To Turbo or Not To Turbo…

We all watch the various blogs, social media posts and other outlets (like this one) that deal with our beloved Porsches.  When we need to look up something, though, we go to the Altar of Google, since face it – Google knows everything.  So in searching for nuggets of information, I stumble across forum posts where people talk about 1) the low power output of the 944 8v engine, 2) the desires to install forced induction and 3) the desire to dump their 944 Turbo due to high maintenance costs.

As is normally dangerous but inevitable, it got me to thinking.

Image result for porsche 911 carrera 88When our cars were new, their 150 +/- HP wasn’t bad.  A 911 Carrera in 1988 with the 3.2 engine was only 217 HP and 195 torques.  The 1988 Corvette 5.7 L L-98 was 240 HP, and the 5.0 Mustang GT was 225 HP.  A Toyota Corolla was flying down the road with 74 HP.  So 150 was pretty good power when coupled with great brakes and great handling

Today things have changed.  A lowest price 3.0L flat six in a 911 makes 420 HP, but other 911 models can make up to 700 HP.  The 2018 Corvette 1LZ gets 650 HP out of its supercharged 6.2L V8.  The 5.0 V8 in the Mustang GT is 460 HP, and the Toyota Corolla has almost doubled to 132 HP.

No wonder we are looking for more power.  We have been left behind.

Image result for money stacksRemembering that our cars are thirty years old, we have few options.  Not to knock the turbos, but they are getting old, too.  I have never owned a 944 turbo, but the stories that owners have related make me think that unless they have been meticulously maintained, bringing one “back to life” can be an expensive proposition.  Just the hoses, plenums, turbo hardware and exhaust fittings can break the bank of all have to be replaced or rebuilt.

Turbocharging or supercharging a 944 NA engine is just not done.  There are no turn-key kits that I know about, and the expense and engineering involved is just not cost-effective.  Think of it this way – a turbocharged engine has a lower compression ratio when compared to an NA engine so that when the boost is on, the bottom end of the engine isn’t scattered all over the street.  With NA engines at 9.7 up to 10.2 compression, just throwing forced induction on it can be problematic.  And larger turbochargers on a 944 Turbo (951) can add power at the expense of drivability at the least and a blown head gasket or engine at the worst.

Image result for motorwerks racingMotor Werks Racing in Cumming, Georgia is putting Audi 1.8 Turbo engines in Porsche 924S and 944 cars.  They have three stages of tune  with the Stage One engine producing 275 HP with 150 pounds of weight saving.  I don’t know anything about pricing, but it is an alternative.  They do not offer conversion kits; only in-house conversions on your car. Rennlist and our other favorite forums are full of discussion threads on various Audi engine transplants into the 944, including VW 1.8 and 2.0 turbo transplants.

Image result for v8 in a porsche 944Then there is the LSx transplants – for another time.  Suffice to say that I saw a 944 in Houston a couple of years ago with an LSx engine and twin turbochargers making a reported 650 hp at the rear wheels.

Modern cars today have more power than our stock NA 924S and 944.  (My mother’s V6 Ford Escape was 200 hp.). I have accepted that fact and I have made my peace with it.  But that 1.8T Audi conversion sounds so cool…

What have you done to get more power out of your 924S or 944?  Comment below and let us know.


Author: Kevin Duffy, LLC, DeLand, FL

After retiring from a career in Law Enforcement, Kevin Duffy turned his attention to one of his passions, Porsche 944's and 924S's. He owns LLC in DeLand, FL, rescuing and restoring forgotten Porsches, bringing them back to a useful life. He is especially interested in the rare-but-beautiful 924S Special Edition. He can be found at Porsche Club events, including track days, tours and shows, as well as other car-focused events around the southeastern United States.

3 thoughts

  1. I supercharged my 944 and promptly blew the motor.(Cracked rings) So I went and bought an 86 Turbo and now I’m going broke trying to bring it back to life. What you read is tru. These are great cars but stay away from turbos, buy an S2 or 968.

  2. You didn’t mention the 924 Turbo, a simpler car with lower running costs than the 944 Turbo. The 924 Turbo is tunable, with a European wastegate boosting power to 177 and an intercooler setup adding more. Those are cool cars. I owned one years ago. Instixk form, though, the 924S is a better car than the 924 Turbo.

    Don’t forget the 944S2, and which takes all of the suspension and brake upgrades of the 944 Turbo without the turbo lag. The engine feels very luxurious and modern to me. I would take one if those over a Turbo.

  3. There’s 3-4 944’s with LS Swaps in my area (Tampa, FL), of course a Turbo S’s & other stock trim-level cars, but also a guy who Auto-X’s in the 2.0-2.5liter under Classes and he has a K-series (Honda K20) in his, a 200hp i4. He was deciding to stay all-motor and go with the Honda s2000’s K24 (2.4l) or boost his K20. I’ll tell you the LS’s were fun period, obviously faster/more power, but the K-swapped 944 felt like a race-car, even though it was slower in straight lines, it was so light and with 200hp NA I can only imagine what some boost would do to his times. He probably is up there with the MX5/Miata guys, I’d imagine that’s what a lot of the VW/Audi Swaps are like. He & his crew were just Honda guys so they probably had the motor and had the confidence to mount it etc.

    My point is, don’t back out of the 944 Club just BC you can’t find a Turbo S and want more power. If you save up, or have the income–there’s other paths to putting more power under your hood of your 944. And as much as I love seeing people keep OEM/Stock cars mint, @ this point I’m happy anytime I see a 944 Chassis in good shape regardless of what mods they do to it. (and just hope they’re done tastefully, lol.)

What do you think?