When we talk about the early 924, a storied racing history doesn’t normally enter the conversation. The early car, produced for the U.S. between 1976 and 1982, was underpowered, noisy and couldn’t hold a candle to the 911. Race car? Be real.
- Did you know that at LeMans in 1980 a 2.0L Turbo 924 Carrera GTR was third in the GTP class, with an 6th place finish overall, and another finished fifth in class and 12th overall and another finished sixth in class and 13th overall. These were the only factory-backed Porsches in the race that year.
- Did you know that at LeMans in 1981 a 924 Carrera GTR won the IMSA GTO class, with an 11th place finish overall?
- Did you know that at LeMans in 1982 a 924 Carrera GTR won the IMSA GTO class, with an 16th place finish overall? And this was a BF Goodrich entry that ran on street tires!
Porsche also provided a “race car kit” in 1979 for the 924T (931) to race in SCCA D-Production. The 924DP (933) had a 185HP 2.0L engine, stripped body shell, factory roll cage, full suspension and everything except the fuel cell bladder, tires and windshield. For around $40,000, you literally got a race-car-in-a-box, ready to assemble and configure. (That’s about $120,000 in today’s money.) The D-Production 924 was successfully campaigned by Al Holbert and others all over the U.S. from Holbert’s shop in Pennsylvania. There were only sixteen kits produced by Porsche, all of which supposedly went to Holbert.
The 924 Carrera GT (937)
In 1980, Porsche declared their intention to go racing with a special version of the 931 called the 924 Carrera GT. With only 406 examples made for homologation, this rare Porsche had 210 horsepower, Fuchs wheels and a five-speed transaxle. The front fenders are the same as were used on the 944 when introduced in 1983 with flares on the outside of the rear fenders to accommodate wider track.
The Carrera GT used the 2.0L turbocharged engine with an added intercooler and increased compression to 8.5:1. While there were other small changes, the engine remained relatively similar to the stock 931 of the day. The transaxle installed was the “snailshell” G31, not the 016 Audi unit, meaning that the torque tube, shift linkage and rear suspension are different from the 016-equipped cars. The G31 was supposed to have been based on the 915 mechanicals and able to handle the higher horsepower and torque of the race variations of the Carrera GT.
The 924 Carrera GTP, GTS and GTR
In all, these three racing variations account for eighty-two total cars produced. Only six GTP cars were produced in 1980, three of which were special LeMans race cars. The cars had the 2.0L turbocharged 924 engine with a huge front-mounted intercooler and increased boost to increase output to 320 HP and 285 lbs/ft of torque. The engine used Bosch mechanical fuel injection and with a weight of 2050 pounds had a top speed of 180 mph.
Porsche built fifty-nine of the Carrera GTS in 1981 – but only fifteen were constructed with full-out Club Sport options. This ultimate street 924 GTS Club Sport included some race parts, but even in street trim had such things as an aluminum roll cage, lightened body, 935 seats, 911 Turbo brakes, and 280 horsepower.
The Carrera GTR was the ultimate 924 Street/Race Car in 1981. The GTR had larger flares, larger wheels and tires, improved brakes and a whopping 375 horsepower from the 2.0L turbocharged dry-sump engine. At $75,000, the GTR would have cost over $200,000 in today’s money, but what you got was a 180 mph screamer for the street, but in full race trim.
Fast forward to today – PCA Club Racing has SP1, SP2 and SP3 in conjunction with the 944 Cup as its most popular racing series. The 944 and 924S are high in fun and low in cost, especially when compared to other race series and classes.
The 944 and 924S continue a racing tradition in amateur racing all over the United States, with popular series in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The early 924 was produced for the European market until 1985, and even today enjoys great popularity across the pond.
So when someone makes a snarky comment about the “slow” 924, you will know that there is a race history.
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.