We can all agree that car prices are plummeting even without obscene dealer markups. Unfortunately, the same applies not only to new cars, but also to used cars. Enthusiasts looking for the best deal on the used car market are having an increasingly difficult time as many young timers have already become unavailable, an example being Mercedes W124 500E and Porsche 928. Speaking of Porsche, just two years ago the 944 was cheap and one of the most affordable classics. However, this is no longer the case, as prices have started to rise. We’re trying to answer, should you still be looking at an affordable front-engined Porsche sports car from the 1980s when prices have nearly doubled?
It is relatively mass produced
front studio shot of a gray Porsche 944 Turbo 3/4
A Porsche badge usually comes with a level of exclusivity. The more affordable 944 was one of the few exceptions that aged surprisingly well. The front-engined model replaced the Audi-engined and often unpleasant 924, but now had a Porsche-designed engine. The 944 was produced between 1982 and 1991, at which point 163,192 units were produced in all body types and trim levels. There were five finishes in total – the
- Base 944
- 944 p
- 944 S2
- 944 Turbo
- 944 Turbo S
A specially tuned version of the Callaway 944 was introduced for the US market. In terms of body style, you can choose between a coupe and a soft top convertible.
Great balance but not a lot of power
studio front 3/4 shot of red 1986 Porsche 944
This sounds like another very popular, compact sports car – Mazda MX-5 Miata. While the Miata is always the answer, the Porsche 944 shares the same specs – an inline-four engine up front that doesn’t have much power in most variants, rear-wheel drive, and relatively light weight. Contributing to the 944’s weight distribution of 50.7 to 49.3 between the front and rear axles is the fact that it has a gearbox.
Unlike the lesser 944 models, the Turbo and Turbo S boast real power. The 2.5-liter turbo-four engine produces 250 horsepower (186 kilowatts) at 5,800 rpm and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) at 3,500 rpm for a 0-60 mph (97 km/h /h) in 5.6 seconds. The Turbo models, however, have long since moved out of the reasonable price range they used to be in.
Purchase price 944 in 2022
front 3/4 shot of red 1991 Porsche 944
Currently, a well-sorted example can be found for anywhere from $24,000 to $30,000. A lower mileage example can be found for around $40,000. If you don’t mind a restoration project, a 944 Turbo example can also be found for around $14,000. As for the lesser 944 variants, cars in “project car” condition can be had for as little as $3,500, while well-sorted, low-mileage examples will cost around $15,000. All things considered, that’s not a lot of money, but it’s still more than the $5,000 to $10,000 they cost in 2020. Also, there’s the issue of some expensive parts that you’ll probably have to import and wait for.
side shot of a blue 1988 Porsche 944 next to classic buildings
While finding a Porsche 944 for sale isn’t difficult, finding one that’s properly sorted it is possible to be cunning. The “poor man’s Porsche” was built on a modernized 924 platform and shared common aesthetics with it. It may have been cheap to buy, but maintaining it like a used car is not the easiest. Some owners pampered their cars with 911-like treatment, while others were daily drivers and neglected by their owners. This can be a potential money pit. Keep in mind that even something like replacing the water pump and timing belt can cost you well over $1,000.
Great project car
shot of a Porsche 944 race car with the rear 3/4 raised
Like many late Corvette C3s that were “neutered” due to the gas crisis, the less-than-perfect 944 may get a second chance at life as a modified example. This of course means you’ll spend a lot more for said mods, but if you can find one cheap enough (which is still possible), why not? You’ll be happy to know that the engine bay can take a Chevy LS engine, and we’ve seen more than a few of these 944s (and 924s) on race tracks giving other cars trouble at a fraction of the price. We’re still not sure if it’s a better option than the Miata or the Nissan S-chassis, but it’s a great alternative nonetheless.
The 944 remains one of the most affordable ways to own a Porsche
1989 gray Porsche 944 Cabriolet rear 3/4 shot
Although the car market is currently in shambles, The Porsche 944 is still one of the cheapest Porsche models you can buy. Porsche is not usually an affordable brand and the ‘badge tax’ is obvious. That being said, even a decent example of a Porsche 944 can be had for well under $15,000, though we’d argue Porsche 987 Cayman/Boxster it is a much better alternative for the money.