Visually, the Turbo differed just enough to be noticed: lovely “spider web” alloy wheels (optional on normal 924s), a functional NACA hood duct, four cooling slots on the nose, Turbo tail script, and a modest spoiler rimming the big back window. The last, Porsche said, reduced Cd to 0.35, which in America made this the best wind-cheater of 1980.
The Porsche 924 Turbo had distinctive visual cues, but wasn't enhanced by this
paint option. Nose and hood vents helped set the Turbo apart from other 924s.
Differences were fewer inside. A leather-trimmed 911 Turbo-style steering wheel and shift boot were the most obvious (automatic transmission was not offered). Though the speedometer read to 160 mph (later to only 85 mph, per federal edict), a boost gauge was nowhere in sight. Porsche evidently had an abundance of confidence in the blown engine’s strength and reliability.
Considering its performance, the 924 Turbo was remarkably frugal. Most early tests reported average mpg at about 25. But there was a price for all this: a little less than $21,000 in 1980
Interim changes to the normally aspirated 924 were less dramatic but welcome nonetheless. The Getrag five-speed became standard for ’79, along with a space-saver spare (except in Britain), pressure-cast alloy wheels, tinted glass, passenger’s visor vanity mirror, and stereo speakers.
The 1980 models received a non-Getrag five-speed, basically the old four-speeder with an extra gear and -- praise be -- a conventional shift pattern. Emission control and driveability improved as three-way catalytic converters arrived during the year on both 924 and Turbo, making them 50-state cars. Porsche also attended to the occasional severe judder and axle hop of previous 924s via tighter driveline tolerances, revised rear suspension mounts, and new hydraulic transaxle mounts. The result was a better, if still rather hard, ride. Finally, Stateside 924s gained a little performance thanks to an altered cam and revised ignition timing, plus lower final-drive ratios with manual shift (5.00:1 against the previous 4.11:1). Horsepower now stood at 115 SAE net and 0-60 mph acceleration at 10.5-11 seconds, yet mileage stayed the same.
Another new 1980 American item was the Sport Group, a package option priced at $2,045 for the normal 924 and $1,960 for the Turbo. These sums bought the ventilated all-disc brakes previously restricted to Europe, five-bolt “spider web” wheels wearing beefy 205/55VR15 Pirelli P7 high-performance tires (replacing four-lug rims and CN36 Pirellis), higher-rate shocks, and a 14-mm anti-roll bar to go with the stock 23-mm front stabilizer.
All 924s were little changed for ’81 -- just standard halogen headlamps, rear seatbelts, and, belatedly, rear disc brakes. This might have signaled that Porsche had something better in the pipeline. It did: a thoroughly overhauled version called 944. With that, both 924s were withdrawn from the United States for six years but continued in production for Europe, the United Kingdom, and other markets.
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The Porsche 924 Turbo came with handsome "spider web" alloy wheels.
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