The Porsche 924 was produced from 1976 through 1988 and served as a replacement for the 914. The 924 is credited with aiding Porsche in recovering from financial difficulties by creating a revenue stream that helped with development costs in the 911. After a long and illustrious career, the 924 was replaced by the 944.
The history of the 924 leads straight to Volkswagen, the company that commissioned Porsche to design and build the vehicle. Originally to be called the VW Type 477 and known internally as the EA435, it was an attempt to build a car using parts that already existed and easily attainable by Volkswagen. The styling was the result of Dutchman Harm Lagaay. The design was wedge-shaped with the front headlights concealed in the hood. By placing the engine in the front and powering the rear transaxle, 50/50 weight distribution was achieved.
Due to concerns about the rising oil crisis and finacial difficulties, Volkswagen decided to cancel their support of the project. Porsche bought the design for $60 Million (USD) and produced the vehicle in the VW/Audi factory located Neckasulm. Due to low cost of producing the car, it quickly began making a profit. In the United States, the car sold for $9,395.
Throughout its life-span, aesthetic and mechanical improvements were made to the 924. A Porsche designed four-speed gearbox was used to drive the 2 door, 2+2 sports car. Drum brakes were used in the rear while solid discs were placed in the front. Vented discs were later used to improve braking. The water-cooled engine, a first for the Porsche Company, was mounted in the front and powered the rear wheels. The 95 horsepower engine was a Volkswagen 2 liter engine that had been used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen Van. Up to this time, most Porsches were air-cooled with rear or mid engine configuration. An optional 5-speed manual gearbox and sport suspension, including springs, torsion bars, shocks, struts, and swaybars could be purchased to improve the performance of the 924. There was also a Comfort and Convenience package that included AC, power mirrors, power windows, 3-speed automatic, and an upgraded stereo.
The first limited-edition 924 was labeled the Martini Edition and factory order number M426. Also known as the Championship Edition, it was a celebration vehicle of Porsches racing triumphs. It was distinguished by front and rear sway bars, leather covered steering wheel, red-white-blue Martini Rossi striped on the outside and on the headrests, white alloy rims, black vinyl seats, and red carpet. The vehicles were built from December 1976 through March 1977.
In 1978 the Limited Edition was introduced followed by the Sebring edition in 1979. These specialty vehicles were attempts by Porsche to improve the car's appeal.
In 1978, the 924 Turbo was introduced. The left-hand drive versions were called 931 while the right-hand drive versions the 932. Using the Audi engine with a new exhaust and intake system, the turbocharged version produced 170 horsepower. To help the turbo breathe, air intakes were added to the hood and grille of the vehicles. Disc brakes were added to all four corners of the vehicle and a Getrag five-speed gearbox was matted to the engine.
In 1981, the 924 Turbo Series 2 was introduced. The main purpose of this release was to address issues that had plagued the original design. Due to poor air circulation, the engine bay had a tendency to become extremely warm. This caused many of the turbochargers to fail. To rectify the problem, a smaller turbocharger with increased boost, improved fuel injection system with DTC ignition, and an oil cooling system were implemented. As a result, the reliability improved and the horsepower increased by 7.
The next succession of the 924 was a purpose-built racing version known as the 924 Carrera. The left hand drive versions were labeled 937 while the right hand drive was 938. The vehicle received modifications in most areas, including the addition of an intercooler, bigger air scoops on the hood, and wider fenders. Non-essential elements were removed from the car in an effort to reduce weight. The vehicle was entered into the grueling 24 Hours of LeMans but in order to comply with homologation regulations, road going versions had to be produced. Porsche answered this rule with the Carrera GT and later the Carrera GTS. The GT version produced 210 horsepower while the GTS produced 245. A third version of the Carrera was later offered, dubbed the Carrera GTR, and produced an astounding 375 horsepower from the 2 liter, 4-cylinder engine. All areas of the GTR were modified for racing, focusing mainly on the suspension. It included a roll cage constructed of welded alloy. Only 18 GTR's were constructed.
In 1983, the 924 Turbo production ceased.
In 1986, production of the 944 began. Unfortunately, sales were slow due in-part to the higher cost when compared with the 924. Porsche decided to introduce a revised version of the aging 924 to give the 944 time to appeal to customers. Dubbed the 924S, it featured the 944's 2.5 liter power-plant, new rims, and minor modifications to the interior. The 944 was more luxurious but the 924S was quicker, due to lower weight. After two short years, the 924S was removed from the line-up.
Many do not consider this to be a true Porsche since it was designed for Volkswagen/Audi and powered by an engine that could be found in a Volkswagen Van. During the 12 year career of the 924, it received many modifications and improvements including the turbocharger and the much anticipated 2.5 liter power-plant. It began as a great car and was retired as a great car. It's accomplishments on the race track and in sales are a true testament to the versatility and legacy of this vehicle.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2009