The Porsche 968 buying guide – handling and performance in a practical package
The Porsche 968 represents the final iteration of the four-pot front-engined transverse engine layout introduced with the 924, it remains a well-sorted and desirable sports car.
The 1990s was a decade of great change for Porsche, the air-cooled 911 was reaching the end of its development potential and the 928 was similarly nearing its end. The entry-level 944 was not exactly a modern offering either, having been developed from the ‘70s 924, it needed a big revamp to compete with the latest crop of sports cars.
To that end Porsche’s engineers undertook a thorough redesign of the 944, initially intending to release it as the S3 variant, so sweeping were the changes that it received a new model designation and with it a few years reprieve. The final design was called the 968 and it was definitely more modern looking than its predecessor, with Porsche claiming that more than 80-percent of the car was all-new, however, they came to that figure it was certainly a big step up from the 944.
The 968 was released in 1992 and it was made available in Coupe and Cabriolet body styles from the off, both manual and Tiptronic transmissions could be specified. 1993 introduced a deluge of limited-edition models including the Club Sport, Turbo S and track-only Turbo RS. Aside from a UK-only Sport model introduced the following year, not much else changed until the end of production in 1995.
The short production run and all-round balance of these cars has kept prices strong for a number of years, most of the shoddy examples have since met their maker which leaves a decent if rather limited selection of cars on offer today.
Porsche 968 Engine
The aluminium 3.0-litre inline-four was thoroughly updated and was the first to feature the VarioCam variable valve timing system. It is a strong unit and benefits greatly from annual oil changes, regardless of how little mileage is done.
Check if the camshaft timing chain tensioner has ever been replaced, these have been known to fail on a few cars and can cause extensive engine damage when they do. Loud noises from the cylinder head can indicate imminent failure but it is best to have this checked by a specialist for peace of mind.
All belts should be changed every four years, although some owners have found that they can last far longer. Be aware though that a belt failure can mean big engine bills. Spark plugs last around 24,000-miles but once again, modern plugs can give longer life spans.
Porsche 968 GEarbox
The pinion bearings on six-speed manual transmissions can fail and while clutches can last a long time, the dual mass flywheel generally needs replacing with each clutch change.
Whining from the rear under acceleration can indicate a worn rear diff pinion, it is pricey to replace but some specialists can rebuild them.
Porsche 968 Suspension and Brakes
There are no problem areas with the suspension, aside from age-related issues. Rust can take hold of the rear suspension trailing arms and check the dampers for leaks while you are down there. Ball joints and rubber bushes should be renewed if they look tired, this can make a big difference in the way the car feels when cornering.
Most owners have stuck with the standard 16-inch wheels as they offer the best ride/handling balance.
Porsche 968 Interior
The Coupes are four-seaters but the Club Sport and Cabriolets only seat two. The standard cars came equipped with electric windows, sunroof and central locking, the pared-back CS cars made do without these luxuries.
Check for water leaks in Cabriolets although dampness in the boot could affect all variants. The standard fabric and optional leather is hard-wearing but any car this age will be showing wear and tear on the seat bolsters. Airbags were optional as was an air conditioner. Electric seats became standard in 1994 so check that all is working as intended.
Model History OF THE PORSCHE 968
1992: Porsche 968 introduced with 240bhp 3.0-litre inline-four engine. Available in Coupe and Cabriolet body styles
1993: Club Sport introduced with lowered suspension, stripped out interior and no rear seats. 305bhp Turbo S introduced – 14 built in total
1994: UK-only 968 Sport introduced
1995: Final year of 968 production with no direct replacement. Just over 12,000 units produced.
which Porsche 968 to buy
The 968 occupies an interesting place in Porsche’s history, it marked the end of a long line of front-engined four-cylinder models and there has been no direct replacement for it since. The comparatively small production run and inherently good handling and performance characteristics of the car have made it a desirable modern classic.
While all 968s offer a satisfying drive, the least sporty are the Tiptronic-equipped convertibles. A regular manual Coupe and especially the stripped-out Club Sport models are far more entertaining companions down a stretch of twisty road and the prices reflect this. The ultra-rare Turbo S models rarely come up for sale and when they do they tend to command prices that could buy you 10 standard 968s.
High mileages should not be a deterrent but a lack of extensive service history most definitely should be. Club Sport models are now more highly valued than their plusher counterparts, but they also tend to be driven harder so be sure to do a thorough inspection.
A great compromise is the Sport model, with sharper handling than the standard car and a few more creature comforts than the Club Sport, it is a perfectly viable daily-driver. While the best examples can easily surpass 997 values, 968s are not only a lot rarer but offer even more practicality than their rear-engined stablemates.
Porsche 968 Specifications
Top speed: 150mph
Economy: 30mpg est.
3.0-litre turbocharged inline-four
Top speed: 175mph
Economy: 20mpg est.
Text John Tallodi Photos Porsche
For years, the sword of Damocles of Brexit hovered over everything. It affects political and social issues, but above all the markets. The market for classic cars is also affected. How does the UK’s exit now affect buying and selling from and into the UK after separation? Continue reading Brexit and the impact on the classic car market
Business card, therapy, hobby – House painter Mike McDougall considers his Landy as much more than just a company car. He not only has his Land Rover to thank for new jobs, but also for a new zest for life. Continue reading Book tip | Landy Love – Friend and partner
90 years ago, Rudolf Caracciola achieved a surprising victory at the 1931 Mille Miglia. The large and, despite numerous lightening measures, still heavy Mercedes-Benz SSKL (W 06 RS) started in Brescia rather as an outsider. Continue reading 1931 Mille Miglia – The victory of Rudolf Caracciola in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL