As my loyal readers know, I have owned a gorgeous Porsche 944 Turbo for over 5 years now. The reason I can afford it is because it was shunned by the Porsche “Purests” who at the time of it’s release often stated that it wasn’t a real Porsche, afterall it wasn’t rear engined, it was water cooled and it’s predecessor the 924(from which it evolved) was seen as a bitza, using parts from Audi, Mercedes, VW and of course Porsche. They over look the fact it was completely designed by Porsche. I would like to thank them because if they knew what I know, then the 944 turbo would have been way too expensive for me to be able to afford. God bless you, one and all 🙂
The 924 was originally designed by Porsche to replace the 914 and 914/6, which was a joint venture from Porsche and VW, and sold under both brands badges. VW decided at the last minute to pull out and go with their own designed Golf. Porsche decided to buy the rights back from VW and still release the car as a Porsche. The 944 replaced the 924 and used an all Porsche designed 2.5 litre engine, that was basically half of the engine used in the V8 928.
By the time the 944 was made, even Porsche were promoting the fact it was actually a real Porsche, and in fact was equal with the 928, being the first real 100% Porsche designed car from go to whoa. The 944 Turbo came along and it was actually the first production Porsche to actually be born on the race track. Porsche built some hot 924’s that they took to Le Mans, and in fact the cars were driven to the race track, one ended up 6th outright(winning it’s class too) and then driven back to the factory. This was where the 944 turbo was born. The engine was a turbo 2.5 4 cylinder (although not identical, as was 16 valve), that evolved into the 944 turbo engine. The suspension, balance, brakes etc all became what was basically was used in the 944 turbo production car. The turbo charger was the biggest Porsche had ever fitted to a production car.
The car was legendary for it’s near perfect balance and handling, and was actually put down by purists as being too easy to drive, as an OK driver could drive it very near it’s limits, unlike the 911 that was only able to be pushed near it’s limits by the very talented or the very brave…or very stupid, but the stupid and brave often got bitten badly if their skill wasn’t up to the cars capabilities. The turbo 911 of the era was dubbed the widow maker for a very good reason.
So we have this RWD, front engined, manual only, perfectly balanced car, with amazing handling, great brakes, incredible feel through the wheel and seats of the pants, car, that was shunned at the time, as it was perceived(wrongly IMO) as not being a real Porsche. Derek Bell who was one the drivers at Le Mans in the 924, still owns a version and has said many times it is one of the greatest handling cars of any car, race or road, that he has driven. Road and Track magazine in 1984 said the 944 was the greatest handling car in America available at the time, and voted it the 10 best handling cars of all time.
Now as an owner of a 944 turbo, I find it difficult to explain to anyone why the car is just the most amazing car to drive, as words will never do the sensations you feel justice. I drive many cars being in the car industry and to be honest no matter how good they are, they always just fall short of what I get from my 944 turbo.
Now roughly 30 years later Porsche answers it’s customers, who have been voicing their desire for a true sports car that was a manual, not a clutchless auto PDK, like all their current GT offerings. The Porsche Cayman GT4 is born. It is only available only in manual, is mid-engined(for amazing balance), fitted with GT3 suspension, the old GT3 3.8 litre engine(a beast), and has been globally praised, as probably the greatest sports car available today. Not the fastest, nor the highest top speed, but the best. It can pushed very close to it’s limits by ordinary drivers, it is incredibly fun to drive at more realistic speeds, for most owners, that many supercars fail at, because their limits are ridiculously high.
Every bit of praise it gathers and every review I see, or read, I think wow that could have been said about the 944 turbo 30 years ago. So is the GT4 the true successor to the 944 turbo ???
Personally I think yes, and I also think that nothing in between these 2 cars(from Porsche) could be argued as coming close to what these cars bring to the table. Neither are 911’s and for some that is the only real Porsche, which I understand, but I also think that it is their loss for having a such a narrow minded view of what make a Porsche a Porsche.
My car is amazing and brings something to my life that is impossible to explain, and I think the new Cayman GT4 does exactly the same to the lucky owners who have one. I would love to own both and maybe one day I will, but if that never happens, I won’t really care, as my 944 turbo gives me more than I could hope for.
To me these are the Goldilocks cars, that are just right. Others will disagree and want to bring other cars into the mix, but I have no interest in debating this and I am sure there are other great cars, but few could disagree(if they really know how good these cars are) that these 2 cars are something very special indeed. The thing they share is what is lacking in so many other capable cars, and that is soul.