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Porsche 924 944 and 968 History

Porsche 924 Styling

Porsche 924 front view
The Porsche 924 got clean, contemporary styling that's held up reasonably well.

As with the Porsche 914, styling of the Porsche 924 was deemed all-important but was more competently handled. Credit goes to Harm Lagaay, then working under the supervision of Porsche’s American-born design chief Anatole “Tony” Lapine. Despite the order for a familial resemblance to the 928, the 924 was its own car, Lagaay reinterpreting familiar Porsche cues such as a grille-less nose and a strong increase in visual mass toward the rear. Emphasizing the latter was a large compound-curve rear window-that doubled as a hatch that allowed access to the luggage compartment. All 924s wore color-matched bumpers; the five-mph aluminum units on American models were mounted farther out from the body on hydraulic struts.

Though the 924 was some 10 inches longer in wheelbase than a 911, its cockpit provided similarly close-coupled 2+2 accommodations. The driving stance was appropriately low and sporty, so outward vision wasn’t the best, despite Porsche’s claim that “at no point is more than 63° of the driver’s full 360° obscured.” As in the 914, furnishings were spare but functional, though there were obvious signs of cost-conscious borrowing: VW steering-column stalks, Beetle door handles, and Rabbit/Scirocco auxiliary gauges located above heat/vent controls in the vertical face of the tunnel console.

Though aerodynamics was not a major concern in the early Seventies, the 924’s coefficient of drag (Cd) was a claimed 0.36, then among the lowest in the world for production cars.

Good points aside, the 924’s design showed a few lapses. The steering wheel, for instance, was slightly oval to increase under-rim thigh clearance, but most testers thought it did just the opposite. Directly ahead of the driver were a large central speedometer, a tachometer on the right, and a fuel-level/coolant-temperature dial on the left -- which was fine, except that conical lenses distorted the gauge faces and picked up unwanted reflections.

Of course, as the “budget” Porsche, the 924 had fewer standard features and more options than the 911, but it could be made rather plush via options. Among U.S. extras were air-conditioning ($548), leather upholstery, the aforesaid automatic transmission (available in Europe in late 1976 and in America from March ’77), stereo radio, metallic paint ($295), a removable sunroof panel ($330), front and rear anti-roll bars ($105), headlamp washers, rear-window wiper, tinted glass (a tinted backlight was standard), and a radio prep package (three speakers plus antenna, $105).

Two option groups were also offered. Touring Package I ($345) delivered 185/70HR14 tires and 6-inch-wide alloy wheels (versus 5.5-inchers with 165-14 rubber), the radio prep kit, and leather-rim steering wheel. Touring Package II ($240) added the headlamp washers, a right-door mirror, and the rear wiper.

In all, the 924 was distinctive and influential. Its nose, for instance, was aped by the Mazda RX-7 of 1978, and the new-for-’84 Chrysler Laser/Dodge Daytona coupes were unabashedly cut from the 924 pattern (as their G-24 project code suggested).

Early 924 road tests showed 0-60 mph times in the 11-12-second range, top speed of around 110 mph, and fuel economy of 20-22 miles per gallon. These weren’t sensational figures, but they weren’t bad for a well-tuned 2.0-liter four in a small, adequately equipped 2+2. In a comparison test with the rival Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT and Datsun 280Z, Road & Track gave the nod to the 924, even though the Z went for $3000 less in base trim. The editors loved the Porsche on the track and praised its balance, flat cornering, and light, fast steering. It’s important to note, however, that the car driven by R&T’s editors had all the chassis options, and that the magazine did not think as highly of the standard-issue 924.

Road & Track had two big gripes: a rather buzzy engine and a jouncy ride with lots of thumping over rough surfaces. Over time, though, Porsche would apply its customary corrective balms.

European 924s were quicker and more flexible than American ones, particularly after the five-speed option, a Getrag unit, arrived for ’78. By mid-1977, Porsche had partly attended to lackluster U.S. performance, bumping output to 110 horsepower (SAE net) via a higher-lift cam, larger intake valves, modified pistons, advanced timing, and higher 8.5:1 compression (as used with automatic-transmission models in the United States, Canada, and Japan). Of course, none of this affected running on 91-octane fuel.

Road & Track felt sure that the ’78 924 could best the Alfetta and 280Z: “The Porsche’s overall design, its interior layout and its handling are better. [It] looks great (especially with the optional alloy wheels), its seating is as comfortable as a well worn Gucci loafer and the car sticks to the road like chewing gum on the bottom of a theater seat.”

Porsche 924 rear view
This Porsche 924 is equipped with optional alloy wheels and rear wiper.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356

Porsche 911

Porsche 914

Porsche 924, 944, 968

Porsche 928

Porsche 959

Porsche Boxster

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayman

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911