Porsche 968 (1992 - 95): future classic

By: Joe Kenwright

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Porsche 968 Porsche 968 Porsche 968
Porsche 968 Porsche 968 Porsche 968

Future Classic: Porsche 968. Joe Kenwright reckons this 1992-95 series is a keeper

Porsche 968 (1992 - 95): future classic
Porsche 968

 

Porsche 968

The Porsche 944 range was never able to shake off its origins as the shared VW-Porsche 924 replacement for the 914. Despite an engine based on half the 928's V8 and a slick mid-life dash upgrade, it always looked like the 1970s child that it was. Porsche tried to rule a line under this in February 1992 by rebadging the final version as the 968.

The number of new parts prompted claims that it was a new car. Yet the 968 still looked like it had a 928-style nose patched onto a 944 rear section, albeit with new taillights. The cabin was little changed although final assembly was moved from Audi to Porsche. Priced from $130,000, it marked a period of blind arrogance and complacency in Porsche history, as Japanese rivals closed the gap without the price tag. Porsche eventually got the message and delivered the Boxster in 1996 for $20,000 less than the 968. It then became too easy to dismiss the 968 as an expensive reminder of Porsche's foray up a blind alley.

Yet strip away the 968's origins, its excessive price and its 1992-95 context, and it remains a benchmark, regardless of year or manufacturer. There was no Turbo locally, but it didn't need one. Instead, it had a big thumper in-line four, suitably tamed by balance shafts. Its 3.0-litre capacity, VarioCam timing and 11.0:1 compression ratio helped pump out 176kW with a useful 305Nm at 4100rpm. All to move just 1370kg. A new six-speed manual transaxle contributed to exceptional economy and chassis balance. A Tiptronic auto, rare in 1992, was also an option. The linear consistency of the engine, steering, brakes and handling are still in a class of their own.

Barely 12 months later, the 968 CS arrived with a 50kg cut in weight, choice of sports suspensions, bigger brakes and wheels and most surplus convenience features and rear seats deleted. Alan Hamilton, distinguished racing driver and second-generation local Porsche distributor, quickly spotted it as one of the quickest off-the-shelf models for road and track work from Porsche up to that point. His assessment was accurate - the inherent balance of the 968 CS enabling Jim Richards to capture second place in the 1993 Targa Tasmania.

Those who have owned 911 and 968 models will confirm that the 968 is easier to live with and cheaper to maintain. If you go beyond standard suspension and 16-inch wheels, you invite ride harshness and tramlining that won't make sense if you're not into ultimate G-force cornering and grip.

Because fewer than 100 new car buyers bought the $130,000 coupe, let alone the $155,000 cabriolet, a good 968 that hasn't been thrashed on the track or worn out is a rare find and might be worth the extra over the more usual $20-25,000 starting range.

 

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