The Big Car Database

Porsche 944 1982–1991

Porsche 944
1986 944 Turbo.jpg
1986 2.5 L 944 Turbo (951) US
Manufacturer Porsche
Production 1982–1991
Assembly Neckarsulm, Germany
Designer Harm Lagaay (Porsche AG)
Body and chassis
Class Sports car (S)
Body style
  • 2-door coupe
  • 2-door convertible
Layout FR layout
  • 2.5 L I4
  • 2.7 L I4
  • 3.0 L I4
  • 3-speed automatic
  • 5-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,400 mm (94.5 in)
  • 1986-88: 4,318 mm (170.0 in)
  • Turbo & S2: 4,288 mm (168.8 in)
  • 1989–1991: 4,290 mm (168.9 in)
Width 1,735 mm (68.3 in)
Height 1,275 mm (50.2 in)
Curb weight
  • pre-1988: 1,180 kg (2,601 lb)
  • 1988+: 1,330 kg (2,932 lb)
  • 1986 Turbo: 1,360 kg (2,998 lb)
  • 1987+ Turbo: 1,416 kg (3,122 lb)
  • note: some sources are dry weight
Predecessor Porsche 924
Successor Porsche 968

The Porsche 944 is a sports car built by Porsche from 1982 to 1991. A front-engined, rear-wheel drive mid-level model based on the 924 platform, the 944 was available in coupé or cabriolet body styles, with either naturally aspirated or turbocharged engines

Intended to be produced into the 1990s, major revisions planned for a 944 "S3" model were eventually combined into the 968, which became its replacement. Over 163,000 944s were produced, making it the most successful car line in Porsche history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.


The Porsche 924 had originally been a project of VW-Porsche a joint Porsche/Volkswagen company created to develop and produce the 914 which was sold in Europe as both a Porsche and a Volkswagen. In 1972, a replacement for the Volkswagen version of the 914, code named EA-425 began development. The model was to be sold as an Audi as part of the VW-Audi-Porsche marketing arrangement. Porsche was to have its own version. At one point, VW head Rudolf Leidig, declared the EX-425 was going to be a VW exclusively, thus denying Porsche of a 914 replacement. Although testing had begun in the Spring of 1974, Volkswagen cancelled the EX-425 program because of significant financial losses due to declining sales and rising development costs for new vehicles, as well as the departure of Leidig. The recently released Volkswagen Scirocco was expected to fill the sports coupé market segment.

This led Porsche to market an entry level car to replace the Porsche 912E, which was a US-only stop-gap model for 1976, and their model of 914, which was discontinued in 1975. Porsche purchased the design and the finished development with a mechanical fuel injection system. The vehicle received positive reviews, but was criticized by Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced 2 L engine. In 1979, Porsche introduced a Turbocharged 924 to increase performance, but this model carried a high price. Rather than scrap the design, Porsche decided to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911; although model numbers would change, the 924 would provide the basis for its replacement.

Porsche re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 L inline-four engine, bore 100 mm (3.9 in), stroke 78.9 mm (3.1 in), that was, in essence, half of the 928's 5.0 L V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp (112 kW; 152 PS) in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes.


Year Model Power
1982 - 1987 944 2.5 L 165 PS (121 kW; 163 hp)
US 1982-1985: 143 hp (107 kW)
US 1985-1987: 147 hp (110 kW)
1988 944 2.5 L 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp)
1987 - 1989 944 S 2.5 L 190 PS (140 kW; 187 hp)
1989 944 2.7 L 165 PS (121 kW; 163 hp)
1989 - 1991 944 S2 3.0 L 211 PS (155 kW; 208 hp)
1985 - 1988 944 Turbo (951) 2.5 L 220 PS (162 kW; 217 hp)
1988 944 Turbo S (951) 2.5 L 250 PS (184 kW; 247 hp)
1989 - 1991 944 Turbo (951) 2.5 L 250 PS (184 kW; 247 hp)


Porsche introduced the 944 for MY 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds (8.3 seconds according to "Porsche the Ultimate Guide" By Scott Faragher). The factory-claimed top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h) was also pessimistic, Autocar having verified a top speed of 137 mph (220 km/h)[verification needed]. The car had nearly even front to rear weight distribution (50.7% front/49.3% rear) thanks to the rear transaxle balancing out the engine in the front.

In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator (from 90 amp to 115 amp), increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The "cookie cutter" style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new "phone dial" style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as "1985B", "85.5" or "1985½" cars.

For the 1988 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed to 52 mm (2.047 in) and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option.

In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 L engine, bore 104 mm (4.1 in), stroke 78.9 mm (3.1 in), with a rated 162 hp (121 kW) (versus 158 hp (118 kW) for the 1988 2.5 L version) and a significant increase in torque. In addition to the increase in displacement, the new motor featured a siamesed-cylinder block design and a different cylinder head which incorporated larger valves.

944 Turbo (951/952)

For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car's engine that produced 220 PS (162 kW) (217 bhp (162 kW) in the US) at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo's front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat.

1987 Porsche 944 Turbo (US Model)

Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph (270 km/h) speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car's scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model.

