BUYERS’ GUIDE: PORSCHE 968 CLUB SPORT
Going up, up, up in value, but still surprisingly affordable for a lightweight, track focused Porsche
Hard to believe now that any Porsche wearing the Club Sport badge could fly under the radar, but for many years that was the fate of the 968 Club Sport. A cult track day car for those in the know, but beyond that, largely ignored. Not any more. The 968 Club Sport is finally getting the kudos that it deserves
It’s fair to say that the 968 was not among Porsche’s most charismatic models. Launched in Britain in 1992, as the recession-hit carmaker struggled to survive, it was all but indistinguishable from its 944 predecessor to the point that a “944 S3” badge might have been more appropriate. It stayed around for four low-key years (12,777 968s were made and 1043 imported to the UK) until Porsche readied the Boxster, and opened a new chapter in Zuffenhausen history.
However, there was a high point in the 968’s life, which was the Club Sport model launched in 1993, the initials ‘CS’ denoting an exclusive world of specialist Porsches, stripped of unnecessary weight and frills, reflecting the purist roots of the marque. However, when unveiled, the 968 Club Sport did not generate queues of cash toting investors, as any new Porsche “lightweight” does these days, and for quite a few years it commanded only a small premium over other 968s. That’s all changed now, and you can expect to pay at least double the price.
Nonetheless, one of the approximately 2000 Club Sports made (179 of which were delivered new in the UK) can still be found from £25,000, little more than a tenth of the cost of the previous CS, the 1987 911 Carrera Club Sport, which we recently put under the Buyers’ Guide spotlight. So, what exactly is the 968 CS and what should you be looking out for when buying one?
The 968 CS used the standard 968 powertrain, essentially the 944 S2’s 16valve, twin-cam 3.0-litre engine except with the first use of the Variocam camshaft timing, a system that, in simple terms varies the timing of the inlet valves in relation to the exhaust valves, to increase overlap and boost torque. The engine’s inlet manifold and exhaust had been modified, too.
Output was 240bhp, a 14 per cent increase over the 944 S2, while 225lb ft at 4100rpm was claimed to be the highest torque of any non-turbo 3.0-litre engine. The rear-mounted gearbox was a sixspeeder.
Neither did the Club Sport look much different on the outside to other 968s unless you specified it in Speed Yellow and turned down the no-cost option of deleting the ‘Club Sport’ decals down the side (the other colours were Black, Martime Blue, Guards Red and Grand Prix White). But inside it had its own special character: the
normal seats were replaced by a pair of Kevlar framed buckets, cloth trimmed and with the backs matched to the body colour. You could specify normal seats, but few customers did.
There were many small weight-saving measures, losing a few kilos here and there, and in total worth 50–100kg, depending on which spec of regular 968 the CS was being compared with. In traditional CS/RS style, it had no back seat, reduced sound deadening, simpler door trims, a lighter battery and alternator. The tailgate release was cable, not electric, the windows and door locking manual, and there was no boot light.
On just about any other car binning a load of equipment would reduce its appeal, but things work the opposite way with Porsches, bestowing a more lithe, sexy character. So it seems incredible from 2018’s perspective that the Club Sport actually cost less than the Coupe model: its launch price of £28,750 was nearly £5000 less. The Club Sport should not, incidentally, be confused with the 968 Sport, which in 1994 was the last of the 924 variants to arrive, introduced as a low-spec, lower cost version of the regular 968, and designed to boost flagging sales of the model series. It had the Club Sport’s suspension set-up.
The Club Sport’s 17-inch wheels, one inch diameter bigger than standard, ran 225/45 front tyres (205/55 on the normal Coupe) and 255/40 rears (225/50). The suspension was dropped 20mm, and firmer dampers fitted.
Despite the spartan presentation, owners could option up the Club Sport. Airconditioning was available (some rewiring was necessary to take it), which might seem odd on a CS, but it did make sense, because with a huge glass area, thinner carpets and big transmission tunnel the car does get very hot, and running with the optional lift-out sunroof removed was not a particularly good solution. An interesting option was the “M030” kit which cost £1300, which provided stiffer springs, adjustable shock absorbers, stiffer anti-roll bars, crossdrilled brake discs, and a limited-slip differential.
DRIVING THE 968 CLUB SPORT
Of all the racing type bucket seats seen in Porsche road cars down the years, these are among the hardest to get into. They’re
deep sided and have very little width, and if you can slide in with any degree of dignity you’re doing well. They have fixed backrests and forward/rear adjustment; the front and rear of the seat can be raised and lowered, but this requires bolts to be undone. The upside is a tremendously well supported driving position, you really feel part of the car, and if you want to sit even further into the chair simply rip off the Velcro attached cushions.
