Obsessions #1 - Porsche 928

8

Author: James ElliottPublished:

You know those classics that every time you see one, hear one, or even glance at a classified for one, make you consider restructuring your fleet to accommodate an example? That's what this is all about. Well, this is just one of scores of classics that affect me that way.


I have never owned a Porsche. I have driven and adored many a rear-engined car, but never felt the need to buy one. Anathema it may be, but the same does not apply to the front-engined cars. Not the 924, of course. Nothing wrong with it, mind, but three yards of reversing and 1st gear in Graeme Hurst's (which you could never mention without him pointing it out that it was an "S", which in turn just invited a load of suggestions of what the "S" might stand for) put paid to that. 


The 944 has been hovering on the little "sticky" on my Mac screen for a while, though. A nice S2 manual, lovely. Except that I just know – as you do with plenty of classics – that it will never quite rise to the top of that long list of dream garage fodder. There are just too many other cars ahead of it. I also find their efficiency, reliability and competence a little bit clinical and sterile; not a sensation you ever get with a Lotus Elite, I must admit.


So perfection would surely be to add a bold animalistic tinge to that package? C&SC's Simon Taylor (or "Throttle" as he is known, a command sub-editors might occasionally be tempted take a bit too literally) has often regaled me with tales of his transcontinental epics in his 928, endless super-high-speed touring that made him rate the model as the greatest GT of all time. Considering the cars this former Haymarket chairman has driven and had at his disposal, that is quite a feather in the cap for the Stuttgart master-blaster.


Certainly enough to make me consider the stats (well I know the stats pretty much off by heart, but I feel the need to share them). Selling more than 60,000 in total – mindbogglingly good numbers for a big-engined GT that cost £20,000 in the late 1970s – by the late 1980s it was a 5-litre 300bhp-plus supertanker than could storm to 60mph in a smidgen over 5 secs and top out at 170mph. That's my sort of GT, in stupid performance just as much as looks (and fuel consumption) it is to all intents and purposes simply a more modern iteration of the Jensen Interceptor.

Maybe that is the appeal, and why I keep coming back to them.
The weird thing is, I have never spent that much time with a 928 – just one brief drive to date – which may go some way to explaining why I am so enamoured with them.

Every owner I have talked to has sung their praises briefly before delivering a much longer speech on parts prices and technical sophistication (ie the nightmare they present if they do go wrong).
 Clearly 928s demand a dedication and patience that makes me admire those owners in the same way as I bow down to those with the guts and wherewithal to own another of my favourites: the Citroën SM. Even the excellent website dedicated to them is refreshingly honest about their shortcomings.


All this is surely an exaggeration? I think not. Here's me, a bloke who will happily drive an Interceptor (on paper a worse car and a bigger risk in every conceivable way) daily, plus run an Elite and an Elan, yet has heard sufficient about the generation-younger 928 that, even when they skirt across fleabay for a couple of grand, I can't quite summon the courage (or down enough cider) to plump for one. 


What a perception problem this is for the mighty Porsche. Tell me I'm wrong.

Comments

Dinsdale Piranha

I feel exactly the same way about them.  As a fan of all things V8 they have been on my shortlist for years, however, no matter how low the asking price I just cannot find the courage to hand over the cash.  In my imagination they conjure up feelings of doom more vivid than any other car, I remain convinced that should I ever purchase one it will inevitably implode within days, if not hours of the deal being done.  That said, I'm now off to search the classifieds for one again!

Zagato

I too am obsessively drawn to the 928. I have even gone so far as to buy one on no less than three occasions but have always sold it fairly quickly. It is not just the fear of catastrophic bills that has caused me to chicken out so soon, but also the curiously unsatisfying nature of the car. They all feel a bit too heavy with a somewhat leaden throttle response, even in manual GTS form. The handling is also a bit stodgy and the cockpit is quite claustrophobic. However, there is no denying the glamour and the build quality of the car and every time I see one go by I want to own another one. They fuel my fantasies of being an international playboy who is constantly criss-crossing Europe with a boot full of stolen diamonds and a sultry French model in the passenger seat. I also like the fact that it is the one car that Gordon Murray, the designer of the Mclaren F1, said he wished he had designed. Time to buy another one, I think...

