By on July 16, 2014

09 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve learned a couple of things about Porsches while working for the 24 Hours of LeMons race series. One is that Internet Car Experts cannot accept the idea that any Porsche might be had for a three-figure price tag, and the other is that 924s and 944s are absolute nightmares to keep running. You can find cheap 924s and 944s all day long, anywhere in the country, and the sellers will be eager to take your offer. I see these cars in cheap self-serve wrecking yards all the time, but seldom do I stop to photograph the things. This time, though, the radiant copper color of this Porsche 924 was just so compelling that I reached for my camera.
03 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBack in 1984 or so, I knew a guy who made the leap from small-time cannabis dealer to small-time cocaine dealer. Naturally, he needed a car that would let the world know that he’d arrived, so he ditched his Vega and bought a silver 924. Then he got burned in some sort of deal gone wrong about a month later and had to sell the Porsche in a hurry. I’m sure most 924s have several such owners in their history.
01 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou know what other vehicle came with this 2.0 liter SOHC engine? The 1979 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep.
13 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has a fairly solid body, though the interior is bad.
04 - 1978 Porsche 924 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThing is, when your Porsche is worth $900 and the mechanic wants $1,500 to make it run again… well, that’s the story with many once-valuable Junkyard Finds.

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37 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1978 Porsche 924...”

  • avatar

    I always thought these looked great – never really knew about their abysmal quality.

    • 0 avatar

      The quality is quite good. The problem is they attract the Porsche Tax on parts and service, but do not have Porsche valuation. The 924s in particular is a pretty terrific car when sorted, but they are very expensive to maintain correctly, so people don’t.

  • avatar

    I went to the Porsche exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art a few months ago, and somehow they appear to have left out this particular embarrassment in the glowing corporate history.

  • avatar

    I was out in rural coastal NC one day about ten years ago and happened upon an early (silver, phone-dial wheels) 928 at some mom & pop used car lot. They wanted some ridiculously low price for it, and while there weren’t any visible bloodstains in the interior, something told me to stay far, far away. I still want one though.

  • avatar

    Personal experience in ownership of a 1987 924S, bought at 110k, kept five years, sold at 130k: IF you don’t cheap out on the repairs and are willing to have it maintenanced regularly (just like you’re supposed to do with any car), they’re reasonably reliable. However, parts are just as expensive as any 911. Build quality is quite good, there’s a nice feel to the switches and other controls.

    In return, you get a wonderful driving car, a very practical sports car, and something that does reward you for the time and money you put it to it. The only reason I traded mine is because it wasn’t a roadster – and I’d never owned a roadster before, although I’d promised myself one for decades. After the death of my wife, I figured I’d better start making good on a few of these promises to myself before I ran out of time.

    While I enjoy my Solstice, it’s a crude little buckboard compared to the 924. While trying to find a Porsche convertible the only 968 I found at the time was Triptronic – no ‘effing way. I will happily get another 924/944/968 again, assuming I can find one in the same condition. And I REALLY want a 928.

    Yes, I love front engine Porsches. Somewhat more than the traditional models. Plus, its fun to show up at a car show and stick you car in class with all those 911’s. It makes the owners very uncomfortable, for some reason.

    • 0 avatar

      I owned a ’78 that the same copper and brown as this car. While the car was down on power, it handled extremely well, thanks to the rear trans-axle.

      Have to second Syke’s comments about the car–mine was a toy and provided two years of bulletproof reliability, including a stint as a daily driver. But parts were expensive.

      These cars suffer from an undeserved bad reputation. They were better cars than the crap British Leyland cranked out, and were better sports cars than the bloated Datsun 280ZX and Corvettes of the time period. As for not being a real Porsche, they are no worse than the 914, or even the early 356s, which were nothing more than hotrod Beetles.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “It makes the owners very uncomfortable, for some reason.”

      Yeah, because the only Real Porsche is rear-engined and air-cooled. (eye roll)

      I always liked the 928 from a distance. One figures prominently in the movie Risky Business when it swims in Lake Michigan.

  • avatar

    Porsche, overhyped, over rated, over priced P.O.S. Always has been and always will be.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The top pic makes an insane part of me want to build a jacked-up AWD rallycross car out of it.

