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Vintage Views: Porsche 924S

The Porsche 924 doesn’t have the greatest reputation among enthusiasts. We admit, it’s not the sexiest, fastest, most exciting thing to come out of Stuttgart. But when is a Porsche 924 not a Porsche 924? When it’s a 924S. That single letter represents redemption for this otherwise ho-hum model line.

Despite today’s panning of the original 924, this car represents an important chapter in Porsche history. When the 924 replaced the 914 for the 1976 model year, not only did it offer buyers an updated, low-cost alternative to the 911, but it broke ground, too.

The 924 was the company’s first production car to carry its engine up front. More technologic advancement: Its engine featured water cooling, a new idea for Porsche at the time. Then there was the basic layout and bodywork–stunning and totally contemporary, from the flip-up headlights to the giant glass hatchback.

Okay, so a few parts came from the VW bin, like the Rabbit lower control arms and Super Beetle rear suspension pieces. Still, the 924 filled a niche and, according to Porsche historians Jürgen Barth and Gustav Büsing, became the bestselling sports car of 1977.

The 924 left America after the 1982 model year, passing the role of Porsche’s entry-level sportster to the 944. While similar in appearance to the 924, the 944 received a host upgrades, with the biggest lurking under the hood. The old 100-or-sohorsepower VW- and Audi-sourced engine was replaced with a genuine Porsche piece, bumping output by some 50 percent.

Fender flares allowed the 944 to accept bigger wheels and tires, while the suspension and brakes received an overhaul. The 944 simply outran its predecessor.

Porsche kept the 924 alive for other markets, although eventually the engine supply dried up. Porsche’s solution: Install the 944’s engine, along with the latter’s vented disc brakes and aluminum trailing arms. At the same time, the wheels grew to 15x16-inch alloys.

This new creation, dubbed the 924S, was basically the narrow 924 shell fitted with 944 parts. It came stateside for just the 1987 and 1988 model years. One more bonus: That narrow 924 body cuts a smaller hole through the air than the 944’s.

What’s not to love? Well, the 924S is based on the 924, meaning it didn’t receive the updated interior given to the 944 partway through 1985. And since the 924S doesn’t have the 944’s fender flares, tire size can be a bit limited–even 7-inch wheels up front can be a little tight.

In the Porsche world, something different usually means something with a giant price tag. In the case of the 924S, we’re still seeing nice examples going for around $5000–give or a take a few bucks, even.

Shopping and Ownership

Jason Burkett knows what it takes to keep a 924S on the road. Not only does he own Porsche parts supply house Paragon Products, but he also used to own one of these cars.

I think a primo, low-mileage, original-paint, non-modified 924S could be a decent investment. You may not get rich, but you won’t get hurt, either. These cars have great a/c, ride quietly, get great gas mileage, and still look modern after all these years.

The original clutch features a rubber-center disc. The rubber eventually rots and falls apart, so most cars have been upgraded to a springcenter clutch disc. Since the clutch is such a pain to do, we normally recommend that folks use our $83 clutch accessory kit.

Every 924S/944 should have periodic belt and roller maintenance. If you buy a car and it doesn’t have any records of this job being done, do it now. People often ask if they can just do the belts because the rollers “look okay.” I wouldn’t take a chance, because if a roller seizes or your belt breaks, you’ve probably totaled your car. Belt and roller kits are not terribly expensive, either, at $219.52.

Konis make a huge difference– particularly if the car still has the stock shocks or someone has installed something cheap, like KYB units.

Lowering the car a bit is very common. Two popular avenues for dropping the front are Weltmeister springs or our $265 Adjustable Ride Height Kit. Just like the 944, the 924S came from the factory with a rear that could be lowered somewhat.

Anti-roll bars can be upgraded, too, with units from Weltmeister, Tarett Engineering and even some factory sources.

Not a ton you can do for horsepower, but one easy-to- install item that seems to make driving more enjoyable is our $28.50 Throttle Response Cam. It won’t add any more power, but it will give you much quicker throttle response that makes the car feel much peppier.

Parts and Service

Next Level European
nextleveleuropean.com
(844) 639-8585

Paragon Products
paragon-products.com
(800) 200-9366

Pelican Parts
pelicanparts.com
(888) 280-7799

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
porschenut
porschenut Reader
2/4/16 11:09 a.m.

Nice try but you missed the first 924S. Check your history, Porsche did the S option in 1979 to make a basis for the D production racers. No sunroof, manual windows, limited slip and humongous brakes. I was lucky enough to find one of these in the late 90's and it was a sick track car.

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