Featured: 944 Reasons This Porsche Is Not For Me

944 Reasons This Porsche Is Not For Me

By Hellena Miron
March 25, 2015
62 comments

Story by Hellena Miron & Photography by Michael Banovsky

The other day, I opened the door to our garage, anticipating finding my Volvo waiting for me; instead, I got a strong whiff of eau de mechanique and found a strange car in its place…with a key and note from my husband.

As a kind gesture, he had taken my car to the dealer for routine servicing, which I appreciate, but in its place he had left me a most unexpected loaner that would make many of you quite happy: a 1983 Porsche 944.

Looking at it, I wasn’t too pleased, but at least it was a nice gesture. I don’t really know how to describe the 944, except that it’s the car driven by a Tom Cruise look-alike in the movie Sixteen Candles.

Sadly, it’s no longer 1984, and this particular car showed all of the wear and tear that a 32-year-old car would have. Worse, it’s not red like in the movie, but rather a brown only seen on corduroy pants. After a deep breath, I steeled myself, and opened the door. I heard the loudest creaking noise—like it needed a dose of WD40 everywhere.

Inside, there was brown everywhere, and on everything. Power window switches, air vents, gear shifter, you name it. Looking at the floor, I guess wall-to-wall brown carpeting also came standard at the time, too.

The only contrast was me. Did I really belong in this car, and what was my husband thinking?

I sat down, got my my bearings of the car, adjusted the mirrors and seat, and set off to the market. Cue “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. Well, I would have, but there isn’t a lot of technology in the car—there’s an aftermarket radio—but I don’t bother to tune in any stations, or plug in my iPod.

A stick shift isn’t my choice to begin with, but in the 944 it was also difficult to reach the pedals. (Was there a height requirement when they sold this car in 1983?) I turned the key, and the engine clattered to life. Yes, clattered—this engine sounded like a tractor trailer bound for a quarry.

I slowly backed out and began my adventure to the supermarket to grab a load of groceries for the week. First and second gear sounded like a spaceship; aliens not included. The 944 isn’t very fast either: a Toyota Corolla dusted me from a stoplight.

So much for the journey in a finely-honed German Sports car, but by some miracle, I made it to my destination unscathed. Walking back with several bags of groceries, I realized the all-glass hatchback was sized for a Members Only jacket. And maybe a hat. Considering the significant amount of shopping, it was difficult to find room for all of it—obviously, the 944 was designed for a different sort of hauling in mind. As a result, I had to scatter the bags of groceries throughout the car, almost piece by piece.

To make matters worse, the air conditioning knob did nothing. Turns out it was broken. When I got home, I opened up the glass hatch, which was more like a greenhouse: everything had wilted and melted. Great.

What did I learn from this experience? That I miss my car, with its modern drivetrain and all of its conveniences. I just need four doors, normal trunk, and mirrors that don’t contain optical illusions. Functioning air conditioning would be nice. Kidding aside, the 944 was a memorable experience that I don’t want to repeat, especially considering that my daily driver is now fixed.

Have you, or someone you know, experienced (or was forced to) drive a vehicle that was entirely out of your comfort zone?

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harrdware
harrdware
2 years ago

The author could have been whining about any number of older cars, anything that isn’t a generic point to point appliance mobile. Just reinforces a stereotype about a certain segment of drivers, the point A to point B group, who could care less about the driving experience itself. Not worthy of the usual great Petrolicious fare.

Michael Byers
Michael Byers
3 years ago

I have driven, ridden, operated a plethora of motorized machines. From Catapiller log loaders to Lamborghini, boats, jet skis, race bikes, dirt bikes, Jeeps and sports cars. Hell I even “drove” at 5yo our desert mobile that was a stripped down late 40s Buick with three bench seats and 50gal of water on the back for drinking and traction. I will drive anything to give it a try and learn from. The only vehicle that I have hated (and I mean hated) was a rented mid 90s Dodge of some sort. I should of returned it the the rental yard before I left the airport. Seriously, it’s only redeeming quality was it got me where I was going though I think Walking would of been more pleasant. BIt was so bad, I asked my coworker to drive it and give me his opinion. He suggested pushing it off a cliff. So yes, there are cars out there that Just disagree with me.u

Chris Ungaro
Chris Ungaro
3 years ago

There’s a huge loss of credibility for the author of this. She describes a worn out 32 year old car and then calls it and expects it to be “a finely crafted German car”. Really? What is she expecting from any beat up old car?

johnny
johnny
4 years ago

great thanks for telling me how it was to get groceries in a car

Rich B
Rich B
4 years ago

Ah love the nostalgia and divided opinions the 944 and 924 bring. I always dreamt that one day I’d be able to join the Porsche ownership fraternity.
911 Lottery-winner dreaming, but reality-minded that it would probably only ever come via an entry level model like the 944.

