Vintage R&T Review: Porsche 944 – “Worthy of the Marque”

After the somewhat lackluster 924, which was originally conceived as an Audi and was widely felt to not be worthy of the storied name it wore, Porsche nailed it with the 944. It was of course just a better 924, but very significantly better, with a new lusty but smooth 2.5 L four, improved suspension tuning, flared fenders with wider wheels and tires, and other details. The bulging muscles on the fenders were a stroke of brilliance, as it lent the overly narrow and delicate 924 body a decidedly masculine profile. The 944 had been infused with a big hit of testosterone, and it was much the better for it.


The 944’s engine was essentially one half of the 928’s V8, comparable to what Pontiac and International had done to create fours from their v8s back in the early sixties. But those were both rough and tumble engines; Porsche paid Mitsubishi a license fee to use its patented twin balance shafts low in the block to tame the inherent bad vibes of a big displacement four. The result was the satisfying torque of a big four but none of the rough edges.


Power was right on the mark too: its 143 horsepower gave it very competitive performance in its class, besting even V6-powered Alfa GTV 6/2.5. And its handling was at the top of the class. A true Porsche.

The 944 was also something of a bargain when it first arrived, priced at $18,450 ($49k adjusted). Porsche would go on to sell almost 60k of them in the US before being replaced by the rather rare 968, after its price had escalated rather significantly over its production run. But in 1983-194, the 944 was a hot number.