Last Spring (2020) I purchased this 1983 Porsche 944 5 speed with manual steering and sunroof. It seems to run, drive, and and stop fine, but it clearly shows signs of inept maintenance, including chaotic wiring and a host of medium to minor issues, such as non-functioning headlights, fuel level, parking brake, speedometer and a host of small body issues. Mileage on the body is unknown; the engine has about 90K on it. There are some good things: The owner I bought it from recently did the clutch (a Sachs kit), replaced the torque tube with a low mileage unit, mounted 4 ‘newer’ Sumitomo tires, and installed new adjustable Koni shocks/struts. Driving it back to the garage, I discovered the rearview mirror was lying next to me on the passenger seat and the side view mirror was being held in place by Scotch tape.
Interior shows it age and lack of care age but no mold, water damage, mouse nests or weird smells. Seats look to be Boxster seats, but they’re fairly comfortable. The body is a mess. Lots of dents and dings, driver side fender is worst of it. Came with a lot of extra parts, including the correct bumper, two extra doors and other stuff.
Here it is the prior owner’s place. You can see the bad front diver fender.
Here it is at the shop. That driver side headlight bucket was also non-functional. The black rubber-like paint on the hood would cause a host of problems, as for whatever reason, nothing would adhere to it: primer, paint, etc. It would just puddle.
I had to sand it down three times and literally remove every speck of it before I could get a coat of primer on it that laid uniform. Interesting the car has no rust –probably because as I later found out, the Porsche 944 body is composed of stainless steel.
Besides that, although the paint sticker said it was a Porsche metallic red, it turned out that the car has been repainted at some time in the past with a similar close-but-no-cigar GM ruby color . Thus my initial attempts to color match back to the Porsche color only left me confused and frustrated.
After giving up on color-matching to the Porsche color, I decided to take another tack. The car has a lot of dents and dings, and in addition to the roached front driver fender, was severely dented by the driver rear lights and the front apron. I banged these in and slung some Bondo on them to get them into some sort of plumb, but decided that any sort of high-gloss finish would just be aesthetic suicide, so instead opted for ‘Hot Rod Black’ a sort of semi-gloss/ semi-flat black that I shot over two days. Via eBay I was able to locate mounts for the front bumper and a correct lower valance.
Scrubbed the inside with a mixture of rubbing alcohol, Oxy-Clean and Dawn dish soap, which worked wonders. Glued a new dashboard cover over the parched and cracked original. Bought some new front carpets. Redid some of the terrible wiring, and managed to get the fuel gauge to work, in addition to headlight, turn signals, hatch lock, sunroof latch and a million other small things. Still need to get the horn and the speedo to work.
Say hello to ‘Guido Batmobile’.
1983 was the first model year for the Porsche 944, and it has an endearingly ‘thrown together’ feeling to it, especially if you’ve worked on air-cooled Volkswagens, since it seems to have used a lot of off-the-shelf VW (interior) and Audi (engine) parts. The 944 is a front-engine, water-cooled, rear wheel drive, which is quite different from the usual air-cooled VW stuff I typically restore. They’re stylistically quite beautiful, with almost voluptuous lines, that seem to have influenced every Japanese car design since. Apparently the engine is a so-called ‘interference’ engine, which essentially means that if the timing belt goes, the engine beats itself to pieces. Learning curve here.