Here at 924S944.com, we are big fans of the rare 924S Special Edition released in 1988. It has all the things we love about these cars and it’s just unique enough to be special. We have a few of them here, so it is well past time to talk about these special cars, their history, and especially how to know if you found a good one.
Many Porsche models have had a “Club Sport” edition sometime in their life. These models were lighter, lower, and even faster than the stock car upon which they were based. The 2.0L 924 had several special editions, but since the 924S was only around for a couple of years, the 924S Special Edition was truly unique. There were 980 examples built worldwide, and 500 of so were sent to North America. It is one of the rarest production Porsches ever built, and it was produced for owners to go racing in Showroom Stock classes – and many were.
The 924S was the “entry level” Porsche in the mid-80’s. Advertised at $19,995, this “Under $20,000 Porsche” brought people into the showrooms around the country. Of course, the actual sticker price was closer to $25,000 with options, but Porsche sold a bunch of them in 1987 and into 1988 – almost 17,000, with a little over 9,000 to the U.S. (By comparison, a new 1988 Toyota Corolla would have set you back about ten grand.)
As for the 980 Club Sport cars produced, 500 with the option code M-756 came to the US in black only; 200 black and 50 white stayed in Germany; and the rest of the world got 113 black and 117 white cars with the M755 code.
The US cars were branded as “Special Edition” and spec’d out with manual steering, manual windows and locks, sunroof delete, passenger side mirror delete, power mirror delete, air conditioning delete, course control delete and radio delete. The standard 924S had 15×6″ wheels, but the SE’s got 15×6 front and 15×7 rear wheels with rear mud guards from the 924 Turbo. The front sway bar was 21.5mm and the rear was 20.0mm with stiffer front coils. They all had lightweight grey cloth upholstery on the seats and door panels and maroon carpets. Most North American cars were delivered with power steering, air conditioning and a Blaupunkt cassette radio added back in. A power sunroof and passenger mirror were offered as options.
For the rest of the world (ROW), black and white were the only colors available. Alpine white cars had grey/ochre interiors while the black cars had grey/turquoise flannel upholstery with turquoise piping. For the UK, right hand driver versions were produced – 37 black and 37 white for a total of 74 cars. UK cars got the “LeMans” side stripes.
The Special Edition: Today
In the past few years, the 944/924S series has shown a rise in popularity. There have been many articles saying that if you are going to buy a 924S, the Special Edition is the one to have. We agree, and we currently have four of them – Moe (above) and three others that are in the que to be restored. So here are some things to think about if you are looking at finding and purchasing a rare SE. Remember that the value in these cars is originality and respect for original design and equipment – to have high value, which can be two or three times higher than a “regular” 924S, it has to be complete and original.
The thin grey and maroon cloth interiors did not do well in the past thirty-two years. The cloth is thin and wore out from both use and sunlight in a rather short time. Even a well kept low miles interior did not last. So most of the SE’s that you will find out there have 1) covers on the seats, 2) different (black) seats or 3) reupholstery in a different cloth or vinyl. The interior is important to these cars, and having the proper grey cloth is important to the value and aesthetic of the car. A company in Germany, Werk924, periodically produces this cloth to reupholster the seats and door panels. It is, however, expensive – about eighty-nine euros per meter, and you need at least 5-6 meters to do one car. Then you have to get an upholstery shop to take on the job, which can be a bit tricky given the stripes and required angles in the seat. Plan on spending $1,600 or more to make the interior right.
Dashboards on almost every 924S are cracked. The SE is no exception. The common fix is a plastic dash cover, but if you want to go all-out, Werk924 will sell you a really nice new replacement without the cracks for…wait for it…about 1,400 euros. See Werk924.eu for more info on cloth and dashboards. (Internet tip: Use Google Chrome to access these German sites and Chrome will translate the content!)
As Henry Ford said about the Model T: “You can have any color as long as it’s black.” That is true for our North American SE’s. If it has been repainted to a different color, it ruins the value. North American SE’s have to be black. The body has to be straight, and if the paint has been damaged, repainting is needed to preserve the value. The top and hood take the brunt of the damage from the sun, trees, birds and cheap car covers.
Look for aftermarket or non-Porsche parts like mirrors and wheels. SE’s should have 15 by 6″ and 7″ phone dials. Anything else isn’t right. (Tires were originally 195-65/15. Wider tires are okay as long as you are not doing a scored concours.)
Make sure that the engine compartment is complete and to spec as delivered in 1988. Aftermarket air filters, colored plug wires and vacuum hoses, as well as other “enhancements” have no place in an original SE. Check the engine designation – it should be a M44/09 for a manual transmission car or a M44/10 for an automatic. Anything else is non-original and unacceptable. There were no “matching numbers” on these cars, but the engine model is important to ensure that you have the right 158 hp high compression engine.
Does everything work? Drive, turn, stop, go all have to function as designed. Look for “deferred maintenance,” to include belts, fluids, brake service, clutch replacement, and air conditioning. These can add thousands to the purchase price. These cars came with a rubber clutch disc that may be ready to fail. Clutch replacement is labor intensive and can be expensive.
So what is a good price for an SE? We see in some of these articles that prices of $15,000 to $25,000 are coming soon. Right now in 2020, a nice, straight SE with less than 100,000 miles, good paint, and complete with mostly original equipment but needing interior work will be a good buy at between $6,000 and $8,000. Deferred maintenance, high mileage, non-standard parts and other problems subtract from that number.
As an example, we paid $10,000 for Moe, our 25,000 mile SE with good paint, original interior and in good running condition. We did the belts, water pump, and brakes to be sure about everything. The interior needed the seats redone, which we did in the original cloth. The door panels needed nothing, so we left them alone. The speakers for the Blau were shot and were replaced, and the headlights were upgraded to Halogens. Moe is not for sale, but probably worth somewhere between $12K and $15K, with the value creeping up.
A Special Edition is great to drive and as we have found out it is a great conversation starter at club events and shows. Most people don’t even know they exist. They are struck by the interior design and the simple lines.
If you are looking for a “driver,” the SE may not be for you. They are rare enough that putting a few thousand miles a month on one may not be a good idea – just get a regular 944 or 924S and drive the wheels off it. (Our daily driver is our salvage-title, 55K miles 87 924S, Sparky.) But if you want a nice Porsche for club events and weekends, the SE may be for you. They are rare, increasing in value and a lot of fun for the money.
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.