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'78 Porche 924 $600 Should I buy it?

I'm looking at a '78 924 that's in fairly good condition. There are some very small surface rust spots here and there (around windshield and hatch) and an oil leak around the exhaust manifold that I couldn't pinpoint, but it runs with no tics or exhaust smoke. I read that these cars have galvinized sheet metal. Don't know if thats true but the body and paint are in very good cond.Clutch and tranny seem ok with no backlash and all electronics work. What do ya'll think?


  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    I would turn around and run away as fast as I can.........
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I'd say just throw the $600 into a furnace while calling AAA, for the same basic effect. ;)

    I'm sorry, I don't wish to be discouraging to you, but a 924 is about the worst car in the world. I'd rather see you take on a project that had some prospect of success for you.

    The story is that this car was originally commissioned by VW and they backed out of the deal. Porsche then decided, as an afterthought, to build it anyway with a VW/Audi drivetrain.

    If you want a decent "starter" Porsche, buy a well cared for 944 that doesn't need anything. It's 10X the car and even clean ones are not that expensive to purchase (but very expensive to maintain).

    The 924 has been described as "VW performance and reliability at Porsche prices".

    It's not an attractive combination.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,345
    Agree with the others. A glorified Volkswagen only a LOT more trouble.

    A 944 is still troublesome but MUCH better. It may be hard to find one that "doesn't need anything"! :P
  • mattcmattc Posts: 16
    Strictly speaking the only difference between a 924 and 944 are wide fenders and a different engine (the 944 has half a 928 V8). The 924 engine was a tough unit, not that refined, but cheap to tune up and there was a turbo version available in 1980-82 which is an easy swap.

    Yup, even early 924s had galvanised body panels, and carried a good anti rust warranty by '70s standards.

    924s are cheap project cars. Paint it metallic black, put a set of 18 inch aftermarket wheels on it, shine it up. All your neighbors will see is the gold Porsche shield and nice paint. That's a much cheaper way to impress folks than paying big $$$ for a fugly Cayenne. Live long and prosper, peace. :)


    Porsche babe
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Nope, the 944 engine isn't half a 928. Virtually no engine parts are interchangeable.

    The big complaint with the 924 was severe engine vibration, chassis vibration, very poor AC and ventilation, and no power.

    Basically a 924 is put together with VW parts (like half shafts from a VW Thing) and the engine used in the AMC Pacer.

    The 944, which is still quite affordable, is a much refined car over the 924 IMO.

    The cars may bear similarities, as you say, but the driving experiences are very different.
  • mattcmattc Posts: 16
    I disagree, the Porsche 2.5 to 3 liter engine range is basically half the Porsche V8. The whole point of having it related to the V8 was to save on tooling costs and engine development, which was much the case when both the I4 and V8 were later converted to 4 valve DOHC layout. Porsche never had the money to develop 2 completely different engine lines. Although obviously the V8 didn't need the I4's counter rotating balancer shafts.

    The 2 liter I4 was used in the AMC Gremlin, Spirit and Concord, not the Pacer and when AMC used the motor it was with a carb, not fuel injection.

    Early 944s had the same dashboard as the 924, and the later 924S had the 944's 2.5 liter motor. 30+ years later I don't see that much difference between the two cars. Get a 914 and do a Chevy V8 conversion, now that's different. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Porsche used some development ideas from the 928 that's true but there isn't a major part on a 928 engine that you can put in a 944 engine. This is a common misperception that I myself used to believe as well.

    Gremlin, Spirit and Concord, that's right. Not the Pacer.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Here's what Wikipedia says about these Porsche 4 cylinder engines:

    "1985-1991 Porsche 944The Porsche 924 had originally been a project of VW-Porsche a joint Porsche/Volkswagen company created to develop and produce the 914 which was sold in Europe as both a Porsche and a Volkswagen. In 1972 a replacement for the Volkswagen version of the 914, code named EA-425 began development. The model was to be sold as an Audi as part of the VW-Audi-Porsche marketing arrangement. Although testing had begun in the Spring of 1974 Volkswagen decided to cancel the program due to the expense of production as well as the feeling that the recently released Volkswagen Scirocco would fill the sports coupe sufficiently. At the time Porsche was considering introducing their own water cooled front engine 2+2 coupe to replace the 912E and their model of 914 and Volkswagen's cancellation provided an opportunity. Porsche purchased the design and finished developmental. The vehicle drove and handled exceptionally well and received positive reviews, but was criticized for the Audi-sourced 2 litre engine; Porsche introduced a Turbocharged 924 to increase performance, but the price was considered too high for the time, which hampered sales. Rather than scrap the design , Porsche decided to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911; although model numbers would change, the 924 would provide the basis for its replacement.

