Gear: Book Review: The Porsche 924 Carrera

Book Review: The Porsche 924 Carrera

By Benjamin Shahrabani
February 5, 2015
12 comments

The book: The Porsche 924 Carrera: Evolution to Excellence

Author: Roy P. Smith

Pages: 320

Purchase: Click here

For those who remember, the Porsche 924 was the company’s entry-level sports car for a time, and was produced from 1976 through 1988. Originated as a contract design by Porsche for Volkswagen, the 924 was based mainly on parts from the VW parts bin, and while the car was initially praised for its styling, handling, and reliability, it was savaged by the automotive press of the time for its poor performance, especially US-spec cars that had to get by with even less horsepower than their European counterparts. Producing only about 95-110 hp, acceleration was leisurely to say the least and disappointed the high expectations associated with the Porsche brand.

Things did improve with the later cars, the 924S and Turbo. However today, as with yesteryear, the car is maligned as a fake Porsche by some, with the engine pumping water, and being at the “wrong” end. Never mind that the model’s sales success, performance not withstanding, helped the company navigate difficult financial straits. The same is true, and perhaps even more unfairly, of the rare, but somewhat obscure and misunderstood, 924 Carreras. While some merely believe it was the 944’s precursor, the 924 Carrera was a Porsche meant for racing, a true homologation “special”. It has been overshadowed and obscured by the legendary 911 models, but Roy Smith’s book, The Porsche 924 Carrera: Evolution to Excellence seeks to dispel that notion.

Smith’s book takes us from the earliest origin of the 924 Carrera species: in 1979 Porsche showcased a styling exercise at the Frankfurt Motor Show to introduce ideas that would indeed shape the look of the forthcoming 944. The 924 Carrera would foreshadow its successor with a wide front end to cover the wider track, the rear width increased through the use of small add-on flares, but after Porsche entered the 924 at Le Mans, it needed to homologate a racecar to meet Group 4 racing rules. The homologation version was called the 924 Carrera GT, and only 406 of these were made, and none were officially imported to the USA, though a handful made it in through grey market importers.

A step up from the 924 Carrera GT, was the GTS. More powerful than the 924 Carrera GT thanks to running increased boost, these models are told apart from their lesser brethren by Perspex headlamp covers replacing the pop-up headlights on the GT, and an intercooler in front of the engine rather than on top of it. Fifty-nine were made in the Stuttgart factory. Last, and certainly not least was the GTR which was the ultimate evolution of the 924 Carrera line. Strictly for racing, and with output of over 320 horsepower depending on application, nineteen were produced, of which nine either raced or qualified at Le Mans.

Regardless, these unsung heroes had favorable weight distribution, handled well, and were reliable. With their additional racing pedigree, it is a mystery why the model has never gotten its due, and Smith alleges pressure from inside the company may have been responsible for killing off the concept. Based on extensive research, including from Porsche’s own archives, Smith’s book leaves almost no stone unturned–the author takes the reader inside the world of designers, mechanics, executives, and drivers by including all types of interviews, road tests, internal documents and notes. The author covers the 924 Carrera’s racing history from the SCCA production D racers to the GTO and Trans Am class 924 GTRs of the mid-1980s.

Smith’s book is extremely well made, with lots of factory blueprints, images, and documentation, some previously unseen, and information about specific race cars. In 1981, a respected car magazine noted that the 924 Carrera GT was “a true road-going racing car. Make no mistake; this is a very serious motor car for serious drivers, truly reflecting its racing parentage”. A read of Smith’s book might convince you that the 924 Carreras are forgotten stars.

Purchase The Porsche 924 Carrera.

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Mikk Alvar Olle
Mikk Alvar Olle
7 years ago

I’ve always hard a time understanding all the rant on 924’s performance (Euro-spec). Ferrari 208, Maserati Merak 2.0, Ferrari Mondial…all these cars were putting out similar 0-62 numbers as the 924, being vastly more expensive.

I like the 924, especially the narrow body (CGT is cool in its own right). 924 has classic clean lines, is porportioned well and gives excellent driving pleasure, while being surprisingly practical. And it has a good racing pedigree. In Europe, mint entry-level 2.0 NAs have reached north of 5k eur, and in 10 years, when the ‘not-so-mint-ones’ have rusted away, a 924, I think, will become a desirable classic, that is cheap to run (no 5.0L engine) and carries a legendary badge.

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago

Mikk . It wasn’t the 0 100 km [ 0 – 60 here in the US ] times that had and still has people up in arms over the 924 . It was first and foremost the abysmal [ for a Porsche ] handling along with the abject lack of quality right up and until the Carrera that was not [ partially ] resolved until the 944 .

