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924 vs. 924S vs. 944: What’s the Difference?

In amongst the 944 series you find the 87-88 924S.  The 924S isn’t rare, isn’t a classic (yet) and isn’t all that popular.  The 944 fender flares – “hips” – give it a more aggressive look and the slightly wider track makes it seem more desirable.  I have had a lot of people say, “I just don’t like the body on the 924S…I like the 944 so much better.”

So other than the wider fenders, what are the differences in the two models?  Is there more to it than just fenders and track?  Of course there are other differences, but What are they?

Image result for porsche 924The early 924 is “the same thing, only different.”  Those without experience with the different models often ask, “can I put a 944 engine in an early 924?” or such questions about drive train.  As far as engines go, the short answer (and the long answer) is basically “no.”  You can transplant any engine into anything with the proper application of engineering prowess and cubic dollars, but as far as a bolt-in, they are just not compatible.  The front crossmember, steering, sway bar setup and engine mounts are just different and making the change doesn’t make sense.  (We have never been asked about putting an early 2.0 Audi 924 engine in a 944…wonder why?)

Image result for porsche 924 snailshell transThe early 924 used a version of the Audi transaxle in all cars except the 1979 model year. Prior to 1979, the 924 used a 20mm input shaft instead of the later 25mm input shaft, so the drive tube on the 924 NA cars is the smaller shaft that is incompatible with later 944 and 924S transaxles.  The 931 (924 Turbo) used the 25mm drive shaft, so transaxles in them share with the 061 transaxles of the early 944.

In 1979, the 924 got the “snailshell” transaxle with a different drive tube, different shift mechanism and different rear suspension.  These transaxles were not great, not well received and therefore discontinued after the 1979 model year, opting to go back to the Audi unit design.  This was carried forward to the early 944.

Image result for porsche 944 1984When Porsche debuted the 944 in 1982 (1983 model year), it was met with rave reviews.  People lined up at the dealerships to buy them.  The flared fenders, 2.5L normally-aspirated engine and sleek lines made it a hit.  The obvious fender flares gave it a more racy look than the previous 924, and the Porsche-designed 2.5L 4-cylinder engine replaced the underpowered 2.0L from the 924.  At about 150 HP, the new engine provided adequate power for the day, but the 50-50 weight distribution and four-wheel disc brakes were just what the doctor ordered.

The suspension and brakes were carried over from the 931.  The rear suspension used steel trailing arms and “banana arms” and use a different rear shock than later models.  The banana arms were redesigned in aluminum for the Series II redesign released in the middle of the 1985 model year and remained through the end of the series, including the 924S.

Image result for porsche 944S dashboardThe first major redesign in 1985 – designated as “Series II” cars – are typically called “eighty-five-and-a-half” cars.  These are easily identified by the new dashboard and console featuring an oval gauge cluster.  One of the major differences in the Series II cars is the transaxle mounting – the transaxle is held in by a single top-center mounting instead of the older double-side mountings from the earlier cars.  Changing transaxles between early and late model years can be a challenge.  The fuel tank in the Series II cars is larger and made of plastic, and the front control arms went from steel to aluminum with much more expensive ball joint replacement costs.

Even though the 924S was produced between 1987 and 1988, it kept the older style interior, dashboard and console.  The transaxle also retained the double-side mounting and steel gas tank from the earlier cars, as well as the steel front control arms and VW Rabbit lower bar joints.

Image result for porsche 944S engineAs the 944 Turbo (951), 944S with its dual-overhead-cam design, the 1989 2.7L engine and the 944S2 3.0L engines evolved, the models became more sophisticated and more expensive.  Limited slip differentials were offered in all models, although there was some mild gearing changes in the various model transmissions.  Cruise control, power door locks and other options were added over the years.

As with most Porsche models, the option list and differences increased as the model matured.  In fact, the 968 was originally going to be the 944S3, but when designers and engineers figured out that the new car would be vastly different, the designation “968” was assigned.  It was produced between 1993 and 1995.

While all three models produced between 1976 and 1995 share many parts, it is best to double check twice to be sure that there is compatibility between years.  As a side note, our 924S944.com 1982 924 race car has a 924S rear suspension, 924S front suspension with reinforced steel control arms, 944 transaxle with the 25mm input shaft and drive tube mated to a 924 2.0L engine and a 931 clutch – all legal.  Brakes are from a 924S with all brake line rerouted for the front-rear 924S brake system (instead of the cross-system brakes in the 924.)  While we have not been on track yet, it looks like a great combination.

A sad note: Fletcher Clark, the inventor of “Clarks Garage” at clarks-garage.com passed away in a diving accident in October 2017.  While he has not been involved in the site for the past decade, we have all used his site at one time or another – the “go-to” site for clear, common sense instructions that solve our problems.  The site will live on, so look for some changes and updates soon.

 

 

 

 

Kevin Duffy, Author and Chief Geek View All

Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.

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