A few weeks before Easter, the team at the Global Headquarters (my wife and I) realized that Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day were the same day. Knowing that the future staff of 924S944.com (grandkids) would be spending the better part of the day at the headquarters grounds and swimming pool, we set about the task of trying to find ways to take advantage of this coincidental pairing of dates…and play April Fool’s jokes on the kids. Then a thought struck me…I have a much larger group of kids upon whom I could play a joke.
The now-infamous “Porsche Announces 944 Reintroduction” was born.
Yes, it was all a joke. Most of you will now say that you knew it all along, but with the number of questions and emails and forum comments that I got – well, at least some of you got sucked in. “I had already talked to my wife about it” and “Maybe this came from the talk a few years ago about the Panamera Coupe concept” tells me that at least a few thought that it was real. The response did tell me that a reintroduction of the 944 may be a good idea for Porsche. After all, Ford, Chevy and Dodge brought back their most popular muscle cars…
So let’s look at this in a more realistic light. Porsche is definitely NOT bringing back the 944, and I cannot find anything definitive on a Panamera Coupe. But what if you really did want a “new” 944? We don’t want the fancy electronics, the over-the-top luxury items, or even more than two cupholders. We just want a fun, economical sports car that can bring groceries home and be practical enough for a road trip without high maintenance costs. Well, you can have it. It’s already out there.
First, let me say that if you have no mechanical skills and don’t own a toolbox with more than two drawers, what I am about to lay out for you is probably not feasible. Paying others to work on your older car is cost-prohibitive with shops charging $100 or more an hour. If you have average car fix skills and some tools, there is little that you cannot do on a 944.
- Step One: Find the best 944 that you can that meets your needs, likes and budget, get a pre-purchase inspection by someone who knows 944’s, and buy it as long as it is a good deal. If your mechanical skills are “under development” or your toolbox is a little deficient, stay with the earlier models and stay away from turbo, S or S2 models. A compression check and leak down test will tell you volumes about the engine, a look for leaks, cracks, rust, missing parts or components will tell you if the car has had a good life or a rough one. (Don’t buy the rough one.)
- Step Two: Take an inventory to see what it needs to make it showroom perfect. Understand that we are not making a show car here – we just want everything to work as designed and delivered from the factory, and we want to repair or replace everything that could break or wear out. This includes belts, water pump, engine seals, as well as clutch, radiator, hoses, brake rotors and calipers, tires, and all fluids. Don’t forget interior upholstery and carpet, trim, and dash.
- Step Three: Total up the cost to do all repairs and upgrades. Don’t gasp too loud – it disturbs people.
- Step Four: Create a plan of action and execute it to get your new car.
Rebuilding/Refurbishing/Restoring a 944 or 924S may sound like a really stupid idea. But think about it this way. Let’s say that you buy a new car for commuting to work every day, and you pay $28,000 for it. After five years, you have put 80,000 miles on it, but you haven’t had to pay a lot of attention to it. Gas, oil changes, maybe the brakes, and tires…that’s about it. You decide to get something else, and you trade in your $29K car for a generous $4,000 trade allowance. You spent $25,000 plus maintenance to get you to and from work, an occasional trip to the beach or Disney, and that’s about all.
So instead you buy a 1987 944 naturally aspirated coupe. It runs well, has a solid service history, never been hit, but has a tired interior, nasty paint and wheels, and generally needs some TLC. So you buy it for $6,000. You get it painted – not show-car paint, but decent prep/base coat-clear coat paint – for $3,000. You do the belts, water pump, hoses, plugs and cap, and change all fluids, and install four rebuilt calipers and a new master cylinder, with pads and rotors. You replace the clutch master and slave. You pull the CV joints, inspect and grease. New fuel filter, checking lines for cracks. You clean everything mechanical, get the wheels painted and put new tires on it.
The interior needs carpet, seat reupholstery, some renewed switch gear, and a cover or cap for the cracked dash. Details are critical because you don’t want to drive an “old car.”
So let’s assume that you have spent an additional $10,000 on your 944. Are you nuts? The car is now worth maybe $9,000! Why would I buy a car for $6K, then put another $10K in it? I would be upside down by $7,000. Crazy…like a fox.
Your 944 is now a head-turner, getting 25 mpg every day. It runs well, shifts well, and everything works as designed. In your mechanical and cosmetic restoration, you have touched nearly everything in the car. And you own it for less than half of our mythical $39,900 2019 944.
Your commuter Toyodai for which you paid $29,000 and watched it put you in the red by 86% in five years…well, your $17,000 944 is not going to depreciate. If you keep up with the repairs and maintenance, value will eventually surpass costs and you will be in the black.
My 1988 924S M030 restoration project will probably end up costing me somewhere around $11,000 by the time I am done. It will be a driver, not a concours queen, but it will look good and act as designed and built in ’88. The original engine is freshly rebuilt; black paint is fresh and well done; Nice but used factory carpet looks great; original door panels are good, and the seats are being reupholstered with the original grey-and-maroon cloth. I even have a new factory dash. The speedo has been repaired so that the odometer actually works. New AC compressor, new alternator and battery, cleaned-and-scrubbed fuel tank, original transaxle with new CV joints. New headliner. All done to make it as delivered in ’88.
I will drive my car almost every day, and I will take it to club events and a few shows.
And when it is done, I start on my next one – an old project that will actually get some attention now – 924DP recreation.
You see, I retire in a month. More time for Porsches.
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.