Porsche 944 S2
The origins of the 944 go way back to the 1970′s. Volkswagen wanted a successor to their sportscar the Karmann Ghia and Porsche were looking for a replacement of the entry level 912. Since Porsche had a contract to do a lot of the development of early Volkswagen cars it took on the development of the 914. After the death of the VW’s chairman at the time the agreement between the two companies was disputed and the upshot was that Porsche’s supposed entry level car cost considerably more to produce that it had planned for.
Fast forward to 1972 when a replacement for the VW version of the 914, again a Joint VW/Porsche development (to be sold as an Audi), was cancelled due to project costs and the fact that VW felt that their new Scirocco coupe would fill the sporty coupe position. Porsche took the opportunity, bought the rights to the design and continued the development of what was to be known as the 924. The front engined, 4 cylinder coupe was dynamically good though criticized for it’s 98bhp Audi 2.0 litre engine (From the Audi 100 and VW LT Van) which, critics belived had no place in a true Porsche Sports coupe. A Turbocharged model was introduced that brought the power up to 170bhp but the 924, although a very good performer was never really seen as a true drivers Porsche.
Enter the 944. In 1981 the next generation of Porsche’s front engined coupes was introduced. Although the 928 was still in production and would continue until 1988, the new 944 was seen by many as the real entry level to Pukka Porsche ownership. Based on the 924 platform, the 944 was a much more aggressively styled car with it’s flared arches, deep front spoiler and rear wing. Crucially the engine was all Porsche. The 2.5 litre inline 4 was essentially one half of the 928′s v8, using the same cylinder head. It produced 163 bhp.
Along with the all new body styling and engine, a new interior, new upgraded suspension and brakes represented the major changes from the 924. The 944 was a more luxurious car than the 924, it was also faster, handled better and was more comfortable. A 0-60 time of 8.6 seconds was respectable if not astounding.
The 944 was a great success. Revisions were made in 1985 which included a new dashboard and interior upgrades, alloy control arms, larger fuel tank and revised transaxle mounting. The original “cookie cutter” wheels were also replaced with the new “phone dial” ones.
A Turbo model was also introduced in 1985 producing a very healthy 220bhp from a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard engine. Other changes included a strengthened gearbox, oil coolers, better aerodynamics, 16 inch wheel and stiffer suspension. 0-60 was dealt with in 5.6 seconds.
The “S” was introduced in 1997, featuring a 16 valve head and 189bhp. 0-60 was down to 7.8 seconds.
1998 saw the introduction of the SE, a higher specced version of the Turbo that produced 250 bhp by utilising a bigger turbo and revised mapping allowing for higher boost at high rpms. The SE got from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. The SE also featured the M030 suspension setup. Koni Adjustable dampers, Adjustable ride height, progressive springs, larger rear torsion bars, thicker anti roll bars, upgraded bushings, bigger brakes, larger wheels and a Limited Slip Differential. From 1989 all 944 Turbos got the same “SE” spec and from then on were just known as “Turbo”.
The 944 S2 was the last in the line of the 944 range. The engine was now a 3.0 litre naturally aspirated unit producing 211bhp. It was the largest production 4 cylinder engine of it’s time. The body featured new a smoothed in integrated front bumper (the first of it’s kind) and the same rounded nose and rear valance as the Turbo. New gearing also introduced to suit the new larger engine. 0-60 was 6.6 seconds.
The 944 S2 is considered one of the best handling coupes around. Plenty were made, and with prices of good S2′s around the £5-8k mark, it’s a pretty tempting entry to proper Porsche ownership.
Road and Track 944/968
Octane 944 S2
Road and track 944 article .pdf (Courtesy www.cannell.co.uk)
Tipec.com 944 Buyers Guide (download link)
Only944 (excellent site with guides and repair info)