Thursday, August 11, 2016

Compressed Air: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo

Just what is it about the 924 that makes me want to own one?  I remember seeing them when they were in production and thinking "That's a Porsche??  No way man...someone is trying to flog dandelions in a bouquet".  Yet today, I find the thought of blasting through tight curves in this nifty and visually attractive package...well, downright appealing.  Find this 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo for sale near La Crosse, MI for $4,500 via craigslist.

We all know the story...Porsche needed to ditch air cooled engines, address safety concerns, meet emissions...blah, blah, blah. Lesser known is that the first water cooled Porsche designed might have been the 928, BUT the first water cooled Porsche to roll off the production line was the 924.  The timing of the first model in 1976 couldn't have been better.  Porsche as a company was struggling badly and the 924 is credited with keeping it from the brink.  With just over 150K produced from 1976 to 1988 it was considered a huge success. 

Turbo models (designated 931/932) were only available '78 - '83.  Starting with the Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 L I4 engine, Porsche hand assembled an all new cylinder head at its factory in Stuttgart and added a KKK K-26 turbocharger.  Set at 10 PSI boost, the early versions were good for 170 HP, a mere 10 HP less than a 911 SC at the time.  Reliability problems lead to improvements starting in 1979 with a smaller turbo, higher boost, and improved fuel injection good for 177 HP.  When the 924 Turbo finally arrived in North America for 1980, engine power was de-tuned to 143 HP, a whopping 20% drop from the European version.

Another little known fact...924s also ushered in the arrival of Porsche's first fully automatic transmission.  Fortunately, all Turbo's were equipped with the dog-leg 5 speed manual.  The interiors were not known for luxury or durability, after all, this was an entry level Porsche in the day.  This example looks reasonably decent and could reflect the claimed 90K on the odometer.  A psychedelic pasha interior would be the cherry on top but the brown scheme works nicely and does fit with the era.

924s initially received harsh criticism for poor performance and braking, but when Car & Driver first tested the 1980 Turbo model they claimed the car was " Last!"  924 Turbos are slowly gaining recognition for what they were; light, nimble, & fun to drive at the limits. Dare I even say collectible? A total of 11616 Turbo models were produced for world-wide consumption.  I gotta think if half of them still exist today that would be optimistic, and how many would be in this condition?  Damn it...someone hid my check book...

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When not receiving complaints of "distracted by cars...again" from his wife, Glenn can be found in the kitchen whipping up exotic cuisine and nourishing nosh.


  1. Fleetwood T. BroughamAugust 11, 2016 at 6:33 AM the Mortal Kombat font for the rear model designation!

  2. lejourseleavemealoneAugust 11, 2016 at 7:05 AM

    This one looks like a really good deal -- I have seen others in similar condition with asks of nearly twice this amount. Lightweight, turbo, rear-wheel drive, Stuttgart; it's all a good time until you take it to a Porsche specialist garage and have to remortgage your studio apartment and eliminate dinners out to fix the fuel injection. I guess the lesson here would be to DIY else you be holding your own, if you know what I mean.

  3. This one actually looks quite attractive outside, not sure about the brown interior. You have to wonder if a Turbo with 143 HP (and the added expense of maintenance) is better than the 87/88 924S with 160 HP and the real Porsche 2.5 L motor, better brakes and updated suspension? Or a nice 944 for a similar price?

  4. FYI I sure anyone looking for more than a couple blinks at the CL ad will realize, but the car is actually in on the left coast of Lake Michigan, near La Crosse, Wisconsin.
    I also believe this car was on fleaBay a few weeks ago and didn't reach it's reserve (or even get any bids (?)). There was a back story in the auction of it being a father/son project car and, know how those go... Johhny dropped out of high school and moved to LA to be a drag queen and now Sr just can't bear to look at the ca.... wait, no, that was something else I was thinking of... I do recall something about a re-paint being mentioned though.

  5. Oh Lord, K-Jet! Noooooooooo!

    Let's think on this. One hundred and forty-three horsepower. Just about enough to drive the air conditioning compressor on a Yukon XL.

    Yeah, I know, everyone's K-Jet turbo 2-liters were making 140HP +/- in the US in 1980. Saab, Volvo, Porsche, etc.

    But three years later you get the same power normally-aspirated, and while the 924 shape is clean, the 944 shape got back.

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