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Porsche 924S – Finally a Porsche Powerplant

The Porsche 924S—the often-forgotten, Frankenstein project of Porsche. The culmination of years of engineering, the 924 was a lively, water-cooled 2+2 coupé that made history as the first Porsche to not only be debuted with a front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration, but also the brand’s first vehicle to be offered with an automatic transmission.
Initially a joint project between Volkswagen and Porsche, the 924 was designed from 1976-1988 with the intention of replacing the mid-engined 914, the German automaker’s entry-level sports car at the time. Funded by their joint marketing and sales enterprise under the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG) moniker, the 924 would become Volkswagen’s “Project 425” sports car and Porsche’s aforementioned 914 successor. Porsche’s only constraint? That the new coupé work cohesively with the 2.0-liter EA831 inline-four powerplant that Volkswagen and Audi had already developed and deployed.

Though the Porsche-Volkswagen agreement seemed to be going swimmingly, the 1973 Oil Crisis had other plans. Laying a heavy hand on the automotive industry and its vehicle regulations, the Oil Crisis caused a complete internal reorganization of Volkswagen’s officials and priorities. The “Project 425” drafts were crumpled up and thrown into the trash, and the Scirocco inherited its role as VW’s new sporty vehicle. After years of a rather fruitful and symbiotic relationship, Porsche was left out to dry—their 914 still needed a replacement, and now their manpower was cut in half.

Luckily, Volkswagen agreed to become a subcontractor on Porsche’s project, gifting them production-line manpower and full rights to the 924 design. After sorting out the future of the new entry-level sports coupé, the 924 made an impactful debut in 1975 amongst the scenic backdrop of La Grande Motte, Camargue, in the picturesque south of France. Though enthusiasts often criticized its performance, Porsche couldn’t hear them over the rumble of its new best-seller. The introduction of the more-powerful 924 Turbo in 1978 and the motorsport-focused 924 Carrera GT in 1980 further squashed any doubts harbored by enthusiasts and journalists about the 924’s performance, and the coupé soon became a fan-favorite.

In 1984, the 924’s popularity was threatened yet again—Volkswagen had ceased production on the inline-four Porsche had been relying on for years. The solution? Detune the inline-four from the 924’s pricier stablemate, the 944,  rather than create a whole new engine. Four years later at the end of its production, the now-named 924S was being driven by the 156-horsepower 2.5 L Porsche M44/40 I4, which was now a direct competitor to Porsche’s 944 base model of the previous year, thanks to its lighter, more aerodynamic chassis.

The Stuttgart automaker’s ingenuity and eye for value was well-rewarded, and the return on their $20,000 U.S. asking price was great. Paired with the 5-speed Getrag manual, the 924S provided the enthusiast with an affordable and capable entry-level sports coupé. Equipped with four-wheel vented disc brakes, anti-roll bar stabilization features, coil springs, and a semi-trailing arm rear suspension, the 924S was a solid-handling sports car for the masses. A 134 mile-per-hour top speed and 8-second zero to 60 mile-per-hour time further augmented its enthusiast appeal—a factor that still contributes to its auction prices today.

The Porsche 924S wears the right badge, there’s no doubt about that—mechanically simple, but multifaceted when it comes to driving enjoyment. Hagerty may estimate the market for these cars to be around $8,500 to $35,000 depending on condition, but we would argue that the joy they bring behind the wheel is priceless. As its more expensive 944 and 948 stablemates continue to appreciate, now may be the time for you to snag up one of these automotive beauties before they too increase in value. Forgo that Boxster you’ve been eyeing—there’s a 924S calling your name instead.