I’ve accepted a new job, and for the first time in 15 years I’ll need to commute by car. A mere 8 or so miles, which I might occasionally cycle (though the half-decent cycle route is a lot longer) or even run (hey, it might happen) but realistically I need a car. We have a family car already, but I can’t take that to work everyday as the rest of the family need it, so car number two is required. Ideally a nice, reliable, every day driver, that’s comfortable, practical, good in stop-start traffic, and with great fuel economy.

So I fulfilled a long-held dream and bought this twenty five year old Porsche 944 S2.

Porsche 944 S2

It’s a beautiful thing, to me at least, though perhaps others see a relic of everything that was bad about the 80s. It’s a 1991 model from the end of the run, but basically an 80s car. It has a three litre inline four engine, putting out 211hp, that’s basically half of the eight cylinder 928 engine, with balance shafts to keep it smooth in four cylinder configuration. It has pop-up headlights. It even has a really very useable boot – seriously. Finally, and critically, there are two seats in the back that are genuinely big enough for my two kids. It’s lucky I and the wife have relatively short legs, so the front seats aren’t pushed back too far.

I was a bit worried about picking up the car and driving it back down the M1 to its new home, as the critical rubber timing belt has not been changed for 11 years, which is tantamount to engine suicide in these cars. If the belt breaks, the valves and pistons collide in a most unfortunate and expensive mess. The saving grace is that though the belt is elderly, it hasn’t done many miles – just 12,000. I will be having it changed and the whole car given a once-over by a local specialist ASAP. It’ll be interesting to see how much it ends up costing.

So what else is wrong with it? Lots! It’s a twenty five year old car, and I didn’t pay top-dollar so wasn’t expecting perfection. My inspection and test drive were a bit of blur, but here are the key things I picked up on.

  • Patches of lacquer gone in a couple of spots.
  • Some very minor dings, stone chips.
  • A small amount of rust bubbling behind front wheels.
  • Gear gaiter tatty.
  • Steering wheel tatty.
  • Some dash issues: ‘rosette’ grill slightly broken; trim lifting slightly.
  • Buttons worn – can’t make out the symbols on some of them any more.
  • Mats not secured well in the footwell because lugs they connect to are broken/missing.
  • Groan from steering at low speed.
  • Boot release switch doesn’t work.
  • No luggage blind or sunroof bag.
  • Some minor signs of oil from cam cover gasket in one spot.
  • Messed up rubber/foam thingy inside spring at front on one side.
  • Oil pressure gauge suspiciously showing 5 all the time when running.

These are all fixable or tolerable I reckon.

There was certainly enough good stuff to make me buy it.

  • Oil level and condition good.
  • Electrics all seem to work – though in my excitement I admit I failed to test every last thing.
  • Looks stunning from 2+ yards – i.e. the body is straight and paintwork pretty good.
  • Radio sounds good, with CD changer in the glovebox.
  • Tyres are brand new (Avon) and wheels in tip-top condition.
  • Very original – no nasty mods.
  • Drove nicely – comfortable cruising, smooth engine, decent gearbox.
  • Well kept history folder with each receipt in a plastic pocket. A good sign.

I should point out that for all its looks and sporty credentials, it’s not actually an especially fast car by modern standards. It doesn’t quite have the shove of the two-litre turbo diesel estate I normally drive – those turbo diesels are so torquey when the power whooshes in from the turbo. But it’s a beautiful classic, to be cherished and cosseted and most importantly, tinkered with! Expect more posts on the travails of old Porsche ownership as I get to grips with it, good and bad.

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