By on May 2, 2012

TTAC Commentator PartsUnknown writes:

Sajeev,

Long story short, a family friend has an ’86 944 non-turbo sitting in her driveway in suburban Massachusetts. It belongs to her son who lives in Manhattan. Although he loves the car, it simply does not fit his current lifestyle. He wants to sell it, but is not actively pursuing it. His mother is constantly suggesting that I buy it (she knows my predilection for cars). Here’s the deal: it’s been sitting for a few years, driven sparingly. It appears to be in good cosmetic condition and it apparently runs. I know these cars are expensive to maintain.

I’m a busy man, with a wife and two young kids, a demanding career and a Saab 9-5 that I like to tinker with to satisfy my inner mechanic. I value time with my family above all, and while focusing on saving for retirement and college tuition, probably couldn’t afford to dump massive amounts of money into this car. The only reason I’m even considering it is that this guy’s mother has hinted that he just wants to get rid of it, and she said laughing, “he’d probably take $1,000 for it”. Question is, should I even entertain the idea? What, at minimum, would it cost to get this thing roadworthy as a weekend ride considering its relative lack of use (keeping in mind I’m a middling DIYer)? I’m leaning no, but $1,000 for a decent 944 seems like a no-brainer. Almost. I previously owned a 1986 911 Carrera Coupe, which was a fantastic car, but I sold it for precisely the reasons stated above – to prioritize time with my family over spending a Saturday replacing blower motors and ball joints.

Talk me off the ledge.

Sajeev answers,

So let me get this straight: you have demanding career and a happy family, that you presumably support with said demanding career.  You give a crap about saving for your future, the future of your children, and you value your time with them. You also support a SAAB 9-5, which isn’t exactly the paragon of durability or simplicity for a shadetree mechanic…

…and you want a baseline Porsche 944 that’s a non-runner?  For $1000?

Even with a super-duper clean interior, that car should sell for a little more than scrap. So maybe $500, and that’s being generous to all but the most hardcore 944 fanatics out there. That said, I would be stupid enough to recommend you buy this car if:

  1. You had no children, or if there’s some new strain of super self-sustained child.
  2. You went on and on about your love of the Porsche 944. And on, and on, and on…
  3. You didn’t already have a SAAB 9-5. Even a reliable, well maintained and cost effective  9-5 needs a less horrific project car partner than this.
  4. You didn’t previously own a 911, and had yet to learn your lesson about old cars.  Especially old Porkers.
  5. You said LS1-FTW in your letter. Then I’d be all up in this, son!

Here’s the point: anything and everything will go wrong with a car in this state.  $1000 is what you pay for one that actually fires up, drives, steers and brakes. And because it’s a Porsche 944, it will be far too expensive and fragile to ever make a lick of sense.

How’s that for a “No”?

***EDIT:  I misread the initial letter, as the 944 probably runs. While it may be worth a $1000 offer, I still believe PartsUnknown has better things to do with his spare time.***

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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67 Comments on “Piston Slap: Talk me off the Ledge!!!...”


  • avatar
    4LiterLexus

    When one of your reasons for the purchase of a major asset–car, house, whatever–is that the seller is a friend, it’s time to exercise caution. Not only can friendships sour if the purchase goes badly, but buying from friends leads to an irrationally small decision set.

    If PartsUnknown could choose from any cheap, sporty project car, would a decaying 944 top his list? After reading about Jack’s 944 ownership experience, I’d pick another–almost any other–doorstop-shaped vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      supremebrougham

      By no means am I disagreeing with your statement, but it made me smile for a moment. You see, back in the early winter, I sold my 1995 Mercury Mystique to a friend, my absolute very best and dearest friend. He asked for it, I said okay, and despite it’s um, issues, he LOVES it, and our friendship is a strong as ever.

      Don’t take this as a recommendation to buy the Porsche, but stranger things have been known to happen…

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    You’re gonna scare him!

  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    Helping a friend replace a clutch in his 944 made me want to punch someone in a way I have not experienced again except for that one B5 Audi S4.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    It’s a bad deal but it could be worse – like the 928 in the background of the lead picture. A $1,000 944 is scary, but that’s nothing compared to a one-grand 928.

