All hail the great 944 Turbo! This
is by far one of the most underrated cars of all time. The 944 Turbo is
truly a magnificent sports car, balanced in every way. The Turbo is subtle
around town but howls when let loose on the road. As you will see,
it is a fast, yet elegant tourer whose impressive characteristics never
cease to amaze.
To begin with, the Porsche 944 Turbo
differs from its lesser, normally aspirated counterpart in many ways. The
most obvious is the body. When the Turbo first bowed in 1986, it
carried a smooth front end with integrated fog lights and bumper. The rear
was accented by a functional chin spoiler that wrapped under the bumper
panel. The Turbo was shod with 16" wheels as opposed to 15" for the
regular 944. Inside, the Turbo had the fresh interior, which had
just arrived in the 1985½ 944. The only difference was the boost
gauge directly under the tach.
The major differences, however, lay
under the hood. First and foremost was the new turbocharged 4 cylinder
engine, still at 2.5 Liters. It output 217 horsepower at 5,800 rpm. The
power has increased by 50% from the 944. In a run to the quarter mile,
the Turbo is about 2 secs quicker than the regular 944. This boost of power
was created without a single sacrifice in the emission department.
1986-1989 944 Turbo
8 valve SOHC in-line 4, aluminum block
Bore and Stroke: 3.94 x 3.11 in (100.0
x 78.9 mm)
Displacement:151 cu.in. or 2479cc
Horsepower: 217@5,800 rpm, 247 hp
Torque: 243@3,500 rpm
Power to weight ratio: 15.0 lbs per
Compression ratio: 8.0:1
Fuel system: Bosch LE Jetronic
5 speed manual transmission
Front: MacPherson struts with lower
A-arms, coil springs, tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Rear: Semi-trailing arms, torsion
bars, tube shocks, anti-roll bar
Curb weight: 3,115 lbs
Track front/rear: 58.2"/57.1"
Ground clearance: 4.7"
Brakes and Wheels:
Vacuum assisted, 4 piston aluminum
alloy fixed caliper, internally vented discs, ABS
16x7.0" front, 16x8.0" rear cast aluminum
19 mpg (city) 25 mpg (hwy)
0-60mph: 6.0 seconds, 5.5s (1989 model)
0-1/4 mile: 14.2s, 13.5s (1989 model)
Top Speed: 155 mph, 162mph (1989)
After a successful introduction in
1986, Porsche developed a one design race series in Europe based on the
944 Turbo called the Turbo Cup. The Porsches that competed in this series
featured a number of improvements such as bigger brakes, more horsepower,
and an improved suspension, all of which would later find there way into
a special run of 1988 Turbos called the 944 Turbo S.
The Turbo S car is truly the crown
jewel of the transformation of the 924 to the classic design of the most
emulated sports car of the 80's, the 944. Developed on the race track,
the performance of this special model was not to be shadowed until Porsche's
introduction of the 911 twin turbo in 1996.
The initial run of 339 cars were painted
a special "silver rose" color with an ordinary plaid burgundy interior.
They had no sunroof, air conditioning or power windows in order to save
weight. Dealers sold those so fast the factory increased production to
a total of 1000 cars, 716 of which ended up in the United States.
However, the silver rose color was
dropped and all standard Porsche colors and options were now available.
Most of the later "S's" were loaded with air, leather seats, sunroof, premium
sound and power windows. In 1989, all 944 Turbos came with this "S" package
so that's why you don't see a 1989 944 Turbo "S". The only thing they dropped
was the "S" designation!
The differences between a 944 Turbo
and the "S" included: 247 hp engine vs. 217 hp and 250 ft/lbs. vs. 243
ft/lbs. by using a larger turbo housing on the exhaust side and a re-mapped
DME/KLR engine computer, and larger sodium cooled exhaust valves.
Koni adjustable shocks front and rear
with ride height adjustment threaded collars on the front struts and progressive
springs, larger rear torsion bars, harder bushings throughout, and larger
sway bars front and rear. The wheels were 16" forged, and flat dished
similar to the 928 at the time with 8 inchers and 225/50 Z-rated tires
in the front and 9 inch wide and 245/45 in the rear.
The transmission had 1st and 2nd gears
hardened and an external cooler to deal with the extra power and a limited
slip differential was standard. Front brakes were right from the
928 S4 with larger calipers and rotors and ABS was also standard.
All these changes resulted in a Porsche
with performance that rivaled even the famous 911 Turbo. The standard yardsticks
of 0-60 mph and top end were 5.5 and 162 based on the manufacturer's data.
Car and Driver's road test in June of 1988 provided this additional data
in miles per hour: 0-30 = 2.0; 0-40 = 3.0; 0-50 = 4.1;
0-60 = 5.5; 0-80 = 8.8; 0-100 = 13.6; 0-120 = 22.1 with
a quarter mile time of 13.9 at 101 mph. Owners report the factory top speed
has been consistently achieved and those with after market chips and mild
performance enhancements report top speeds of 172 mph!!
Although these figures are impressive,
day to day driving of the Turbo S reveals its greatest strength lies in
it's acceleration when passing. If you look closely at the times above
you see the 60 mph to 80 mph time is 3.3 seconds!! and the
80 to 100 time is only 4.8 seconds. It is likely only a few cars ever made
could better these impressive figures. When you add to the mix the .90+G's
found on the skid pad in 1988 (and add for today's improved tires), the
944's perfect 50/50 weight distribution, as well as incredible braking
performance, you find a truly exception Porsche deserving of "super car"
1989 was the last year for the 944
Turbo in the US, however the rest of the world continued to enjoy it through
1991. One of the most coveted later models was the the 944 Turbo Cabriolet,
a car in which demand far outpaced supply. Production of all 944s ended
in 1991 when the successor, the 968, appeared.
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