"I couldn't find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself"

- Ferdinand Porsche

Porsche 924

 
Porsche 932 and 924 S.jpg
Manufacturer Volkswagen AG
Production 1976–1988
Predecessor Porsche 914
Successor Porsche 944
Class Sports car
Body style(s) 2+2 coupé
Layout FR layout
Engine(s) 2 L, 2.5 L water cooled I4(225HP)
Length 924 4,200 mm (165.4 in)
Width 924 1,685 mm (66.3 in)
Height 924 1,270 mm (50.0 in)
Curb weight 924 1,080 kg (2,381 lb)
Designer Porsche AG

The Porsche 924 is an automobile produced by Porsche AG of Germany from 1976 to 1988. A two-door, 2+2 coupé, the 924 replaced the 914 as the company's entry-level model, and was the model that finally retired the 912. It was the first Porsche model powered by a water-cooled, front-mounted engine to make production easier, although the similarly-configured 928 was designed before the 924 these changes sped up production. The front-engine, rear wheel drive arrangement was normal for most other manufacturers, but it was unusual for Porsche, who had previously only used mid or rear-mounted engines of a boxer configuration, all of which had been air-cooled.

The first official appearance of the 924 took place in November 1975 (as a press launch rather than a motorshow appearance) at the harbour at La Grande Motte, Camargue in the south of France. The model was a success and not only helped to take Porsche out of financial ruin, but created the revenue stream needed to continue building and developing the 911. The 924 was replaced by the 944 in 1983 in the US market, but continued to be produced until 1985 for other markets.

For the 1986 to 1988 model years the car acquired the powerplant from the 944 model and became the Porsche 924S.

History

The 924 was originally intended to be Volkswagen's flagship coupé sports car. Volkswagen commissioned Porsche to design the car (VW project number 425), who developed a fresh chassis and transmission that would work with an existing Audi I4 engine. They also handled the suspension, and the interior and exterior design. Porsche decided on a rear wheel drivelayout, and chose a rear transaxle to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution. This slight rear weight bias, despite the front-mounted engine, aided both traction and brake balance.

Due to growing concern over the 1973 oil crisis and a change of directors at Volkswagen, they put the 425 project on hold, eventually dumping it entirely after their decision to move forward with the Volkswagen Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership, agreeing to buy the design for an undisclosed figure—some suggest 100 million DM, others say 160 million—but most agree it was less than the amount Volkswagen paid Porsche to design it.

The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, the Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche's best-selling models to date, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance.

The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission for the 924 mated to VW's EA831 2.0 L I4 engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that the engine originated in the LT van, but it first appeared in the Audi car), and in the AMC Gremlin, Concord, and Spirit. The engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 95 horsepower (71 kW) in North American trim. This was brought up to 110 horsepower (82 kW) in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model. An Audi three speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model.

European models, which didn't require any emissions equipment, made 125 hp (93 kW). They also differed visually from the US spec model by not having the US cars' low-speed impact bumpers and the round reflectors and side-marker lamps on each end of the body.

A five-speed transmission, available in normally aspirated cars (type 016) starting in 1979 and standard on all turbos (type g31), was a "dogleg" shift pattern Porsche unit, with first gear below reverse on the left side. This was robust, but expensive due to some 928 internal parts, and was replaced for 1980 with a normal H-pattern Audi five speed on all non-turbo cars. The brakes were solid discs at the front and drums at the rear. The car was criticized in Car and Driver magazine for this braking arrangement, which was viewed as a step backward from the 914's standard four-wheel disc brakes. However, four wheel disc brakes, five stud hubs and alloys from the 924 Turbo were available on the base 924 as an "S" package starting with the 1980 model year. Also, standard brakes could be optioned on the turbo as a cost saving measure.

The overall styling was created by Dutchman Harm Lagaay, a member of the Porsche styling team, with the hidden headlights, sloping bonnet line and grille-less nose giving the car its popular wedge shape. The car went on sale in the USA in July 1976 as a 1977 model with a base price of $9,395. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Turbo charged variants received many different, non-VW sourced parts, throughout the drive train, and when optioned with the m471 disc brake package and forged 16" wheels, the car was twice as expensive as a standard model.

