PORSCHE PRO­JECTS

It’s good­bye to Ben­nett’s 944 Lux. Af­ter five years and a good deal of work, this al­ready ‘good’ 944 be­came an ‘even bet­ter’ 944. The new owner will ben­e­fit and so will Ben­nett’s 996 from a cash in­jec­tion

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

The lat­est from the 911&PW fleet in­clud­ing a fond farewell to the Edi­tor’s 944 Lux and a new ex­haust for Ti­pler’s 996 C2

Won­ders will never cease. I've ac­tu­ally man­aged to sell my 944 and – with­out wish­ing to sound too smug, or even grubby, I've ac­tu­ally man­aged to make a lit­tle bit of money, too! Not that it was ever my motivation, but hav­ing missed out on the clas­sic 911 boom, it's nice to have lucked in on the not quite so fren­zied clas­sic 944 boom. I'll prob­a­bly re­gret it, but I've got a needy 996 and I can't squeeze three cars into one dou­ble garage (in my spare time I drive a dog-eared MX-5), so the 944 had to go and hav­ing been on the re­ceiv­ing end of much work in re­cent years, I was con­fi­dent in its saleable value.

Be­fore I start on the sales pat­ter a quick re­cap is prob­a­bly in or­der. Leaf­ing through the doc­u­men­ta­tion, I was quite sur­prised to dis­cover that I had bought the 944 back in 2012. Of course I clearly re­mem­ber buy­ing it, but it re­ally didn't seem that long ago. Time flies and all that. Reg­u­lar read­ers will know that I'm a sucker for a 944 and for var­i­ous rea­sons I go a bun­dle on the plain and sim­ple 944 Lux. This par­tic­u­lar car had my name all over it. I had spied it at dealer, Paul Stephens clas­sic Porsche em­po­rium. Over a pe­riod of a cou­ple of weeks I had cause to pop in two or three times and it wore me down to the point that I re­alised I had to have it.

There was a 944 hole in my life. I had re­cently sold a very early 1983 Lux and to­gether with an­other car sale, I had scraped up enough money to scratch a per­sis­tent itch in the shape of Mk5 Golf GTI. Why? I don't re­ally know, per­haps it was the fond mem­o­ries of a se­ries of Mk2 Golf GTIS and the prom­ise that the Mk5 was a re­turn to form. We didn't hit it off and so I was weak in the face of what was an ex­tremely tidy 944.

It was a 1987 car on a D plate, with just 81,000 miles on the clock and orig­i­nal right down to the dealer plates, Pana­sonic ra­dio cas­sette and work­ing dig­i­tal clock. The real clincher, though, was the colour: Di­a­mond Blue Me­tal­lic. Hav­ing had the usual range of 1980s black, red and white 944s (I did once have a gold one, too) this con­tem­po­rary colour could have come straight from the cur­rent Porsche (or Audi or VW) pal­ette and gave this 944 a very con­tem­po­rary look. It's a rarely specced colour, too. In fact me­tal­lic paints were rarely specced on 944s in the ’80s be­cause the cars was ex­pen­sive enough as it was and the afore­men­tioned reds, blacks and whites were pop­u­lar enough.

Paul had taken the 944 in as a part-ex on a 996 Cabrio. He was go­ing to mar­ket it at £4000, but be­ing the de­cent chap that he is, he let me have it for what he ef­fec­tively paid for it, which was £3250, al­beit with­out any war­ranties etc. Suited me and, be­sides, I've had enough 944s to know a good one when it's star­ing me in the face.

And a good one it re­ally was. No rot what­so­ever in the sills or un­der­neath and with the reg­u­lar Wax­oyling in­voices to prove it. The paint­work was ex­cel­lent, save for a few stone chips on the front apron and bon­net, which I had sorted. The in­te­rior was in fine shape, but I didn't much like the stan­dard putty coloured seats, so I swapped them for black leather, which worked fine with the black/cream dash­board, con­sole and door cards. I left the stan­dard Pana­sonic cas­sette ra­dio as a sign of re­spect and sim­pler times. Re­mark­ably this 944 was the only one that I've ever had that didn't at some point have a mas­sive ’80s style car phone fit­ted, as ev­i­denced by the lack of tell tale screw holes in the side of the cen­tre con­sole.

