What you need to know about maintaining a 944
Monday, February 09, 2015
Apparently I suffer from an as-yet-undiagnosed affliction when it comes to 944s, or at least according to my friend Jennifer I do. I just emailed a seller in Columbus, Ohio, about a 944 he has for sale on Craigslist. I need a third one to add to my other two. Who doesn't?
It's a 1986 in very shiny Guards Red with what appears to be a superb black vinyl interior.The important statistics are a straight, rust-free body, under $1,500 dollars, and does not run, key item. I’m also greatly encouraged by the fact that there is a Haynes manual and what appears to be hood and deck lid struts lying on the front seat.
So, let me explain this for the uninitiated. Changing those struts on a 944 requires a modicum of cash and a lot of physical "coercion" on the hood side of things. For the experienced 944 owner, they cost about $60 dollars on the low end from Pelican Parts, and twice that if you are new to 944s and shop AutoZone.
Now, combine that seemingly excessive $120 AutoZone strut outlay with a car that no longer starts, (probably just the $20 DME relay, but could be more serious) the Haynes manual, which seems to indicate novice status as 944s go, and voila, to Craigslist you're a-goin', price negotiable.
I'm not predatory, if that's what you are thinking. I'm just a careful shopper obsessed with 944's.The real key is that I enjoy working on and fixing old cars, a passion and interest not shared by everyone, especially some 944 buyers.
I also came to Porsches from the world of British car ownership, with the mindset that drive time requires maintenance time, and maintenance time is part of the fun of ownership. I will admit I also spent several years racing MGBs and Formula Fords, so spending money on hobby cars that give me driving enjoyment is not a deterrent to ownership.
Knowing how much you will spend depends on your goal for ownership: daily driver, DE/track car, weekend show car or spec series racer. 944s can be any one of these, as they are incredibly versatile.
944s are great cars that can be had at a really reasonable price. What seems to cause consternation among some first-time buyers is the cost of ownership when things like timing belts and clutches come due for service.That’s when the grumbling begins. Some first-time buyers of “bargain” second hand Cayenne and 996s are probably headed along that same learning curve.
Porsche cars require Porsche maintenance, new, used or otherwise. Oddly enough, this cost of ownership "outrage" is not limited to used Porsches bought for seemingly bargain basement prices. I review complaints from consumers on a regular basis who buy used domestic vehicles and are shocked and indignant that they have to spend their own money out of pocket to repair their 100,000+ mile vehicles. Seriously, just what were they expecting?
Obviously, not all 944 owners struggle with owning and maintaining their 944. If you follow blogs and spec racing series, and it's obvious how many enthusiastic and committed 944 owners exist.
One of the more humorous Jalopnik postings I have found compared the 944 to the "Killer Rabbit" from the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It’s just a harmless little Porsche…go here to read it.
But that really underscores an important point in advising anyone you know that is considering owning and maintaining a 25-30 year old Porsche like the 944. Be informed, be prepared and be committed. Help educate those potential buyers you know that are not.
Even pristine 944s, as inexpensive and well-maintained as they may seem, will require time, money and effort to keep them that way. What’s their focus: The cost of ownership or the benefits of ownership? What’s your focus? A little self-knowledge goes a long way towards avoiding buyer's remorse.
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