For $3,500, Could This '1986' Porsche 944 Be The Answer?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The typical answer for all questions automotive is Miata, but what if you seek something with a little more provenance in the response? In that case, today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe 944 might just do, that is, if its price proves above question.

Alfa Romeo’s been having a bit of a hard go of it re-entering the U.S. market. Their 4C has proven to be too impractical for the broad market, while the recently released Giulia has suffered the slings and arrows of the journalists that have been left stranded while testing it. Look, we all could stand to walk more, so I really see that as Alfa looking out for our health.


Alfa have long held the reputation for being a cruel mistress. The company’s siren song however is that the good eventually outweighs the bad, much as it did with the vote on yesterday’s 1985 Alfa Romeo GTV6. That Alfa weighed in with an admirable 77 percent Nice Price win. That seemed to be a fine car, and hopefully it will find a new home with an appreciative new owner.

Speaking of new owners, you’ve no doubt seen the one or more article here that goes something along the lines of “I’m a pirate with some serious booty and am looking for a crew cab, what should I buy?” Invariably commentor recommendations wind up at “get a Miata” as that seems to be the standard answer for pretty much any what car should I buy car question. Honestly, I think it’s projection by the people who don’t presently have a Miata but still jones for one just the same.

But is Miata really always the answer? They are wonderful cars, but then so too are a number of others. Take this “1986” Porsche 944 for example. These were kick-ass sports cars back in their day, and the wide-fendered bubble-back coupes still look pretty hardcore today. Not only that, but this particular one is asking what could be construed as “Miata money” for its purchase.


Before you all reach for your imaginary checkbooks though, there’s a few things to consider about this particular car. First off, have you noticed that I’ve used quotes when describing the model year? Not just any quotes either, I’ve gone so far as to use those fancy curly quotes. That’s because, while the ad describes the car as a “1986” it sports a dashboard out of a 1985.0 or earlier car. The dash change came about in a mid-year model refresh in 1985, and along with the interior updates included a significant redesign of the suspension components, a higher output alternator, revised transaxle mounts, and a substantially larger fuel tank.


Many consider the 1985.5 and later cars to be the ones to have, I consider them to be hella more expensive to repair. What year this car really is will vex me no end, or at the very least until cocktail hour this evening.

The other thing you’ll no doubt have noticed, and which may well be gnawing at your own personal sense of good taste, is the Pep Boys stick-on side vents applied to the car. Yeah, anybody buying this ride should come prepared with a putty knife when picking it up. Maybe those are there to call attention away from the few little dings and scrapes in the fenders? There’s enough on both sides that you might want to consider some hammer time and a respray on the front clip post-purchase.


The rest of the body looks good, and it rides on a set of nice phone dials with what are described as like-new tires. An old-school alarm is evident by the keyhole added behind the driver’s door.


The ad boasts of a recent tune up (remember when cars required “tune ups?”) an oil change, and an alignment. The powertrain here is comprised of the expected 150 horsepower SOHC four and a five-speed manual separated by a DMZ made up of a short torque tube.

The stick for that five cogger sits in an interior with decent looking seats and a dash that wears a merkin, likely owed to the cracking of its assuredly not ’86 dash. Black paint on the door sills indicate that the silver may not have been the original factory hue, and that the carpet does not in fact match the drapes. Overall it doesn’t look like a bad place to be, and a factory removable sunroof will brighten up the black out space appreciably.


The ad notes that the title is clean but just as with Monday’s Alfa, it omits any mention of the mileage. These cars can go for the distance, but then they can also be wallet eaters along the way if maintenance and luck run out.


This one seems to be a bit of a crap shoot. It’s claimed family owned, whatever that means, but then is offered with little in the way of description and what appears to be the wrong model year. Maybe that’s why the price is $3,500. With the questions this 944 raises, do you think that $3,500 price tag definitively makes it the answer?

You decide!


Springfield, IL Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.