Junkyard Find: 1983 Porsche 944

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1983 porsche 944

The Porsche 944 is an excellent example of the kind of car that’s worth pretty decent money when in great condition … and worth scrap value beyond a fairly strict threshold of perceived thrashedness. I see plenty of 944s at the fixed price, high-inventory turnover, self-service yards (not to mention many more blowing up in 24 Hours of LeMons races), but I don’t feel inspired to document these cars in their final parking spaces most of the time.

This beat-to-crap early 944 in a San Jose yard, however, caught my attention for some reason.

I think it was poignancy of the I LOVE TO PARTY sign, which was one of innumerable responses to the BABY ON BOARD signs that appeared everywhere in the middle 1980s and then (to everyone’s great relief) all but disappeared before the end of the decade. Who didn’t like to party in a 944?

These cars are pretty quick on a racetrack with a good driver (though it took from 2006 until 2013 before one of the dozens of LeMons 944s finally grabbed an overall win). However, the 2.5-liter engine in the 1983 model had just 143 horsepower. That’s just five horses more than what you get in the 2016 Kia Rio, but was pretty decent in 1983 (when the considered-awesome-at-the-time Mitsubishi Starion had a mere 145 hp in its TURBO TURBO TURBO engine).

If we are to judge by all the built-up schmutz in this car, it sat unattended in California’s great outdoors for many years. If I had to guess, I’d say that either the timing belt or the clutch (both four-figure repair jobs if you go to a shop) went out.

Nobody will buy metric oil-pressure gauges in the junkyard, even if they are the standard 2-1/16″ size. The nice VDO clocks, however, don’t last long in these yards, and most of them work fine (in stark contrast to most junkyard car clocks, I’ve learned the hard way).

The best roads in America are waiting… and so is your Porsche.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Kkollwitz Kkollwitz on May 02, 2016

    There's a nice Guards Red 944 here in Greenville SC. I'm always happy to see it- my favorite Porsche. I remember around 1984 or so C&D matched it against the Z28 for Best Handling Car honors. The Camaro won 2 categories; the 944, 3. Those were exciting times- never knew what would be beside me at a stoplight, or just ahead of me on a mountain road.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on May 09, 2016

    What did we call those reflector things they sold for cars like 944s (the big reflector between the taillights)? They were kinda cool, except that you had to relocate the license plate to the bumper, which usually required a crappy mount like the one here, plus adding some ugly license plate lights, to be legal. They were available for other cars, too, like Celicas and RX-7s.

  • Tassos Unlike Tim, I don't use this space as a wastebasket for ANYTHING BUT a proper used car.If you seriously need a car AND you are as destitute as Tim's finds imply, HERE IS A PROPER ONE FOR YOUR NEEDS:You can probably get it for only $4k, WITH Leather, Factory Navigation, plenty of room and a V6.https://www.cars.com/research/toyota-camry-2005/I even considered getting it myself as an extra reliable car.
  • Jeff Of all the EV trucks I like the Rivian the best but I am still years away if ever from buying an EV.
  • Kwik_Shift I definitely like the looks of the newest 300s over the Chargers.
  • SCE to AUX "Should car companies shack up with tech giants in order to produce legible infotainment systems and the like? Or should they go it alone?"Great question(s).The River Rouge days are gone, where Ford produced whole cars out of raw materials entering the plant at the other end. Nearly everything is outsourced these days - sometimes well, sometimes disastrously.But the problem with infotainment systems is that they are integrated with the car's operation. VW has delayed entire products for issues with infotainment.For me, the question boils down to a contractual arrangement - who owns and maintains the code forever? Since more and more of the car's function is tied to the infotainment system, I'd argue that the car mfr needs to own it - especially the larger ones.Do mfrs really want to share intellectual property with Huawei just to fast-track some code they've managed themselves in the past?
  • Kwi65728132 I always did like the styling of the 300C and it was on my short list for a new (to me) rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 luxury sedan but I found a Hyundai Equus that was better optioned than any 300C I could find and for several grand less.