In 1981 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the Porsche 944 was announced to the world. The Porsche 944 was introduced in 1983 as a replacement for the 924 and served as an entry-level sports car until it was replaced by the Porsche 968 in 1991. It was based on the 924 and had the same interior instrumentation but had wider wheel arches. During its lifespan the 944 had mechanical and a few aesthetic upgrades, as well as name changes including the 944S, 944 Turbo, and 944S2.
Powered by a 2.5 liter, 4-cylinder engine built at Porsches Zuffenhausen factory, it was capable of producing 174 horsepower. The engine was placed in the front and powered the rear transaxle. In-line 4-cylinder engines were often plagued with vibrations so Porsche negotiated a deal with Mitsubishi for the use of their 2-balance shafts. A 5-speed manual gearbox was mated to the engine and an optional automatic was available. In 1986, Porsche introduced a turbo version of the 944 and improved the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Internally to Porsche, it was known as the Type 951. By turbocharging the engine, the horsepower was increased to 220 horsepower. To add to the performance of the vehicle, the suspension and gearbox were modified, and wider wheels were used.
The 944 was such an amazing package that for 1983 through 1985, Car and Driver rated it in their Ten Best List. The Turbo version was mentioned in the 1986 list.
In 1985, the interior received upgrades including the instrumentation, electrical system, and driver's power seat. The rear suspension was redesigned and new control arms were added.
In 1986 the warranty on the 944 was increased to 10-year no-rust protection and a 5-year or 50,000-mile drivetrain warranty. A sport suspension was optional as was the leather interior. A mandatory third brake light was mounted near the top of the rear glass hatch.
In 1987, the 944S was introduced. The 'S' stood for 'Sport' or 'Super' but it was the safety aspects of the vehicle rather than 'sport' aspects that saw improvements. The braking system was improved with the addition of an ABS (Anti-lock brakes) and the interior was given driver and passenger airbags. A sixteen valve engine was now under the hood and the overall horsepower rating increased slightly to around 188.
In 1988 the 944 Turbo S was introduced. This featured a limited-slip differential and a turbocharged engine. The horsepower rating was now at 250.
In 1989 the base 944 engine displacement was increased to 2.7 liters. This increase was short-lived because of the introduction of the 944S2 which featured a 3.0-liter displacement.
A 944 S3 was planned but after analysis and design, the conclusion was made that a replacement for the 944 was needed. In 1992, the 968 was introduced and sold in parallel with the 928 until the 1995 model year when production of both vehicles ceased.
The Type 945 represents the 944 models but with right-hand drive. The Type 951 represents the 1985-1991 Turbo version and the Type 952 as the 1988 944 Turbo S right-hand drive.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2009
During a production run that lasted from 1982 through 1989, 113,070 Porsche 944's were produced. 25,107 were Turbos, 12,936 were 944S and 6,439 were S2.