The days have grown old, so have these scorned ‘poor man’s Porsches’ and even the now-humble Boxster has joined the lower priced listing. Snobbery ranking suitably snubs – whilst simultaneously celebrating the accolades of elite sportscar ownership.

For me- Ownership still eludes.
But the Porsche dream lives on – some day, one day; even if it had to be a wider
VW group joined-effort 924…

A dream is a dream

Steve88M3
Steve88M3
4 years ago

This is well written, but totally irrelevant for most readers.

I’d rather have the perspective of a muscle car guy forced to drive an MG for a week.

Jesse
Jesse
4 years ago

When my Focus ST met an old spare tire dropped from underneath an old half ton truck recently, I was given a new Nissan Altima with a four cylinder engine and a CVT. I couldn’t be happier that my insurance covered a rental but it was the most emotionless car I’ve ever driven. I would have been thrilled driving a running 944 for a week. The Altima did nothing but make me yearn for my long-gone ‘89 Saab
900s. Slow and old, but engaging and interesting.

Tut
Tut
4 years ago

You’re too early for April Fools. That’s the only explanation for such a stupid opinion of a great car.

Peter Motem
Peter Motem
4 years ago

First World Troubles….

Roger Alan Auerbach
Roger Alan Auerbach
5 years ago

Actually, the generous legroom is one of my favorite things about this platform. These cars are finally starting to get the credit they deserve. Unfortunately, it sounds like you drove a poor example of one. Try to visit a PCA track day and ask someone with a 944 or 951 to take you for a few laps. You’ll be impressed.

Nolan
Nolan
5 years ago

As the owner of a 1987 944s, I believe it is triple the fun of a Miata or track car, looks like a Ferrari and Porsche had a child, and is very nimble and quick.

Pinot007
Pinot007
6 years ago

Being a Porsche fan since I was 2, they clearly are not for everyone..especially a 944. That being said, it’s still an experience that is very different (for good reasons) then a Volvo. A 944 still holds certain aspects of motoring beauty with eye popping guages, muted color tones and yes, a proper greenhouse. Glad you jumped in as hestitant as you seemed..and went for it.

Jose martinez
Jose martinez
7 years ago

OMG!!! Laghing my butt off reading this!!!! First thing, it’s better than walking and who wouldn’t complain regardless of any make or model if its never been taken care of. It’s owners like that that give the 944 and later turbos a bad name!!! Let her drive a proper example and the outcome would have been different . More and more they ate ending up as parts cars or rotting away in junkyards. That makes it better for the clean ones increasing in value, like the 88,89 944 turbos that have increased in value since 2011. Rare 924S SE models, 924 Lemans, and s2 models are worth hanging on to in above average conditions!!!!

Paul Grant
Paul Grant
7 years ago

Helena-There is not much one can say other than your simply not a car person, does not like old cars and clearly
need the space of an SUV to put your things in. If your husband had left you a Porsche 356 you might have said
that the car was cute, the interior was Spartan with less room than the 944, and the engine sounded like a cement mixer.
Further compared to the 356 the acceleration of the 944 would have seemed like a luxury rocket ship. I strongly suggest your husband gets you a rental car the next time your car is in the shop.

Matthew Braksick
Matthew Braksick
7 years ago

I have a 1986 944 in guards red. I’m 6’2″ and it fits me like a glove. I love to take it to Costco and load every inch of it with huge tubs of hummus, giant jars of cashews and ten pound bags of baby carrots. I drove a variety of minivans for 18 years, and jumping into this little very well made, inexpensive car is a blast!

