer shafts need changing every 36-40,000 miles, so check the paperwork.  

With a car this old it's unlikely that all the work will have been carried out by an official Porsche outlet, but a specialist's stamp is fine and as Long as all the services have been performed on time, high mileage should not be a problem. The turbo itself will Last over 150,000 miles, no problem at all.

Engine mounts can fail, especially those near to the exhaust because they have to contend with very high temperatures. Ham-fisted driving will show itself in the Longevity of the clutch - its Life should extend comfortably past 60,000 miles, but in many cases it doesn't and it's a real pig (and therefore a costly, Labour-intensive exercise) to get at to replace. Finally on the test drive, any 944 should feel tight and precise; tired suspension, worn steering or damaged wheels will be very obvious.

Nose is prone to stone-chipping, so resprays are common. Be extra sure to check for accident damage

Owner's view

]ohn Harrington

I've had the Turbo now for about two and a half years and 12,500 miles. Before that I'd been running around in a 16-valve 944, so you can see I'm quite set on them. I'm not alone either.

I actually sold the 16-vaIver back to it's original owner for more than I paid for it! It was when I was without a 944 that I realised how much I enjoyed it, so I had to get another.

Mine is one of the early 220 cars and it's been absolutely superb, not requiring any work other than the regular maintenance - not bad for a I3-year-old, n,ooo-mile car. Specialists rather than Porsche now service it and the savings are fairly substantial. I get involved in some of the club activities, French trips and factory visits, which adds to the ownership experience and really there are few cars in this price bracket that offer so much. It's now really becoming a bit of a classic, so it'll be a shock if I ever lose much money on it.'

The junior supercar

Depreciation: it's a wonderful thing No, really.

A few years down the Line and £10,000 buys all sorts of exotica. Question is, what to choose! Do you go all sensible or, Like me, elect for something  a Little bit daring! Or maybe it's just possible to have your cake and eat it.

It pains me to say it but there are certain German manufacturers who seem to build more for the longer term than other makers. My chosen brand goes as far as galvanizing the body to make sure it's still in good shape in the next millennium. Step forward the 944 Turbo. A Porsche Turbo for ten grand.

Think about it. And while you're at it, consider that when the SE version was new it left the showroom costing £41,249 compared with £35,848 for a 911CS. The 911 was always the 944's worst enemy when new but of course they're entirely different in design and character. The rear-engined 911 is much harder-edged than the 944 but the front engine/rear drive 944 won on refinement and more friendly handling. Ten years on, the choice is made easier because the 944 has depreciated more and dips into our buying guide arena easily. Look hard and you might even find one of the Later 944 S's, though miles-wise it will probably have been to the moon and back You should be able to find a well-cared-for Turbo in our chosen price bracket.

What a treat you're in for. On the later cars, 250bhp and 258Lb ft of torque supply cracking performance: mid 5's to 60, 14secs to 100mph and a top whack over l60mph. Good bar-room stuff, with the added bonus of air-con and some of the best seats in the business.

Add in the nicely predictable rear-drive chassis with sports suspension pack and the superb brakes from the 928 and it's Looking good to me. In fact the same chassis evolved into the 968 Clubsport in later life, and you don't get much better than that. Step inside and it all feels very classy, if a little dated now, the high centre console and vertical steering wheel forcing you to adopt a straight arms and Legs driving position. The gearshift is weighty but slips easily from one ratio to the next, though if you're feeling lazy you can use the torque and accelerate from 50-70 in fourth in just 4.7 seconds.

Alternatively, nail it in third and that car you've just overtaken is history, 50-70 taking a bruising 3.3secs.Try to find one with Leather trim. Unfortunately this was the period for bad taste interiors - remember that stripy pink tweed material! Oh, you'd tried to forget. Sorry about that. Perhaps you remember the dodgy 'turbo' graphic across the top of the driver's front wing that came with the SE package. Still I shouldn't think many of those still survive. Far more important than any of this nonsense is that famous badge on the nose. Congratulations, you've just chosen a Porsche Turbo. Feels good, doesn't it!

944 Turbo is one of the great performance bargains but that also means that many have been used and abused by Less-than-sympathetic drivers. At least galvanized body means one less worry

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