1986 Porsche 944 Turbo 2.5L turbo from North America
Fun, Fast, and Flashy. Just be ready to write large checks
Crossover pipe cracked-- 3 different places on 3 different occasions. Welded, welded, and then replaced with a used part. Extremely labor intensive, would have been well into the thousands of dollars at a shop.
Wastegate pipe cracked- Welded.
Brakes all around. ($$$$)
Clutch slave cylinder hose failed on a long trip.
Vacuum leaks galore. (Hardware store, 50 USD to do the entire system, clamps and all).
Engine mounts replaced. ($200, and labor intensive)
Rearview mirror (interior) fell off. (Epoxy)
Original acrylic red paint oxidizes very quickly- required two buffs followed by heavy and frequent waxing. (Lots of labor and expensive carnuba).
Engine began to cut out under full throttle in 3rd gear and above. (Undiagnosed, may be grounding issue).
Replaced timing belts, rollers, and front engine seals. ($200, DIY)
Wastegate could use replacement.
I purchased this car, my 2nd 951 and 3rd 944, in well-preserved, one owner condition with some service records. Being that I am a college student and this is my hobby car (Saab 9000 CSE daily driver), I perform all of my own maintenance.
Here is what I'll say about 80's Porsche Turbo cars-- when they hit a certain age, they become extremely high maintainence. I cannot stress this enough. My car is beautiful; no dash cracks, perfect interior, clean engine, clean paint, no rust anywhere, I mean anywhere... including the bolts that hold the swaybar on. All this has not prevented what would have been work that would have most likely have totalled near what I paid for the car ($6000 USD) if I hadn't performed the work myself.
The car is seriously fast, I'll say that. I have owned a bunch of Saabs, BMW's, and Porsches, so when I hear people talking about how cars are high maintenance or expensive to repair I typically roll my eyes as it typically is an exaggeration, a stigma attached to euro cars. Well, here is the exception. The prices for parts on this car are OBSCENE. Seventy five dollars for a brake fluid reservoir? Over three hundred dollars to properly do the front brakes--and that is just for parts? Or the real kicker--a clutch, yes, a dry, single-plate type, costs in the $800 USD just for the kit. This is all not to mention that the car is rather difficult to work on...I've counted 7 times that I have removed the intake manifold in a three month period, whether it be to replace broken hardware, hoses, stop rattles, or fix the crossover pipe that has managed to crack three times in three different places.
They key things to look for when you buy one of these: look for the aftermarket STAINLESS headers (expensive, rare, but about the best investment you could make), replaced belts, oil seals, water pump, and clutch. Make sure all or most of the electronics work as well. I will say the belt issue is overblown--people who have failed belts must have really botched the job or have morbid luck. I am part of a 944 owners club in Milwaukee and of all our cars noone has ever snapped a belt. I tensioned by hand on all my cars and have never encountered the slightest issue. Some cars have been very well maintained by knowledgeable owners or have had substantial overhauls and will not give many issues--the problem is, these cars cost exponentially greater quantities of money. Is it worth it? Perhaps.
Pros? Well, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love the car. People constantly approach me to ask about it, it is extremely fast, it handles very well, especially provided that it came with the sport suspension and LSD, and is very comfortable to boot. The performance potential is out of this world; an unnamed premier porsche tuner believes he can make any 951 350+ crank HP with a few hundred dollars in parts. Try that BMW.
Perhaps a year or two ago the car would have been more interesting, but as a broke college student the car is becoming a bear: an E36 M3 or even the simpler 944 S2 seems more appealing every day; the lust for speed is being trumped by the need for reliability.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th October, 2005
I have an '86 951 turbo that cost me $9K 2 years ago, and has run me that in repairs and maintenance since. I also own an '04 Dodge SRT-4, with an identical 2.4L 4-cyl Turbo with a cat - delete & turbo upgrade. Both cars are about 300 HP and the Dodge has 30k kilometers vs the 300k kilometers on the Porsche.
The Porsche is a fun exotic ride with incredibly tall gears (over sized 17" rear wheels helps), which I refer to as an autobahn cruiser. It's also a bear to handle below 100 kph.
The Dodge is very nimble at lower speeds and will explode through the gears quickly compared to the Porsche. I would have to say that the Dodge is far better for a student as the Porsche is insane for parts (Check BIMMER Specialist, on-line). Put some decent wheels & tires on the dodge and you'll be very pleased. The only expense is the Mobile 1 Extended performance engine oil.
The Porsche consumes 17.5 l per 100 kms versus the 12.5 litres for the Dodge (Premium 94 octane) Big difference!
I'm the one who posted this review originally. I still have the car. Yes, it still requires lots of maintenance and attention in general. Yes, it's also still a superb sports car.
To the person who noted I was the only one with something negative to say, I'm sorry, but that is reality. There is no such thing as a cheap Porsche. I knew this when I bought this car and four other 944-series cars (944S, 944NA, 951, 951) prior to the one in the review.
Like I said in the original review, this was a one-owner car in very good condition with documentation. I'm a competent mechanic and educated Porsche owner and knew what to look for; I do all the work myself. Despite this, these cars are inevitably going to cost you a substantial amount more to own and maintain than "normal" cars. It's old. It's complex. It's turbocharged. It's a semi-exotic Porsche. I mean, it has a timing belt change interval of only 30K miles if you're playing it safe.
These are getting to the age where enthusiast owners are replacing the entire wiring loom, connectors and all, as preventative maintenance to keep their cars reliable. And frankly, enthusiasts are the only ones who still have running 951s.
My neighbor is selling a 1986 Porsche for 6k $. I think the car looks beautiful, but I'm not sure if I should buy it. Are parts for this car expensive?