The History Of Porsche 944

The 944 is a sports car built by Porsche from 1982 to 1991. It replaced the 924 as Porsche's entry level model, although 924 production continued through 1988. The 944 was intended to last into the 1990s, but major revisions planned for a 944S3 model were eventually rolled into the 968 instead, which replaced the 944. The 944 was a successful model and was available as both a coupe and cabriolet in naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms.

The earlier Porsche 924 had originally been an Audi project, designed under contract for the VW/ Audi company by Porsche. When VW/ Audi abandoned the project, Porsche purchased the design as the replacement for the 912E and 914. The vehicle drove and handled exceptionally well and received positive reviews, but was criticized for the Audi-sourced 2litre engine; Porsche introduced a Turbocharged 924 to increase performance, but the price was considered high for the time, which hampered sales. Rather than scrap the design , Porsche decided to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911; although model numbers would change, the 924 would provide the basis for its replacement.

Porsche re-worked the platform and abandoned the Audi engine, installing in its place a new all-alloy 2.5 litre straight-4 engine that was, in essence, half of the 928's 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not a natural choice for a luxury sports car, a four cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome the unbalanced secondary forces that make other four cylinder engines feel harsh, Porsche included two counter rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150bhp (112kW; 152PS) in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes. Porsche introduced the 944 for MY 1982 to great anticipation. In addition to being slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924, it had better handling and stopping power and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of over 9 seconds (8.3 seconds according to "Porsche the Ultimate Guide" By Scott Faragher) was actually rather modest. The factory-claimed top speed of 130mph (210km/ h), was also pessimistic, Autocar having verified a top speed of 137mph (220km/ h). The car had nearly even front to rear weight distribution (50.7%front/ 49.3%rear) thanks to the rear transaxle balancing out the engine in the front. This gave it very balanced, predictable handling at the limits of adhesion.

In mid-1985 the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included:- a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator (from 90 amp to 115 amp), increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The "cookie cutter" style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new "phone dial" style wheels. 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as "1985B" or "1985 1/ 2" cars.

In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 liter engine to a 2.7 liter engine with slightly more horsepower but a significant increase in torque. In addition to more displacement the new motor also had larger valves.

944 Turbo (951)

In 1985 Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, a higher-performance variant, known internally as the 951 (952 for right-hand drive models). This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car's engine that produced 220 hp (217 in the US) at 6000 rpm. The turbo was the world's first car using a ceramic portliner to retain exhaust gas temperature. The Turbo also featured several other revisions, such as improved aerodynamics, strengthened gearbox, standard transmission oil cooler, wider wheels, and upgraded suspension. Major engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat.

In 1988, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/ 52) with 247 hp (compared to the standard 944 Turbo's 217 hp) and 350 Nm torque (or 258 ft·lbf, versus 243 ft·lbf). This higher output was achieved by using a larger turbo housing on the exhaust side, and a remapped engine computer. In June 1988, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo S and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.9 seconds at 101mph (163km/ h). The intake manifold features an additional vacuum port for two total vacuum ports, but intake manifolds can be swapped between S and non-S cars.

The 944 Turbo S's suspension was the then state-of-the-art "M030" option consisting of upgraded Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive springs, larger rear torsion bars, harder bushings throughout, larger 26.8mm (1.1in) anti-roll bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed differently to clear the front frame brace on the drivers side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16" forged and flat-dished, similar to the contemporary 928. Wheel widths were 7.5inches (191mm) in the front, and 9inches (229mm) in the rear; sizes of the Z-rated tires were 225/ 50 in the front and 245/ 45 in the rear. The front and rear wing edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission (case code designation: AOR) of the 944 Turbo S had toughened first and second gears including synchros, standard external cooler (available on earlier turbos as an option), and a standard limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger 4 piston fixed calipers and discs; ABS was also standard.

The 944 Turbo S interior featured full power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a "Burgundy plaid" (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/ exterior colors were available. A 10 speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common upgrade.

In 1989 the 'S' designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the 'S' package as standard. The regular 944's displacement was increased to 2.7 L.

944 S

In 1987, the naturally-aspirated 944 S ("Super") variant was introduced. The 944S had a more powerful 190PS (140kW; 187hp) version of the 2.5 litre engine with twin overhead camshafts and 16 valve heads. This marked the first use of four valve per cylinder heads in the 944 series. Performance was quoted as 0 - 100 km/ h (62 mph) in 7.8 seconds and 230km/ h (140mph) top speed.

Also in 1987, dual air-bags and ABS were introduced as options on the base model. Wheel offset was increased from 23mm (0.9in) to 52mm (2.0in) to provide clearance for the optional ABS brakes.

944 S2

In 1989 944S2 was introduced, and powered by a 211PS (155kW; 208hp) 3.0 L engine. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. The S2 was also available as a cabriolet, a first for the 944 line. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds (0-100 km/ h 6.9 s), with a top speed of 240km/ h (150mph) (manual transmission).

944 Turbo Cabriolet

In February 1991 Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S's 250hp (186kW) engine with the cabriolet body. Porsche initially announced that 500 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian and South African market. None were imported to the US.

End of the line

In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realized that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S3 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944's final year of production was 1991; in 1992 the 968 debuted. The 968 was sold alongside the 928 through 1995, when both models were discontinued.

The 944 was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list from 1983 through 1985, and the Turbo made the list for 1986.

In 1984, Car and Driver named the 944 the "Best Handling Production Car in America."

In total 163,192 944s were produced between 1982 and 1991.


A total of 113,070 944s were made between 1982 and 1989, with 56,921 being exported to the United States.

944 Turbo (951)

A total of 25,107 944 Turbos were made, with 14,235 being exported to the United States.

* - Includes 1000 Turbo S † - Includes 625 Turbo Cabriolet. A different source, Jerry Sloniger's article in the October 1991 issue of Excellence, indicates that the factory built 525, of which 255 were exported to markets outside Germany.

"SP" designates a sport package option.


A total of around 14,071 944S2s were made between 1989-1991, with 3,650 being exported to the United States. 12,831 944S models were produced from 1987 to 1988, with 8,703 being exported to the United States.

944S2 Cabriolet

944 Special Editions

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