Rob is right.
I have an 87 and they are easy cars to work on. Very straight forward and well thought out. I have changed out the belts, water pump, rollers, A arms and the clutch without any problem. The clutch looks like a bear to change, since you have to pull the trans out, but its not that bad. Do it once and you could do it again in an easy days time. All you need is a good manual like Chilton and follow the directions to the letter.
I do not work on my own car and have yet to experience a single repair bill that was $3500. (Although that might be about to change because I just wasted the transmission and am awaiting an estimate.) For example, a timing belt and water pump, which I consider a major repair and something that needs done about every 30,000 miles, runs about $850 with a rebuilt water pump. I've made this repair twice in the 8 years I've owned my 944.
But I agree that regardless of the repair bills, the 944 is a joy to own. It's fast and sleek, and never fails to turn heads. It's worth the $$ to maintain. I'd rather dump a few thousand a year into my 944 than be saddled with $800/mo. payments for something less satisfying. I love being the only mom in the school parking lot with a Porsche.
I must be the unlucky one here. I purchases a single owner 1986 Turbo in 1998 and was hit with repair bills of $3000, $2500, $2300, and several others over $1000. Some of this was routine maintenance - like a clutch, timing belt, tires, and water pump. But there was also a dead computer, a fuel injector problem, leaky steering rack, major oil pressure problem (no oil pressure). Several people have commented that this car is easy to work on. For the 944 Turbo, this is not the case. There is a lot of additional plumbing due to the turbocharger/intercooler. A friend and I replaced the radiator and it took several hours - mainly because you had to remove a lot of hoses to be able to get to the radiator. Be aware that if you happen to be unlucky, you can end up with some huge repair bills.
I have a 1987 944 Porsche. The only major problem to work on is the electrics. It has fuses and relays for everything, they also work through each other. This will drive you up a wall, even with a shop book.
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