PCH, Turbo Madness Edition: 944 or 300ZX?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Turbo Madness Edition: 944 or 300ZX?

We're not exactly shocked to see the Lagonda administering a pounding to the Alfa Romeo Giuletta in yesterday's Choose Your Eternity poll; after all, the Aston Martin's CRT dashboard alone is simultaneously cool enough to move you to tears of joy and flaky enough to make your brain feel like it has angry birds fighting inside. Today we're going to ease back on the price of admission to Hell, with a couple of sub-$4000 cars that (if running) would give their owners excellent performance-per-dollar ratios. We did Cheap Turbo Hell a while back and now it's time for Slightly Less Cheap Turbo Hell!


The Porsche 944 Turbo was a badass piece of machinery, no doubt about it. Rear-wheel-drive, as near perfect weight distribution as German engineering can devise, and horsepower ratings approaching the magical 100-per-liter threshold. Wouldn't it be great to find a nice clean one, in good running condition, for three grand? Yeah, it sure would be great... but for now the best we can offer at that price is this 1984 944 with a 1986 944 Turbo engine (go here if the ad disappears). Heck, did we forget to mention that the turbo engine is kinda not quite installed? There may be a few pesky details to deal with when it comes time to do the swap, but rest assured that the seller is offering a crazy-good deal here; in his or her words: "I have a situation that has come up that requires money, unfortunately the only thing I have to liquidate is my baby." Oh, and the engine is in a million billion tiny pieces, and the Porsche 944 was designed by The Evil One himself to frustrate attempts to perform even the most minor maintenance, so you might want to budget more than just a couple weekends for this project.

Porsches are great cars, of course, but they're so obvious. Your dentist probably has a couple, and lots of people do an automatic Porsche Driver = Putz calculation when they see one go by. But you've got $3500 just begging to be turned into a Hell Project and you want something fast and turbocharged... in fact, you want something with two turbochargers. Have we got your car or what? Step on over here, sonny, and slide behind the wheel of this 1991 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo (go here if the ad disappears)! Yes, yes, that is the engine you see on the ground in front of the car, but don't let that scare you. In the seller's words, "My mechanic pulled the engine out to replace both turbos. After he was done with turbos, he suddenly left everything behind and fled." This car is so hellish that it drove some poor mechanic out of town, but are you going to let that minor drawback stop you from taking it on as a project? The '91 300ZX Twin Turbo engine makes a mighty 300 horsepower... which is just the starting point for what you'll get once you make with the boost-enhancing upgrades.

Gawker Media polls require Javascript; if you're viewing this in an RSS reader, click through to view in your Javascript-enabled web browser.



300ZXs (while being my second favorite car in the world) aren't hard to work on, there's a whole army of madmen that dabble in them all the time. Sure, the engine bay's hard enough to work in because there's no room in there from all of the piping and intercoolers and magical fairy dust, but while it's out there might as well do an engine swap, right? Besides, jamming an LS1 in there like a pair of tightly tied shoes can't be that hard, right?

Porsches though, even 944s...I've heard horror stories. And in the end it'll be just another 944. I see more of those than I do Z32 300ZXs. Then again, every car deserves a Chevy small-block.