Porsche 928 S4

Smooth and sin­is­ter in jet black, this later evo­lu­tion of Porsche’s front-en­gined GT has a lot go­ing for it, says Nigel Booth­man.

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The 928 never ful­filled Porsche’s plan for re­plac­ing the air-cooled, rear-en­gined 911, but it carved its own niche as a flag­ship grand tourer that gave Mercedes, Jaguar and even Fer­rari lots to think about. This one is a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion, launched in 1986 with a fivelitre, 32-valve V8 and smoother styling.

It’s a deep and glossy black, ben­e­fit­ting from a re­cent pro­fes­sional ma­chine pol­ish that has re­moved any dis­tinc­tion we could find be­tween orig­i­nal paint and the one or two pan­els ap­par­ently re­sprayed. The fin­isher strips above each door sit slightly proud – not un­com­mon on 928s – but oth­er­wise there are only small scratches and a star-crack on the lower rear near­side quar­ter, with a tiny paint wrin­kle near the off­side rear light unit. The rear spoiler is un­marked, as are the 17in Cup 2 al­loys from a 928 GTS, a mod­ern but pop­u­lar up­grade. They’re wrapped in 255/40 R17 Miche­lin Pi­lot Sports with al­most all tread re­main­ing. There’s a col­lapsi­ble Vre­destein space­saver un­der the boot car­pet; prob­a­bly now bet­ter re­garded as a pe­riod novelty than a gen­uine get-you-home op­tion.

The engine bay is rather a let-down after the im­mac­u­late ex­te­rior but re­paint­ing the flakey in­let man­i­fold would im­prove things a great deal, as would a bit of gen­eral de­tail­ing and touch­ing up of sur­face rust on brack­ets and catches. Oils and coolant lev­els are all where they should be.

The black leather seats are piped in red and though in gen­er­ally good or­der the driver’s right-hand side bol­sters would ben­e­fit from a bit of re­colour­ing and feed­ing. Carpets are smart and the myr­iad elec­tric as­sis­tances all work, in­clud­ing a new Porsche Clas­sic sat-nav/dig­i­tal ra­dio unit in the stereo slot, which blends well with the look of the dash and cost as much as a tatty 928 did un­til re­cently. When we drove the car there was a faulty brake light and the driver’s door card caught on the sill when the door was opened, but we are as­sured both is­sues will be reme­died.

The Porsche’s big V8 started promptly and ran per­fectly from cold with no howl­ing noises from slip­ping belts or power steer­ing pumps. On the road it rides more firmly than ear­lier 928 mod­els but feels un­flap­pable and ut­terly planted, with­out any thumps or rat­tles from the sus­pen­sion. It gath­ers pace re­lent­lessly rather than sav­agely – de­spite its size, the engine saves a lot of its drama for peak revs and the weighty, in­su­lated feel of the 928 blunts the sen­sa­tion of speed. The brakes do their job per­fectly with no grab­bing or de­vi­a­tion even when worked hard.

This is a very good ex­am­ple that’s clearly been well cared-for. There is a file of his­tory in­clud­ing the orig­i­nal books that sup­ports the 116k miles and the orig­i­nal tool­kit is in the boot. There is still room for im­prove­ment here and there but even as it is, it should con­tinue to sat­isfy as a ca­pa­ble week­end GT. And the auto box suits it.

Wheels come from a 928 GTS but look great

The engine would ben­e­fit from tidy­ing

Aside from some bol­ster wear, all is fine in here

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