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.

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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.

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The End, And The Beginning, Of The Porsche Turbo

So. They finally did it, didn’t they?

Porsche followed the lead of Ferrari (with either the California T or 208GTS, depending on your awareness of history) and Ford (with the Fiesta EcoBoost, of course) by making the entry-level 911 a small-displacement turbo. It had to happen, because in its successful quest to become primarily a manufacturer of unibody “trucks” Porsche became too large to reasonably plead an indulgence, er, exemption from Europe’s state religion of carbon-emissions laws. By the way, the next time you’re reading about the sale of indulgences and all of the other ridiculous behavior practiced by Christian Europe six hundred years ago and you’re feeling very smug about living in era where reason holds sway over craven superstition, take a nice long look at this and tell me how much difference you truly see between now and the era of Leo X.

Will Porsche’s switch to smaller, force-fed engines counterbalance even an hour of one region of China’s use of coal for power? It’s best not to think too much about that. Could Porsche accomplish a similar amount of carbon-production reduction by changing the engines in the Macan and Cayenne, perhaps giving them all ludicrous-pressure four bangers like the one in the AMG CLA 45 and therefore leaving the naturally-aspirated sports cars alone? We really don’t want to think about that. It would be like a husband wondering why his wife comes to bed in curlers but insists on a manicure before his brother stops by for dinner. Could it be that he’s no longer the most important member of the family?

This is not a train that we, the occasional Porsche buyers of America, can stop. And it especially is not a train that you, the person from the Internet who has never bought a Porsche but plans on picking up a Carrera G50 some time in the next ten years if the prices come back down, can stop. All we can do is look back at a few great Porsche Turbos and Monday-morning quarterback Porsche’s new product line.

Let’s do that, shall we?

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TTAC Forum Crapwagon ReCrap: Get Shorty, Or Italian, But Not Both

If you haven’t noticed — and judging by the lack of comments, I’m guessing you haven’t — things have been picking up a bit over at the long-dormant TTAC Forum. I’ve been posting a near-daily “Find of the Day” in the Classic and Collector Car forum. I’m trying to highlight the interesting, cool, and weird stuff I find as I tread the crapwagon-infested waters of eBay, craigslist, classified sites, and other forums.

There is plenty to look at. Just this week: A rusty Bronco; an oddly-shortened Chevelle; a ’90s-vintage Alfa Romeo Spider; a Porsche 944S; and a Buick Reatta ragtop.

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Super Piston Slap: Poorvette Fever!

Aside from “real racers” who insist The 24 Hours of LeMons is a joke, everyone else understands this series’ willingness to embrace engineering and artistic creativity, providing somewhat-wholesome entertainment and—best of all– giving away a metric ton of track time for little cash. As a member of the LeMons Supreme Court in their Texas races, well, bias from judicial bribes and heartless praise bestowed upon me aside…

…here’s a dirty little secret: you can go LeMons racing in any fully depreciated machine with ZERO PENALTY LAPS, no matter how awesome the vehicle was when new. Provided you bend (not break) the rules with your whip. And give everyone a good reason to love/hate you. The Poorvette is proof positive.

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Piston Slap: Talk Me Off the Ledge!!!

TTAC Commentator PartsUnknown writes:

Sajeev,

Long story short, a family friend has an ’86 944 non-turbo sitting in her driveway in suburban Massachusetts. It belongs to her son who lives in Manhattan. Although he loves the car, it simply does not fit his current lifestyle. He wants to sell it, but is not actively pursuing it. His mother is constantly suggesting that I buy it (she knows my predilection for cars). Here’s the deal: it’s been sitting for a few years, driven sparingly. It appears to be in good cosmetic condition and it apparently runs. I know these cars are expensive to maintain.

I’m a busy man, with a wife and two young kids, a demanding career and a Saab 9-5 that I like to tinker with to satisfy my inner mechanic. I value time with my family above all, and while focusing on saving for retirement and college tuition, probably couldn’t afford to dump massive amounts of money into this car. The only reason I’m even considering it is that this guy’s mother has hinted that he just wants to get rid of it, and she said laughing, “he’d probably take $1,000 for it”. Question is, should I even entertain the idea? What, at minimum, would it cost to get this thing roadworthy as a weekend ride considering its relative lack of use (keeping in mind I’m a middling DIYer)? I’m leaning no, but $1,000 for a decent 944 seems like a no-brainer. Almost. I previously owned a 1986 911 Carrera Coupe, which was a fantastic car, but I sold it for precisely the reasons stated above – to prioritize time with my family over spending a Saturday replacing blower motors and ball joints.

Talk me off the ledge.

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Piston Slap: Saving Gas, Money and Porsche 944?

Guilmo writes:

Sajeev, I need your help to resolve my dilemma. Picked up a certified 07 Rabbit less than a year ago and am not satisfied with its fuel economy and frankly just bored with it. I’m averaging about 9L/100Km and I know will only get worse come winter. I use this car solely to commute to work and occasionally put a large hockey bag in the hatch.

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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.
  • MaintenanceCosts Chevy used to sell almost this exact color on the Sonic, Bolt, and Camaro, as "Shock." And I have a story about that.I bought my Bolt in 2019. Unsurprisingly the best deal came from the highest-volume Bolt dealer in my very EV-friendly area. They had huge inventory; I bought right when Chevy started offering major incentives, and the car had been priced too high to sell well until that point.Half the inventory had a nice mix of trims and colors, and I was able to find the exact dark-gray-on-white Premier I wanted. But the real mystery was the other half of the inventory. It was something like 40 cars, all Shock on black, split between LT and Premier. You could get an additional $2000 or so off the already low selling price if you bought one of them. (Neither my wife nor I thought the deal worth it.) The cars were real and in the flesh; a couple were out front, but behind the showroom, there was an entire row of them.When I took delivery, I asked the salesman how on earth they had ended up with so many. He told me in a low voice that a previous sales manager had screwed up order forms for a huge batch of cars that were supposed to be white, and that no one noticed until a couple transporters loaded with chartreuse Bolts actually showed up at the dealer. Long story short, there was no way to change the order. They eventually sold all the cars and you still see them more often than you'd expect in the area.
  • EAM3 Learned to drive in my parents' 1981 Maxima. Lovely car that seemed to do everything right. I can still hear the "Please turn off the lights" voice in my head since everyone wanted a demo of the newfangled talking car. A friend of the family had a manual transmission one and that thing was fun!
  • FreedMike That wagon is yummy.
  • Syke Thanks, somehow I missed that.