By on April 25, 2016

1983 Porsche 944 in California Junkyard, I LOVE TO PARTY sign - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

21 - 1983 Porsche 944 in California Junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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?

06 - 1983 Porsche 944 in California Junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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).

07 - 1983 Porsche 944 in California Junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

18 - 1983 Porsche 944 in California Junkyard - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

58 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1983 Porsche 944...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Back in 1987/88, my sister briefly dated (well, it was more like was being chased by) a young Captain with the 5th Special Forces out of Ft. Campbell. He owned a Guards Red 1986 Porsche 944 and the sound of that thing coming into the driveway was pure magic. Given that he was so interested in my sister, I used that to my advantage and asked to drive the 944 as much as I could. He made the fatal mistake of leaving it at our house over a holiday weekend when he went home to visit his family. My parents took possession of the key and wouldn’t let me within three feet of it. I, however, had already made a duplicate key and when my parents went out of town to visit my dad’s family, they thought the Porsche was safe. At the time, I was a bag-boy at the local Kroger so naturally, I drove the Porsche to work each day. Imagine the jaw-drops as a kid barely making minimum wage, part-time no less, showed up in a near-as-new Porsche! And the drives with my then girlfriend were epic! Yes, compared to today’s engine outputs, the 2.5 wasn’t much to brag about, but the feeling of that car entering a corner…something I’ll never forget.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    It looks to be a parts bonanza for the right person .

    I buy those metric gauges , VDO makes very cheap gauges but at least they look nice .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, I don’t know why anyone would avoid a metric oil pressure gauge.

      It’s just in atmospheres (bar); close enough to 15psi per bar that it makes no difference.

      (For that matter, the absolute units seem to rarely matter, compared to “is it pegged at above idle” and “where is it at idle?”…)

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Those VDO gauges would actually go well in a old Beetle, Ghia or Fast/Sq Back.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The roads are waiting … for your Porsche after you pay your repair bill.

  • avatar
    Jesse

    I’m more saddened by the green 944 behind it.

  • avatar
    Joe Btfsplk

    I think that metric clocks are much cooler than standard clocks… don’t you?

  • avatar
    balreadysaid

    My 90 minus hp mercury tracers were just as fast in 3/4 of a mile. I have hit a corner coming into Albany at 120mph with a 86 944. They did feel planted at that speed. Noted for dropping valves. Even rebuilt by a good engine builder. They still would come apart of you ran them hard.

    Ever hear the saying “put a 350 in it”?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Miss Christina drives a 944…satisfaction oozes from her pores…

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The Mistu may have been 145hp but I bet it had gobs of torque over the 944.

  • avatar
    319583076

    The ephemeral Porsche: fun to drive, miserable to own.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Miserable how? They are stone-axe reliable, the maint is mostly cheap, parts are readily available.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        You keep saying this, but my experience with an ’87 924S says you are either full of crap, or maybe your other car is a Ferrari and the Porsche seems cheap by comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          porschespeed

          I don’t have any idea what people do to that car to make it anything but a train. I guess not drive it for years or something. I’ve seen almost as many of them as 928s that have well over 150K on them. Though, to be fair, I haven’t seen as many that have crossed 200K as 928s.

          If you bought a car that has been through the hands of some guy who couldn’t afford to do anything resembling maint, I understand the issues you may have. Nope, no Ferraris, I do have an Acura RL that costs a fortune for dealer parts if I have to get them.

          • 0 avatar
            Grahambo

            I second porschespeed. A true joy to own. Extraordinarily reliable and dependable. And, man, they are practical and great to drive. Krhodes, I think you hit the nail on the head when we discussed a similar topic before (80s era Mercedes v. Porsche cost of ownership), a lot depends on prior long term stewardship. I’m quite sure that 944s/924s’s can be awful money pits if they weren’t well taken care of (as is unfortunately the case with many of them given their relatively low cost of entry), but that is true of many cars worth owning. With some proactive maintenance and care (which, aside from timing belts and clutches is not bad at all), they are tanks. As you noted before, the flip side is that fastidious long-term owners tend to hold on to their cars — thus, there is much more chaff than wheat available in the secondary market (at least at lower price points).

