MSN Cars recently did a feature on cars from the 1970s and 1980s that are threatened with extinction. They were looking at the usual suspects such as the Austin Allegro and Morris Ital – the sort of cars that few are going to shed a tear over their demise (when did you last see one anyway?).
The feature did, though, get me thinking about Porsches. Most Porsches from the past remain loved and cherished, with second-hand prices reassuringly high. Indeed, more and more people are treating classic Porsches as an investment that’s better than money in the bank.
There are, though, one or two Porsches that remain unloved and, while perhaps not likely to become extinct as even they have their followers, are becoming rare.
Ah, the Porsche 924, the car that Porsche enthusiasts love to hate. 924 owners, on the other hand, will go to great lengths to tell you that this pretty front-engined coupe was the sales success that saved Porsche from extinction, so we should all be thankful for it.
That’s probably true but does it make the 924 a good car? Well, in its day it was a well-designed and well-packaged car with a prestigious badge and would look quite at home on the streets of Monaco. Over the years, though, it dropped from grace, as critics moaned about its Audi roots (the engine was based on an Audi unit but the car was designed by Porsche originally to be badged a Volkswagen) and lack of power. The 944 that followed answered many of the criticisms and the poor old 924 was to remain ever in its shadow of its successor.
Today, you can pick up a 924 for next to nothing and, if I’m honest, I’d rather have a 944, for its more muscular body shape and extra power. The 924 does, though, have a place in Porsche history and the increasingly rare good examples deserve to be preserved.
As mentioned, the Porsche 944 succeeded the 924 and, in most ways, was the better car. Even today, it’s still a good car and a lot of fun to drive, with rock-solid build quality (much better than an early Boxster). However, over the years 944 prices have dropped and many have fallen into the hands of owners who can’t afford to maintain them properly, so many have either been scrapped or are in a sorry condition.
A good, well-maintained 944 is a rarity but a joy to behold and to drive. Sadly, such things are increasingly rare.
Take a look at a Porsche 928 and it’s hard to believe that it first went on sale in 1977, when most people were driving around in boxy Cortinas. Originally designed to replace the ageing Porsche 911, it never succeeded in doing so but, interestingly, the 911 has in many ways become what the 928 was – a comfortable and competent long-distance GT car.
The 928 was packed with innovation and high-tech which was impressive when new but soon scared off second-hand buyers, as did the fuel consumption. That meant that 928 prices plummeted over the years and today very few good examples remain, especially of the early 1970s cars.
A wonderful example of 1970s space-age design, the Porsche 928 is a classic waiting to happen.
And into the future?
What if any Porsches are likely to be threatened with extinction in the future? The early Boxster is already becoming a rare sight, and I wonder if the first 996s will follow.I sincerely hope not. As today’s Porsches such as the 991 become all the more complex will that give them short shelf-lives?
I believe, though, that the Porsches that really are at risk are some of the limited editions, such as the 996 Anniversary and the 996 Millennium. Cars which many don’t appreciate the rarity of.