Well gang, I really did it this time. I recently acquired a new project. Attached are pictures of the 1987 Porsche 944 that I recently purchased off of Craigslist for the “get it the hell out of my driveway” price of $600. In all honesty, the purchase actually took place last April. Please, hold your applause while I give you the details. You see, this gem had been sitting in the same spot, uncovered for - get this - 12 years. It seems that the previous owner parked it in 2003 due to a leaking water pump and it hadn’t moved since. Now you’re thinking, “you should’ve paid him $600 to keep it”.
My first experience with the 944 was that a kid from a relatively well to do family in my hometown got one as his first car. I don’t think he got it new, but being this was the late 80’s, it couldn’t have been more than a few years old. I remember asking him once how he like the Porsche. He replied that it was a piece of crap. It seems it spent more time in the shop than it did being useful transportation. It also seems that his had recently managed to snap the timing belt and had to be shipped off to Jacksonville as no local wrench could or would touch it. Thus, my first impression of 944s is that they were crap even when relatively new.
This is an impression that I kept over the years and the Internet has certainly done nothing to dispel the 944's reputation for unreliability. On Craigslist, they can be found in all states of (dis)repair with the most expensive non-turbo examples rarely cracking the $10k mark. I don’t know how many 944s Porsche actually produced, but based strictly on local Atlanta Craigslist ads, it must be somewhere around 4 million. It’s funny how some cars seem to survive like cockroaches and some just disappear even though they were made in substantial numbers. Try finding a decent 70’s Ford Capri for instance.
My initial impressions of the car are that it is relatively well built – the doors close with a nice thunk even after sitting 12 years. It is larger than expected – makes the 911 look small (see pic) and holy hell is it complicated. A front crankshaft reseal requires two seals, the balance shafts require three seals each and the camshaft has four - sheesh. And, that’s just to reseal the front. Given frequent service intervals, the expense of parts and the complexity of the all-important water pump/timing belt change, no wonder these things languish in driveways for decades. Honestly, based on the complexity and the sheer number of parts, I don’t see how Porsche managed to produce the 944 for less than the 911. The 911 is a much simpler, less needy machine.
I had originally intended to let you follow along with me on my adventure with this car, but I spent so much time on the car that I couldn’t be bothered to post anything. Thus, what I will be doing is more of a retrospective of the last 10 months.
See you soon.