Porsche is the kind of car that everybody knows. Much like Coca-Cola, you can go to a rural African village where terms like “water” or “food” are barely understood, but the word “Porsche” will always be met with excitement. Even if you have never seen one in your life, you just know what they look like.
A customer drove his 1986 Porsche 944 2.5l into our workshop this week because its starter was giving trouble. The fact that it took nearly 40 years for its starter to give trouble is a good indication of the quality of the vehicle. We pulled it onto our hoist and found it fairly easy to remove and repair. The starter, like that of many German vehicles, was made by Bosch. Surprisingly, we had the solenoid in stock. Bosch has been using the exact same design for solenoids for almost 40 years. If it works, it works. We repaired the starter motor and serviced the aircon system.
Ferdinand Porsche registered his company and started manufacturing vehicles with a small team in 1948. They would work tirelessly, although the cars did have tires, and produced 52 vehicles within the first year. By 1986 their production capabilities had increased tremendously and they produced 17,010 units of this model. With less than 20 000 units available worldwide it is a gem to find one in our workshop.
The customer bought the vehicle in 1988 from a dealership in Cape Town. He got it second hand with only 14,000km on the clock. Buying it in mint condition - it still had the new car smell to it. He has used it as his everyday vehicle since then and it now has just over 200,000km on it, with a perfect service history. The interior has been taken care of better than most parents take care of their children. There are no traces of rust or scratches on the paint and it draws the eyes of most people it passes.
These cars were known for their quality, beauty, and speed. All humans inherently know that lying is wrong, and in much the same way, we know that a Porsche is fast. The 1986 Porsche 944 has a top speed of 218km/h. They designed this vehicle to drive as smooth as water thanks to the equal weight distribution. The four cylinder motor is positioned in the front of the vehicle with rear transaxle balancer equalising the weight in the rear. It came with state of the art brakes, for the time, which beat almost any other production cars stopping power. The fuel consumption of this vehicle averages 9.3l/100km. At R21.24 per litre the driver pays just under R2/km, which is better than your average Citi Golf.
The Porsche 944 is a feat of German engineering, and it was a joy to work on one. One of the perks of working in the motor industry is seeing true legends come through the doors. Cars worth seeing and worth writing about.