    • 0 avatar
      4LiterLexus

      True, but if someone forced me to choose at gunpoint between the two, I’d have to go with the style and cachet of the 928. I wouldn’t have the skill or money to keep either roadworthy for long, but at least the 928 would do a better job classing up my driveway. Until the neighbors started complaining, that is.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    Based on your life description, you don’t have time to read the Sunday paper. Pass on the Porsche.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Parts car. Anyone? Anyone?

  • avatar
    mcs

    There are ways to lower the costs of maintaining Porsches and BMWs. Plenty of independent Porsche specialists out there, especially Massachusetts. Check porschenet.com for listings. For parts, I usually use pelicanparts.com.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    “I value my time with..” let’s just stop there. This thing will eat you alive. if you are that ambitious about this car, however, see if you can take it for a ride. Maybe it is worth a grand. If not, don’t be afraid to say no. In my years, I have saved quite a few two wheelers and four wheelers from the crusher out of sheer sympathy.. No more!!! Takes time and money, most of which you will never recover. I gotta go with Sajeev on this one.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    A friend of mine had an 80′s 944 in the mid nineties. The electrical connectors were corroding at an appalling rate which caused the car to randomly stop running. It was so bad that AAA cut him off from free towing after the fifth time it broke down in one year.
    You should ask the friend to pay you $1000 to take it off his hands. This would be a small down payment on future repairs.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    To make this work you need one or two parts cars to draw from and a proper shop to do the work. Add to that a proper set of tools, not a simple socket set most have, and enough experience to tackle all the work except maybe painting yourself.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I’m thinking about the kids here since he did say that was important. Wouldn’t you like to have grown up with a sports car? Learn to turn a few wrenches and had the joy of driving an icon like a Porsche instead of a 4-door Camcord?

    And Saab 9-5′s are not difficult to maintain with most everything on the serviceable by the owner with access to one of the forums as someone has already done it and documented the repair. Parts and availability are inexpensive and readily available.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Hope the kids can afford to insure themselves. Care to guess a quote on a 16-year-old boy driving a 944?

    • 0 avatar
      KrisZ

      There are quite a few other, simpler cars that you can teach your kids to wrench on. Porsche is not one of them.

      And the only thing iconic about this car is the badge, otherwise it wouldn’t be rusting away on someone’s driveway.

  • avatar
    OleMan Burke

    For the love of G-d don’t buy it. This is a giant german time sucking device cleverly disguised as a $1000 sports car. Run, don’t walk away.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    If you want a 944 spend $5000 for a really nice one, and enjoy it for a few years, then sell it off for $5000 two years later.
    Also..if a sports car is a must…get a gen 1 miata in as nice shape as possible

  • avatar
    Tessai

    Sajeev, your response is completely based on the assumption that the 944 doesn’t run, however the end of the first paragraph of his email states otherwise.

    “Here’s the deal: it’s been sitting for a few years, driven sparingly. It appears to be in good cosmetic condition and it apparently runs.”

    So. It runs, it drives, it isn’t scrap. That said it is still a 944 that will need a ton of money into it. I still vote pass, but only because I fear for the neglect of the poor wife and kids when he’s stuck in the garage all weekend.

    • 0 avatar

      Looks like I screwed the pooch. So maybe the car is worth a grand, but like you said, he still has better things to do with his spare time.

      • 0 avatar
        Halftruth

        Saying it apparently runs isn’t confidence inspiring.. Sounds like a hopeful guess to me.. Trust but confirm.. yes?

      • 0 avatar
        PartsUnknown

        From what the owner’s mom told me, it has been in her driveway for about 4 years. She occasionally drove it just to keep it “alive”, but she hasn’t driven it in a while. I think it will start and run, but what it can or can’t do after that is anyone’s guess.