Suffice it to say despite my appreciation for the 924 Carrera/944/968 the cars never did completely live down their VW-Audi parts bin heritage that exemplified the 924’s entire lifespan . Will they appreciate in value ? In light of the ludicrous prices being paid today for other Porsche’s [ including the horrid 914 ] …. yeah …. they probably will . It being more a case of lack of perception and no accounting for taste/discernment than any real value the cars might have . But … like Condos in the housing market … should the bottom fall out of the Porsche market .. as it no doubt will all things being cyclical … guaranteed the 924’s along with the 914’s will be the first to flame out .

At this point though be forewarned . Simple maintenance and basic repairs will rapidly outstrip any financial appreciation the 924 & Family [ other than the very rare 924 Carrera ] may currently be enjoying . Get into restoration or major repairs and suffice it to say you’ll be wishing you’d pony’d up for a 911/912 rather than what at the time appeared to be a bargain .

The words Bargain and Porsche never belonging in the same sentence in relation to one another … 😉

Mikk Alvar Olle
Mikk Alvar Olle
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

Martin, i think we are talking about different cars, because 924 was at it’s time widely regarded as extremely well handling car, especially compared to the tail-happy and unpredictable 911…

Value-wise, there are only small number of extremely rare cars worthwile restoring or maintaining for long periods of time for financial purposes, like the 300SL. And the majority of Lambos, Masers and Ferraris do not belong to this category, as their very high market value is being overshadowed by the cost of proper restoration. Porsche is no different in that sense, let alone the 924. This is why buying a mint one is important, as I said.

The words Porsche and Bargain absolutely belong in the same sentence. 924 and 944 are VERY cheap to maintain and run. If you can afford to lease a smaller sedan, you can easily afford a 924, keeping it in excellent condition. Yes, for someone in secondary school, it could be a bit of a stretch.

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago

Its about freaking time someone did a book on the subject [ for the record it took almost as long for a book on Porsche’s rally efforts to come out ]

I can still remember the first time I saw the 924 GT …. that cover of CAR magazine with that bold red GT smack dab on the cover . the second was when my Bosch calendar arrived with one of the months featuring the LeMans entry [ Hugo Boss or Warsteiner sponsored I believe ? ] The coup de gras was seeing Walter Rohrl tearing the ___ out of one of the rally versions . The fun aspect of the rally 924 Carrera being the number of wagers I’ve won on whether or not the 924 Carrera was ever rallied with some serious hardcore [ in their own minds ] Porschephiles . Once I got my copy of ” Walter Rohrl ; Diary ” … there it was on page 114 in living color …. pay up !

By the way . 924’s in general …. are absolute , pathetic dreck and barely a notch above the pos VW- Audi [ project ] they sprang/dragged themselves out of . The 924 Carrera and the subsequent 944 and variations [ including the 968 ] though …. now those were Porsche’s truly worthy of the name .. Porsche ! The only thing thats ever kept me from owning a 944 or the later 968 is the fact that neither can accommodate my 6’5″ , 35″ inseam frame . As far as buying a 924 Carrera … suffice it to say Mr Lange and I share a similar problem despite being an ocean [ and a good plot of land ] apart

Hmmn … now this book may just have to find its way into my automotive library

Nice catch Mr Shahrabani … a very nice catch indeed !

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

FYI – Motorbooks has it available here in the US and it appears ToadHall Books [ the premier independent US book vender for all things Porsche ] will be getting it soon . Suffice it to say … a copy’ll be coming my way soon . Molto grazie Ben !

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago

Ben …thanks … I’ve got a shelf full of Veloce books [ including their book on Porsche’s rally efforts ] and am well familiar with their overall [ with one sole exception ] books . Suffice it to say other than that one I’ve never been disappointed

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin James

your encyclopedic knowledge seems to be faltering mr james…
first the faux-pas about a “993 gt3”, now the mis-rememberance of a car magazine cover.
they never featured a “bold red gt”, it was in fact a black 924 carrera gt with the headline “porsches that prove 2 litres is enough” on the april 1981 cover, porsches as there was also a feature on the 924 turbo.
there was however a red 944 on the december 1981 cover.
😉

Ae Neuman
Ae Neuman
7 years ago
Reply to  Ae Neuman

something seems amiss with the upload facilities, clicking on the boxes reveals the picture but no thumbnail shows…

???

Martin James
Martin James
7 years ago

By the way Ben . I do believe that quote you used ….

” …a true road-going racing car…. ” … may of come from the copy of CAR I mentioned …. seeing as how CAR in that issue couldn’t sing enough praises about the car and …. back then CAR was an extremely well respected automotive magazine rather that the inane travesty it has morphed into today

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
7 years ago

After 6 great years with a 944S2 back in the day, I love the front engined four cylinder Porsches, and I would love to have a Carrera GT in my garage (finding one is another matter though). Guessing the white car in the bottom picture is a prototype with a different bonnet scoop and 928 slot alloys?