In the 1980s, Porsche did not have a mid-engine car to compete with the mid-engine cars of its competitors. Porsche’s lack of a mid-engine car, and its need to replace the 928, prompted Porsche to begin development of a replacement for the 928. The car that was developed was an evolution of the 928: the Porsche 944.
Porsche’s goal with the 944 was to create a sports car that had handling similar to a Porsche 911. Porsche started development of the car in 1980, by conducting research on chassis tuning and design elements for their race cars. Research included testing various designs using models, computer simulations, wind tunnel tests and finally on-track testing. The first prototype was built in 1981, using an existing 2.7 liter engine from a VW Jetta. It had styling similar to the 911SC, with pop-up headlights and rounded body lines that resembled a 911SC Targa. The second prototype introduced more aggressive styling than the first prototype; it featured pop-up headlights that were hidden behind flush mounted covers when not in use (similar to those found on Ferrari 308 GTB), flat sides, black trim around the windows and quad tailpipes instead of dual ones. This prototype was based on a 911 chassis, rather than the previous 928 chassis.
In 1982, Porsche began development of the production version of the car. The suspension was designed to handle well on twisty roads, but also had to be comfortable for everyday driving. The engine was mounted behind the rear axle in order to provide a low polar moment of inertia, and to make handling more neutral. To make room for the engine, Porsche lengthened the wheelbase by 2 inches (50 mm). The 944 went into production in late 1982 as a 1983 model year vehicle. It was available as both a coupe and a convertible.
The 944 was designed by Helmuth Bott, who also designed its sibling cars: the Porsche 924 and Porsche 928. The car had a long hood with pop-up headlights hidden behind flush mounted covers when not in use (similar to those found on Ferrari 308 GTB), that made it look similar to a 911SC. Its wheelbase was 2 inches (50 mm) longer than that of the 911SC, which allowed more interior space while still retaining a sporty feel due to its short overhangs and low hood line. To increase torsional rigidity, the engine was mounted behind the rear axle.
The Porsche 944 had a front mounted water-cooled engine and rear wheel drive. The suspension was all-independent, with MacPherson struts in front and semi-trailing arms in the rear. Porsche used aluminum in the suspension to reduce unsprung weight, a technique they had first used on the Carrera GT. The standard wheels were cast aluminum alloy, with optional magnesium alloy wheels available as an option. Porsche also offered an anti-lock braking system (ABS) as an option starting in 1986.
The interior of the 944 was similar to that of the 911SC: a full dashboard and center console with no center armrest; however, it had a more modern look than that of the 911SC due to its digital instrument cluster and integrated radio/cassette player (the 911SC’s instrument cluster featured only gauges). A tachometer was standard equipment, while a trip computer and digital clock were optional.
Porsche introduced several variants of the 944 over its lifetime. In 1984, Porsche introduced its first turbocharged variant of the 944 for European markets; it was sold under the name “944 Turbo” in North America. In 1986, Porsche introduced the 944 S in North America, which was sold alongside the naturally aspirated variant; it was sold under the name “944 S” in Europe. In 1987, Porsche released a special edition variant of the 944 Turbo called the 944 Turbo S; it was sold in Europe only. In 1988, Porsche introduced the 946, which was a 944 with a turbocharged engine derived from that of the 959.
In 1990, Porsche introduced a new version of the 944 that featured significant styling changes from previous models: an enlarged front air dam and rear spoiler and revised body-colored bumpers with integrated fog lights (the latter two were previously only offered as options). The interior received new seats and an optional leather package for North American market cars. The car received power steering as standard equipment, while an anti-lock braking system (ABS) was optional equipment on both turbocharged variants and standard on all other variants (including naturally aspirated cars).
Most popular Porche models in 1980s:
The Porsche 911 is a sports car produced by the German manufacturer Porsche AG of Stuttgart, Germany. It has a rear-mounted six cylinder boxer engine and all round independent suspension. It was first introduced in autumn 1963 as Porsche’s response to the growing popularity of sports cars like the MG B and the Jaguar E-Type. The 911 has been modified by private teams and by the factory itself for racing, rallying, and other forms of automotive competition.
The Porsche 928 is a luxury grand tourer produced by Porsche AG of Germany from 1978 to 1995. The company designated it as their “911” model, thus starting a naming convention that continues today. As its name implies, the 928 is based on the 911 platform, although it is larger in most dimensions and heavier than its sibling. Unlike the 911, which was traditionally equipped with a rear-mounted six-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels, the 928 had a front-mounted V8 engine driving the wheels through a 5-speed manual transmission or 3-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic automatic transmission option (marketed as Tiptronic S).
A convertible variant called Targa was introduced in 1985. The design team responsible for its exterior was led by Tony Hatter under Chief Designer Peter Schutz. A completely new 2+2 coupé featuring an innovative composite body was launched in 1977 as Porsche’s entrant in the high-performance grand tourer market
The Porsche 944 is a sports car manufactured by Porsche AG from 1982 to 1991. The company’s first production turbocharged model, it was the company’s most popular model from its introduction in 1982 until the advent of the Porsche 968 in 1992. The original 944 was a badge-engineered Volkswagen Jetta, using many shared components with its Volkswagen counterpart.