words by pablo deferrari

editor's note:

in light of some confusion over the 1988 924 S Special Edition, here's the article I wrote on this car for German Cars for Sale Blog. incidentally, the UK had their own version in 1988 called the "Le Mans" and the Spaniards had an even rarer one called the Spirit. they're considered by many as "Club Sports," but weren't officially recognized as such.

here's the link to the Spirit we did a few months back.
I have a thing for women with wide hips.

The cars that I have in my collection reflect this. The 993, 944, and 968; each of them sensually wide at the flanks giving them a sort of feminine muscularity you seldom see on other marques.

I also have a thing for narrow hips on the fairer sex…not taking a preference for one or the other is a testament to the dual personality that’s typical of all Geminis.

You see, even though the wide hips suggest strength, power if you like, the narrow ones speak of nimbleness, agility; a sort of lightness that gives her edge in all things calling for performance. This is precisely why I fell in love with this 924S.

This is not just any old 924S, however; no, no…this one is a very special version of which only 500 were made for the US market and they’re all clothed in black. In fact, very few Porschephiles know that such a version exists, yet here is one that’s got the numbers to prove it…but let me give you a little primer on the S before getting a bit more intimate with SN450529.

In 1980, while the foundation for the 944 was being poured, it had been decided by Porsche’s key figures to launch the new car using the 924’s narrow body design with an engine completely of their own design, the 2,5 liter lump. This was the ingredient that many enthusiasts thought the 924 was missing and should’ve had all along; history, though, played out differently since money was tight in Zuffenhausen and the 924 was originally supposed to be Volkswagenwerke’s new sports car design by Porsche.

This criteria, amongst many others too numerous to write about here, were the reasons why the 924 had more VW DNA than Porsche. Nevertheless, this was one of the most successful Porsche ever produced…it was exactly the right car for the right time because without it, Porsche would’ve certainly floundered.

Since its launch in 1975, Porsche knew that they couldn’t possibly keep handing its enthusiasts the same car putting out the same 125bhp for very long. Remember that Porsche offered this very car for 10 years without any changes in power. And although they launched the Turbo version, known as the 931, in 1978 two years after the normally aspirated 924 was introduced, the car was still struggling for acceptance by Porschephiles the world over.

"Chances were that the guy that made just enough to afford a 924, was priced right out of the market."

The problem was this; by 1983, the 924 Turbo was finished, the last of them earmarked for the Italian market. The bigger problem lied in their biggest share of the market, the US where the Turbo stopped coming to our shores in 1982 along with the normally aspirated 924. Porsche was relying too heavily on the 944 to fill the entry level void left by the 924 in the US. Sales for the new 944 were robust, but at base price of USD$18,980 which translates to USD$45,400 in today’s money, it was nearly 10% more than the outgoing 924 which was priced at USD$41,725. Chances were that the guy that made just enough to afford a 924, was priced right out of the market. You had to be very good at your job to get a 10% raise in order to climb up the next rung.
Europe didn’t have this interruption. The 2-liter Audi-engine 924s were still being made alongside the 944 until model year 1985. That same year, Porsche decided to drop in their new 2,5 liter motor that the 944 had into the 924. This was the car engineers thought the 944 should have been, but CEO Peter Schutz liked the flared look he saw on the 924 Carrera GT and decided that the 944 should have the same look.

So what was thought to be the 944 turned out to be the 924S, or Super offered in 1985 as model year 1986…but the 2,5 had to be de-tuned to risk embarrassing the 944. This was done by lowering the compression ratio from 10.6:1 to 9.7:1 to back the power off from the 944’s 163bhp to 150bhp. Had they left the engine alone, the 924S would’ve been not only faster, but more economical than the 944 because of its narrow figure.

The 924S could also run on a lower grade fuel and still pack nearly the same power in catalyzed form where the 944 would’ve lost around 8bhp due to our restrictive regulations. This leveled the playing field between the two and were it not for the 924S’ skinny tires, it would’ve bettered the 944 on the twisties.

While Europe and ROW enjoyed the new 924S, we’d have to wait until model year 1987 to get ours. When we did, it was obvious how much more superior it was to the 2 liter version offered before. Not only did the M44.07/08 (07 for the manual gearbox, 08 for the automatic) produce 25bhp more, it packed a bagful of torque from 130 lb/ft across the range peaking at 144lb/ft at 6500rpm.

Interestingly, the base price in 1987 was USD$19,900 for the 924S compared to the USD$25,500 tag on the 944…still not cheap, but when compared to today’s money it equates to USD$ 41,735 for the S and USD$53,480 for the 944. Only 6,947 were imported into the US.

Things changed for the 1988 model year, the vintage of this particular car. The 924S got a 10bhp bump with engine Typ M44/09 which meant it was 3bhp away from the running right up the 944’s trumpet. Pumping out 160bhp gave it a tested top speed of 137mph, naught to sixty in 7.4 seconds, and 0-100mph in 20.1 seconds, nearly 1 second faster than the 944.
From the very beginning, the S got the 944’s underpinnings too, like the 5-stud hubs, brakes, aluminum rear trailing arm, and 6J X 15 front and 7J x 15 rear phone dial wheels. Also offered throughout its life was the 3-speed automatic that either no one really wanted or were too embarrassed to admit to having. Curiously, the more desirable 911esque oval dashboard first seen on the ’87 944s remained proprietary to the 944…the 924 got stuck with yesterday’s mashed potatoes, the aesthetically challenged squared off thing.

Out of the 2,190 924S models made however, 500 of them were set aside. The wizards at Zuffenhauen decided to make the perfect sleeper…the 924S Special Edition opition M756, or SE if you like to commemorate the 250,000th 911 made and specifically made for the US market; this is our car.

Let’s start from the ground up, shall we? 
They not only added the lusted-after  M030 suspension made up of Koni dampers and stiffer springs which dropped her a bit (10mm in the front and 15mm in the rear to be precise), but they threw in 23mm front and 20mm rear sway bars too. At the same time, they deleted the heavy AirCon unit, power windows, and power door locks. They also ditched the flag mirrors that weighed 3.5lbs each and replaced them with the same mirrors found on the 924 Carrera GT and 944 Turbo Cup cars…they weighed just over a pound; even the seat and door panel fabric was made of a light grey/burgundy striped flannel-like material to save weight—the carpet was even lighter for chrissakes!

Of course, you could be a sissy and add all of the electrical bits powering things that required muscle, the AC, sunroof, the passenger side mirror, power steering, radio, cruise control…you get the idea. What this car was, for lack of a better term, was a Club Sport…why they didn’t call it that is down to the marketing department because if they did, PCA (Porsche Club of America) might have recognized this very special little car as such.  I suppose because it didn’t scream its individuality like the 968 Club Sport or the G-series 911 Club Sport with a sole purpose for Club Sport activities, it couldn’t be labeled that way. Lack of uniformity in options? Maybe. Too similar to the other 924Ss? Possible…whatever the reason, it’s irrelevant at this point.
So what’s the story with this car? Well, I’ll tell ya that it’s been offered for sale a couple of times before, this time it has a “Buy it Now” option of USD$13, 876…why they didn’t round it to the fives makes little sense. Anyway, it’s advertised incorrectly as an ’87…the 10th character in the VIN is a J, and that tells us that this is in fact an ’88; besides, the SE wasn’t offered in 1987.

The VIN reads WP0AA0929JN450529, a later build with the invoice dated August 28, 1987 cradling engine number 46J02007, Typ M44/09 mated at the other end of the torque tube to a manual 5-speed gearbox Typ G016J stamped with serial number QK24087…had the first two digits of that serial number been 7Q, we would’ve had LSD option M220. What, you may be asking, do the other five numbers mean? I’ll tell you…the “24” is the manufacturing day, the “08” is the manufacturing month, and the “7” is the last digit of the year. I love German logic…

It rolled off the floor of Audi’s Neckarsulm plant on Continentals wearing a shade of black code A1, and interior trim RY labeled “All leather/Checked Velour Trim.”  It was slapped with a 2-year new car warranty that began on April 28, 1989 and ended on April 29 1991, that’s when the varnish warranty kicked in and it ended a year later on April 28, 1992. From then on, the corrosion warranty guaranteed the skin from April 28 of ’92 until April 29, 1999…it also had an emission warranty from 29th of April, 1991 running out on the 26th of April, 1996 or 112,000km.
Right… what did the original owner decide he absolutely needed put into the car, here are the option codes:

M030 – Sport Type Running Gear

M160 – Blaupunkt “Charleston” Radio

M360 – Splash Guard Corner Pieces

M526 –Door Panels Cloth

M573 – Air Conditioner

M650 – Detachable Roof, Electrical

M657 – Power Assisted Steering

M756 – Special Model 88

M990 – Seat Covers Front Cloth/Cloth Leatherette

Well, listen…at least the first owner decided he or she could muster rolling up the windows and pulling up the door locks, and it looks like the passenger side mirror was added after the fact.

Look at this car though…how can you not fall in love with the thing? The Design 90 wheels, like I mentioned to Paul, where used on the later 944 Turbos, the 964, and the 928, and they look absolutely perfect on the 924…first time I’ve seen them used on one.

The “924 S” silver decals on the door, part number 477 853 625E, calls for one in the parts catalog that belongs on the right rear below the hatch…the owner decided to order two more and put them on each door; tastefully done, but incorrect as the car didn’t leave the factory that way. Ferry’s signature behind the shifter is another custom addition that I can’t be kind about, much like the 993 design front seats that show electrical adjustment, but plug into nothing.
Nevertheless, the car is absolutely beautiful…really, it is. It looks to have been owned by a fellow Porsche Club member, and judging by the “fish eye” mirror stuck on the driver’s side mirror, he or she must have been an older gentleman or gentlelady.

