Today’s Nice Price or No Dice 944 had its engine yanked in anticipation of an LS swap. You can buy the car with the original motor, the LS or both (or neither), so at some point you’ll have to decide which one gets plugged back in. Let’s find out what you might pay for this multiple-choice test of a car.
TVR founder Trevor Wilkinson created the company’s name by taking his first name and simply making it more badge-worthy by slicing a few letters off. It’s sort of like if Ferrari had actually been called NZ.
There have been a few other omissions on TVRs cars over the years, most recently in expected features like antilock brakes, airbags and traction control. Perhaps most egregiously for the company’s survival, the cars also seemed to lack sustaining sales profits.
The 1995 TVR Chimaera 430 we looked at yesterday didn’t seem to need anything, even if it was lacking in certain modern safety and convenience amenities. For sure, some people like their cars to be brutal and uncompromising. Not enough of you, however, liked the Chimaera’s $19,995 price tag. That came in at an equally brutal 57 percent No Dice loss.
Being a boutique low-production sports car maker is a tough row to hoe, and TVR’s fortunes have waxed and waned over its history of 70-plus years. The best way for the little guys to make hay while they can in order to weather inevitable economic downslides is to find a bigger company to act as a sugar daddy. This has worked for the likes of Lotus, Rolls-Royce and the object of today’s consideration, Porsche.
Much like TVR, Porsche started out under the auspices of its namesake founder using parts sourced from other makers. Stuttgart-based Porsche has long aligned itself with the big dog of German carmakers, Volkswagen.
This 1987 Porsche 944 project is one fruit of that collaboration. The 944 is a derivation of the preceding 924, and that car wasn’t originally planned to be a Porsche at all. Instead, it was commissioned by VW as an entry-level sports car for the company’s up-and-coming Audi brand. Things happened, which resulted in VW canceling the Audi model.
At that point, Porsche took on the car as the point of entry into the brand, replacing the 914 and 912. Since the 924 was initially intended to be an Audi, it carried that brand’s anemic engine. The upgraded 944 replaced that with a Porsche-designed mill, a four-cylinder that was half the 928’s V8.
At the moment, this 944 doesn’t have any engine under its hood. That being said, this project Porsche can be had with either one of two engines — the original 2.5-liter four or a 6.0 GM Vortec V8. It could also be had with both of those or no engine at all. Choices!
The ad says that the 122,000-mile stick shift car was bought with the intention of replacing its four-pot heart with that LS V8. The project apparently got as far as the engine removal and purchase/disassembly of a Vortec 6-liter out of a 2003 GM truck. The seller says that at that juncture, “Some more important things have come up in my life, so unfortunately the car must go.”
That leads to an interesting conundrum — what direction to take this 944 from its present state. Just like that famous poem by Robert Frost, this car offers more than one path for you to choose.
Before we get to the engine dilemma, let’s take a look at the rest of the car. The seller claims it to be in good shape and avows it was a runner before the heart surgery. The bodywork looks to be solid, with shiny red paint on most panels and an odd black roof that doesn’t do the car any favors. This is a sunroof car so there is that. Aftermarket wheels and missing turn signal and fog lamp lenses in front detract from the overall appeal though.
The interior is a mixed bag. The seats need to be reupholstered and the dash wears an ill-fitting rug so it’s likely in need of replacement or at the very least a better cap. On the plus side, the back seats look almost as-new, as do the door cards and the center console.
The title is claimed to be clean, although, with the engine out that’s a bit of a moot point since it’s not going anywhere until the question of which engine goes back in gets sorted out.
That choice also affects the car’s overall price. Here’s the seller’s breakdown:
With no engine $2,000
With original engine $2,500
With complete LS engine $3,000
With BOTH engines, $3,500
Now, I’m a bit of a Porsche purist so my take would be to put the original engine back in — and you can keep the Vortec as an anchor for your boat. That sets the price tag at $2,500, so that’s what we’ll go with. Your decision may be different, and you can explain yourselves in the comments below.
What do you think, is this project Porsche worth $2,500 to stick its engine back in and go? Or would you make a different engine/payment choice?
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