The Porsche 968 buying guide – handling and performance in a practical package

Porsche 968

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

3.0-litre inline-four

Power:             240bhp

Top speed:       150mph

0-60mph:         6.5sec

Economy:        30mpg est.

 

3.0-litre turbocharged inline-four

Power:             305bhp

Top speed:       175mph

0-60mph:         4.7sec

Economy:        20mpg est.

Text John Tallodi  Photos Porsche

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