t was 1975 when the first production
Porsche turbo started raising the collective
eyebrows of the world’s motoring
enthusiasts. Where 911s of the past had
been quick, this new car was in a
different league. Not only that, but it
combined its 260bhp engine with all the
creature comforts expected of a luxury car. In
doing so it set the standard for future Porsche
turbos, cars that would echo its blend of
speed, luxury, class and value.
Of course, that last part, the part about
value, is relative. Sure, compared to the
competition, a 911 turbo of any age is great
value for money but that doesn’t mean every
Porsche enthusiast can afford to own or run
one. Then of course there are those to whom
the concept of a rear-engined car just doesn’t
appeal. Either way, salvation is at hand in the
wedged shape of the 924 Turbo and its
younger, bulkier brother, the 944 Turbo, cars
that reaffirmed those key Porsche Turbo traits
of speed, luxury, class and value.
In this guide we will tell you what to look
for on each car, where their strengths and
weaknesses lie and the position they occupy in
today’s market place. On top of this we assess
what it is like to drive the cars today and ask
owners how such machines fair on a day-to-
day basis. First though, a bit of history.
The 924 Turbo was Porsche’s answer to those
who accused the company’s entry-level model
of simply being too slow. That car, with its
Porsche design and 1984cc VW/Audi engine
had won praise for its balanced handling and
attracted buyers in droves but the fact of the
matter was that with just 125bhp and 122lb ft
of torque on tap, it couldn’t offer the
performance enthusiasts expected.
Unlike the naturally-aspirated 924, which
was built entirely at Audi’s old NSU factory at
Neckersulm, the assembly of the KKK K26
turbocharger and four-cylinder engine complete
with newly-designed cylinder head took place
at Zuffenhausen. In its first incarnation, power
and torque stood at 170bhp and 180lb ft
respectively and catapulted the 924 into being
regarded as a proper sports car and more
importantly, a proper Porsche Turbo. On the
luxury front the 924 featured electric windows,
a Panasonic stereo, tinted glass and headlamp
washers. The Series Two cars built from 1982
onwards utilised a smaller turbocharger along
with DME engine management (for the first
time on a production Porsche) to yield a
further 7bhp from the two-litre engine.
The 944 Turbo was something of an
inevitability in the product range of Porsche’s
second crack at an entry-level front-engined car.
Launched in 1985 and with 220bhp and 243lb
ft of torque on tap the blown 944 was a serious
performance car, serious enough in fact to all
but match the contemporary 911 Carrera.
Unfortunately, at around £25,000, it also cost
the same as a 911 Carrera and this, punters
decided, was a step too far. The upshot of this is
that in recent years the 944 Turbo has come to
represent one of the best value used
performance cars available. The turbo’s 2.5-litre
four-cylinder engine was taken from the
standard 944 and was equipped with a new
design of KKK K26 turbocharger and an air-to-
air intercooler. Compared to the 924, it is a car
that feels modern both to drive and to live with.
Extras such as climate control and electrically-
adjusted seats were standard, while the all-
round solidity and reliability of the 944 makes
it viable as an only car, even to this day.
& 944 TURBO
997 Turbo a little too pricey? How about starting your Porsche
Turbo experience with one of these wallet-friendly alternatives?
Words: Chris Knapman Photography: Dominic Fraser
JULY 2006 79