    Porsche re-worked the platform and abandoned the Audi engine, installing in its place a new all-alloy 2.5 litre straight-4 engine that was, in essence, half of the 928's 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not a natural choice for a luxury sports car, a four cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome the unbalanced secondary forces that make other four cylinder engines feel harsh, Porsche included two counter rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed..."

    Of course, we know the information in Wikipedia is not official, and may contain errors, but it's on topic.

    My problem with these cars, wonderful as they may be to drive and to be seen in, is that you have to practically be Bill Gates to maintain them.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    .....the resurrected 924S (MYs 1987-88, IIRC) had the 924 body and old steering wheel, seats, driving position, dashboard, etc. (I remember distinctly, cuz my mom wanted the 924S based on its $25k price, but purchased a 944 5-speed instead, in 10/86, which she STILL owns). The 944 was a big improvement, especially with the interior design, which came along in mid-year '85, I think.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Hey, how many miles do you think your mother's 944 has now? I remember when those cars were new in the late '80s, and they were not cheap. What model does she own? (i.e. base, S, Turbo)
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ....I don't know how many miles, it's my stepdad's daily driver; he's a traveling/contractor programmer, so it's been all over the country. I am certain it has over 250k, no engine rebuild, but I'm sure everything else a couple of times (and he hit a deer with it once, too). It's in surprisingly good shape, but they do take pretty good care of it, I guess, or it would have been long gone.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Does your step dad or another family member do some of the maintenance and repairs on that 944, or do they pay to have it done?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    911, 944 and 928 engines are pretty indestructible if you do the maintenance required. 250K is not unusual on Porsches, I see this kind of mileage all the time.

    The problem with 924s 944s and 928s is that, due to their relatively cheap prices as used cars, they ended up falling into the hands of people who did not have the means to care for them, and so are destroyed by neglect.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    Gawd, no. I don't think either of them have touched so much as a lug wrench for the past twenty years. I wish they'd have kept the 300E, it's probably a better car (and a helluvalot more practical).
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Since the 944 is an expensive car to maintain they must take the attitude that they like the car, and it'll cost what it'll cost to maintain it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    That's the only attitude you can have with a 924 or 944--your passion for the car has to be very strong, because it's a very expensive hobby.

    I'm not personally a big fan of the 944 except for the 944 Turbo. That's the one to own---it is, if set up properly, a serious performance car that can hold its own with any modern automobile, and thrash quite a few of them on street or track.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 52,595
    Your parents must have been pretty cool in the 80s...a W124 and a that time my dad had a brown S-10 Blazer and my mother a bronze-ish Ciera.
  • martianmartian Posts: 220
    Wasn't it based upon Jack Cole's abortive Vega engine (alloy block with silicon liner)?
    It was (technically) a good idea, but durability was lacking. From what I understand, the aluminum block would corrode, blocking the water passages-at which point the heads would warp, the pistons score the walls, and the engine was kaput.
    Was Porsche able to make this work? Or did the 928 engine meet the same gorey death as the Vega 4? :lemon:
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    The short answer to your question is that Porsche was able to make it work, thereby avoiding the Vega's sorry fate, but I'll leave it to those that are more knowledgeable than me on the Porsche V8 to supply the details.

    One important difference between the Vega engine and the Porsche V8 is that the former was air cooled, while the latter was liquid cooled. I don't think that was the primary factor for answering your question, although it may have been a contributing factor in explaining the relative longevity of certain engine components.

    I believe the chief engineer of the Vega engine was Ed (not Jack) Cole.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    No the Porsche 928 engine is damn near indestructible unless you drain the oil out of it. Its "weak link" is the enormously complex timing belt, which requires periodic changing, under pain of death. Aspects of the engine design still live on in the Cayenne I think.

    Great engine, very powerful. The last iteration of the 928, the GTS, is still a seriously potent car. 928s are still raced regularly by club members.

    Porsche never really made a "bad" engine ala Vega, but the 75-77 2.7 liter air cooled flat 6 is pretty close to "bad", as they magnesium engine cases would pull studs.

    928s have their goofy qualities that would do GM proud---having the entire dashboard tilt WITH the steering wheel was pretty crazy, for one.

