We covered the delights of driving the front-engined Porsche 944 Lux in detail last July but I am delighted to have had a chance of making its acquaintance. When writing about it last year A.H. said “As long as you can make do with two seats, or only have a couple of small children, if you’re an enthusiastic motorist it is quite honestly difficult to put forward any reason for not buying the Porsche 944 at what amounts to be an extremely reasonable price tag”.
With that I agree entirely, for even if the price, fully endowed, is more that £14,000 (from a basic £13,000 plus), you get what you pay for and in a Porsche you get a car it is virtually impossible to fault — I might, however, have added that you must eschew much luggage, in spite of the boot holding a “spacesaver” spare tyre. In fact, the test car had a Uniroyal Rallye 165-15 spare cover to go with the Pirelli CN36 185-70 VR15 tyres on the road wheels, which is much nicer than having a collapsible “fail-safe” tyre.
The restricted boot-space comes from having a transaxle, but this balances fore and aft weight effectively and contributes to the good road-clinging of this exceptional motor car. Couple this with the excellent performance, delivered smoothly and quietly, and the power of the all-round disc brakes, and this 944 is a very quick car from one place to another, no matter whether the going is winding country roads or motorway. The 2½-litre engine really is smooth, its four cylinders made so by Bosch L Jetronic fuel-injection and contra-rotating balance weights, so that its 163 (DIN) b.h.p. is delivered at 5,800 r.p.m. with turbine-like docility. As the torque-curve is almost flat the splendid acceleration continues up the scale like a powerful aeroplane taking-off. You can get from rest to 60 m.p.h. in under 7½ sec., and on to 100 m.p.h. in 21 sec., with a top speed of 137 m.p.h. The engine is safe to 6,500 r.p.m.
The Porsche 944 looks the part — low aerodynamic nose, high tail, big rear aerofoil, large exhaust tail-pipe and those chubby tyes. Within are conveniently placed controls, nice instrumentation, if not quite so easily read as those on some German cars, and an air of quiet quality. The r.h. handbrake, row of tiny switches on the rear edge of the console, the stubby gear-lever controlling an impeccable five-speed gearbox, and the sports-type seats with integral head-supports are typical and appreciated, as is the simple-to-use, effective heater. The leather and cloth upholstery, leather-bound slightly out-of-round small steering-wheel and the disappearing headlamps are also in keeping, although the steering was a trifle low-geared at 3¾ turns, lock-to-lock, and not quite as precise as I had expected, although the wheel returns nicely through one’s fingers after a corner. The headlamps do not respond to daylight-flashing unless first raised, this being confined to the bumper-mounted spotlamps.
The comfort, performance, and high quality of the Porsche 944 reminded me of F. L. M. Harris, motoring writer of the 1920s, remarking, of the then new 12/50 Alvis, that it was the kind of car you took out just for the sheer pleasure of driving it — I felt just the same about the 944. As the fuel tank holds a useful 14½ gallons. I only had a chance to refill it once so I did not get a complete check on fuel-consumption but this was in the region of 26 m.p.g. I liked the way in which, at speed, the oil-gauge needle went to the right of its dial indicating at approximately 4 to 5 bar that all is well, but I disregarded the discreet m.p.g. indicator incorporated in the tachometer, the latter having big figures and a “danger” line from 6,400 r.p.m. Neat, too, are the buttons in the doors for the electric window-lifts, while the bonnet-lid is self-propping, the dipstick easy to use. The test car was equipped with Panasonic stereo. It may seem pedantic to call a Porsche the “Rolls-Royce of Fast Cars” but it is unquestionably a very desirable property and if I were a rich man I would be off to Reading to order one. — W.B.