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The trouble is that these are cars that are worth very little, but have a number of VERY expensive regular servicing needs. The timing belt being one, the clutch being another. I don’t disagree that if you have a beautifully maintained one that the cost probably isn’t that bad over the long term, but as you say, the really nice ones don’t get sold at all, or they get sold to friends. And they are definitely the sort of car that ends up sitting – nobody in New England drives them year-round for sure.

            If you are an intrepid DIY’er they are not THAT bad, but there is no getting around that the Porsche specific parts are REALLY expensive. Yeah, the bits shared with a Rabbit are practically free (and also kind of crap), but that doesn’t make up for the things like the $500 oil pressure relief valve, $200 radiator hoses nearly made of unobtanium, and the endless labor to do the timing belt or clutch. Or having to change the rod bearings WHEN, not if, the oil cooler blows its seals. I was perfectly capable of getting mine back up to spec, but I just didn’t have the time. And this was a car that passed a pre-purchase inspection with only minor gripes and was in great condition at first glance. To pay a shop to do it all would have been multiples of what the car was worth. I liked it, but not THAT much. Reality is you can have just as much fun in something like an e30 BMW for a fraction of the cost. Or a Miata. And either is a lot friendlier to work on. Lovely cars, but the Porsche Tax is very real, in both time and money.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I guess the 944 only had the full-width red plastic lens at the back for the first couple years? The only ones I’ve seen have had separate brake lamps – no connector.

    Also, I was not aware Dunhill cigarettes were sold in the US. I saw them while I was in Korea, and that was the first I had heard of the brand. Maybe it’s regional/specialty here? (I’m not a smoker.)

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I loved the 944 and almost bought a S a few years ago, would love a 944 vert but the good ones cost a ton and at that price your into Boxster money so it makes sense to buy the newer vert, I still see a few nice ones in metro NY when the weather is good, but mostly crapped out 944’s these days.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Every 944 I see these days has severely misaligned panels; I don’t understand this.

    This car was really popular at the time, since it came on the heels of the lowly 924.

  • avatar
    linkpin

    This one is kind of sad, actually. Once upon a time, somebody *loved* this car – staggered gold Enkei 92s (which you can still buy new!), aftermarket reflector panel, upgraded stereo. But at some point, its fortunes changed and it ended up the mess you see here. I’d love to know its story. Quick, somebody make one up!

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Joey loved to party…

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      The additional accessories along with the seats and carpets being in good condition point to someone having fun with this car, then either having that catastrophic breakage occur, or becoming too old and feeble to drive it. It then sat for years until either the owner died or was shipped off to a nursing home, and whoever dealt with his estate had it hauled off for scrap. Probably not too different from the last VW Beetle; only that one managed to sit under a fluorescent light in a building somewhere for decades; where it’s paint faded but it never acquired the layer of grunge that this Porsche did.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      So that’s what they are.

      I thought they were some cheapo knockoff of BBS gold wires, since BBS gold wires were the hot thing in the 80s.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      First owner loved it. Second owner did too and probably did the upgrades. Third through sixth owners couldn’t actually afford (to fix) it, so it devolved into this sad mess.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Baby on board signs disappeared somewhere? I’m jealous, I see more and more of them each year, recently joined by their more Canadian cousin, blue and pink “baby on route” signs

  • avatar
    zipper69

    Notice how the carpet in the driver’s well is in really good condition?
    Wonder what the mileage is?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in the 80’s the 924/944 were priced competitively with a 280/300ZX, RX7 and Supra. I guess some buyers went for the Porsche because of the name and did not care about reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      It’s cute that you mention RX7 then slag Porsche reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Seems to be a toss up between the burnt apex seals and shorter engine life of a RX7 or the head gasket and electrical gremlins in a 924/944.Though the body and chassis of the 924/944 seems to be more rugged and made out of heavier steel.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    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.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Master Baiter: The Plaid is typical Tesla: Some amazing drive train technology marred by poor ergonomics, like the...
  • golden2husky: DenverMike: Good point about incarceration. I was on a jury a few years ago and the way the cops were...
  • golden2husky: Alcohol ok for the heart? There are plenty of studies showing alcohol consumption causes irreparable...
  • mcs: The youtube videos are starting to show up. Here’s a race at a dragstrip against a Doge Challenger. The...
  • mcs: @ajila: I exaggerate about my height. Because of my work in medical research, I have an exact number on my...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber