el jefe


I have a little money saved for my first Porsche. For every day short drives and monthly longer 6 hour drives. Which is the most fun 2.5 (normally aspirated) early or late, S or S2? Or maybe  a 220hp Turbo? In the UK the S seems quite good value, but is an S2 more fun? What about 924 S?

Do you prefer the peaky delivery of the S to the S2? Are the S2 brakes much better, because they seem a bit more expensive to repair?

I quite like the looks of the S compared to the S2, but some days I prefer the S2. Are the 16 valves more fun than the turbos on a winding road? 

Can the S brakes be upgraded, or are they good enough as standard. The S seems a bit underrated. I think one of the reviews said that the press car hadn't had enough miles to bed in, so the early reviews were bad.

I like cars that you can rev until they scream, to as high an rpm as possible, so I guess the S might be the one?
el jefe-

goddamn, that's a loaded question Adam. it's like women; aside from the superficials, it all depends on which one compliments your personality the best...that's the idealist caressing you. mechanical skills and how much paper you're comfortable spending dumps you out of the clouds and back down on the dirt with a thud. no sense in getting moony about a honey you can't handle or afford. realism is a sonofabitch.

let's jump in with two old girls I know really well; the 944S and the 968. both are very dependable, lots of fun and pretty rare. the S is smoooooth. she makes a perfect long distance runner with a 2,5 liter 4 that feels like a 90's Mercedes 3,0 straight six...in a word, elastic. her legs are very long; the higher the RPMs, the better she feels. she has great low end pull between say 1500-2500rpm with linear power delivery all the up the tach; she never seems out of breath. punchy, but not violently so. 

stock suspension with 16" phonies is pliable in less than perfect roads. there's a bit a roll when pushed hard, but every corner will amaze you just the same. rock solid, as if a monorail train, but don't lift off in fast tight corner in the wet, she'll spin her ass out. unlike the 911 where you'll spin towards the outside of the curve, the 944 will spin you towards the inside.

the 968 is a bit punchier, likes to shove you around and make some noise about it — she got grunt but'll smooth out at higher speeds. I'll side-step here to say that both cars are driven regularly and have been mechanical restored to the nuts and bolts. don't want you thinking that any negativity is the product of neglect. as I was saying, the '68 is a busy type-A kinda girl. the 3,0 liter 16V with Vario-Cam induced never-ending torque will make 944 Turbos work for it if they want to catch her. no lag in this one; throttle her in any gear and she'll kick and scream her way up to top speed in no time.

17s are meaty and promise a harsher ride in real world roads. the Cabriolet likes to give out muffled rattles of discontent on very bumpy roads. she'll (both cab and coupé) not wallow around the curves as much as the '44 on the stock set up; a small price to pay if she'll be your daily.
maintenance wise, the 16V requires a little more care. they both have chain driven intake cams that ride on plastic ramps that I prefer replacing every third timing belt change; they will break apart with age and cost you DEARLY, possibly the value of the car itself to fix the carnage. BUT, like timing belts, keep on top of them and they're as durable as a Merc diesel. all of the above is the same for an S2.I could go on, but I'm giving you the short of it. 

the 2,5 liter/8 valves are fantastic Porsches. lower stressed engines than the 16 valvers, relatively easy maintenance involving timing belts and balance shaft belts. the 85,5 and up will have the oval more modern dash and early suspension geometry (pre ABS) that will allow you to bolt on Fuchs wheels with their 23,3mm offset. the '87 and up will have the revised suspension geometry which requires 52,3mm offset wheels, aluminum suspension components (early '44s have steel VW wishbones). the 1989 was the only year to have a 2,7 liter engine, a little more torque down low a few more horses, but essentially the same as the earlier 8V. 

the 924S is a sweetheart. svelte little body looking very elegant. the engine is the same as the '44 8V but with lower compression so that it wouldn't embarrass the 944 when the accelerator is buried. 87-88 have the spring loaded timing belt tensioner (as with 1987-on 944) that still needs adjustment, but overall it's the most refined 924. the very last ones to leave the factory have the oval dash, but you'll need luck in finding them as they are RARE. 

the Turbo...unbelievable. great long distance runner that feels a little wooden in a normally aspirated 944 way below say 3000 revs but shoves your ass back once she spools up. the clutch job takes a bit longer to do since the exhaust is more involved to remove, superior gearbox (still Audi), the best brakes (even the 968 uses them) and really has all the best bits of the ENTIRE series (save for the Getrag 6 speed of the 968). lots to say about this old girl.
see the bottom image? that’s mileage from an S2…the other above it is from flüssiger Bernd Fuhrmann's 1993 968 CS—and they’re still truckin’. like anything else, it all depends on how it was looked after. low mileage is worth a shit if neglect was rampant, so are dealer maintained and stamped books…I wipe my ass with those documents. I’ve seen enough butchery committed by so called experts than in a backyard. it all comes down to your gut. take a good look at things, know what a properly sorted car is supposed to drive like, know what questions to ask the owner, and examine everything you can with the naked eye to convince yourself that the car you’re about to buy is one that will need the kind of work you expect and can handle.

the other piece of advice is to take your budget, and double it (at least 50% of it the immediate work). Looking to spend £10,000? have at least £5,000 at the ready. don’t look for a 15 grand car though unless a lot of the common issues have been sorted, you’re only adding more numbers to the bottom line. I don’t remember if you told me of your mechanical aptitude, but if oil changes and a tune up are the most you can do, you can easily learn the rest. you’ll save TONS of cash, know that the job was done RIGHT, and form an intimate bond with your machine.

so, the short of it? Yes these old girls can do the high mileage boogie…just make SURE the belts and those goddamn chain tensioner ramps have been changed. that’s a great first start!

Here’s some of what I did on our S and what you can expect to do sooner or later:

·        Timing belt/balance shaft/accessory belts
·        All rollers, including the one on the spring loaded tensioner
·        All front seals
·        Water pump
·        Oil cooler/oil pressure relief valve (OPRV) seals
·        Water hoses
·        Air/oil separator O rings (the plastic canister where the oil is poured into
·        Fuel pump
·        Fuel hoses/lines
·        Front/rear discs and pads
·        Clutch
·        All shifter bushings
·        Master and slave cylinders
·        Hydraulic fluid flush
·        Motor mounts
·        Radiator
·        Chain/chain tensioner ramps
·        Steering rack, tie rods (inner/outer), and rack bushings
·        EVERY power steering hydraulic line including reservoir (has an internal non serviceable filter)
·        Alternator
·        Starter
·        Odometer gear
·        All rubber suspension bushings
·        Oxygen sensor
·        Oil/filters/plugs/distributor cap/rotor/wires

the S got a lukewarm reception because it didn’t seem that much better performance-wise over the 8-valve…I disagree, opinions vary. the biggest beef was the price-to-performance ratio. 1987 wasn’t the best time to be frivolous with money so they were expecting a lot more bang for the buck; the press expected something closer to the S2.

you’ve gotta drive a well sorted one…shame we’re split by the Atlantic—I’d let you borrow our for the weekend. the brakes…shit; PHENOMENAL. they may not look pretty (floating calipers never do) but if they were good enough to pull a 928 down from 3 digits to naught in a hurry, they were good ‘nuff for the ’44. The only legitimate beef I could see is how the 8-valve and S looked EXACTLY the same save for the “S” on her rump and the “16-Ventiler” fender molding; they shoulda done something a little more to separate it from her winded sister, but money was tight in Zuffenhausen.
the best thing you can do is go out and drive each one you’re interested in. the S, compared to Porsche’s 3,0 fours in the S2 and 968, feels elastic. it slings forward with each gear rather than jolt, there’s no urgency as you go up through the gears; she’s a lil’ more relaxed…but she’s no slouch, you’ll leave LOTS of modern cars in your wake when taking off from the lights. not bad for a 30 year car.

as far as parts, go on Pelican or whoever you guys use out in the old country, and do a comp; brake pads, discs, clutches, radiators, shit like that. you’ll find the differences aren’t too great between the S/S2/ unless you’re packing option M030; the brakes are a bit more expensive. expect to pay more for Turbo parts as everything is “beefier.”

on the subject of brakes, when I compare our 968’s with the S, there’s no considerable difference save for the fact that the ’68 has ABS…and keep in mind that the 968 has the Turbo brakes. Porsche’s brakes are the best in the business, but there’s too many variables when comparing; condition of master cylinder, fluid freshness, brake hose age, how much material is left on the pads, disc thickness — an S with a completely refurbished brake system will outperform the tired and neglected system of a Turbo. now, if you take an S and a Turbo/968 to the track, the bigger brakes of the latter two will perform much better than the S.

on a winding road, the turbo will feel like an 8-valve until you hit 3000 revs and beyond, then it gets nervy with boost and will require much more skill to synchronize full boost and gears to match the curves… better bring a change of drawers with the Turbo, you’ll shit your pants when that boost is on and the road is unfamiliar. the S will be a better car for someone not familiar with 944 handling characteristics; the power is predictably linear as you reach higher rpms.

match the car to your temperament…are you a laid-back easy going kinda guy? maybe the sweeter S will suit your personality better. if you’re a type-A fucker with a short fuse and blue balls, the violence of the Turbo on full boost is your honey. if you’re a schizo sonofabitch like me and mood depends on the day, then you’re fucked because you’ll need both.


check out some links on the S we've written for a more intense headache...the 968 piece should have you hitting the bottle:

a quick primer on the 1987 Porsche 944S

the "not so bad if it wasn't for that one little fucking bolt" 944 clutch master/slave/hose replacement job

how to nearly double the asking price of a 968...


michel dupuis
02/17/2016 10:10

el jefe... been reading & driving porsche for at least 35 yrs(i know,) owned 3 968 ,well that is some great advice you just gave Adam ...keep it up ,love that FLUSSIG site !!!!

el jefe
02/17/2016 21:33

Michel, you keep our fires stoked! thanks for the encouragement!


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