By on September 24, 2014

07 - 1982 Porsche 928 S Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThough the Porsche 928 was built all the way up through the 1995 model year, most of the ones you’ll see— on the street, in the junkyard, or at a LeMons race— are going to be from the Malaise-y 1978-1982 model years. I see them in junkyards every so often, although mostly they’ve been picked over too much to be worth photographing. In this series, we’ve seen this weirdly wrapped movie-car 928 and that’s been it until today’s ’82, which I saw in California last week.
04 - 1982 Porsche 928 S Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI’d always wanted a 928 intake for my garage wall, but never had the energy to remove all those finicky German fasteners. Then a generous LeMons team gave me one last month. I thought about grabbing the rubber hoses and hose clamps from this one, but got sidetracked by one of the greatest finds I’ve ever run across in a junkyard.
03 - 1982 Porsche 928 S Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis one has been picked over pretty well, with the interior and electrical goodies being most desirable.
11 - 1982 Porsche 928 S Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThese cars depreciated hard, and you can get a runner for under a grand if you don’t mind a little ugliness. Then you’ll be scouring the country for parts donors.
09 - 1982 Porsche 928 S Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe interesting thing about these cars is that they’ve proven themselves to be among the fastest legit $500 cars that you can run in the 24 Hours of LeMons (the Ford Probe, believe it or not, appears to be the quickest of all the cheap crapcans, in terms of raw road-course lap times). 928s with automatic transmissions and stock suspensions have set down the quickest lap times at three of the past five races (and every single one has been knocked out by catastrophic mechanical failures, but that’s another story).

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39 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Porsche 928...”

  • avatar

    One of my dad’s fellow Sergeants in Germany had a gold 928 (this was back around 1985. I think his was a 1982) along with an “AMG look alike” MB S-class. I soooo wanted to be that guy! Never mind he also brought over his NHRA Chevelle that he raced at the strip at Fliegerhorst Kaserne. I used to love hearing him start “Toy Soldier” up before putting it on the trailer and heading out to the races. In our little courtyard, the sound of that Chevelle at full throttle was louder than the M60 battle tanks just across the field. But that he also had two premium German vehicles just made him, well…ueber-cool! Never got to actually drive a 928 (my only Porsche experience has been lengthy seat time in a 1986 944 and a few test drives of some older and rattier 911s), but always wanted to.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Early ones just look so damn right. I have many dark moments gazing at an early-80s $2500 928 thinking “How bad can it be, really?” Then a quick Google confirms….real bad.

    • 0 avatar

      LSx conversion FTW! Kits are out there and everything’s plug-n-play. Gauges work, AC works and fully smog compliant. Just takes money.

    • 0 avatar

      You can get them for less than $2500. Much less. Scrap value, in fact. And the engine is about the tenth-most expensive thing to fix.

    • 0 avatar

      The earlier the car, the easier it is to maintain. Between the workshop manuals that are available online for free and the incredibly knowledgeable posters from the various forums, the only thing that’s really hard on a 928 is cost of parts, and there are guys who find similar but functional pieces from other cars that work just as well. It’s actually a very well engineered and put-together car. Compared to anything modern, it’s practically cake.

      Clean the fuse and relay panel, and all the engine electrical connectors, with Deoxit, and you’re 80% of the way there…

    • 0 avatar

      Such a modern design. Better looking than just about anything around back in that era.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      “How bad could it be?” That has been my thought as well. It is not at all insane trying to keep a Mercedes of this era running if you’re mechanically inclined and prepared to do some bargain hunting. These cars have always captured my attention and I’ve often wondered how much harder or more expensive they’d be than, say, a Mercedes 450SL. I haven’t been quite brave enough to try it, though. Maybe one day I’ll make the leap.

  • avatar


    Seeing this car brings back a lot of memories of a very hot Rebecca DeMornay, and the “U Boat Commander”.


  • avatar

    “the Ford Probe, believe it or not, appears to be the quickest of all the cheap crapcans, in terms of raw road-course lap times”

    Having owned a 1st gen Probe, this does not surprise me. I bolted a set of Tokico Blues into my Probe, along with a set of wider, stickier tires, and the handling went from good to amazing. In a drag race just about everything could beat it, but in the twisties it could easily hang with cars that cost a hell of lot more. The first gen turbo GT was a truly serious car in its day, even though it exhibited ridiculous amounts of torque-steer….you could change lanes using nothing but the throttle.