J. Pasha, writing in Excellence magazine, at the time, described the 924 as "the best handling Porsche in stock form".

While the car was praised for its styling, handling, fuel economy, and reliability, it was harshly written up in the automotive press for its very poor performance, especially in its US spec cars. With only 95-110 hp, rapid acceleration was simply not an option, but the Porsche name carried with it higher expectations. When the 924 turbo models came out, Car and Drivermagazine proclaimed the car "Fast...at Last!" The later 924S had performance on par with the turbo, but at much improved reliability, and less cost. The 81 and 82 Turbos and the associated special variants are garnering interest in collector circles; and while many still exist, excellent examples of the cars are quite scarce as of 2009.

Production

924

Model Year Production Rest of World USA Japan
1976 5145 5144 1120  
1977 25596 * 17675 7496 425
1978 21562 9474 11638 450
1979 20619 10475 9636 508
1980 12794 † 9094 3700  
1981 11824 ‡ 9669 2155  
1982 10091 7814 2277  
1983 5785 5785    
1984 4659 4659    
1985 3214 3214    
Total 121289 83004 36902 1383

* includes 3000 special edition "Martini" cars
† includes 1030 special edition "Le Mans" cars
‡ includes 1015 special edition "50 Jahre Porsche/Weissach" cars.[1]

924 Turbo (931 LHD, 932 RHD)

Model Year Production Rest of World US Japan
1979 2932 1982 950  
1980 5243 1803 3440  
1981 3312 1783 1529 * 1529 *
1982 1819   876 943
1983 310 310 †    
Total 13616 5568 6795 943

* sum total of cars brought into US and Japan
† cars brought only into Italy

924 Carrera GT (937/938)

Model Year Production Germany UK Rest of World Notes
1980 406 200 75 131 includes prototypes

924S

Model Year Production Rest of World US Notes
1986 3536 3536    
1987 8940 1993 6947  
1988 4193 2003 2190 production ended September 1988
Total 16669 7532 9137  

There was also a sport package for the 924S, brought into the US, for which we have no production data.

924 Special Production

Model Year Type Production Notes
1978 924 Rallye Turbo 4 One of these models the first 924 to actually be bought into Australia is located in Queensland under private ownership. It was first on show at Motor show's then converted and driven in the 1979 Repco Reliability Trials
1979 924 Rallye Turbo 1  
1979 924 SCCA 16 for US market
1979 924 Group 4 1 built up from street car
1980 924 Le Mans GTP 4  
1981 924 Carrera GTS 59 15 were Club Sport with cage, etc.
1981 924 Carrera GTR 17  
Total   101  

924 Turbo

Walter Röhrl's 1981 924 Carrera GTS driven during the 2008 Rallye Deutschland.

Porsche executives soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924 and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 Turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 Turbo as a 1978 model.

Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced 2.0 L I4, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi (69 kPa) boost, output increased to 170 horsepower (130 kW). The 924 Turbo engine assembly weighed about 65 lb (29 kg) more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear.

In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally-aspirated version, Porsche added a NACA duct in the hood and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with 5 stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16" flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it 931 (left hand drive) and 932 (right hand drive), much like the 911 Carrera Turbo, which had been "Type 930". These designations are commonly used by 924 aficionados.

The turbocharged engine allowed the 924's performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems. This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today's standards, a primitive turbo setup.

A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil lead to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 Turbo series 2 (although badging still read 924 Turbo) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 horsepower (132 kW; 179 PS).

After a successful sales run of both naturally-aspirated and turbo models, in 1980 Porsche surprised everyone and release the 924 Carrera GT, making clear their intention to enter the 924 in competition.

By adding an intercooler, increasing compression to 8.5:1 as well as various other little changes, Porsche was able to develop the 924 Turbo into the race car they had wanted, dubbing it the 924 Carrera GT.

A 924 Carrera GTR campaigned by GTi Engineering in 1982 and 1982.