You feel like you’re driving an underpowered racing car. The seats locate you absolutely, the stiffer suspension makes the car even more taut and nimble than it normally is, and the steering is a sheer delight, weighted perfectly and with good feedback.
All of which makes you feel the car could use more horsepower. But that sort of feeling sometimes means the car you’re driving is in fact the perfect engine/chassis combination. Certainly the Club Sport was among the best sorted cars of its time, and its driving manners still impress now.
WHAT YOU’LL PAY
Considering the limited differences between this and other 968s there’s a hefty price premium, but such is the cachet of the Club Sport badge. While £15,000 secures a regular 968, add £10,000 to find the cheapest CS. Any below £30,000 will be the more used, higher mileage cars, but in all probability still decent.
It’s likely that some sellers are over estimating the collectability of the 968 Club Sport, and asking near air-cooled 911 prices. Bear in mind that four-cylinder, water-cooled Porsches are not yet hot property even if they are rising in value. Therefore anything over £30,000 needs to be quite special and with low mileage, and a car at £40,000 to £50,000 must be “time capsule” good.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ENGINE
The engine is very strong and has stood the test of time, but its longevity is dependent on proper maintenance, insists Andy Duncan of independent Porsche specialist Ninex Motorsport in Maidenhead in Berkshire. ‘The key service point besides oil and filter changes are the two toothed timing belts,’ he explains. ‘One drives the exhaust camshaft, and the other drives the balancer shafts. A link chain driven by integrated spockets on each camshaft provides the drive from the exhaust to inlet camshaft.’
Exhaust valve guides can wear, resulting in a slight loss of engine power and increased oil consumption. ‘Top end overhauls or engine rebuilds are to be expected as cars get close to their 25th anniversary,’ Andy notes.
As on the 911’s air-cooled engine, the four-cylinder can suffer oil leaks. ‘The main culprits are balance shaft seals, “O” rings
and crankshaft seal which are at the front of the engine where the timing belts are located,’ Andy explains. ‘Putting this right requires the removal of the power-steering pump, timing covers and belt.’ The powersteering hoses perish over time, and are an additional common source of oil leaks.
This is as durable as the motor, but it does decline with age. ‘Transmission whine can be caused by pinion bearing wear,’ Andy points out. ‘Gear linkage bushes and ball joints also wear but are easily fixed and not too expensive parts wise. Driveshafts wear over time, but replacement couplings are readily available.’
He estimates a gearbox rebuild is around £1500. Clutch fluid changes, which Andy says are often overlooked, should be carried out when brake fluid changes are done.
The original suspension lasts well but shock absorbers are likely to be worn. ‘Porsche does not supply the rear shock for the M030 suspension any more, but there are a variety of suitable replacements, for example Bilstein, Koni and Sachs,’ Andy points out.
Suspension bushes wear and harden over time, particularly the anti-roll bar bushes. ‘Replacement can improve vehicle handling and refinement,’ Andy assures us.
The Brembo brakes are generally excellent and last well, although brake caliper plate “lift” is an issue that crops up at high mileage and can be expensive to put right. ‘For both the standard and M030 cars, there is a great choice of disc and pad material available,’ says Andy.
Wheels are strong, 17-inch Cup 1 rims. ‘They’re a bit heavier that the later, Cup 2 wheels,’ Andy explains. ‘Many wheels will have been refurbished, so check their condition.’
If looked after and garaged, the 968’s bodywork will stand the test of time. ‘Rusting nuts and bolts can be a problem, especially the fixings securing the front and rear “PU” bumpers and the wheel arch liners,’ says Andy. Interiors wear well if looked after, but as in many cars, cloth seat side bolsters do wear through. ‘Seat cloth and leather material repairs are relatively straightforward given the age of cars,’ he points out.
The 968 electrical system is broadly a trouble-free one, evolved from the 944. However the DME (Digital Motor Electronics) relay is well known for failing: ‘This can play up and cause the engine to cut out, and cause starting issues,’ Andy warns. ‘It’s good practice to carry a spare in the car, and the later 993 part which the 968 can use is recommended.’
Values of the 968 Club Sport have risen significantly of late, much more so than those of regular 968s, but this car remains the sole so-called lightweight Porsche that can still be bought for relatively little money (under £30,000). Its conventional configuration makes it far easier and cheaper to maintain than a 911 of the same years, and it handles better, many would argue, while the Club Sport name and fittings give it an added aura over other 968s. Buy this bargain junior supercar while you still can, is our advice. PW
The 968 was the final incarnation of the rather more humble 924. Initially a slow burner, it’s become more and more appreciated as time has gone on
The heart of the matter. Big 3-litre, four-cylinder packs power and torque
The 968’s front-end got the family Porsche look of its contemporaries, the 993 and the 928
Interior is well made and wears well. Not all 968 Club Sports had the hard backed buckets, but they are certainly more desirable than the standard cloth seats. Note manual windows