        Sajeev, love the non-equivocal response by the way. Tell me how you really feel! And thanks to everyone for the input. For the record, I have passed on the car (gave the owner a definitive “no”). I talked to a local indy mechanic who works on P-cars and he essentially told me that unless I was prepared to spend multiple thousands on belts, hoses, fluids, tires, pulleys, bushings – the basics to get it roadworthy – I should just forget it.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    I agree with the others. Ask yourself this: would you get rid of the Saab to make room for the 944? If the answer is “no” keep walking. I’m tempted by a lot of cars and motorcycles, but we already have enough. The thought of one more machine to store, fix, insure, register, etc., isn’t appealing.

    All that being said, to the B and B, are 944′s THAT tough to work on? And having so much Audi in them, are they THAT expensive to repair and maintain? I’ve been around enough and have worked on enough cars and motorcycles to know that some are better designed than others. And all have their faults. But can a 944 really be that bad? If I had the space, and I could get my hands on a 5-speed 944 (especially the blue one in the photo) for a grand…I’d jump on it.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Take this car straight to the crusher and use the money to buy a Porshe 914. At least that’s something different – and it has a panache all its own. You’d most likely be better off restoring a Plymouth Reliant!

    Have fun…

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    The 9-5 is enough trouble for two project cars, expecially if it’s got more than a few years on it. Our 9-5 Aero got decent mileage, but we also could measure it in miles-per-failure.

  • avatar
    Double 97

    Sajeev,

    Being in the midst of getting a mechanically-similar 924S back on the road, I am going to respectfully (and possibly stupidly, pending actually getting the 924 back on the road) disagree with your advice. There is good aftermarket support and the prices for the typically-needed parts are not really that bad.

    As I lie under the car and observe the cast-aluminum front crossmember, I get to thinking about how these cars are possibly made better than…(for example) my Mark VIII.

  • avatar
    alan996

    Magical thinking: “apparently runs”

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    As Eric Idle said in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail: “run away, run away!” 944′s and 928′s depreciation curve was steeper than Obama’s popularity numbers. As a result there were a lot of people who could afford these used. When they found out how expensive parts were and even independent mechanics hourly rates they would dump them to the next sucker. I’d look for an air-cooled 911/912. At least they appear to be appreciating in value.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    One of my college roommates bought a 944–red, with tan leather–for a grand, almost ten years ago. It moved twice. The rest of the time it spent under a cover with deflating tires.

    I admire the adventurous spirit here–really–but you could probably have even more fun nursing an aging MR2, 323 GTX, or 240SX back to health, with fewer headaches and more money in the bank!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, the OP has to ask himself what, exactly, he’s buying here. Is he buying a sports car? By today’s standards, the N/A 944 is pretty tepid. Think “Miata” or even a Z3 (if you want more “go”) or one of the Nissan Z cars instead at whatever price your pocketbook will tolerate.
    Are you buying a Porsche? Well, in it’s day the true Porscheophiles would piss on a 944 as being little more than a Audi with a Porsche badge: no rear engine, no boxer engine, no air cooling and pretty tepid performance. The turbo fixed the performance problem, but its significant that the entire front engine, rear drive Porsche experiment that was the 944 and the 928 was abandoned until . . . the Panamera. By that time Porsche was also building re-badged VW SUVs. The 914 suggestion is interesting, so long as you get the 6-cylinder car.
    Are you buying a moving hole into which you pour time and money? Now, you’re talkin’. I think the 944 will meet those qualifications rather well. Audis were not known for their reliability, especially in the 1980s. The 944 is interesting in that it has a 3-liter 4 cylinder engine which somehow avoids shaking itself and the car to pieces at speed. Another experiment which has never been repeated. Also, if memory serves, the 944 has its clutch/transmission/differential mounted in the rear. There’s a torque tube joining it with the engine, and the driveshaft spins at engine speed. That’s not a unique configuration, but it’s not common. Should be interesting to work on, too.

    Compared to the Saab 9-5 (hey, I have owned one for 10 years, so I know), the Porsche should be a real challenge.

    And, to be real blunt about it: old air-cooled rear-engine Porsches are classics and are considered so. Old 944s and even 928s are not.