Visually it differed to the 931 in that it had polyurethane plastic front and rear flared guards, a polyurethane plastic front spoiler, a top mounted air scoop for the intercooler, a much larger rubber rear spoiler and a flush mounted front windscreen. It lost the 931's NACA duct in the hood but retained the air intakes in the badge panel. This more aggressive styling was later used for as motivation for the 944.

In order to comply with the homologation regulations, the 924 Carrera GT and later 924 Carrera GTS were offered as road cars as well, producing 210 and 245 hp (157 and 183 kW) respectively. Clubsport versions of the GTS were also available with 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS), a factory included Matter rollcage and race seats. 924 Carrera GT variations were known by model numbers 937 (left hand drive) and 938 (right hand drive).

The ultimate development of the 924 in its race trim was the 924 Carrera GTR race car, which produced 375 horsepower (280 kW; 380 PS) from a highly modified version of the 2.0 L I4 used in all 924s. In 1980 Porsche entered three 924 GTRs at the 24hrs of Le Mans, which went on to finish 6th, 12th and 13th overall. In 1981 Porsche entered a 924 Carrera GTP which used a highly modified 2.5 liter I4, the same capacity as the forthcoming 944. This engine sported 4 valves per cylinder and a single turbocharger to produce 420 hp (313 kW; 426 PS). This last variant managed a 7th place overall finish and spent the least time out of any other car in the pits.

Production of the 924 Turbo ceased in 1982 except for the Italian market which lasted until 1984. This is due to the restrictions on engines larger than 2 liters, putting the 2.5 liter 944 into a much higher tax category.

924S

Porsche 924S in Guards Red.

In 1984 VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944's 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924's early interior. The result was 1986's 150 bhp 924S. Porsche also decided to re-introduce the 924 to the American market with an initial price tag of under $20,000.

1987 saw Porsche release the limited edition 924S Le Mans. Available only in Alpine White or Black, it had upgraded suspension and cosmetically upgraded interior and exterior. In Le Mans spec, the S' 2.5 litre engine produced an additional 10 bhp (7 kW; 10 PS), taking the total to 160. The Le Mans also came with an electric sunroof as standard (normally an option). A total of 980 924S Le Mans were manufactured during the 1987 model year; 813 cars in black (the only colour available for the US market) and 167 white cars.

In 1988, the 924S' final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp (119 kW; 162 PS) matching that of the previous year's Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944 (itself detuned by 3 bhp (2 kW; 3 PS) for 1988). This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S' compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body.

In 1988 The Porsche 924s-SE was introduced, only 500 cars were produced and sent to the United States.

With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.

The Porsche 924 and motorsport

The 924 has its own racing series in the UK run by the BRSCC and Porsche Racing Drivers Association. The Porsche 924 Championship was started in 1992 by Jeff May who was championship coordinator until his death on 10 November 2003. Jeff was also one of the founding members of Porsche Club Great Britain. In the United States, the 924S is also eligible to race in the 944-Spec racing class.

Collector Significance

Due to the high number of cars built in the 924 family; over 152,000, the cars are garnering interest in the collector community. While the surviving number of cars may be only around 40% or so, the special variant cars (924 Turbo, 924 Carrera GT, and 924S) survival rates are very high. The early year cars are not held in high regard due to their low power, primitive engineering/construction, and propensity to rust, but in isolated areas only. Rust is generally due to poor accident repair or leaky batteries. All 924's are galvanized like 928's and later 911's. The later year cars were much improved upon, and are more plentiful, as well as reasonably priced. Most any 924 makes an excellent—and reasonably inexpensive—restoration project. Further, with a growing number of enthusiast clubs springing up world-wide, the 924 has an all but guaranteed supply of new and salvaged replacement parts available.

References

  • Long, B (2000). Porsche 924. Veloce. ISBN 1-901295-85-0.
  • Sloniger J (1987). Porsche 924 928 944. Osprey. ISBN 0-85045-776-9.
  • Wood, J (1997). Porsche: The Legend. Parragon. ISBN 0-7525-2072-5.

External links

 

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