  • avatar

    I was still in high school when these cars were released, I’ve always wanted one. After finding out they can be rather expensive to maintain, I backed away from the idea. But I see some firms offer small block Chevy conversions for these things, it’s back on my bucket list… Although, frankly a SBC powered Datsun 240/260/280Z would be more desirable to me.

    Also, I believe a string of AMC Gremlins, Spirits Concords and maybe some Eagles were powered by that 2.0L Audi engine, along with the postal Jeeps.

    • 0 avatar

      They were–I could always find the same part cheaper if I ordered it for a Gremlin or a VW Dasher… Stamp “Porsche” on anything related to that engine, and the price doubled.

    • 0 avatar

      An SBC swap would be a good use of a 924, actually. The chassis is great – it’s the motor that lets the car down. I’ve seen people do LS1 swaps into 944 Turbos, but a 944 Turbo already has a fair bit of power and it’s hard to find one with good interior and body. Whereas plenty of decent-looking 924s are out there with deferred maintenance for three-figure money.

      Hmmmm. Hmmmm.

      • 0 avatar

        I see a red 944 once in a while driving around the Toledo area. It’s definitely got a V8 in it, it sounds great. I’ve seen it make some iffy moves a couple of times where the back end got very loose. I sure would like to drive it, it looks like it would be a lot of fun.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m getting a good laugh out of this. I drove postal Jeeps in that era, and never once did I exclaim to myself, “Wow! This thing winds up to redline like a Porsche!”

    • 0 avatar

      Disagree mightily. A SBC conversion is a waste of a wonderful car. You’ll ruin the car. What you want is the Porsche-engined (not Audi) version, 924S or 944. Doing the SBC thing is all for brutal acceleration, and completely ruins one of the most wonderfully balanced, beautifully handling automobiles that you can buy for under $5000.

      • 0 avatar

        Speaking for myself, my choice of engine would be a 3G Hemi from Chrysler’s SRT line-up. As for the balance and handling, that could be taken care of with a custom chassis.

  • avatar

    Huh, I found a brown 944 on my last visit to my local junkyard…this 924 is actually in better shape than the 944 I found.

  • avatar

    It was 2001 or 2002. I was a junior in high school and a down on his luck looking biker had one of these for sale in my south St. Louis urban neighborhood to the tune of $3,500.

    It had 90k or so on it, flat white in color with a chocolate brown interior.

    It FELT faster than it actually was. It whipped around and jerked around the corners nicely. The man really pushed it hard to make me think it was quick.

    Told my mom I wanted it. She said something to the tune of “hell no”, IIRC.

    About 6 months later, I was at a local 7-11. I heard a guy going on and on at the register about a Porsche 924 he just bought for $500.

    “All it needs is a clutch” he said.

    Sure enough, same damned car :)

    • 0 avatar

      I owned mine during about the same time period. Bought it for $600 and sold it for $900 two years later because I didn’t want to disassemble the torque tube to get to the clutch or pay an independent shop $1200 to do it.

      The expression, “it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast” was written for the 924.

  • avatar

    Platz genug fuer einen schwanz immer genug

  • avatar

    A 924/944/964 is on the list of potential LeMons car candidates if I get back into it.

    Murilee’s already pointed out they’re pretty nighmarish, but they work well when they’re running. The other attraction is the endless supply of cheap donor vehicles, with parts interchangeability all the way to the end of the 964 run.

  • avatar

    Knew a kid in college who had a girlfriend wreck his car. Her dad owned a used car lot so gave him the pick of the lot to replace it by way of apology. He picked one of these. Wonder how that worked out for him…

  • avatar

    just the car for aspiring Price Club managers hoping to get their own warehouse in the near future…

  • avatar

    Is that a clay of a 924 wagon at 3:24 in the video?!

  • avatar

    I remember it well when the “Audi Sports Car” came out. Two years of exposure to Oklahoma’s zero-degree winters and 110 degree summers, the craptastic German plastics turned into eggshells and the paint turned into a faded mess. These things were more fragile than 911’s from the 60’s and 70’s and that’s saying something!

  • avatar

    Looks like one I pilfered a MC cap from at a yard in Colorado Springs?

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