PORSCHE 944 CABRIOLET speaks the name in hushed, reverential tones, for this is one of the truly great marques, a legendary constructor of sports cars which have always ranked with the very best of their kind, one has only to witness their dominance in sportscar racing in the 60s, 70s and 80s with cars that mechanically, if not visually, were closely akin to the road cars.

Unfortunatly, in Britain, the name became somewhat unfairly tarnished during the Thatcher years, a totem for yuppiedom, the ultimate symbol of success to some, a symbol of avarice to others who looked on with ill disguised envy.

In it's time, the 944 has become regarded as one of the classic front engine, rear drive, Porsches, very different in character from the rear engined, rear drive, 911 and it's derivatives.

The traditional sports car layout of front engine, rear drive, gives slightly old fashioned responses, yet I mean this in no derogatory way, for what is on hand to the enthusiastic driver is a set of responses and a feel which echoes all of the great sports cars of the past yet adds immeasurably to those responses and in so doing makes the feel of many of the current crop of Far Eastern, front drive, sports cars rather tame by comparison.

Put simply, all of the front of the car can be felt through the hands and all of the rear of the car through a somewhat lower part of the anatomy, the small leather wheel and the tight fitting bucket seats being the media by which every tiny change in the relationship between car and road can be felt.

This is total, almost bionic communication, man and machine in perfect harmony, now where have I heard that before?

Not perhaps as strikingly pretty as it's rear engined brethren, the car gives an impression of muscularity and purposefulness, those fat arches barely covering the enormous rubber, the sharply cut off tail and that long bonnet, which from behind the wheel, seems to go on forever.

The cockpit is really just for two people, ideally two who like being close, the rear seats being very small, barely able to contain a contorted adult for more than a few miles or a child for a little longer, but then this is meant to be a 2 people car, is it not? Isn't that what great sports cars are really about.

The driving environment is just about perfect, everything easily to hand, placed where it needs to be, the driving position in the figure hugging, multi adjustable seats and the adjustable steering wheel giving total control facing the large clear dials and well organised dash.

Just about everything is power assisted, seats, windows, mirrors and steering, also the excellently designed and attractive hood although the catches are a little too fiddly for a car of this value.

Access is easy via the large doors and even my mother found the car comfortable and, on being collected from the hairdresser, had nary a hair out of place, even with the hood down, so good are the aerodynamics.

The pedals are rather heavy, racing car style, as is the power steering, which is very precise, direct and always very communicative.

Massive power is available from the 3,000 cc 4 pot engine, enormous torque making the car a very smooth drive with amazing acceleration and a near 150 mph top speed.The 5 speed gearbox is a delightful flick of the stubby lever from one gear to another.

To back up this performance are one of the best sets of brakes I have ever used, ABS equipped with a firm, yet sensitive, pedal and massive stopping power from the vented discs.

Suspension is sports car firm with perfect balance, always taut, settling quickly into a cornering attitude on the chosen line, with no roll and enormous grip from the massive tyres. At all speeds the car is incredibly stable, a feel which increases as the speed rises.

Now let's be quite clear on this point, we are talking about a car which costs the thick end of £50,000, yet a car of this quality and incredible performance will always attract classic prices, the very name adding considerably to the value and at any price the 944 is already a classic.

Soon to evolve again into the 968, there are not many of the 944 left.Catch it now before it's gone, it will thrill and teach every time you climb into it. Few cars grow on you as quickly as this one, I really didn't want to give it back, still we can all dream, one day...perhaps...


  • PRICE AS TESTED £41,794
  • TOP SPEED 149 M.P.H.
  • 0-60 7 SECONDS
  • 38 M.P.G.[ CONSTANT 56 MPH ]


First Published 1992 - Article © Graham Benge 2007

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