They say that the sins of the fathers should not be visited upon the sons: certainly with Porsche, the “Transaxle” models all suffered the faults of their forefather, the 924 of 1976, considered by fans of the marque as “not very Porsche”. For this reason, even the excellent later models, starting with the 944 and 944 S2 as well as the 968 suffered and struggled, still having trouble today to be accepted. , The 968 was in another category. Considered by many as one of the best cars ever produced in Stuttgart, yet, almost totally forgotten by passionate collectors. And it’s a shame.
The 968 was the final evolution of the transaxle concept introduced in 1974 as a way of finding an alternative to the almighty 911. It was powered by a brand new all-aluminium 4-cylinder engine, with dual overhead camshafts and Porsche’s then-new VarioCam variable valve timing system. The result was a truly excellent and almost indestructible engine, that developed 240 hp and 305 Nm of torque, that last number is the highest torque value for a naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine ever sold in a production automobile. The 968 also came with a 6-speed manual transmission while Porsche’s dual-mode 4-speed Tiptronic automatic was made available as an option for the very first time.
The 968, both in its coupe version – a comfortable family 2+2 – and also as a convertible, is a very different car from the 944 S2, as some 83% of the components were new: thanks to the technical evolution of Harm Lagaay’s original lines, the twenty-five year old designer who penned the 924, and who, after a short break from Porsche, returned just in time as head of the “Style Porsche” department in Weissach, to prepare the 968. His hand, which also designed the 928 GTS and the last air-cooled Porsche 911 and the first water-cooled model, can clearly be seen mainly in the front and the tail, both of which were extremely modern for their time.
The interior style is rational, but somewhat minimalist. What makes the 968 unique, however, is its road manners: the almost perfect weight balance, combined with exceptional steering make it fun and unbeatable on both winding and on fast roads. A total of 12,776 were built, of which about 4,000 Cabriolet versions, the lightened and more rigid 1993 Club Sport version, of which 1923 were built, is the most sought after of all the models today, and it is simply perfect for track days. The Turbo S version (14 produced) and the Turbo RS (4 produced) are virtually untraceable.
Today the 968, in almost any version, can be found on the market starting from €20,000, with good examples reaching €30,000 and excellent ones around €35,000. Unfortunately, cars in very good condition are rare: the vast majority have been messed around with and “customized” in the most questionable ways imaginable, especially with the addition of racing accessories which betray this cars purity and spirit. If you find a good one, it’s well worth buying.