Nelson
Nelson
7 years ago

I’am surprised 🙂
We can put lot in a 944
[img]http://924cnrt.free.fr/2013_05/2013_05_05_11h35_05052013249.jpg[/img]

braunwagen
braunwagen
7 years ago

Brown on Brown is what makes it special

Chris Mann
Chris Mann
7 years ago

The performance might have been terrible (this looks to be the 8v…which is frankly a dog), but ease up on that rather fantastic brown! 😉

And as far as all 944’s being terrible… give the S2, or the turbo a test drive… not “fast” by todays standards, but a whole lot of fun!

Randy Greene
Randy Greene
7 years ago

I liked it. Now, we need to hear from the owner! That would be a nice bookend.

Tracy Brandt
Tracy Brandt
7 years ago

I loved your article Hellena, I laughed all the way thru. It is entirely appropriate for Petrolicious because all the things you didn’t like about the 944 are not only absolutely true, they are why we love cars like this today. Taking your Volvo down the the local grocery store wouldn’t be anything to write about, but driving this old 944 made for a wonderful story! So thank you for sharing. Oh… by the way, I had a 1993 968 with a monotone purple interior… purple everywhere. Like you, I was the only contrasting thing in the car except for the rare occasion when I could get my wife into it with me. Man, I miss that car…

Chris Jeffs
Chris Jeffs
7 years ago
Reply to  Hellena Miron

Had a sense of deja vu reading this as if I’d read the prequel to this swap as written by your husband somewhere… is that covered elsewhere on the site? I’ve certainly read it somewhere!

Dirk Winebarger
Dirk Winebarger
7 years ago

Odd that nobody else noticed, but the Risky Business car was a 928, a completely different car.

Dirk Winebarger
Dirk Winebarger
7 years ago

never mind, I misread

Willam Giltzow
Willam Giltzow
7 years ago

Having serviced and experienced a “few” 944s, Hellena’s auditory description is right on track. unless you put a loud exhaust on, they do sound agricultural. So do a whole lot of cars I like, but the 944 sure missed my target when new and stock. There are some good 944s now, and things I dislike often please someone….

Xander Cesari
Xander Cesari
7 years ago

I don’t think this is a bad article. Well written, strong in perspective and detail… but it is totally out of place on this site. I love Petrolicious’ videos because they take a huge variety of cars and portray them from an adoring owner’s eyes, highlighting all the things that are lovable about it. So why am I seeing an article written by someone who entirely misses the appeal of a car with no lack of redeeming qualities? Is this meant to show me a non-car person perspective? I see that everyday, that’s not why I visit this website. I was waiting for the ‘then I ripped into a freeway on-ramp and fell in love’ but nothing.

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky
7 years ago
Reply to  Xander Cesari

Xander, thanks for your comment on this one—definitely something I hadn’t considered. Hellena is still very much “in the family” when it comes to classic cars, and just because this one missed the mark with her doesn’t mean the next one will. That said, you’ve been heard loud and clear… M!

Evan Bedford
Evan Bedford
7 years ago
Reply to  Xander Cesari

I disagree. I had the same sour encounter with my 1979 BMW R65 when I first got it. After a year or two, I finally got things sorted out, but it was an interesting time in any event….just like Hellena’s. That’s reality, folks. Quite often, fairy tales are just fairy tales. Maybe it’s also because misery loves company.

Jeff Punch
Jeff Punch
7 years ago
Reply to  Evan Bedford

I don’t mind reading about a negative car experience. I find the quasi-vintage category interesting since they are affordable and still offer what I would think is a reasonable experience. But sometimes reality isn’t as good as the vision. I love my ’88 Mustange GT convertible, but have to admit it rides awful, steering is numb, it isn’t that fast compared to moderns. It is now relegated to ice cream and Sunday trips to the library duty. My criticism of the article is that I can’t tell if the 944 experience was related to a bad example or to the intrinsic qualities of the car. I like the color, but to each his own. The space issues I can understand. The pedal issue is strange though, and a 944 shouldn’t sound like a truck unless it has a problem.

Jan Meynen
Jan Meynen
7 years ago

Aahh, the Po’boys Porsche.. Well, I own one and it’s just GREAT! The way it handles, the way it goes. It’s not between old and new: it’s just fun. Maybe I’ll let you enjoy this summer when we’re cruising Italy. We’ll send you some pictures.

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky
7 years ago
Reply to  Jan Meynen

Please do! Send them in…I grew up (and now own) a “poor man’s Porsche”, a ’73 914 2.0. You got it: it’s just fun. M!

