The Porsche 944, like every other mildly cool car from the ’80s and ’90s, is starting to be appreciated anew now that it’s old enough to stoke nostalgia. The Porsche factory went ahead and restored this 1991 944 S2, essentially the ultimate production 944, to new-spec and looks sweet.
Personally, I’m still on the fence about the look of these cars. I love pretty much anything with pop-up headlights but the 944’s rear quarter still looks a little wacky to me. I don’t like the way the rear hatch window and side passenger-area window curve up a little.
That said, the Cobalt Blue Metallic car the Porsche factory’s gone through here is pretty stunning and it is cool to see a serious collector-level restoration being applied to it. There were three of these (base 944s, not S2s) among my group of friends when I was in high school... nobody with serious Porsche money paid any attention to transaxle Porsches in 2005 and they were bought for pocket lint in poor condition. I distinctly remember one of them catching fire in an AutoZone parking lot.
Porsche’s press release celebrating the completion of this project has some info on why the S2 variant is extra special:
“Among the various 944 models, the 944 S2 is a kind of inside tip and is worth a try for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is quite rare; between 1988 and 1991, fewer than 9,400 Coupés and 7,000 Cabriolets were built – spread over all continents. The late models with front airbags are particularly rare. Secondly, the 944 S2 is an absolute technical highlight because its 211 metric horsepower 3.0-litre engine made history as the four-cylinder engine for passenger cars with the largest displacement. [About 206 lb-ft] of torque are available here at 4,100 RPM. The 3.0-liter four-valve naturally aspirated engine also offers better driveaway performance than the 2.5-liter twin-valve turbo engine, because the turbocharged engine needs a certain engine speed to overcome the turbo lag.”
Apparently the ’91 S2 is the one to get if you’re looking for a 944 worthy of a complete retool:
“We intentionally looked for a 944 S2 from 1991, the last year of manufacture. It had to have airbags, because safety is also important in classic cars, and there are also almost never any cracks in the plastic with airbag fittings. The 944 S2 shares the airbag steering wheel (standard from February 1991) with the 964, 928 S4 (optional), 928 GTS and 968 (CS also optional). It may not concern purists, but the heavier airbag steering wheel gives the 944 S2 a different and more solid steering feeling than the thin four-spoke steering wheels that originated from the 924 and 911 G model era. An air conditioning system and the Targa roof were also essential.”
If you want to dig in even more:
“Other special features were the original height-adjustable suspension (M 030, like on the 944 Turbo) and an also original sound system – the Blaupunkt radio “Symphony” together with an additional amplifier with integrated Blaupunkt equalizer plus sound package, as well as the fully functional Bosch car telephone connected to this. The latter was located in the luggage compartment with the operating unit in the cockpit. Here is a useful tip – take slightly longer when searching for a car to find a vehicle like this with special equipment. Various recent invoices showed us that the previous owner had kept the technical systems in reasonable shape (including replacement of the toothed belt).”
It’s unclear what exactly Porsche is planning to do with this car, but the company has an incredible museum in Stugartt that it’d look great in. And if there’s no room there, I’m sure the team that brought the car back to its original glory could sell it easily enough.
Here’s a mini slideshow of the seat restoration, which looks a lot like my method, which is “put a seat cover from eBay on it.”
I’d love to see other automakers restore found machines from their past like this, and hope this 944 S2 is as nice to drive as it is to look at. Take a peek inside, too... Car! Phone!