The Porsche 944 was a high performance sports car produced by German auto manufacturer Porsche. It was introduced in 1982 to replace the Porsche 924 as their entry level model, although the two cars were sold in parallel for a number of years. Production ended in 1991 when it was replaced by the Porsche 968. The 944 was a huge success for Porsche throughout the 1980s, and was available in several forms throughout its evolution: 944, 944S, 944 Turbo, and the 944S2.
The Porsche 944 was introduced in 1982 with a 2.5 L straight-4 engine whose design was based on one half of the Porsche 928’s V8 engine. Compared to the 924, the 944 had updated bodywork and many improved parts such as its engine, brakes etc.
The 944’s engine used the patented balance shaft technology developed by Mitsubishi (as used in the 2.6 L Astron engine) to minimise vibration. Porsche had to pay Mitsubishi a fee of $8 for every engine using this system.
In mid-1985 the 944’s underwent its first significant changes. The interior’s ergonomics and air conditioning system was improved and the radio antenna also moved from a standard vertical position to being embedded in the windshield. The alternator was upgraded from a 90 amp alternator to a 115 amp alternator. Other changes included a change in oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast aluminum control arms and semi-trailing arms, a larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, revised starter, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The "cookie cutter" style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to the new "phone dial" style wheels.
In 1985 Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, a higher-performance variant, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 bhp (164 kW) at 6000 rpm. The Turbo also featured several other revisions, such as improved aerodynamics, a strengthened gearbox, wider wheels and uprated suspension. Major engine component revisions, more than 30 in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat.
944S and 944 Turbo S
In 1987 a "Super" version, the 944S (naturally-aspirated), was introduced while dual air-bags and an anti-lock braking system were introduced as options on the base model. The 944S had a little more power thanks in part to the series’ first sixteen valve engine, as well as other slight improvements. 1988 saw the introduction of the 944 Turbo S, with 250 bhp (186 kW) and a standard limited slip differential. For the 87 model year, ABS anti-lock brakes became an available option. Starting with the 88 model year, dual air bags became standard equipment on all 944 series.
In 1989 the ’S’ was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the ’S’ package as standard. The regular 944 displacement was increased to a 2.7 L engine. This was the only year for the 2.7 L, as this year saw the introduction of the 944S2 with a 3.0 L engine displacement which saw sales through 1991. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and valence body of the Turbo model. The S2 was also available as a cabriolet, a first for the 944 line.
944S3 > 968
In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. Once invested into the development process, they realized that so many parts were being changed that their "evolution" had really amassed to an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche quickly rethought their plans, and shifted development from a 944 S3 to a car that would replace the 944 entirely, dubbed 968. The 968 debuted in 1992 and was sold alongside the 928 through 1995, when both models were discontinued.