In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp (186 kW) and 258 lb·ft (350 N·m) torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp (164 kW) and 243 lb·ft (329 N·m)). This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar (175 kPa; 25.4 psi) at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar (152 kPa; 22.0 psi) at 5800 rpm. In June 1988, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo S (with the advantage of shorter final drive gear) and achieved a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 5.5 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.9 seconds at 101 mph (163 km/h). Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph (261 km/h).

The 944 Turbo S's suspension had the "M030" option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger 26.8 mm (1.055 in) hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver's side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches (178 mm) in the front, and 9 inches (229 mm) in the rear with 52 mm (2.047 in) offset; sizes of the Z-rated tires were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission (case code designation: AOR) featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard.

The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a "Burgundy plaid" (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colors were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp (190 kW) prototypes featured a "special wishes custom interior" options package.

In 1989 and later production, the 'S' designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the "M030" suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time.

944 S

1987–1988 Porsche 944S, with 16-valve engine

For the 1987 model year, the 944S "Super" was introduced. The 944S featured a high performance naturally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS (140 kW; 187 hp) version of the 2.5 L engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small '16 Ventiler' script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.5 seconds (Best) and a 232 km/h (144 mph) top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 L DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S.

A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16x7 and 16x9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the 'S2' 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 L 944 S2 sibling.

944 S2

1989-1991 944 S2 coupe (Australia)
1989-1991 944 S2 coupe (Australia)

In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS (155 kW; 208 hp) normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 L version of the 944S engine. With a bore of 104 mm (4.1 in) and a stroke of 88 mm (3.5 in), it was the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 L M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds (0–100 km/h 6.8 s), with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment.

In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.

This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.

944 Turbo Cabriolet

In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S's 250 hp (186 kW) engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African markets. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas.

End of the line

In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realized that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944's final year of production was 1991 with over 4,000 cars built and sold. In 1992 the 968 debuted and was sold alongside the 928 through 1995, when both water-cooled front engine models were discontinued.


A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche's history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.


A total of 113,070 944s were made between 1982 and 1989, with 56,921 being exported to the United States. A project joint venture with Porsche and Callaway produced 16 specially built turbo 944's for the U.S. in 1983.

Model Year Production Rest of World US Notes
1982 3921 3921    
1983 14633* 9127 5490 16 944 Callaway Turbos
1984 26539 9921 16618  
1985 23720 17553 6167  
1986 17010 6109 10901  
1987 10689 2343 8346  
1988 5965 2226 3731 8 to Aus.
1989 10593 4941 5652 2.7 L Engine
Totals 113070 56141 56921  

944 Turbo (951/952)

A total of 25,245 944 Turbos were made, with 13,982 being exported to the United States.

Model Year Production Rest of World US Notes
1985 178 178    
1986 10937* 3424 7513 12 S/SE Prototypes, 8 LHD (951), 4 RHD (952)
1987 4955 1546 + 88 CUP 3210 + 11 CUP  
1988 4097 ** 1875 + 94 CUP 1874 + 99 CUP in addition, 126 SP Can., 30 CUP Aus.
1989 4103 1333 1385 1385 Can
1990 1251 1107 144  
1991 938 † 938    
Totals 25245 9331 13982 30 Aus, 1511 Can

* - Includes 12 Turbo S (951) / SE in UK (952), factory built prototypes of which 10 were exported to markets outside Germany.
** - Includes 1635 Turbo S
† - Includes 251 Turbo Cabriolet. A different source, Jerry Sloniger's article in the October 1991 issue of Excellence, indicates that the factory built 525, of which 255 were exported to markets outside Germany.

< >"CUP" designates a cup car special edition race car.


A total of 12,936 944S models were produced from 1987 to 1988, with 8,815 being exported to the United States. In 1985 a Prototype 944S Cabriolet 'Studie' built by Braun was powered by the 2.5 L 16 valve which developed 185 hp, forerunner of the later production 944S and S2 Cabriolet models.[citation needed]

Model Year Production Rest of World US Notes
1987 5224* 1912 3312 75 CS/Club Sport & Cup Cars
1988 7562* 2321 5391 75 CS/Club Sport & Cup Cars
Special Editions 151 38 112 1 1985 "Studie" Cabriolet Prototype (Braun)
Totals 12936 4271 8815  

* - Includes CS - Club Sport's built for US, and ROW markets.


A total of around 14,071 944S2s were made between 1989 and 1991, with 3,650 being exported to the United States.

Model Year Production Rest of World US Notes
1989 7632 4941 2691 51 Aus
1990 3321 2872 449 71 Aus
1991 3118 2608 510 6 Aus
Totals 14071 10421 3650  

944S2 Cabriolet

Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet
Model Year (Sept-Aug) Production Rest of World US Notes
1989 16 0 16 16 US Only
1990 3938 2114 1824  
1991 1702 1140 562  
Totals 5656 3254 2402  

944 Special Editions

Model Year Type Production Notes
1981 944 GTP/R Le Mans 2 1 Race car, 1 Test car
1986–1989 944 Turbo Cup 150 or more


The 944 was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list from 1983 through 1985, and the Turbo made the list for 1986.

In 1984, Car and Driver named the 944 the Best Handling Production Car in America.



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