A Porsche is one of the itches you have to scratch at some point. And you don’t need to be loaded to do it - even with the used car market going bonkers, it’s still possible to buy an early 986 Boxster for peanuts.
We did exactly that for our £5000 American vs Euro vs JDM challenge YouTube videos. And with Porsche GB’s technical press officer Rich giving our 986 a clean(ish) bill of health, I actually bought it once we were done with it on YouTube.
But as you may now know, CT columnist and frequent buyer of our YouTube cast-offs Oakley now owns that Boxster, after I fixed it up a bit and sold it on to him.The reason? Because the 944 stole my heart.
When I was about 14 or 15, my mum and I travelled to Germany in a Ford Granada. The automatic gearbox was DOA, so we went to a second-hand car dealer near my grandmother’s house, and in the corner was this dark grey, 2.5 944. We bought it for about 2,000 Deutschmarks.
We loaded it up with our luggage, and my mum drove it all the way back to the UK. She kept it for about three or four years but then scrapped it. It was pretty screwed, and at the time no one cared about 944s. It wasn’t a car you’d spend loads of money trying to save back then.
Fast forward 20+ years, and we were planning the final purchase for our Trading Up series. In the back of my head, I thought, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a car mum had? I then stumbled across the Guards Red 944 beauty on Autotrader (a 1983, so it’s even older than me), and thought we were onto a winner. At that point I had no intention of buying it back off CT, I just figured it would be nice to have something a little like an ownership experience.
That wasn’t to be - I completely fell in love with it by the time the video was shot and knew I had to have it. And now I do.
That was a few months ago, and since then, the 944 has been ultra-reliable. It was resprayed in 2016, so the paintwork is in decent condition, and there’s minimal rust. There’s a little amount of rust, but nothing to lose sleep over.
The ‘Pasha’-patterned fabric on the front seats is torn, and the dashboard is cracked - that’s pretty standard for a 944. The headlights aren’t great, either, but importantly, the pop-ups still go up and down as they should. The final point of note is the wheels - they’re pepper pot-style rims off a 944 Turbo, and they had a reasonably good refurb, but could probably do with another.
It’s brilliant to drive, and really responsive partly thanks to having the throttle response cam upgrade. The engine’s nice and healthy despite being 140,000 miles and nearly four decades old, and I’ve had 155bhp out of it on a dyno, a drop of 8bhp compared to what it left the factory with.
It’s a fun car to drive with no power steering, which is terrible for my shoulder injury, but great for feeling everything from the road beneath you. The rack is reasonably quick but sluggish by modern standards, but you do get used to this.
The gearbox feels quite good, if a little spongy, so I’m hoping to improve the shift next year. Currently, the 944 is dry-stored in a grain shed waiting for winter to end since this is a car I want to look after and preserve.
Also on my to-do list once the hibernation is over: a set of spacers as the stock wheels look pretty lost in the wheel arches, a service, a fresh set of tyres and an interior repair. Other than that, it’ll be left as is - I don’t want to lower it or do any other mods because it’s near enough perfect as is.
It’s my dream attainable sports car. It looks boxy and cool, and (fight me on this if you want) prettier than the 928 and 968. And most importantly, it reminds me of my youth, giving me an intoxicating nostalgia hit every time I get behind the wheel. Why would I want to change it?