By   July 25, 2013

Porsche 944

This is part nine of a ten part series about 10 Porsches that are currently within a reasonable budget, but that may become very valuable in the future. In part one we covered the Porsche 911 SC, in part two we covered the 911 Carrera 3.2, in part three we covered the 911 (993), in part four we covered the 911 (964), in part five we covered the 912, in part six we covered the 914, in part seven we covered the 928 and in part eight we covered the 968. In this post we will cover the Porsche 944.

Below is the list of Porsches that will be covered in other posts. Please note that the order of the Porsches in the below list is the order that they will be covered, but not necessarily the order of what is more likely to become valuable.

  1. Porsche 911 SC
  2. Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2
  3. Porsche 911 (993)
  4. Porsche 911 (964)
  5. Porsche 912
  6. Porsche 914
  7. Porsche 928
  8. Porsche 968
  9. Porsche 944
  10. Porsche 924

When the Porsche 944 was released to the U.S. market for the 1983 model year, it was praised by all of the automotive magazines. The car was on Car and Driver’s first 10 Best List. At the time it was even refered to as the best of the best by the magazine and the they thought that it would change Porsche enthusiasts aditudes toward the front engined sports cars.

While that last part never fully happened (although now a days many 911, Boxster and Cayman owners once owned a 944), it was a very good car in its own right. The earliest cars only offered 143 horsepower, but managed to go from 0 to 50 mph (remember this was the early ’80s) in 5.9 seconds versus 5.8 seconds for the 911SC of the time. Weight makes a big difference in the early cars as Road and Track was able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds with a base 1983 944, but in a test in 1984 they managed only a 0 to 60 mph of 9 seconds (The cars as tested were about 400 pounds in weight difference due to option differences).

The earliest car has esentially the same interior as the 924 that it replaced. In the middle of 1985 the interior was updated and the 1985.5 and later cars have a much more modern interior. In 1986 the 944’s performance took a real leap with the Turbo model. Depending on the year the Turbo car could rocked from 0 to 60mph in just 5.7 seconds. In 1987 the 944 S was released and offered more power over the standard car. Unfortunately, most of the extra power could only be felt at higher speeds and in normally driving the S model felt pretty much the same as the standard 944.

In 1989 the S2 model was released. This was powered by a 3.0 liter engine that provided nearly the same performance as the early turbocharged models, but without the turbo lag. The car was also later available as a convertible. The S2 is perhaps the best overall 944 available in stock form for everyday driving.

1988 was a big year for the Turbo model as the Turbo S model was released for just the one year. The car offered 250 horsepower and great performance and better handling. In 1989 the changes for the S model were put into the regular 944 Turbo.

The Porsche 944 has an image problem as it is often seen as the cheapest Porsche you can find. This is for good reason as early 944’s can be had in good condition for as little as $3,000. Later cars comand a bit more, but if you have about $10,000 you can even find a well maintained early 944 Turbo.

A 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S is probably the most likely model variant to become really valuable. These cars can often fetch $30,000 or more depending on condition. About a year ago one sold at auction for over $70,000, but this is the exception (and this high price may have been partly due to the millions of dollars that some of the other Porsches were fetching). After that you would have to put the ’89 Turbo as it has the same performance, but usually fetches a bit less that the Turbo S model.

Beyond these two models the most likely models to go up in value would be the 944 Turbo, S2 Cabriolet, S2 and S models. The standard 944 N/A cars are currently the cheapest and due to their larger production numbers they are the least likely to become very valuable.

Of these most people advise you to stay away from the early cars as the later cars have the better interior. Partly because of this if the standard cars go up in value it is very possible that the earlier cars would become more valuable than the later cars. Especially since the earlier cars go for very little money and are often bought by young drivers that are more likely to destroy the cars in an accident. Many more of these cars get the race treatment which makes finding a well maintained clean and original early car very difficult today. If these cars start to go up in popularity then prices for good original early cars could start to rise quite a bit.

The key in buying any 944 is to get a well maintained car. While the entry prices of one of these cars is relatively low, the cost to keep it on the road can be quite expensive for one with needs and depending on what needs to be fixed (just look into how much replacing the clutch costs). If well-maintained these cars are very reliable and because of their front-engine rear transaxle design they handle very well. All of these are a lot of fun on a windy road and the higher performance cars can keep up with all but the fastest new cars. As with any Porsche make sure to get a Pre-Purchase Inspection as it can save you a lot of money down the road.

If you are looking to buy one in the hopes that it will gain value, keep an eye out for a 944 Turbo S or an S2 Cabriolet. These two cars are rare enough that they are the most likely to go up in value. Many of these cars have leveled out in price, so as time goes on you can expect that they are all likely to go up in value, but for all but the higher performance models it is likely to be a very gradual change.

No matter if these cars go up in value or not, you will be driving a great fun car that, if maintained well, will stay on the road for as long as you keep it.

Let us know what you think of the Porsche 944 in the comments below.