    The Probe never lived up to it’s potential for a number of reasons. It was a bastard car….a Mazda, built on the same assembly line with the 626 and MX-6….which was intended to replace the rear-drive Mustang until the Mustang fans found out and shouted bloody murder. The Probe came along when Ford was making obscene profits off the SUV craze. The name didn’t help either. Ford kept the car current until they got their money out of it…which they did, and then some….at which point the car was abandoned.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d say that the quickest cheap cars in LeMons (i.e., those that can do good lap times in reasonably stock form, given a good driver, decent tires, etc.) are, in order, Ford Probe, Porsche 928, Acura Integra. However, raw lap times don’t mean much in endurance racing (exactly one Probe, zero 928s, and one Integra have won, after 119 races). Teams with the organizational chops and driving ability needed to win races tend to go for more reliable/easier-to-fix cars, e.g., BMW E30, Chrysler Neon, Volvo 240, or cars they already know from spec racing (Porsche 944, Mazda Miata).

      • 0 avatar

        Even when new, the Probe was a fragile car, the transmissions used in these cars were the weak link. I suppose that goes double….or triple….for old, clapped-out cars. My point was that the Probe had the potential to be a really good car, had Ford put a bit more effort into it. I understand why they didn’t. They were making as much profit from a single full-sized SUV that they made from selling 3-4 wrong-wheeel-drive sports coupes.

        I still like the hot-hatch style of car, but I understand that’s a tiny niche market now.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Is that the automatic? The manual was your usual Mazda 5 speed with no particular problems.
          Unless, of course, you are talking about the 1st gen V6 Probe with a Taurus engine.

        • 0 avatar

          Probe engine explosions have been among the most spectacular I’ve seen. Big bang, lots of fire, lots of metal bouncing off the tarmac.

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, the engines used in the second gen cars, both the 4 and V6, had issues. The 4 would throw rods, and the V6 would swallow valves. The 1st gen four was actually quite stout, and could take a lot of boost and still stay together.

            These cars were typical Mazda products, not a lot of power, but the chassis of both the 1st and 2nd gen cars were actually quite good. The Probe was one of the best handling FWD cars I’ve ever driven.

    • 0 avatar

      As a former first gen Ford Probe owner, also not surprised.

      I drove down to Portland to look at an ’89 GT with 79K miles on the clock. The ad claimed showroom condition inside and out and mechanically perfect.


      If it was only true. The really sad part is the exterior paint and body was a 9.5 out of 10. There was a light rub on the right rear corner bumper. That’s it. Not a door ding, perfect clear coat, no chips on the hood, all panels lined up and straight.

      The interior was sadly a disaster. If the car was in a garage it wasn’t a very secure one. Water had leaked through the taillights (a common problem) so the rear cargo area had significant water damage. The list of issues with accessories was long – with the power driver seat stuck in the highest elevated position, which was a big ball of suck for my 6′ frame. The exhaust system was Swiss cheese, and my worst fears were realized. Because the car had sat for the better part of seven years, every seal, every gasket was toast. It was hemorrhaging oil from about every external seal on the engine. The AC didn’t work. The trip computer display back light was dead (common problem), the back light to the DIC was dead (common problem). In the end the car just had too many problems.

      So what’s the point. I did drive it and I was wondering as I slipped the clutch out and drove away would my memories that are 25 years old reveal that I looked at my first generation Ford Probe with rose colored glasses. Would years of driving more advanced cars make me go, wow, this wasn’t as good as I remembered.

      Nope. It was every bit as good as I remembered. Despite all of these woes the internals of the engine were tight, the turbo spooled right up and the car lustily begged to be rung out more. Yes the torque steer was there and the shifter is certainly vague. But the car felt balanced, the adjustable suspension still worked, the, for the time, large four wheel disc brakes with ABS worked flawlessly. The clutch was light with little play.

      It was a great car. The thing that made me sad as I drove away, without the Probe, is I thought back to that period, and how many 2+2 hatchback coupes were around. The Ford was one of the first of a wide class of cars that lasted less than a decade, and the ones that followed in the early 90’s were even better.

      It was one Hell of a time to be in your 20’s, know how to drive manual, and have some disposable income.

  • avatar

    “Joel! What happened to the Porsche! I was only gone for the weekend. I told you not to drive it!”

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    My dad had an ’85 928 in gold for a couple of years in the late 90’s. It was very clean insude, but there was plenty wrong that he couldn’t/ wouldn’t fix, such as the dash lights that didn’t work. I thought the car looked comically dated, but the ladies seemed to love it. I guess when paired with AAA and another equally unreliable car (1991 Jaguar Sovereign) it was enough reliability for his midlife crisis dollar.

  • avatar

    I see one of these on a regular basis. It’s in nice shape and is someone’s daily driver, just as Porsche intended.

    As for those who are dragging the dead ones out of the junkyard and making junkbox race cars out of them, I both salute you and question your sanity.

  • avatar

    Always liked the 928, it combines badass and comically weird like no other vehicle. Plus, it’s technically a hot hatch. Fortunately, I’m just smart enough to know that I do not currently have what it takes to keep one of these alive.

  • avatar

    A Frank Sinatra Imperial?!

    Why the f*ck did you write up this thing and not the Imperial? :P

    • 0 avatar

      Cause he wrote the Imperial over there!

