I bought a 1985 944 (n/a) last year. The 85 944 was always my dream car, and luckily I found one. Being 24+ years old, obviously there are things that needed to be addressed. I talked too many people about 944's, and learned a lot about them.
The biggest caveat I received was that many of the 944's for sale have been beaten by prior owners. Doing "burn-outs" in a non-turbo (n/a) 944 can severely damage the rear end. Another thing to consider before buying one of these cars is the maintenance. If the car doesn't have updated maintenance logs, be careful.
I found an excellent Porsche mechanic a few miles away, and recently had the timing belt, water pump, and rollers replaced. This is considered routine maintenance, and should be left to someone who knows what they're doing. Your regular mechanic is probably not the person you want messing around with one of these cars. Repair/maintenance on a Porsche is by no means cheap, so don't think of a Porsche as an "economical" car. They do however get good gas mileage.
I paid $4K for my car, and took it home to live in my garage. I have spent another $1500 on maintenance so far. I take it out on weekends (only nice weather). The leather seats are worn, and the dash is cracked (I have a plastic cover on it now, courtesy of the prior owner). The car handles unbelievably well, and is pretty quick. The 50/50 balancing is German engineering perfection. These cars are a thrill to drive, but need plenty of TLC. Parts, although not cheap, are more readily available than I originally thought, which is a big plus.
If you're a "mature" (and I don't mean old) driver who can appreciate an engineering masterpiece, then this is a good car for you. It also doesn't hurt if you have a garage in which to store it, and a budget that allows you to maintain it.
My '84 944 was a fantasy to drive, when it was running.
However, myriads of problems kept it in the shop for weeks at a time, being pored over by mechanics who didn't understand German engineering, and often times retro-fitted parts to get it running.
The timing belt went after about a year; slipped and caused the rods to bend.
$3500 and 3 months in the shop, caused me to finally throw in the towel...
But it sure was nice to have your friends see you driving in it, when it was running...
This is an update to my own review from 8 years ago.
I still have this car, although I am now planning to get rid of it because it was damaged all over by a Canadian hailstorm.
This has been a wonderful sports car, I have owned it for a total of eleven years. I have since moved from Chicago to Fresno, and I drive this car every summer to Calgary. I also use it as a daily driver.
Overall it has cost about $3,000 per year in mechanical maintenance, plus extras for bodywork, paint fixes, and other random restoration projects.
I have usually had it worked on by expert mechanics; it is not wise to let an everyday mechanic work on this car, unless absolutely necessary and you can tutor him. I once lent my Haynes repair manual to a mechanic so he could figure out how to change the timing belts! He did a fine job, they lasted 6 years until it was time to replace again.
Is turbo charging the 1985 944 Porsche a bad idea? Will I have to change the pistons, or fabricate any other components of this car. Or can I bolt it on, and just change the injectors and all that other good stuff?
I am looking at purchasing my first 944. This car has 160k and looks like it's in fair shape. With that high of mileage, how long do you think she'll last? Even with having an extensive maintenance record, I wonder if she will be a decent car to purchase for 3500? Having a fair amount of knowledge about cars, I look at spending a lot of time getting dirty with her, if you know what I mean.