Picture Source: Daniel J. Leivick

  • jhowell

    Good info. I have 1984 NA and an 89S2 and the difference in power is dramatic.

  • Packardrat

    I agree with your comments about the 944 S2 Cabriolets as a good purchase today, with only around 2400 total production for the US for the three years produced. If you can find one of the original (16) S2 Cabriolets imported in 1989 , they should soon become a worthy model to hang on to. Given the cars 50/50 weight ratio and good performance, hard to go wrong if you stay on top of the maintenance.

    • Jareth Belanger

      I’d have to argue against the cabrio’s value being better than the hardtop S2, as the S2s have become increasingly rare with the fact that they keep getting turned into track cars and wrecked. There nay have been 3600 of them built, but for every S2 hardtop I see onsale, I see 5-6 cabrios.

      • Packardrat

        Right now on autotrader it is about 50/50 in regards to 944 S2 Cabriolets verses coupes for sale at 5 each. The Cabriolets are all 1990 models which makes sense, being the highest production year at 1824 for the US. You will rarely see a 1991 Cabriolet for sale with 562 produced, and even less chance of a 1989 with only 16 imported to the US. I admit that the coupe is a better track car with less weight and more rigid body. in the long run I believe the Cabriolets will be more valuable, especially with more of them being parted out each year. I will hold on to both my 1989’s being first year models with lowest production. Bottom line is coupe or cabriolet, they are all well engineered cars that are a kick to drive.

        • Jareth Belanger

          Truth. I love my S2, my hope is to someday finish the engine I am building off car to swap in, 3.1L 16V turbo anyone?

          Personnally while value is nice and all, I don’t have a plan to ever sell mine. Unless it’s to move onto a new car which I can’t even think of yet.

  • metts666

    There is no mention of the most desirable, 944 turbo cabriolet with 250bhp. Only 625 produced of which 525 lhd and only 100 rhd. Currently less than 42 rhd remain registered in the uk. Not imported to the u.s but as a future classic am sure it will be sort after in the u.s too. Owned mine 5 years n a joy to drive.

    • David Hurth

      Yes that wasn’t on this story because it wasn’t available in the U.S., but it is defiantly one to get now while you still can.

  • Mel Nunn

    I bought my early 1985 944 for $26k 30 years ago now with 113k miles! I still enjoyed it immensely despite not having the needed 400 horsepower as my 2000 BMW M 5 has!! It had been mostly garaged or covered at work or home. It has original crystal green exterior with beige leather seats, power steering,electric windows,AC, but updated a performance chip, new Porsche racing leather steering wheel and 17 inch turbo style wheels/tires and xenon headlights! Granted that the newer Porsches are faster….they are unfortunately overpriced for most. I am tempted but “sticker shocked”. I do my own oil changes and replaced items within simple DIY and even brakes. Due to the rarity of 944, I am having a Porsche dealership do required/necessary mechanical maintenance (ie. Timing belt & water pump changed,etc) and some other issues… tie rods,steering fluid reservoir,etc. it will be some cost BUT will never cost as much of later model Porsches!! I ,myself, never going to drag race or track my cars but to be able to drive a Porsche 944 with its great cornering stability is precious. Owned it 30 years and now it has become a classic.

  • Brian

    Love the look of the 944 S2 but I’LL keep my 1988 944 Special edition,Best in Show Winner.Which is about to hit 35000 miles and that will happen on its way to its next concours.

  • Rick

    I’ve had a1984,86 coupes. Currently I have my third, a1991 S2 coupe (wrecked),&my fourth,a1990 S2 candidate 57,000 miles. Due to two knee replacements ,(clutch fatigue). I’d like to sale them. $10,000. If interested ,my phone# (828)668-0665. Rick.

  • Rick

    I’ve had a1984,86 coupes. Currently I have my third, a1991 S2 coupe (wrecked),&my fourth,a1990 S2 candidate 57,000 miles. Due to two knee replacements ,(clutch fatigue). I’d like to sale them. $10,000. If interested ,my phone# (828)668-0665. Rick.

    • reed

      Sorry put wrong number it is 828-668-0655. Thanks Rick

  • Dottie

    I have a standard 944 1987 and have had it for 15 years. I love my car and have had many admirers and offers as to whether I was interested in selling. The answer has always been “no” and the same goes for the future. It is lovely to drive short and longer journies and such a pleasure.

  • J-La

    3 years after David Hurth’s article…any thoughts about the value now of a well maintained 1991 944 S2, white, 70K miles?

  • Nicole Gregoris

    I recently bought my first Porsche 944. 1984 with 76,000 Miles. It is is decent condition and I am beyond excited to fix it up to her original glory. Any tips for the newbie?

    • David

      Maintenance wise make sure to keep up on timing belts and be gentle on the clutch (that one cost me about $1,200 to fix with the help of an ASE certified friend). Other than that, enjoy and just make sure to keep up on the maintenance and don’t let things slide.

      • Nicole Gregoris

        That seems to be the consensus. Thanks!