History of the Porsche 944
Production of the Porsche 944 came about as a result of the general disappointment of the Porsche 924’s “weak” VW-sourced engine. Although there weren’t a lot of cosmetic changes between the 924 and the 944, the straight-4, all-alloy 2.5 litre engine was a major improvement.
Although a four-cylinder engine would not normally be the first choice for a sports car, Porsche chose it for its fuel efficiency and size. Size was an issue with the engine as it had to be fitted from below on the German production line. To compensate for the secondary forces that make a lot of four cylinder engines feel very harsh, two counter rotating balance shafts that ran at double the engine speed were introduced. As a result the engine felt as smooth as a six cylinder. A new interior and upgraded brakes and suspension completed the major changes made.
As the transmission/transaxle is located at the back of the car and the engine in the front, the car has almost perfect weight distribution between front and rear (50.7 % at the front and 49.3 % at the rear). Top speeds of 220 kph (137 mph) have been recorded, despite the makers only claiming that it would be able to reach a top speed of 210 kph (130 mph.
During the 9 years of production between 1982 and 1991, the Porsche 944 went through a number of changes, the first of which came about in mid 1985. The alternator was upgraded from 90 amp to 115 amp, the fuel tank was made bigger, new front and rear cast aluminium control arms and semi-trailing arms were installed, the transaxle mounting was revised to reduce noise and vibration. The wheels were changed from the “cookie cutter” style that were used in the earlier 944s were changed to what is know as “phone dial” style wheels. Heated and powered seats were offered as an option. The cars that were released with these changes were sometimes called the 1985B or 1985 ½ cars.
944 Turbo (951)
The 944 Turbo was introduced in 1985 as a higher-performance variation. Although it was released as the 944 turbo, it was designated as the 951 (952 for the right hand drive models) in the factory. It contained a turbocharged, intercooled version of the 944’s standard engine and was first car in the world to use a ceramic portliner to lower the temperature of exhaust gases. There were also a number of other revision including strengthened gearbox, improved aerodynamics, wider wheels, up rated suspension and optional transmission oil cooler. Over 30 component revisions were made to compensate the increased heat and internal loads.
The 944 Turbo S
In 1988 the 944 Turbo S was introduced with a more powerful 247hp (as opposed to the standard 217hp) engine. The power increase came from the use of a larger turbo housing on the exhaust side of the engine and a remapped engine computer. It has produced results of 0-100 kph in about 5.5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.9 seconds at 163 kph.
In 1989 the S was dropped from the name and all 944 Turbos were released with the S package as standard.
1986 saw the release of the 944 S (Super) with the naturally aspirated, 188-brake horsepower version of the 2.5 litre engine. It consisted of twin overhead camshafts and 16 valve heads. This was the first time the four valve per cylinder head system was used in the 944 series. Performance for this model was quoted at 230 kph (143mph) top speed and 100kph (62mph) in 7.9 seconds.
Other changes include the introduction of dual air-bags and anti-lock brake system as an option on the base model. In order to provide clearance for the optional ABS the wheel offset was increased from 23mm (0.9inchs) to 52mm (2.0 inches).
In 1989 the 944 S2 was introduced with a 208hp 3.0 litre engine. As well as coming out with the rounded nose and same rear valance as the Turbo model, the S2 was also available as a cabriolet. This was a first for the 944 series.
944 Turbo Cabriolet
The 944 Turbo Cabriolet was released on February 1991. It contained the 250hp engine from the Turbo S with the Cabriolet body.
The last year of production for the 944 was in 1991 when it was decided that so many changes had been planned whilst designing the S3 that it would just be better to design a completely different car. In 1992 the 968 was released for the first time.
Mr Brakes in Ballarat have a soft-spot for the Porsche 944. While we don’t get too many opportunities to service brakes, clutches, exhausts and suspension Ballarat of many Porsches, we provide the same level of care and passion to every vehicle we service.