This piece was originally written for GT Porsche magazine.
My ears pricked up when the editor asked me to write a column on 924 Turbo values. As a teenager, my family had a yacht on the River Hamble and there was usually a shiny two-tone silver and grey Turbo parked at the marina – it belonged to the owner of a company there – and I always drooled over its multispoke wheels, NACA duct in the bonnet and wild Pasha checked interior. As a spotty 15 year old, the Porsche was to me the epitome of cool and success, and I aspired to own a 924 Turbo of my own someday.
I never did own a 924 Turbo (although I did have a normally aspired 924 as my first Porsche) and, if I’m perfectly honest, the model dropped off my radar as the years went by. I suspect it’s gone off most other’s too, as at the time of writing I can’t find a single example for sale in the UK, apart from one sad shell on eBay that had been fitted with 944 wings and engine.
That’s a shame, because it was a great looking car, the 924 Turbo, and with 170bhp on tap it went some way to silence the critics who moaned (quite rightly) that the original 924 was underpowered. The Turbo wasn’t, though, a great commercial success at just 10 percent of the sales of the regular 924, with production running from just 1978 to 1983 (but it was only sold in Italy for that last year).
Someone who does know about 924 Turbos is Phillip Watson of the 924 Owners’ Club. “We reckon that there are only about 60 left in the UK,” he says. “And of those there are increasingly few good ones. If you are lucky enough find a decent example, expect to pay around £4000 to £5000 for it.” That’s surprisingly low for such a rare Porsche, especially one with a Turbo badge on it. I’ve seen the rather more common 924S sell for that sort of figure, if not more.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get one for even less: “One of our members recently picked up one for a grand,” Phillip continues. “It wasn’t perfect but it was surprisingly good and just needed some paintwork to get it looking tidy.”
On the whole, though, cheap Turbos will be priced thus for a reason. “There have been some offered for a few hundred pounds,” says Phillip. “These are inevitably neglected cars and will need work doing to them. In fact, if the engine’s not been run for a while, as is often the case, you shouldn’t start it without giving it a proper service and once-over first, as the turbocharger can fail.”
The club members have worked out that tired 924 Turbos typically cost around £4000 to sort out, mechanically and cosmetically. Again, that strikes me as refreshingly low in Porsche terms – especially compared to an air-cooled 911, where you’d spend at least twice that on an engine rebuild alone. And, unlike a 911, you should get that money back if you sell the car.
Someone who is used to air-cooled 911 bills is high-profile Porsche enthusiast Magnus Walker in the USA, who has just treated himself to a 924 Turbo. “I’m hoping to get a 944 and a 928 as well so I have a set of three,” he explains. “As in the UK, 924 Turbos are rare over here, and prices range from $500 to $10,000.
Values in mainland Europe are much stronger than in the UK, says fellow club member Steven Cooper: “You’re looking at the equivalent of £8000 to £18,000 for a standard Turbo, while I’ve seen a modified one advertised at £25,000.”
Steven also points out that Porsche Centre Bolton has just bought a 924 Turbo as a restoration project, while Phillip claims that an independent classic Porsche dealer is quietly buying all models of 924 because he sees them as the ‘next big thing’.
Phillip goes on to say that many younger people consider the 924 to be cool: “They don’t know about the snide comments that used to be made about ‘van engines’ and just like the look of the cars, especially the Turbo. There have been several articles in classic car magazines about them, and they are much better cars than, say, an MGB. Without the bulging wings of the 944, they have a much cleaner, almost more British, look about them.”
The 924 Turbo is 35 years old this year so will that generate interest in the model? It’s hard to say, as it’s not a high profile celebration. However, what other Porsche as rare as this could you buy for such little money? You’d be hard pressed to get a decent 944 for £5000, and they are relatively common.
I’m struggling to predict what the future holds but my gut feeling is that 924 Turbos are currently underpriced in view of their rarity, cool appearance and ‘Turbo’ badge. Of course, they don’t have the mass appeal of older 911s, but with these skyrocketing in value, people of modest means wanting a classic Porsche could do worse than to consider a 924 Turbo. It’s less common than a standard 924 or 944, still looks great, has the right badge and, by all accounts, is a hoot to drive. You just need to find one – and that could be a problem.