Porsche built its 944 model from 1982 to 1991. Sharing a platform with the 924, this new model didn’t quite replace it, as the 924 continued to be produced until 1988. The 944, in its turn, gave way to the 968. Porsche originally intended to keep it around well into the 1990s, but the updates made to the 924 in the early ‘90s were major and involved so many new parts that it ended up being rolled into the new model.
Although the 924 was a great car and one that sold well, it wasn’t perfect and Porsche wanted to offer consumers something better. Enter the 944. Starting with the 924 platform, Porsche got rid of the Audi engine, always a sticking point about the earlier model for purists, and used a 2.5-liter, inline four engine of its own design. Porsche selected this smaller engine for the 924 for reasons of fit and fuel efficiency. Other changes implemented to create the 944 included balance shafts to make the four-cylinder engine feel smoother, upgraded suspension and braking systems, and a fresh and modern interior.
Porsche debuted the new model in 1982 and received good feedback. The 944 was faster than the 924. It was also more refined, handled better, and had better braking times. Porsche left the 944 alone for a few years and made the first significant changes in 1985. New door panels, some new interior elements, a larger fuel tank, an upgraded alternator, and more luxury equipment were included. Porsche made few other significant changes to the 944 until its final years when those changes went into the production of the newer 968.
For 1985, Porsche also introduced a 944 Turbo with a turbocharged engine that bumped up the horsepower, acceleration, and speed. The Turbo also included body styling changes to improve its aerodynamics. 1988 saw the introduction of the 944 Turbo S with a yet more powerful engine and a state-of-the-art suspension system. In its final year, 1991, the 944 lineup included a Turbo cabriolet. Just 625 units of this model were produced and none of them came to the U.S.
During its run, Porsche made over 160,000 cars in the 944 family. The model was popular with consumers and well-received by critics. Today this later classic is becoming more collectible and is destined to be an important collector’s car in the future.