JB21
JB21
7 years ago

A lot of 80s interior color scheme is indeed a bit scary now I think about it, yes. It’s funny that she mentions the driving position – I was offered 84 944 for $5k back in early 90s (yeah man, seriously everybody was trying to get rid of those back then), and didn’t buy it simply because I had a hard time reaching the pedals comfortably.
Anyway, I once was forced to drive early 2000s Chevy something or the other 4-door thing with tires and CD player for many weeks while my car was recovering from an accident. It was so unmemorable that one day, I drove it to work (45-minute away) and I came back home on a bus, I simply forgot about the car. My then girlfriend asked me where the car was, and I seriously couldn’t remember. The most memorable thing about it was its CD player, because it ate a CD that I borrowed from a friend. Rubbish.

Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini
7 years ago

OK, fine, it is expensive to work on and slow, but I still have a soft spot for the 944 and think it looks great, even in brown….but then again, I did grow up during the 80’s…

Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini
7 years ago
Reply to  Hellena Miron

Fair enough, the interior on the early 944s was not very appealing, especially in brown….

RJ80
RJ80
7 years ago

At one point several years ago, I decided to start shopping for a 944 figuring it would be one more affordable, fun weekend car to check off my list. After driving a few examples I gave up altogether and realized they weren’t for me. I stuck with ‘85.5-on versions for the newer interior styling, but there was no getting around that 944s are currently stuck in a middle ground between old and new. They’re old enough to feel awfully slow and totally outdated while not old enough to feel “special” or “vintage.” I drive new cars for a living and old cars as a hobby, but the 944 was in a nowhere-land, in-between place. Factor in maintenance costs that rival a similar vintage 911 combined with low overall value and they don’t seem to make much sense right now.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo
7 years ago
Reply to  RJ80

You’re right RJ, although my ’84 looked vintage from some angles, it lacked the defining qualities that would make one pick a car from the sixties and seventies over something from 10 years ago. I bought mine because I desperately wanted one when they were new and I was a poor college student; I still have all the sales catalogs I collected from visiting the dealership. For me, the 944 would make a fine race car, it has natural balance (and I imagine the turbo had speed) but I would not be heart-broken if I bent it.

Riccardo
Riccardo
7 years ago

I enjoyed the article, its sort of “feedback from the non-initiated on older cars” and makes one of laugh at oneself for finding some of them so awesome (“but Derek Bell drove one, honey…!”). My wife never understands why I love cars like the Mercedes W124, R129, Delta Integrale, Alfa 75, you name it… I’m yet to meet a woman who actually likes the shape of the 924/944/968 and this is always going to be a problem right off the bat.

I bet that Hellena would have “endured” her loaner much more had it been, say, a 356 or something with a more appealing shape to her?

Brett Bratton
Brett Bratton
7 years ago
Reply to  Riccardo

Riccardo, my wife! She enjoys the 944 platform and encouraged us to purchase our 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo a few months before our first child was born. In fact, it is titled in her name. It is obligatory red with black interior setting on 16″ black centered Fuch wheels. I have thought of selling the car and it is always her that encourages us to keep it. Of course, after a 134a conversion, the AC works fairly well enough for the Midwest. Our primary family car is an e39 530i/5 which is a remarkable car, but the Porsche is feels more special. And, for those considering a 944, the operating costs of it has been far less than a more modern BMW.

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa
7 years ago

Well, I don’t want to ‘womanize’ my comment, but the colour (mostly inside) is really hideous!!!! As for the car, I sure would like to have a 944 as a loaner, but I only get a boring Renault Clio, Fiat Punto or Seat Ibiza…

Brompty
Brompty
7 years ago

At last, someone mentions the elephant in the room: Porsche interiors. “Inside, there was brown everywhere, and on everything.”

What is it with Porsche? The body design is amazing on most occasions (I can’t really think of one I don’t like); the engines are great, but the interiors? Many are shocking; symphonies in grey, brown, red. Just awful. And you don’t have to try very hard to find them.

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky
7 years ago
Reply to  Brompty

I have to be honest, though: I have a (not secret anymore) love for blue car interiors.

But at least they make people do a 100\% deposit before ordering something like this… Eugh… 🙁

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo
7 years ago

Truly hideous, me think! Something as personal and innocuous a choice as this remind me that people who take a radical stance from me on an issue whose solution I see as obvious and without question, also see their position as reasonable and mine as utterly mental.

