Por­ous Porsches

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

The 944’s gal­vanised shell min­imised cor­ro­sion but look for tin-worm nib­bling at the edges of the front wings, sills, and around the wind­screen and sun­roof. Check for ac­ci­dent dam­age, scru­ti­n­is­ing the pan­els, in­ner wings, and boot floor for signs of pre­vi­ous re­pair; look at the in­side of the rear panel to see if the fac­tory sticker is still there, and check the front chas­sis legs and strut tow­ers for dis­tor­tion. Mis­align­ment around the bon­net, front wings, and nosecone will need fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Bump and grind

Dam­aged polyurethane bumpers are pricey to re­place but a re­painted nosecone isn’t un­usual as it’s prone to stone chips. Tired paint­work could be an is­sue, too. The front screen can de­lam­i­nate, turn­ing milky around the edges (post-85 cars got a ti­dier, flusher screen in­cor­po­rat­ing the ra­dio aerial) and en­sure the popup head­lamps op­er­ate okay; faults here could be wiring-re­lated or wonk­i­ness caused by a pre­vi­ous im­pact. Check the tail­gate hasn’t been leak­ing and that the sun­roof panel op­er­ates smoothly; on S2 mod­els, blocked sun­roof drains can fill the bat­tery well in the rear lug­gage com­part­ment with wa­ter.

The long haul

En­gines will cover 200,000 miles with proper care, but cam/bal­ancer shaft belts and ten­sioner changes are cru­cial. They need do­ing at 48,000 miles or every four years but par­tic­u­lar care is needed with 16-valve en­gines; here, the ex­haust camshaft is belt driven with the in­let cam driven by a short chain be­tween the two. Fail­ure will be cat­a­strophic, so budget around £900 at a Porsche spe­cial­ist for a new belt and chain. Dash warn­ing lights can sig­nal en­gine man­age­ment woes and should be treated with cau­tion.

A wor­ry­ing cock­tail

Oil leaks from the cam cover and bal­ance shaft seals are easy to sort, but signs of oil and coolant mix­ing could be due to fail­ure of the oil cooler seals, or worse still the head gas­ket. A com­pres­sion and leak down test is ad­vis­able to es­tab­lish the en­gine’s in­ter­nal con­di­tion as wear of the Nikasil-lined cylin­der bores ef­fec­tively means the en­gine is fin­ished, while ev­i­dence of metic­u­lous oil changes on Turbo mod­els is vi­tal and an ex­ces­sively smoky unit should be avoided at all costs. Last, an en­gine that’s list­ing or that vi­brates ex­ces­sively is likely suf­fer­ing from failed hy­draulic en­gine mounts (the one near­est the ex­haust man­i­fold is par­tic­u­larly prone).

All change

Both the man­ual and au­to­matic gear­boxes are bul­let-proof un­less abused, but lis­ten out for whines from the transaxle in­di­cat­ing worn dif­fer­en­tial bear­ings. A man­ual gearshift that’s baggy or stiff is likely due to link­age issues and should be eas­ily sorted, but en­sure the clutch is healthy; a Porsche spe­cial­ist can charge around

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