The sports of Porsche par excellence is the 911. There is no turning back. When the brand decided to look for a substitute, the Porsche 928the clientele refused to see the luxurious and modern coupé as a successor to the 911. It was a time when the 911 reigned supreme at Porsche and nothing could overshadow it.
The Porsche 924, and later 944, in the range had their clientele and enjoyed some commercial success, but for many they were still not truly a sports Porsche, they were seen as a kind of mini 928.
And yet, that front-engine Porsche lineage spawned one of the brand’s greatest sports cars, a 718 Cayman GT4 RS before time, the Porsche 968 Turbo S.
The history of the Porsche 968 Turbo S It starts with Volkswagen asking Porsche to develop a coupé using as many Volkswagen and Audi parts as possible. The car in question was to be the Volkswagen Type 477, also known by the code name EA435. However, Volkswagen decided to cancel the project for financial reasons when the car was almost ready.
Porsche then bought the rights to the design for $60 million ($10 million less than the development cost) and brought the car to market in the mid-1970s, while Volkswagen assembled it at Audi’s Neckarsulm plant.
Initially it was equipped with a simple 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine with 125 hp (less in the United States where the use of a catalyst left it at 95 hp) associated with a 4-speed manual transaxle.
The 924 achieved an almost ideal weight distribution 53% on the front axle and 47% on the rear. And it is considered ideal because with a full tank and the driver sitting almost on the rear axle, the weight distribution of the car became more balanced.
Porsche did not stop evolving the car with increasingly powerful and sporty versions, such as the first GT Race, a 924 Turbo with flared fins. And in 1982 came the restyling that would turn the 924 into Porsche 944, with the widened fins as a house brand in all versions, cabriolet and Turbo included, of course.
The 944 S2, the last of the saga, was equipped with a 3.0-litre in-line 4-cylinder (the block was a bank of the 928 V8) with a 16-valve cylinder head. It delivered 211 hp and 280 Nm. It was enough power to be able to take advantage of the excellent chassis.
Porsche 968, the definitive evolution
In the early 1990s, the design of the 944 was too close to that of the 924, Porsche needed a new model. Since the brand did not have the same relationship with money back then as it does today (it was on the verge of bankruptcy), Porsche had to make a new car from a fairly old model.
In 1992, the year of its launch, the press release explained that 83% of the car was brand new. The aerodynamic mirrors, the body colored bumpers and the new light groups tried to make us forget that the doors were still those of the 924 and the dashboard was that of the 944.
The stylist Harm Lagaaywho returned to Porsche after a period at BMW, achieved a design that although not everyone liked it, it was an unprecedented modernization of the 924/944 design.
The result was not what was expected and the clientele did not accept it, especially because they considered it too expensive for what it offered. The press of the time criticized it mainly for its lack of imaginative design and a price considered high for what many saw as a profound restyling of the 944 S2 (in fact, the idea of calling it the 944 S3 was considered).
At no time did they criticize his dynamic behavior, quite the opposite. The development and imminent arrival of the new mid-engine model, the Boxster, as well as a severe economic crisis meant that the 968 remained in the catalog for only 4 years.
Present for cost reasons, some aspects may be surprising in a Porsche, such as the body panel adjustments that are not as successful as in the 911. And it is that the tooling, as well as some panels (doors, windows, trunk, for example) were retrieved directly from the 944.
The mechanics also followed the precept of improving the existing. The 968 has a 3.0-liter 4-cylinder (the fattest in world production) and a 16-valve cylinder head. It develops 240 hp at 6,200 rpm and delivers 305 Nm at 4,100 rpm.
Compared to the 944 S2, it incorporates the VarioCam variable intake and exhaust system that allows it to offer more torque below and in the middle area by altering the opening and closing times of the intake and exhaust valves thanks to a difference in the cams of 15º .
The 968 pistons and connecting rods are also forged. All these improvements allow it to go from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 250 km/h. The gearbox is manual with 6 relations and in transaxle position.
Optionally, you can add a self-locking rear differential and for the more relaxed, associate the engine with the Tiptronic automatic gearbox. It also recovered the brakes of the 944 Turbo.
The suspensions are independent at all four wheels. McPherson, with coil springs and stabilizer bar, front, and deformable parallelogram with torsion bar, coil springs and stabilizer bar, rear.
Unfortunately, despite the tireless efforts of Porsche, which year after year produced a very competitive car without major flaws, nothing could be done, the 968 seemed a swan song of the 924 lineage as beautiful as it was sad.
And the definitive swan song came with the Porsche 968 Turbo Sa car that could even compete with the ubiquitous and untouchable Porsche 911 on the circuit.
The Porsche 968 Turbo S, as fast as a 911
The 968 Turbo S was a reincarnation of the 924 Carrera GT and a precursor to the 718 Cayman GT4 RS. Beneath its 968 skin, it was essentially a barely civilized, license-plate version of the Porsche 944 Turbo Cup with which the Porsche Cup was run from 1986 to 1989.
Equipped with the 3.0-litre 4-cylinder single shaft (2 valves per cylinder) derived from the 944 Turbo, it develops 305 hp at 5,600 rpm and delivers 500 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm. With a maximum speed of 290 km/h a 0 to 100 km/h in 5 seconds was clearly moving into 911 territory.
Only 16 units have been manufactured (15 according to other sources) and it is recognized by its front spoiler, NACA air intakes on the hood, adjustable spoiler and 18-inch Speedline wheels.
Following in the footsteps of the Turbo S, Porsche Motorsport manufactured 4 units of the Turbo RS, some with 340 hp and others with 350 hp. Destined for competition it is an extremely rare model to say the least and obviously very expensive when one goes on sale.
To get an idea of how expensive these two models are, a Porsche 968 Turbo S changed hands in 2021 at auction in exchange for $792,000, so a Turbo RS could break all records. In any case, after several years of neglect, it seems that the 968 is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Better late than never.