BUY­ERS’ GUIDE: PORSCHE 968 CLUB SPORT

Go­ing up, up, up in value, but still sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able for a light­weight, track fo­cused Porsche

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

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?

DE­SIGN, ENGI­NEER­ING

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.

TRANS­MIS­SION

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.

SUS­PEN­SION

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.

BRAKES ANDWHEELS

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.’

BODY­WORK, IN­TE­RIOR

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.

ELECTRICS

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.’

VERDICT

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

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