Porsche 928S 4
In all, the Porsche 928S 4 was the kind of thorough, timely update expected of Porsche. With it, the 928 was even more of what it always had been: a luxurious, supremely comfortable high-speed tourer capable of astounding performance on straights and curves alike. Porsche said the manual 928S 4 would reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, but Road & Track got 5.5. And though claimed top speed was now no less than 165 mph, Al Holbert, longtime Porsche racer and chief of Porsche Motorsport in the United States, took a virtual stock Porsche 928S 4 to 170 mph his first time out in a series of USAC-certified speed runs at Bonneville in August 1986. He eventually coaxed the car to 171.110 mph in the flying mile and 171.296 mph in the flying kilometer, both new world records for normally aspirated production cars.
The Porsche 928S 4 added a fresh nose and new rear wing to the familiar 928S.
With that, the Porsche 928S 4 vied with the vaunted 911 Turbo as the fastest production Porsche -- and not just in acceleration. The 928S 4 achieved truly incredible stopping distances in R&T’s March 1987 road test: 137 feet from 60 mph, 234 feet from 80. “That’s shorter than any production car we’ve ever tested save the Ferrari 412, which does [80-0 mph] in 230.”
The 928 celebrated its tenth birthday with the 1988 model year, yet changes were restricted to standard three-point rear seatbelts and driver’s-seat Positrol, plus a newly optional factory cellular-telephone hookup and warmer-looking “Supple Leather” upholstery.
Price, however, was drastically changed, especially in America. After several years of relative stability, the dollar began another retreat against the German Deutschmark, which forced Porsche to raise sticker prices twice on all its U.S. models during the 1988 season. The increases added up to about 6 percent across the line, which didn’t sound too bad except that it meant paying up to $3,800 more for a 928, which ended the year just $620 shy of $70,000 before options. On top of that were the new U.S. gas-guzzler and luxury taxes.
That more than anything explains why Porsche sales began a full-fledged slide in 1988, with the biggest losses coming in the ever-important U.S. market. The 928 was the biggest loser among Porsches, with total production plummeting from just over 8,000 for ’89 to barely 4,100 for 1990.
The ’89 base price was higher still at $74,545, but the Porsche 928S 4 itself was a virtual rerun. The only differences involved a new, standard 10-speaker sound system and an automatic transmission with a shorter final drive, revised intermediate gear ratios, and higher full-throttle shift points, all for improved standing-starts.
As explained in earlier articles, a management crisis compounded Porsche’s dwindling sales and cash reserves as the 1990s approached. Yet even as the firm struggled to get back on track, the 928 continued to evolve, even if reduced development funds meant that progress was somewhat slower than before.
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