Dan Glover
Dan Glover
7 years ago

PS. I hope your Volvo is ready soon. Cheers.

Dan Glover
Dan Glover
7 years ago

Thought at first this was an April Fools Day column, but its a bit early for that. Seems to me that the groceries could have stayed in the bags if they had just been put in the back seat rather than the hatch. I agree with Frank and Mel – its sad that you had a poorly maintained car, because a well looked after 944 has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and is a fun driver in the twisties.

If your standard of comparison is a modern Volvo, the type with all the passion of the box it came in, then you’re looking for convenience and utility, which is not why anyone drives older sports cars. Of course I realize that driving the 944 was not your choice but something your husband foisted upon you. They probably had other loaners he could have picked, but he no doubt brought this car home because he would have enjoyed the experience. Perhaps he was thinking a bit like the man who buys his wife a shot gun for Christmas and can’t figure out why she doesn’t like it…”its got the smoothest pump-action of any 12 gauge on the market…what’s not to like, Honey?” But she was really hoping for a pair of leather boots.

Your column reads a bit like someone reviewing an old manual type writer when what they really want to be using is a lap top. But there are some people out there who really love using old manual typewriters. In some cases, part of the charm are the very things you find annoying. “Why do I have to keep feeding sheets of paper into this thing?! I don’t have to do that with my lap top.” So, fair enough. If you need a lap top, its a pain to be using a type writer. But if you like type writers, you come across an old one and find yourself thinking that, with a little TLC, this thing could be brought back to perfect functionality.

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan Glover

I drove the car as well (and wouldn’t have run the piece had I not driven it!), and completely understand where she’s coming from. As an older car that’s not an appliance, it’s [i]not[/i] going to perform as well as a modern vehicle. That’s fine. The point, maybe lost under a few layers of Members Only jackets is that it’s important to have different perspectives on our hobby and on our passions—too often differing perspectives are dismissed as uninformed, but in this case it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a tale of “good for you, not for me” and that’s awesome.

Cosmetically, it had many flaws (how many cars in L.A. don’t?), and the A/C didn’t work—but mechanically it was just fine, if a bit like kicking an old donkey to run faster! M!

Michael Reynolds
Michael Reynolds
7 years ago

Unfortunately you got your 80s cars & stars mixed up. Tom Cruise wasn’t in Sixteen Candles but he did drive a 928 in Risky Business. The 944 in Sixteen Candles was indeed red and driven by the character Jake Ryan played by Michael Schoeffling

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky
7 years ago

We didn’t get them mixed up: “…[b]look-alike’s[/b]…” 🙂

Best, M!

Nuno Relha Vaz
Nuno Relha Vaz
7 years ago

It all about what you need, and in fact who likes applices as a transportation, would never enjoy a classic or pre-classic car

Nuno Relha Vaz
Nuno Relha Vaz
7 years ago
Reply to  Nuno Relha Vaz

*appliances

Ian Miles
Ian Miles
7 years ago

If reviewed as a VW which the 924 was the 944 pretty much then perhaps the perspective might be different. A mass produced and relatively cheap sports car much the same at the cars VW Sports division still produce.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo
7 years ago

I can’t quite remember ever driving a car I didn’t want to… but of the 944, a good one is one of the most balanced and best handling car I have ever owned. Mine was a 1984 model. It wasn’t powerful but the lack of outright power was a good thing as it forces one to maximize its performance by exploiting what it does best — corner like it’s on rails.

Too bad your loaner car was a tired example, you might have liked it otherwise. And yes, the ergonomics and that green-house boot lid makes it a poor choice for daily utility.

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky
7 years ago
Reply to  Frank Anigbo

A little rough on the out/inside, but mechanically it was fine…apart from the busted A/C. I drove it as well. 🙂 M!

Mel Francis
Mel Francis
7 years ago

Hellena dear, didn’t your mother advise you that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?
Your response to this car is exactly what I would expect from a Volvo owner! As I read the article, my heart went out- not to you, but to this poor unfortunate Porsche, down on its luck and being used, hopefully only temporarily, as a loaner. I see a car that only needs the correct owner, who will give it the maintenance and care it needs to become the taught, efficient German sportscar it was, once again.