Exposure to a Performance Car review of the Lamborghini Countach 5000QV at an impressionable age set Dan Trent on course for a life-long obsession with cars. As editor of PistonHeads.com he’s got direct access to a classifieds repository of over 100,000 such vehicles to browse day in, day out. Temptation is never far away. He’s still some way off that Countach though.
You may have read my earlier column detailing the reasons I didn’t manage to buy a Porsche 911. Many relating to not having enough disposable income.
Now, traditionally the cash-strapped Porsche enthusiast seeking a more affordable first rung on the ladder would turn to the wedge-shaped 924, 944 and 968 cars. Those who reckon Porsches with the engine in the back are the only ones worthy of the name will sneer – as they did in period. And, even as an advocate, I’ll confess they can never quite shake the ‘poor man’s Porsche‘ image. Which is a shame, because the emotional baggage of not being a 911 clouds many a judgement of an essentially fine car.
So. You’ll now be expecting me to say I’ve swallowed my pride, accepted 911s are out of reach and – in this anniversary year celebrating 40 years of the transaxle Porsche lineage – got myself a 944. Only it looks like I’ve left it too late. Again.
A recent visit to Porsche specialist Autofarm was an eye-opener for many reasons. Their speciality is the 2.7 RS and similarly pricey classic 911 exotica. And if one thing could make me feel better about not owning a 911 it was the revelation of quite how expensive a hobby running, repairing and restoring these cars can be.
But now even the 944 is seemingly moving in these circles. And the car I was there to drive – a 20-odd thousand-mile, 1986 944 Turbo – had benefitted from the full Autofarm scrutiny. With a perfect history ‘value is currently a point of discussion’ but, for safety, it was requested I insure it for a total loss value of £50,000. Yes. At least five times what I thought a good 944 Turbo went for.
Possibly fantasy league stuff for an isolated example. But given the way things have gone with 911s a sign of things to come?
This was the first I’d ever driven. And it was lovely. I think the looks are maturing nicely. Whatever its vintage the 911 has a timeless quality about its looks but, as an ’80s kid, the fact a 944 is indelibly of its era is, finally, something to celebrate. The gutsy, old-school turbo thrust, the lovely balance, the delicate yet muscular lines, the tiny footprint… I was sold. If way over budget.
Inevitably as soon as I got home I was into the classifieds. Turbos are thin on the ground and expensive. And, if I’m honest, I actually prefer the earlier ‘Lux’ cars with the original two-piece front bumper.
For three grand this 1985 eight-valve 2.5 Lux looks tempting. It’s got the nice Teledial wheels, a tasteful colour scheme and the ad has a confidence inspiring honesty about it. Going by the excellent buying guide on JMG Porsche’s website the fact it has an oval dash suggests it’s a facelifted 1986 model year car with power steering and other updates. Further investigation required but it’s got the look. The ad mentions a clutch nearing the end of its life and that’s seemingly an expensive job on 944s so worth factoring in. Say with a bit of work it ended up at a tenth of the price of that Turbo. Still cheap, all considered. But not long ago a car like this could have been listed at half this kind of money. There’s another 1985 Lux with half the mileage up for £7.5K too. The days of the cheap 944 look to be numbered.
Have I missed my chance with this one too?
Images courtesy of Pistonheads and Porsche