Part of me knows I shouldn’t be shocked that someone paid $61,000 for a 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S today, but I feel like I can’t be the only one who became acquainted with these cars when they all seemed to be dilapidated cast-offs. And this feels like as good an excuse as any to shake our fists at the clouds.
“My buddy had a 944,” I can say, and I bet so can a lot of you. Actually my buddy had two of them, when we were in college, because 944s were some of the cheapest performance cars around and plentiful on then-young Craigslist.
The 914 might have been the “Poor Man’s Porsche” of dad’s generation, and barely anybody was bothering to take care of those when my driver’s license was freshly minted, either. But as far as my friends and I were concerned, circa 2005, something like a Honda Civic Si was vastly more desirable than a 944.
The market agreed–I think I already mentioned that 944s used to be cheap?
Before the front-engine Porsche fans finish polishing their pitchforks, hey, I’m not saying the 944 was crap. It was just in a tough spot 15 years ago. Many of the cars had depreciated too much to be considered worth spending big bucks on maintaining, and even though they were not 911s, they were still Porsches, so unless the owners were mechanically inclined, keeping one alive took (and still takes) a bit of commitment.
Meanwhile, the styling was on the far side of fashion’s orbit so casual car enthusiasts couldn’t be bothered to pay much attention to 944s and they ended up in the hands of people who generally couldn’t afford a Porsche or just wanted a cheap sports car to thrash.
Today, the situation’s a little different. All things ’80s and ’90s are hot again, and suddenly the 944’s anachronistic wedgey silhouette and flip-up headlights are charming. 911s that don’t have headlights drawn like fried eggs have skyrocketed in value, well beyond the means of many enthusiasts, so a lot of us are starting to move down the list and look for Porsches we can afford.
And oh yeah, remember two paragraphs ago when I said nobody was taking care of 944s in 2005? As a result, there aren’t all that many clean ones left. Hence: welcome to the era of $60,000 944s. That wasn’t even the most expensive one to sell this month!
Somebody in today’s auction comments also pointed out that a truly mint 944 traded for over $80,000 in 2012, but, that car had less than four-digits on its odometer so all bets are off when you find an old car that perfect.
All that said, I think enough 944s were made, and today’s aftermarket is strong enough, that you’ll still be able to get a reasonably priced one and dial it in yourself for the foreseeable future if you dig deep enough. And with all due respect to the people selling and bidding on that ’88 Turbo S this afternoon, $61,000 might be a mite silly yet. Is there really enough historic value there to justify this over a brand-new 718 Cayman? But what do I care, somebody had the cash and got a car they wanted. And I can absolutely appreciate feeling that an older, slower car is cooler than a modern equivalent.
So, who’s brave enough to start hoarding early Cayenne Turbos?