      It’s surprisingly easy to see FS Imperials for sale on Ebay. They never go for much. I can’t tell if it’s because that’s just a crap car, or because it’s ugly, or because nobody wants an old Chrysler like that. The normal ones had no real badging on them except for the logo on the front, and a Mark Cross thing on the b-pillar if so equipped. It was certainly one of the most discreetly badged cars of the 80s.

      Course now that I say all this the early 80s were quite a dark time for Chrysler – pity they dumped money on such a poor selling thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Ugly? The 81-83 Imperial is brilliant!

        It looks like something out of some bizarre retro-futuristic 1930s world, like a car Bruce Wayne would be driving when he’s not fighting crime. I love it.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d forgotten about the bustle-butt Imperials, I have to say I love the front end of that car, you could cut yourself on all those sharp edges.

  • avatar

    A well-off pal of mine had an early 928 from ’86 to ’92.

    He let me drive it. The gearshift was abominable, could hardly find the gears. Well, he knew that and just laughed at me trying.

    Full throttle wasn’t as much fun as I expected – frankly it felt slow. My new turbo AWD Eagle Talon was way quicker. The 928 was a complete disappointment for me.

    But it did look cool.

  • avatar

    As a 928 owner I need to chime in.

    The reputation as a finicky, expensive car is well-deserved. It’s really well-made and you can fix it yourself if you understand mechanics. Having a shop that understands the damned thing is vital. Most of the problems I’ve had can be attributed to the prior owners, as opposed to fundamental flaws in the design of the car.

    Still, it’s almost like this car is the answer to the question, “How can we make a car as complex and expensive as possible?” I happen to think that the Chevy LSx conversion is a real low-vision solution, as the (Porsche) engine is the best part of the car. Remember, design on the 928 started early in 1971 (!) so we’re talking about a car that’s 43 years old in some ways.

    Overall I like mine and I’d dearly love to get it into an event like Targa Newfoundland one of these years. As for LeMons, it surprises me not one tiny bit that a 928 has never logged a win. There must be thousands of ways for these things to fail in everyday use and I am sure that the stresses of racing only multiply (or square) the likelihood of failure.

    Finally, we’re very lucky to have several dedicated dismantlers and rebuilders who support the community, plus the usual eBay and Craigslist options. It can be a lot of work; NLA really means NLA with this thing.

    The best vanity plate for any 928?


  • avatar

    The other 928 was not a “movie car,” and is noted by the B&B with supporting links.

    It was a project car where someone put a turbine engine in the 928 – pictures were included in the write up. It was never in a movie. The paint scheme was reminiscent of US military helicopters, to go with the turbine, the exhaust ported through the hole cut in the hood.

  • avatar

    Funny the way certain kinds of cars excel in certain kinds of sports.

    Porsche 928s in LeMons.

    1959 Chrysler Imperials in demolition derby.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    I have just delivered a 1982 to it’s owner,with 250,000 ks on the clock and because it was immobile for 10 years it required a new (rebuilt donor) engine to get it running. I have never worked on one before and I am very impressed with the quality and genius of the car . It takes under an hour to get the engine out,undo the engine mounts,undo the drive coupling,undo four bolts and thwe wiring loom and out it comes.
    Rebuilding the engine was interesting and very easy. The auto trans is the mercedes and in fact I see a lot of the parts are in fact Mercedes Sourced originally. A lot of the panels are alloy .Parts such as disc rotors are very easy to change and very cheap.A set of locally made brake hoses have given the brakes a very positive feel .
    As someone has noted,it was never the cars fault that they failed in use…it was the sheer lack of care and attention given to them by uncaring owners.
    On the road,the particular car I repaired is fast,easy to drive and although I tried I never reached the limits of it’s road holding,something I can’t say about my 911 experience. The engine I replaced the broken one with is a “euro 10.5-1 compression version which has a more radical cam timing set up than the US market cars and had LHjetronic which was dumped in favor of the Kjet of the original engine. if you want rapid acceleration,just leave in low and change up at the red line,above 4000 RPM this car takes off.

  • avatar

    What an unholy mess! Who lets a Porsche, the star of Risky Business no less, get like this?? Ugh! Disgusting!

  • avatar

    I can vouch for the fact that these were very well engineered and built cars. About 15 years ago when I would occasionally flip cars, I had an ’85 928 and ’85 Corvette at the same time. Both had right around 90k miles. The vette was an absolute rattle trap and the Porsche not a single squeak or rattle. I still remember the solid “thunk” when closing door of the Porsche as opposed to the sound of the Vette door closing. The little things that separate a high quality car from the rest, and the Porsche had them in spades. The Porsche just made the Vette feel like a piece of junk….and I’m a vette guy. Whenever I see a 928 I regret selling the one I had.

    I personally prefer the later restyled ones, especially the rear end. To me the newer ones look less akward.

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