New in The Garage: 1985 Porsche 944

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I have finally done it. I have finally become a Porsche owner.

Muscle car prices have been on the rise for a couple of decades, because they are the cars the Boomers dreamed of in high school. Porsche 911 prices have shot up in recent years as rich guys my age who had that 911 Turbo posters on the wall, while other guys lusted after that Lambo door stop. Even though I grew up around a 901 and have always wanted a 911, it was the 944 that stole my heart back then. Today, my kid accompanied me on a short road trip to buy one.

There was something about the 944, with its body styling stolen from the German 924 Turbo race cars I had seen in the magazines that I fell in love with. The muscular stance was intoxicating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a rabid front engine Porsche fanatic or anything, but to this day I have a soft spot for the car.

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I wasn’t really on a hunt for a Porsche. I am just fed up with seeing so many of my American and West Coast auto journo friends having cool old cars that they can drive all year round if they so choose. I have been looking for a cheap old car from the south that I could bring home. My Wife and Daughter could drive it for a few months and then I could flip it for a profit. Say a nice old Beetle or something. We can drive nice old cars here from about April until October, so why not.

I just happened to be cruising Kijiji, when I came across an ad for an ’85 944 in a somewhat unusual brown colour that caught my eye. It turns out that the car was being sold by a guy who bought it in Vancouver 20 years ago. It had some cosmetic issues, but mechanically the car was solid and had been maintained constantly by a local Porsche specialist. The car even has a bit of rock and roll pedigree, as the seller was an artist named Todd Claydon, who has done work with Led Zeppelin and Motley Crue.

I spoke with the tech who has looked after the car in recent years and he told me that the car is indeed mechanically mint. Everything works, the front end is tight and has some new components. Brakes are new, as are the tires. Important maintenance bits like the timing belt and water pump have been changed recently. The air conditioning even works. He did however mention that the car had some cosmetic issues.

Upon first inspection, I could see that the car was as advertised. It is a 30 year old sports car that is showing its age. There are a few spot on the body which have received some DIY rust repair that don’t look bad. There is an oops on the hood where an apprentice tech lowered the hood on a can of brake fluid. There is a fender bender repair which has received the wrong colour of touch up paint. All small stuff really. The wheels have been refinished within the past 5 years or so and look great. It is shod with brand new Toyo rubber. The seats received new leather covers about a decade ago and while they do look ten years old, they look pretty good. Like most cars of that era, the original dash had cracked and an aftermarket cover had been installed. It too looks good.

Even though the week brown coupe has had its plates removed, we headed out for a short drive around the small town. It was the first time I had actually driven a 944 and I was surprised at just how tight the car feels, despite its age. Not a single squeak or rattle, the suspension feels taut and the car brakes in a straight line without any vibration. At one point, I actually broke the rear wheels loose in third gear thanks more to the downpour than the measly 150 horsepower the car had when it was new. A gentle lift was all that was needed to settle it down. No high tech driver aids here.

While the body is not as perfect as I would have liked, the mechanical side of the equation meant that this should be a relatively trouble free sports car for this year’s Summer driving season. In the coming months, I will likely have the right front fender properly matched and maybe even repair the hood properly. You can be sure to see more of the car here in The Garage Blog in the coming weeks.

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