The 1987 Porsche 944 turbo is an amazing high-performance bargain, a true Porsche, and one of the best handling sports cars on the planet at any price.
Mine is an extremely well-maintained Guards Red/black leather survivor that's been performance modified with OEM Porsche parts by the original owner. It has a larger than stock turbo (a KKK "K27-6" with a 3/8" shimmed wastegate), Porsche Turbo Cup performance chips, a Lindsey Racing boost enhancer and a beefed up suspension including Koni turbo cup coil over shocks, 600lb front and 400 lb rear Eibach springs springs, larger than stock Weltmeister anti-sway bars front and rear & it's 4-wheel corner balanced.
The result is 0-60 mph at 4.4 seconds, top end of 177mph, 300-330hp at the rear wheels at full boost (17lbs.) and phenomenal handling pulling at or just above 1.0 g.
I drove the car 1500 miles home from out west after buying it in April of 2010 and four days later left on a 3,000 mile-plus vacation roadtrip to Florida via Kentucky's Cumberland Gap and Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. Not a single mechanical issue the whole time and I drove it hard and fast as Dr. Porsche intended!
I'm a performance enthusiast, so I happily live with the racing suspension. But the car really is a comfortable touring sports car. It's nimble, refined & smooth. I plugged a Garmin GPS unit into its cigarette lighter and an aftermarket stereo allows an i-pod to be plugged in and ran from the stereo. The i-pod stays in the glove box.
Docile as a VW Bug or Toyota Corolla around town, it turns into a raging nuclear-powered Hulk of a Guards Red rocketship when you hit the turbo's full boost sweet spots, redlining it in every gear. I hit speeds of over 130mph on wide open and empty western highways and this 23 year old car stayed firmly planted, totally predictable and rock solid with plenty of power left to explore.
This car is in exceptional mechanical shape with a recent timing belt service. If you're careful when you buy yours, you will have a reliable machine. It's not exactly cheap to maintain (I've owned two previous NA 944's). But after-market parts are abundantly available and it won't break your bank as long as you save a little for the inevitable repairs.
I owned a 1988 Corvette Z51 before buying the 944 turbo. My modified 944 turbo will out-accelerate the Vette after giving up a length or two at the jump off the line. The Vette is wonderful with its howling growling American V8 modded with a freer flowing exhaust, but the Porsche is like using a scapel to make the cut rather than a Bowie knife. And top end in the Vette is a lower 155 mph.
On my long road trip a new Mustang GT and I were literally the only cars in sight on a long flat stretch of two-lane freeway in South Dakota.
I slowly passed him in the left lane and watched in my rear view mirror as I cruised at 75 mph in 4th gear. He suddenly accelerated, and when he pulled alongside me in the right lane, I downshifted to third and floored it. The turbo boost whooshed and felt like a jet afterburner as it hurled the 944 forward. 80 - 90 - 100 mph and I had about an 8 length advantage, I hit 4th gear 110 - 120. The Mustang still had not gained on me. 125 mph, 130. At just over 130 mph the Mustang GT gave it up and dropped back.
In the mountains of Tennessee I ran with a BMW 5 series and a 2002 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 for many miles of steep, sweeping curves on a well-built, smooth freeway-type surface. The WS6 accelerated briskly and maintained a pace ahead of me in the straights. Then we saw a sign warning of steep curves for the next several miles.
As the Trans Am WS6 slowed for the curves, I downshifted and punched it to accelerate ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE CURVES! This was steeply downhill, and the Porsche blew past the Trans Am WS6 at 90-105 mph. My 1987 Porsche 944 turbo stays flat and well planted, sticking to the road with no hint of drama as it accelerates all the way through mountain curves headed steeply downhill.
The Porsche "purists" can keep their 911's. I'll give them a good rear view of my 944 turbo!