    Like a 924 or 944, they are maintenance INTENSIVE. If you don't do the periodic and pricey maintenance, may god have mercy on your soul. :cry:
  • texasestexases Posts: 9,431
    The Vega was liquid cooled - are you thinking of the Corvair, maybe?
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    not really, mom did buy the 944 new during our senior year in high school, but that was our 'family car' (replaced, sort of, a Cressida, which she kept after that for about a year), then it occurred to her that insuring twin teen boys on a 944 was a weeee-bit expensive (duh), hence I kinda put a gun to her head then my brother and I got the '77 Caprice. She's intelligent, I never said 'smart'. The 300E was intended to replace the 944 (she bought it used in '91 or '92) but kept the 944. I don't get it, either.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 52,595
    Still cooler than the period motors my parents chose. Ciera and Blazer replaced with Taurus and Exploder. Woo hoo!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Whoops, of course (dope slap!!).
  • mattcmattc Posts: 16
    The 2.7 liter flat six only gives problems in hot climates, that's when the different expansion rates of bolt and block materials becomes a problem. If you live in New England this won't be a problem. :lemon:

    Changing the timing belt regularly on the 944 engine is crucial. If the belt snaps the valves will hit the pistons. This doesn't occur on the 924 engine, which isn't the most cultured 4 cylinder around, but it's tough and back in the day supercharger and turbo kits (BAE aftermarket kit) were fitted. :)
  • erk187erk187 Posts: 1
    How this thread can be sent in the wrong direction. In all actuality, the 924, especially those with the automatic, are hysterically reliable cars. Slow, somewhat boring, unless you like reliability, but if you understand volkwagens and porsches, especially as much as I do, you realize that they have inherent quirks that are to be expected, but taken care of properly, they are very inexpensive to keep, own and maintain.
    Its like this, the car has the audi 4 cylinder 1.8 block punched out to 2.0. The engine is practically bulletproof and linear. Uses the vw bus head, the timing belt, water pump and alternator are all easily accessible and all able to be changed on the road if need be. The audi auto transmission is fantastic, since it is out of the much heavier and beefier audi 5000 which is capable of handling 400 plus horsepower without any mods. The front suspension uses the vw rabbit lower control arms and beetle shocks ( anyone ever price a vw rabbit control arm? About 20 bucks!) bushings and shocks and brakes are all cheap and easy, making the 924 the most economical porsche to maintain that was ever made.
    Keep this in mind, you don't have to buy porsche parts for the 924, when german-made vw parts are the same thing. Dont listen to the naysayers and the "experts" who claim the 944 to be far superior. They are more expensive, yes, faster, yes, more expensive to maintain, yes. But really, more economical? Noooooooooo the 924 kicks butt for reliable, easygoing and economical. Plus the simple styling is a bit more unique to look at.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    edited October 2011
    Well then okay, as reliable as an engine from an 1980s era VW transporter, with a transmission as reliable as an Audi 5000. Fair enough.

    The 924 is a car that makes no sense to me at all. If you want something economical, why buy a car with such expensive parts and zero investment potential?

    The 944 is so superior in every respect (and quite reliable, too with proper care), that in 99% of all cases, if you buy a cheap 924, you will soon end up having put enough money into it to have bought yourself a clean, good running 944 anyway.

    All I see in a 924 is "no payback" for swimming against the tide of public opinion.

    Of course, I'm taking the point of view as consumer advocate, not car enthusiast. What I might do in a purchase is not what I'd advise a newbie to do.

    I'm jes' sayin' that a beat-up $600 Porsche 924 is not a good choice for a beginner.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Your logic makes perfect sense to me, in terms of the 924 vs. the 944. However, how many clean, good running 944s are left, at a price that makes sense? What I'm really asking is, for what you'd pay for a clean, good running 944, aren't there a number of much better newer model choices? Will even a 944 become a classic that justifies the cost of ownership? Aren't 944s just nice, but hardly fabulous - and very expensive to own - old cars too, albeit better than the 924s?

    If one wants a front engine, RWD sports car, limiting the search to Porsches strikes me as tunnel vision.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    edited November 2011
    Well I'd venture to say that a well-sorted out 944 turbo is, in fact, a fabulous car, and in the right hands, on the right race track, would give a modern 911 fits. The 944 is such a well-balanced car, and the handling is absolutely top notch, even by modern standards.

    Point taken on old, non-turbo, early 944 beaters. Let them go for parts. But a show quality 944 turbo coupe could crack $20K, whereas the same 924 would be lucky to bring you $7000 bucks-- To say nothing of the 944 demolishing the 924 in any type of race.

    I suppose one could gain a teensy bit of prestige from owning a 924, among the unknowing few. And you know, the 914 was spurned for decades and finally has won some respect from sports car lovers, so who knows? Maybe someday a 924 turbo would be worth decent money. Personally I find it a rough car with no outstanding attributes to interest me.
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