    • 0 avatar
      Darkhorse

      The predecessor 924 had the Audi engine (2.0 L). The 944 had its own Porsche designed engine (2.5 L later 3.0 L). Those engines had twin balance shafts making them rather smooth.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Indeed. But my point was that the idea of a 4-cylinder of that displacement (especially 3 liters) has never been attempted since. Which suggests to me that it’s a technological dead-end, as indeed these cars were for Porsche.

        If memory serves, a late 80s or early 90s Nissan 300ZX was a far better car in every respect. Also less expensive to buy and maintain.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    If you want a cheap Porsche get a 914. If you want a cheap inline-4 rear wheel drive coupe get a 240SX or Fox body.

    It might be tempting to think “Wow, a below market price Porsche” (and there might be opportunity to flip this for a profit if you are up for that), but, with regard to actually buying the car to keep, you should be thinking “Wow, a car so miserable to own that the owner is pricing it below market price just to get rid of it quicker.”

  • avatar
    Downtown Dan

    I say go for it, Broseph, reason be damned!

    Here’s why– you have a busy job. You have two wee chitlins. What better way to unwind than go down to the garage and tinker with a car that you love?

    So don’t think of it as a “weekend car”, think of it as a “long-term project car that happens to run”. It’s also a conversation piece with your boss/client/coworker/golf buddy/airport stranger, a great way to get your kids hooked on cars, and maybe if you get it to run well, a date-night car.

    In that light, a thousand bucks is not unreasonable.

    And let’s say you buy it, drive it around for a while, then get bored, lose interest, and decide to dump it. Someone else will pick it up for, say, $700 bucks. Not a big financial loss there.

    It’s true that buying from friends/family/relations is not always a smart move. But the reason we do it is because it’s usually a better deal than finding the same car on the open market.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Seeing it from the other side: I’ve got an ’87 Porsche 924S (924 body, 944 drivetrain). Bought it – running – at 116,000 miles. Since there were no service records, I immediately dumped two grand into having the local (high reputation) independent shop replace the cam belt, water pump, and all the ancillary parts that touch those two.

    I’ve now had it three years and put 12,000 miles on it. It goes into the shop once a year for state inspection, oil change, and a general look over. It usually ends up back there one additional time a year for something that wore out to be replaced (fuel pump, fuel pump relay, etc.). I adore the car. So far it left me stranded once (the fuel pump relay), spent the first year as my daily driver, now it’s the good weather play car when I’m not in the mood to take one of the motorcycles out. Repair costs have been well within what I can afford.

    924/944′s are not automatically money pits. Yes, they’re Porsche’s which means that you don’t get them fixed for the price of a Toyota. But I’m very happy with the car, and will be keeping it for another 2-3 years. After which it’ll be replaced with some roadster – I’ve yet to own a drop top. And time’s running out.

  • avatar
    pdog

    If he’s at all interested, why not arrange for a test drive and spend the $100ish to have a proper mechanic look over the car and figure out everything that currently needs attention?

    If it’s going to sit in the garage for the most part, worries about maintenance bills are overstated. My dad rocks a mid-80s 911 that leaves the garage no more than 20 times per year. At that rate, the maintenance costs have been minimal.

    And I don’t understand all the hate for the 944. It may be my 80s childhood, or maybe I’ve watched 16 Candles too many times, but I’ve always thought these cars had great lines.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      So true. There will always be faster cars. But the 944 handles really well. And I think they look great.

      I read through an FAQ on them. Like every other car, they have their issues. But they also have a huge following. If you aren’t afraid to turn a wrench, the car could be a fun project.

      • 0 avatar
        Grahambo

        Thank you both for some much needed perspective. People spend a grand on friggin fancy dinners (or on drugs) all the time. Alternatively, a grand is a small percentage of the sales tax that you’d pay to get a car with similar handling ability. I’ve driven a lot of cars in my time and the 944 is at the very top in terms of smiles per mile (with a surprising amount of practicality to boot). Just know that the investment doesn’t end with the initial $1000 payment. That said, you’re not lookIng at anything near the cost of maintaining a modern German car long term (or any post 89 911). People have always hated on the 944. The truth is in the corners.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I am amazed at how many people are dumping on this idea. A 944 is nice shape and running, for $1000?? What the heck… buy it. Keep it as a toy. Who cares if it breaks down? Take your time getting the parts, use it as a hobby to keep your sanity in check. You are a family man, that doesn’t mean you cant have any fun. You aren’t trying to support a Ferrari here, and you do not need it to be a daily driver.