What makes me happy to see is a five figure asking price on what many consider the whipping boy of the Porsche klan. This is a good sign for other owners of the model who take absolute pride in keeping one of the best entry level cars Porsche has ever made. Although a tad high according to Hagerty’s valuation where the price nears a “Condition 1” car, a concours category, it doesn’t seem to take into consideration that this was a Special Edition car worth a bit more than its bretheren…it even came with a commemorative medallion to assert its pedigree. Let’s not forget that this car cost, without these options, USD$23,100—that’s USD$48,450…yea, I know what you’re thinking and it was worth every red cent.

Sadly, I’ve seen some of these SEs advertised on Craigslist in pretty shabby but drivable condition for something like USD$1200…that’s a damn shame because that’s essentially a 97.5% decrease, almost comparable to a 1995 Ferrari 456 GT that went out the door for USD$245,000 and is worth about USD$59,000 in very good condition—nearly an 80% discount.

If you’re considering this baby, be mindful of the timing belt and balance shafts and ensure that it was tensioned properly because these later engines had the spring tensioner that still need to be tensioned. Check that the water pump has been replaced as it’s driven by the timing belt, that there’s no leaks from the front of the engine or the sides of the block where the balance shafts bolt up.
Make sure the torque tube (the driveshaft riding on four bearings inside a rigid tube that connects the engine to the gearbox) is noise free, as is the gearbox and synchros, along with the clutch which, if original, had the rubber center that can literally disintegrate. Also check for power steering leaks at the lines and the rack…if the bellows are torn, you can kiss that rack bye-bye.

Those items I mention to check are classic wear items that are notoriously expensive to fix with your own free labor, and aneurism inducing if you pay a shop to do the work…it nearly costs the price of the car to do it yourself, that should tell you something.

Otherwise…now’s the perfect time to collect one of Porsche’s most delicious, well kept secrets that’s sure to appreciate well before they put you in a wooden overcoat.

highball!
 


Comments

Porsche Passion
05/08/2015 10:22

Nice write up and info ! These cars are a lot of fun to drive and own! Keep up with the required maintenance and you will have no major issues. Most of these cars along with most 944's unfortunately have ended up in the hands of people with no money and knowledge to properly maintain these cars and many keep ending up in junkyards and as parts cars. That is good for those of us still holding on to the gems of 944 and 924 bloodline. Hang on to your clean posession and and soon enough the values will go up ! Plus a true enthusiast who knows what they want will pay top dollar for a clean one. The 944 turbo prices keep climbing in 2014-2015. clean maintained examples are getting harder to find so it is driving the value up as an entry collector Porsche car. In 1989 Motor trend magazine tested the 944 turbo and called it the best performing handling sports car they have ever tested !!! What did this car sell for???

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Anthony Malangone
01/03/2017 18:49

To whom this may concern: Is there anyone that can share with me where I might purchase the Porsche 924 S special edition 1988 commemorative medallion? And the Automotive repair manual? And the sunroof cover for a 1988 Porsche 924 SE Le Mans? Thank You so much

Reply
el jefe
01/04/2017 19:24

Anthony, thanks for dropping us a line. I usually find the medallions on ebay Germany (ebay.de). type in "Porsche 924 Münzen" and check OFTEN. I would also do a Google search using the same query...be patient, they do turn up. Same goes for the sunroof bag ("retaining pocket" in Porsche parlance)...it's one size and model irrelevant meaning they work for any 924/944/968. the part number was 477 871 027 which then superseded to 94472181100. they were offered in 05T black or 4RB brown; ebay (US or any other country) always one for sale...there's one now for USD$50.96 on US ebay. I have a manual for you, email me at: pablo.deferrari@flussigmagazine.com.

Steve Croy
01/18/2017 13:40

Hello , very interesting read thank you, I live in New Zealand and are currently looking at a 1986 Porsche 924 S it is very tidy same older owner for 20 years 141 kms red with black interior but it is a auto, They are not appreciated here but the 911 ( anything air-cooled ) has gone thu the roof and I have watched it happen without getting one, I can own this car for $7999.99, it wont be a daily user but a toy weekend drive. The standard 924 as seem to have given them a bad name with the Audi 2.0 but correct me if I am wrong the S with the 2.5 Porsche engine is a completely different thing. just not sure about the auto... but I have not seen another S here and as I said this car is very tidy and tight. would love your thoughts

kind regards
Steve
classic Porsche fan

Reply
el jefe
01/19/2017 19:39

the 924S is a fantastic car, Steve, and if this car seems the business and you can live with an automatic, then it sounds like it's a car worth your consideration. the manual will offer a more connected driving experience and that might be reason alone to hold out for one. I've lots to share (what to look for, technical specs, reading material, etc.) regarding these 924s, so if your interested, drop me a line at: pablo.deferrari@flussigmagazine.com.

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