Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Porsche 924S
The lure of the cheap “exotic” car can be irresistible for some gearheads. Just open up eBay Motors sometime and type “ project” into the search bar. Instantly, dozens of cars, old and new, are there to haunt your bargain-hunting dreams. In a quick glance, I spotted a Viper, a Z32 300ZX, and even a Local Motors Rally Fighter that can all be picked up for a fraction of the cost of a clean one.
The problem with any project, of course, is the time and money required to complete is typically underestimated, often by some unforeseen order of magnitude. Many of these “projects” will likely be listed on eBay in twenty years as “barn finds”, in basically the same state — save for entropy — as today.
Take today’s feature car, the 1987 Porsche 924S.
For a shade under $5000, this is an affordable entry into the Porsche brotherhood. The car appears clean, straight, and reasonably well cared for, though the odometer looks to have rolled over. This car resurrected the 924 moniker for a lower-cost alternative to the fat-fendered 944, and could represent a good bargain for the first-time Porsche owner.
I think the book time for a clutch replacement is somewhere in the neighborhood of nine hours. At typical P-car shop rates, your $5,000 bargain has cost another two to three grand in parts and labor. If you can handle the work yourself, can source low-cost replacement bits easily, and be able to tie up a stall in your garage for some time while repairs are done, this might be feasible.
If I had the space in my garage, I’d be tempted by this, as my mechanical skills aren’t that bad. My last clutch job (on the Miata) did require some help, as I’d just had hernia surgery a week prior. I just wasn’t up to the task of benchpressing the transmission.
Like any car, this Porsche will require a pre-purchase inspection to assess what the car needs. If there are good, recent service records, and the inspection comes out clean, this may indeed be a good deal.
Otherwise, at the sign of the first major repair bill, the new owner may start searching for a barn.
Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.
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