Junkyard Treasure: 1986 Porsche 944

Finally done after 33 years and better than 250,000 miles.

Most 1986 Porsche 944 wheels were the “phone dial” type. I think these 17s came from a Boxster.

You could get the 944 with an automatic transmission, but this one has the 5-speed manual.

That’s a lot of miles for a 1980s car not made by Honda, Toyota, or Mercedes-Benz.

The interior is pretty tattered, but I’ve seen 150,000-mile cars that looked a lot worse.

I haven’t seen a Porsche 911 of any sort in a self-service wrecking yard since the middle 2000s, but I do run across 914s, 924s, 928s, the occasional Boxster and, of course, 944s during my junkyard travels. A 944 is good condition, particularly one with a new timing belt and/or clutch, sells for respectable money these days… but a rough 944 with a lot of hard miles tends to scare away Porsche shoppers. This ’86 racked up Camry-grade miles during its lengthy driving career, but all the sand ran out of its hourglass recently and now it resides in a Northern California car graveyard.

How many four-figure clutch jobs did this car get during its lifetime?

It takes a certain level of commitment to keep up with 944 maintenance for enough years to achieve this sort of mileage figure. These cars are great fun to drive, and that was enough to keep this one on the road.

The 944’s 924 ancestor had an Audi engine, but the 944 got the genuine Porsche-designed article.

With 143 horsepower from its 2.5-liter straight-four engine, the 944 wasn’t terribly fast when looked at through the lens of 21st-century standards. However, its handling was exceptional for the time and the $22,950 sticker price (about $54,000 in 2019 dollars) made it a strong competitor for the dollars of buyers thinking about the BMW 325, the Nissan 300ZX Turbo or the Chevrolet Corvette.

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