It wasn't quite per­fect, of course. Again se­rial 944 own­er­ship has left me with a keen sense of what's what me­chan­i­cally and 80,000-miles is usu­ally about it for the clutch and dampers, plus engine mounts, and so it proved. I had all three re­placed by Aug­ment Au­to­mo­tive and pushed the boat out with the engine mounts and dampers. Most folk go for pat­tern mounts, but un­like the O/E mounts, these are not hy­draulic fluid filled and so are prone to pick­ing up the bad vibes of the big 2.5-litre, four-cylin­der engine. The O/E mounts are ex­pen­sive, but worth it to keep things smooth. For dampers I went for Koni ad­justa­bles, and while the clutch was out I had Aug­ment Au­to­mo­tive re­place the torque tube bear­ings, which were just start­ing to chat­ter. Oh, and while they were at it, new front and rear discs and pads, too.

But that was just the start of things. Aug­ment Au­to­mo­tive are bet­ter known for their 944 tun­ing mods in the shape of be­spoke fuel in­jec­tion and ig­ni­tion tun­ing. My 944 soon had dis­trib­u­tor­less elec­tronic ig­ni­tion, air­flow me­ter delete and state of the art ECI in­ter­nals, plus mod­ern ASNU fuel in­jec­tors. The re­sult was a smooth and torquey 185bhp, helped along by Aug­ment's own cam pro­file.

There were a few prob­lems. A cou­ple of years into own­er­ship, the 944 started to run a bit hot, par­tic­u­larly un­der load. The guys at Aug­ment took the head off and dis­cov­ered that the head gas­ket was on its way out. No great sur­prise af­ter 25-years or so. What was rather more se­ri­ous was the dis­cov­ery of a bro­ken pis­ton ring and scored bore, which ren­dered the Nikasil coated liner on that cylin­der ef­fec­tively scrap. Sure we could have just re­placed the head gas­ket and thrown it back to­gether and, who knows, it may well have been fine, but a good 944 de­serves bet­ter, so I swal­lowed hard and went for the full engine re­build.

Aug­ment de­cided to use my engine as a test rig to de­velop a steel liner kit for the block, which took some time (18-months ac­tu­ally, but they're busy folk and I was in no rush), but it was worth the time and ef­fort and they soaked up the costs. Other than that, the engine was re­built with new bear­ings, seals, valve guides etc and given a lick of paint to look prop­erly spiff­ing. Once back in the car, with its new clutch, dampers, engine mounts, brakes and even new tyres, it re­ally was like a new 944, which is when I re­alised it was time to sell, which sounds mad given all the time and ef­fort, but things had moved on for me. In the time that the 944 had been away, I had bought my 996 and that was and is my main fo­cus.

In the time that I had owned the 944, prices had started to firm up quite nicely, pulled along by the ex­cite­ment sur­round­ing air­cooled 911s. Tur­bos have been go­ing for strong money for a while, but the hum­ble Lux is ac­tu­ally a rarer beast now, with so many hav­ing been scrapped. Deal­ers are ask­ing any­thing over £10,000 for com­pa­ra­ble cars and so I de­cided to pitch mine at £8000 and take £7500. And that's ex­actly what hap­pened. I put it on Pis­ton­heads.com and within five min­utes I had a se­ri­ous en­quiry and by the week­end it had gone to Mike and Lorna who made the trip from Bris­tol to East Anglia to view and buy. They reck­oned that they had been look­ing for the best part of a year and mine was the best they had seen, which is grat­i­fy­ing.

In­ter­est­ingly, Mike men­tioned that many of the 944s that he had re­searched had fallen foul of MOT ad­vi­sories that are eas­ily re­searched on the MOT data­base, but were not men­tioned by ven­dors in their ad­verts, so be­ware, it is be­com­ing harder to con­ceal in­for­ma­tion. I have to say, that I was un­aware of this ser­vice, but then for­tu­nately the ad­vi­sories on my 944 were of the mi­nor va­ri­ety.

So there goes pretty much 16-years of con­tin­u­ous 944 own­er­ship, all of them of the Lux va­ri­ety save for one 944S (don't bother). It's good to see that they're fi­nally hav­ing their day, be­cause a good 944 re­ally is a very good Porsche. I'm sure that I will have an­other at some point, but for now the 996 has to take pri­or­ity. PW

Ben­nett’s 944 along­side Ben­nett se­nior’s Cay­man R

The best 944 Ben­nett has ever had? Un­doubt­edly, and he’s had a few. New owner will ben­e­fit from a fully sorted car

CON­TACT Aug­ment Au­to­mo­tive Be­low left: New steel lin­ers be­ing fit­ted to the 944’s block. Be­low: Aug­ment Au­to­mo­tive’s much mod­i­fied ECU

aug­men­tauto mo­tive.co.uk

Left: Ben­nett gives the 944 a cur­sory once over at Paul Stephens be­fore hand­ing his credit card over!

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