Zagato

David Evans

It must be fate. I read your 'obsession' last night James – it's one of those cars I always fancied as well – and then spotted a lovely dark green GTS rumbling down Teddington High Street at lunchtime. I still remember the furore about something so expensive winning Car of The Year when it was launched, but that's because I'm an old git! As Dinsdale says, off to the classifieds...

Simon Charlesworth

There’s only one thing worse than a Porsche, James, and that’s a Porsche with a disorientated engine. A car which attempts to compensate for its insipid persona by donning interior trim, so heinous, that even Jason King’s tailor would accidentally swear in disgust.

Yes, IF you got a good one, the 928 would be able to waft you down to Saint-Tropez with great ease, refinement and smugness – but in reality, its vast girth would end up getting dented by a trolley in Tesco’s. Anyway, its more affordable and involving picking your nose aboard the TGV than driving this squashed metal toad.

At least with an SM no-start, or ‘spontaneous hard-shoulder sortie’, it is but a brief bout of disappointment in an otherwise scintillating trip into the world of the future that never was.

Be honest, does reliability REALLY matter? If upon each and every time that mild-mannered sensible-shoed V8 successfully fires, there’s a hollow anti-climactic sensation gnawing away at your very being... Why? Because you’ve bought that most unfortunate automotive oxymoron – a sensible classic.

No sir, please turn around and head back into the light.

Simon Charlesworth

hjww

I recently sold my S4 after three great years as I moved overseas. How can anything that contains so much fabulous, bespoke engineering and is capable enough to let you use such a charismatic 300+bhp V8 365 days a year be boring?

A few tips from my experience:
- Use it, especially for continental missions. The stability, balance, solidity, pace from 80 to 130 and wonderful seats make it a fabulous way to travel. Also with great visibility, a decent boot and handy rubbing strips (Simon Charlesworth!) there is no excuse not to keep it loosened up during the week.
- Don't skimp on maintenance (or buy from someone that has); sure its relatively complex and not cheap to fix but well made and most problems give plenty of warning. Plenty of these are happily clocking up 200k miles without major issues.
- Acquaint yourself with Paul Anderson or one of the other specialists.
- Its not that thirsty; I got an easy 20MPG and up to 25MPG if traffic prevented the preferred rate of progress. I can only imagine what Motor were up to when they recorded 16MPG in their period roadtest!
- Its no Lotus Elise; sure the handling more balanced and forgiving than sharp but in the context of a GT car that's a benefit. Also the steering's not bad, especially in the age of EPAS. I still enjoyed hustling mine over the Stelvio, I can still recall the sound of the V8 at full chat now; I'm off to mobile.de to hunt for another!

Stratfordade

I'm on my second 928, so not a hopeless case but my infatuation with and admiration for these superb cars is deepening over time. I know scores of fellow owners personally and/or via the unrivalled online email lists and forums dedicated to the 928. They rarely saddle owners with eye-watering bills, they often present minor and easily fixed electrical problems which are a function of a car which was loaded with every conceivable powered gadget available at the time and some which were unique (electrically powered cooling flaps anyone?), and 20-30 year old electrical contacts which need a squirt or two of cleaner. Well thought out engineering and the supportive online resources referred to earlier make these cars great DIY prospects, in fact DIY is preferable given how few mechanics are familiar with the car. The 928 was the first car Porsche designed from scratch, so presents an awesome example of what the guys at Zuffenhausen could create when given free rein and a money-no-object ethos. Find one which has had money recently spent on it by a conscientious owner, join the 928UK owners' list, keep an eye on Rennlist and you'll never look back. Like many owners I'm more interested in 928s than I am in Porsche, and rather enjoy the car's "outsider" status even within the Porsche enthusiast community.

Ramona

I have owned my '82 anniversary model for 18 years and there is no way I'm parting with it. Mostly good sensible engineering, cheap to run except for fuel. Keep away from Porsche agents and buy parts from the USA. Parts are actually much cheaper than Honda for example. Enthusiast owners on various forums all around the world so help is never far away. Looks intimidating at first glance but the car is not all that complex once you have owned it awhile.

Sit in a 911 of the same year as the 928 your contemplating first for comparison, the 928 is in another class.

webbersebastian

This car have a very distinct look compared to the Porsche's today. Very simple wedge like body, but for sure the porsche parts under the hood have the same performance just like all Porsche's do.

Add your comment

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br> <img>
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

You must be logged in to comment
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.