    Plus, unlike a 928, an LSx will drop into this car with no modifications to the hood or crossmember. Perfect project car.

  • avatar
    raph

    Before I even started reading Sajeev’s #5 response popped in my head, except I’d say rachet up the difficulty and drop a 5.0 coyote in there.

    Two things come to mind though – shifter linkage bushing where the shifter mates with the linkage tends to wear out (is a pain to replace since it requires one of several dedicated bushing – A/M suppliers used to color code these bits but now all are universally one color) and the car has a transaxle so no sticky tires unless your doing the full on pro-street treatment tubbing and dropping in a 4-link and a live axle.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I think the Coyote might be too tall, thats the problem with the 928 and the LSx, but the 944 has just enough clearance. Plus, there is a bolt in kit already, don’t think they have one for the Coyote yet.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Offer $500.

    Not a penny more.

    Roll cage. Fire system. Kill switch. Safety harness. Check.

    Call five buddies who enjoy wrenching. Make sure one is a Porsche mechanic, and another one works at a parts store or pick ‘n pull yard.

    ChumpCar or LeMons, we got ourselves a new contender.

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      $500 vs. $1000 isn’t the point. The point is the next $10,000 it sucks up in a valiant but unsuccessful attempt to keep it running before sanity prevails and he sells it to another sucker. That’s $10,000 that would look awfully good in a prepaid college tuition program for the kids.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    @mnm4ever

    Absolutely

    http://www.renegadehybrids.com/944/LS-1/LS-1.html

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “Busy man”, “Saving for college” and “26-year-old Porsche” is not a match made in heaven. You already have a Saab to tinker on, do you need another project? I do like that car, assuming the Saab is an extra car I’d consider replacing it with the 944, as long as you’re OK with it being inoperable for a few weeks while you’re chasing gremlins or waiting for parts. Which could turn into a few months, depending how busy you get.

  • avatar

    Well having children does put a crimp in things. But is a 1000 dollar 944 so bad. Really no it is not. If the body is good, the interior is good and you can look under the dash and make sure the stereo installer kid from next door has not been in there you possibly have a pretty stable car on your hands and I speak from experience.

    I have owned 2 water cooled Porsche’s. A 1977 924 that I picked up for 400 bucks with a blown clutch. Well everyone says the clutch is hard to replace. But really it is not. Just reach in the bellhousing with a 6mm allen on a extension and undo the coupler. Undo all the bolts to the torque tube and pull the box out. Than work your way forward. Not any harder than doing a Peugeot 505. My 924 lasted five years as a daily driver.. and my daily commute was from Ukiah to Sana Rosa.

    The second Porsche was a 86 944 NA. Picked it up for 1500 with a nice clean body and interior. Only problem I had with it was the fan relay liked to stick on. A new relay and off it went again. Granted they do take some time to work on, plan a full afternoon for a timing belt change. Drove it for almost 10 years until recently when I finished my BRAT restoration.

    Parts, well allot of stuff comes out of the Audi parts bin so most things are really not to bad. Pelican and Rock Auto should be able to keep you pretty well stocked up. Me I would check the car out throughly, if it seems good and it is not making noises that sound expensive go for it. They are MUCH MUCH more inexpensive to maintain than a rear engine Porsche.. or hell a 928.

    Not to mention being a N/A no turbo to go wrong.

    YMMV if you get it enjoy it!

    ~Peerson

  • avatar
    kid cassady

    Man, all these commenters have no sense of adventure. I’ve always wanted a 944, so I picked up a neglected but running ’83 NA 944 for $1200 while on a slim lab worker’s budget. With eBay, junkyard parts cars (they are everywhere), and a little forum advice I made it into a decently running machine, though I never did get that damn tachometer working. Sold it the next summer for $1500 to go to Europe. No harm, no foul, spent a little money, but I had a blast.

