Porsche 968 Turbo S
Porsche 968 Turbo S. Click image to enlarge

Related links

Share this story on Facebook

Join the official Autos Facebook group

By Jeff Burry; photos courtesy Porsche Canada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
Porsche 968

In the late 1970s, Volkswagen had contracted Porsche to build a sports car, but in the final stages backed out of the agreement. Management at Porsche, sitting with the design sketches, recognized this as a perfect opportunity to produce an entry-level vehicle that would provide for a larger market share. It then proceeded to build the well-known, but perhaps less-respected Porsche 924, at least amongst Porsche automotive purists.

The Porsche 924 was quickly followed-up by the Porsche 944 in 1982 which enjoyed much success and brisk sales throughout the 1980s and saw a number of improvements including a turbo version being introduced in 1986. A Turbo S could be had in 1988 that was fitted with an even larger turbocharger producing 60 more horsepower than its predecessor. Porsche retired the 944 model in 1991, replacing it with the Porsche 968.

Typically, automotive manufacturers, in an effort to reduce production costs, utilize components from other models when building new vehicles. However, in pure Porsche style, the engineers decided to significantly modify or replace 80 per cent of the 944’s mechanical components in developing the 968.

The 968 would not only be a successor to the 944, it would be a totally new vehicle, from the ground up, with a few borrowed styling features from the 928 – think pop-up head lights and rear fascia.

To further emphasize just how unique the 968 was from its predecessor, Porsche moved production from the Audi plant in Neckarsulum (where the 924 and 944 were manufactured) to Porsche’s own factory in Zuffenhausen. The Porsche 968 was produced from 1992 through to 1995, and was available in both coupe and cabriolet styles. A total of 12,776 units were produced over the four model years with less than 5,000 being shipped to North America.

Porsche 968 Turbo S
Porsche 968 Turbo S. Click image to enlarge

The new model was powered by an updated version of the 944’s inline four-cylinder, 3.0-litre engine, producing 236 horsepower. This updated engine was the second largest and most powerful four-cylinder ever offered in a production vehicle at that time. Two transmissions were available – a six-speed manual, as well as a dual-mode Tiptronic automatic, the first of its type ever found in a production vehicle. These two transmissions were then matched to a VarioCam valve timing system resulting in lower emissions, more horsepower and better torque.

A dual-mass flywheel, rare metals catalytic converter and a new and improved engine management system all were installed by Porsche, who possessed a keen desire to improve the 968’s performance over its predecessors – and that it did, in spades.

In terms of performance, zero to 100 km/h could be covered in the 5.6 second range for the coupe, while the cabriolet version had an equally impressive time of only 5.9 seconds. Top speed was achieved when the needle pointed at the 250 km/h marker on the speedo. In terms of a production vehicle built almost two decades ago, it was considered to be very fast – especially for a vehicle powered by a four-cylinder engine.

The performance of the 968 was assisted by a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, all-round independent suspension, MacPherson struts up front and the presence of semi trailing arms in the rear. Separate dampers, transverse torsion bars and an anti-roll bar further provided the driver with an enhanced performance driving experience – seatbelts mandatory, grandma!

Porsche 968
Porsche 968. Click image to enlarge

A “Club Sport” model to the 968 was the Porsche 968 Turbo S; this is the rarest of the rare. Porsche only produced 15 of these worldwide with none being shipped to North America. Gone were the luxury appointments, with electric windows being replaced by crank windows, stereo and A/C systems were now optional and a sunroof was no longer available. End result – it shed 110 pounds.

The car is virtually identical to the 968 except it sports two NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) ducts in the hood suggesting this is not your average Porsche 968, and no, it isn’t an aftermarket part produced by “tuner” suppliers to spruce up that older 968.

Underneath the NACA hood is a turbocharged engine producing 305 horsepower and 369 ft. lbs. of torque from that same 3.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. Keep in mind that the 1995 Porsche 928 with the 5.4-litre V8 also produced the exact same amount of torque. Another dead giveaway are the three-piece 18-inch Speedline alloy wheels also found on the Porsche 911S. This Club Sport model could reach 100 km/h in only 4.5 seconds.

The rear of the car houses a large, adjustable spoiler and the script on the rear fascia reads “turbo S” instead of “968.” If you are looking for a rare Porsche, then this is a vehicle that should be on your radar. Porsche probably would have produced more of these Club Sport models, but was not about to offer a cheaper model that could outperform the 911 and 928.

Porsche 968
Porsche 968
Porsche 968. Click image to enlarge

The Porsche 968 (non-Club Sport) was nonetheless a more entry-level type of vehicle that would at the very least enable one to enjoy that German sports car driving experience, for considerably less money than what it would cost to buy a 911 or 928.

The Porsche brand was then, and is today, known for its high performance heritage and styling cues. Having said that, retail prices at the time for a 1992 Porsche 968 were still rather steep with a base model coupe costing $53,900. By 1995, the price had risen to $64,692.

In reading numerous reviews of the 968, it seems to be unanimous that owners speak of the superb handling, quick acceleration, and uniqueness of the vehicle. It is indeed a people-pleaser, a real head-turner, and there is no doubting its pedigree. Of note, however, is the fact that it is a Porsche – expensive to maintain and many repairs are not easily made by your garden variety home mechanic. Owners will also know well where all the local fueling stops are located.

You can find a number for sale both in Canada and south of the border. Typically these vehicles tend to sell for more in Canada due to the limited number of Porsche 968s that were shipped to the great white north. In the United States, however, you can get into one of these cars today for under $20k – now, if only the Canadian dollar would rebound to where it was a year ago.

For those Porsche purists out there who still feel anything less than a 911 or 928 is bologna (the poor man’s steak), how about giving some recognition to the 968. Remember, the only reason that there were not more Club Sport editions produced is due to the fact that Porsche did not wish to provide competition to its 911 and 928 siblings, for a significantly lower price.

Having had the experience of driving a late model Porsche 911 and a Porsche 968, it can be said that the 968 will definitely provide you with an ear-to-ear grin as you listen to the whine of the engine at high rpms. You might also find that you are apologizing more to your significant other due to the extra amount of time it takes to run to the corner convenience store.

Connect with Autos.ca