The Porsche 944 Turbo

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 magnificient sportscar, 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 1985╜ 944. The only diffenerce 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 was outputting 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 and heads
Bore and Stroke: 3.94 x 3.11 in (100.0 x 78.9 mm)
Displacement:151 or 2479cc
Horsepower: 217@5,800 rpm, 247 hp (1989 model)
Torque: 243@3,500 rpm
Power to weight ratio: 15.0 lbs per horsepower
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
Wheelbase: 94.5"
Length: 168.9"
Width: 68.3"
Height: 50.2"
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 wheels

Fuel Economy:

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 initially 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 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;а 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 sw ay bars front and rear;а 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;а 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;а 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 the 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:а 0-30 = 2.0; 0-40 = 3.0;а 0-50 = 4.1;а 0-60 = 5.5;а 0-80 = 8.8;а 0-100 = 13.6;а 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 mphа to 80 mphа 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" status.

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 of which demand far outpaced supply. Production of all 944s ended in 1991 when the successor, the 968, appeared.

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