    Other commenters here aren’t wrong: they can be a lot of work and they aren’t worth much, but I didn’t think it was that hard to work on, they’re fun to drive even if they’re “slow” by modern standards, and there’s a ton of room in the engine bay to root around. Go for it.

  • avatar
    fozone

    I owned one of these in the 90s. It was fun, but you are really, really asking for it.

    The fundamentals of the car were sound — the paint and bodies on these era porsches in particular seem to hold up very well, which can fool you into thinking the car is in fine shape. Don’t be fooled, what lurks underneath the hood is loads of german pain.

    At this age, the following things are almost certainly in need of attention:

    1) every rubber seal and gasket is likely falling apart/in need of replacement (check around the hatch to see what I mean, note the rust that will be forming around the latches, and the ‘fish bowl’ of water in the tail lights.) These are porsche-parts (ie, you can’t sub in VW parts, so expect $$$)

    2) The motor mounts are almost certainly shot, and will need to be replaced if you don’t want to rattle the teeth out of your head at idle. $300-400 just for the parts, god help you if you aren’t doing the labor yourself. Easily $1k.

    3) the a/c is almost certainly gone. if you want it back, expect $1.5k+

    4) the electrical system is suspect until proven otherwise. I have yet to see a 944 of this vintage that didn’t have some sort of malady or another with the power accessories. I’ve never experienced one that just dropped dead in the road though.

    5) timing belts. get ready to learn a lot about them. They need to be replaced ever 30k miles or 3 years. Even if you want to try to do it yourself (it is fun, you’ll learn to curse in german), you will need porsche’s ‘special tool’ to install and tension the thing properly. Another $600 for the tool.

    and on and on and on….

    fun car, but if you don’t have the time or the wallet, stay away.

    I will also add that the 944 taught me everything I needed to know about German engineering, and why I would never consider one for a long-term keeper.

    When it was new it was great, but as you start to work on the machine over time you cannot help but notice that every part is way more complicated than it needs to be.

    Serviceability was the low man on the design totem pole with these cars, and I’m not convinced anything has changed in the intervening 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      There’s a couple alternative tools for setting the tension now, like the $25 Krikit belt tool to the $50 Arnnworx 920X. I also remember reading about how to check it by hand, but that one seems fairly dubious.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    Let me add two cents to say — if you really want a play car and always wanted a Porsche, this isn’t a bad deal. As long as you are either prepared to spend time with it when it needs it or let it go until you do. He isn’t looking at this as a daily driver. Sure, you will spend more than a grand to get it going. But the upfront cost is low and the downside is … what?

    Get it looked over by someone who knows this model before agreeing to buy it. Get some estimates of what needs to be replaced and when. Decide if you have an interest in having this beast live with you for a few years and drive the wheels off of it until you get tired of it. Life is too short — on your death bed, will you really say, “Damn, I shouldn’t have bought that Porsche?” Didn’t think so.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Had similar temptations for a mid 90′s 840ci. Mechanical complexity and electrical fears steered me clear.

    • 0 avatar
      Motorhead10

      @jkross22 – saw one for sale this past weekend at a car show – nice shape, asking $20k

      To OP – I went through this in 2001 – was getting establish in my career, had some money, time and a desire to wrench. One son just born another would come 15 months later. After surviving 9/11, I figured it’d take the plunge. I bought an ’88 Trans Am GTA with digital dash in rough shape from a friend for $500 – Over the next 8 years, I had about $14k into the car and did all the work myself except for body and paint (but I did have the parts painted off the car so I disassembled and reassembled everything myself). In 8 years I drove the car a total of 7k miles. I would pull the motor every other winter (just for fun) so I worked on it way more than I drove it. The car was spectacular when I sold it. Not a single issue – imagine that on an 80s Pontiac.

      In 2008, I sold it for $7k and bought a 2002 Trans Am convertible with 20k miles. I’ve upgraded the suspension and exhaust but nothing else. I drive it twice and wash it once.

      It is certainly more peaceful owning the late-model that doesn’t need anything more than a soapy massage every weekend. Wrenching on the GTA got my sons into cars.

      All things considered, I’d do it all again – spend $1 mile or $1000 per year for what that car taught me.

  • avatar
    loj

    I’m actually pretty surprised at the number of negative responses to this one. I’d say go for it, provided 4 conditions are met:

    1) Your wife likes it.
    2) You have 3 grand laying around for a project car. Don’t think of this as a $500 car (which is what you should offer) – think of it as a $3000 car you’ve only sunk $500 into. If it takes you more than $2500 to make a running 944 non-turbo roadworthy, you’re shopping at the wrong places.
    3) You have space for it, preferably an empty garage stall, where it can remain inoperable and not cause friction with the wife/HOA/neighbors/etc. But most of all:

    4) You actually WANT it. I didn’t see any mention in the post that you actually LIKED the car. That’s the biggest red flag to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      That’s why some of us love Curbside Classic. We encourage insanity. Do you want to buy an old Jaguar, Land Rover, V8-6-4 Cadillac, old Porsche…? GO FOR IT!

      The worst that can happen is it will make a good story someday…

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Hi everyone, just to clarify a couple of things:

    The 9-5 is my daily driver, I love it and the 944 would in no way be a replacement for it.

    I do have garage space/work space available for the 944, but it would relegate the Saab to the driveway.

    I’m 44, so I was in high school when the 944 was in it’s heyday. I have always loved the 944 and have thought long and hard for many years about buying one, but never have. I would have a big dumb smile on my face if I saw this thing in my garage every day, even if it didn’t run.

    I spoke to the family friend a few weeks ago and told her I wouldn’t be buying the 944, but some of these responses have me thinking that I should at least do my due diligence and have a good indy (there are a couple in my area who are noted Porsche guys) give it a once-over. If nothing catastrophic is wrong with it, maybe it would be a nice long term project. I’ll let you guys know what happens.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    My experience with 944′s is limited to a friend who used to race one in PCA. I got to drive the car on the street once, and I will testify that 4 cylinder was eerily smooth…probably the smoothest I4 I’ve ever driven. Far as working on it goes, it can’t have been too difficult. My friend didn’t have any sort of sophisticated setup. Just a Chevy Silverado to tow the car and an open trailer to put it on. I remember one weekend at Sebring, he changed the clutch between the Saturday and Sunday races (couldn’t tell you if other racers lent a hand or tools).

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Always loved 944s, but could never justify getting one for myself given the regularity of not-exactly-cheap maintenance. I was once offered the chance to buy one from my friend’s then-girlfriend was given one (in mechanically dubious shape) that she’d gotten from her ex for free. It probably got scrapped or sold for cheaper but I’m happy just to have been able to drive it. Based on my brief stint in that 944, which rode on dry rotted tires, had iffy clutch hydraulics and a possible need for a headgasket, it felt solid and was a great handler. Comfy and quiet on the freeway too, much more so than the E30 I eventually ended up with.

    If you’re jonesing for having one as a project car, just check and make sure the really big expensive items are OK. Things like, clutch, hatch seals, HVAC (if it’s important to you). The timing belt and WP replacements are going to be a regular thing, so I wouldn’t consider having to replace them when you get the car, a major issue.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    My father started buying old VWs when my parents were married, eventually they divorced.

    Don’t buy fragile German junk if you have a family to take care of, buy an old Nissan Z.

  • avatar
    kilgoretrout

    True story: I know a woman who divorced her husband, taking their 2 children with her, because he spent all of his time when not at his demanding job in the garage restoring…..old Porsches.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      I remember an old Dear Abby column where a woman complained that her husband was spending too much time practicing the piano to the seeming detriment of the marriage. Abby basically scolded here, asking whether she would prefer that her man be running around, drinking, and cheating. The wife needed to count her blessings that hubby was at home doing something constructive. The same principles seem to apply in your example.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    There is a nice red 944 for sale just around the corner from me. It even has chrome and black Fuchs wheels. Tempting, but the repair bills leave me wary.

  • avatar

    I’ve been driving my 944 for 12 years in club events. Great handling, great brakes, lots of fun. Total cost of repair, over that time about $6000.
    This article says it all. It’s a fair assessment of the car.
    http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/articles/porsche-944-profile/


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