Back on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 11:23 in the morning I got a text from my dad that read, “How about this?” with a few pictures of a little red Porsche 944 S2. The odometer read 112,800 miles, and the interior looked insanely good.
As a preface: I have always wanted a 944, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to 944 and 944 Turbo owners about buying one. Years ago, between the years of 2005 and 2012 I toiled with buying one. I wanted one so badly. I honestly have no excuse for never buying one, though.
The whole time I was texting my dad back assuming he was trying to buy the car for himself, but I wanted it. He then told me he wasn’t interested in purchasing it, but since I wasn’t there he’d bid on it for me. Well, uh… yes, please. In the end the gavel dropped at $17,250. I just got a pristine 1991 Porsche 944 S2. I could tell from the photos that it had an aftermarket Alpine head unit that would give me Bluetooth audio, which is awesome. Before the car was delivered to me I took the time to watch every video and read every article about 944 S2s.
Porsche’s send-off of the 944 was with the S2, debuting in 1989 and lasting until ’91 when the 944 left this world, later to be replaced by the 968 in ’92. The S2 had a 3.0-liter, dual overhead cam (DOHC), 16-valve, inline-4 packing 208 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, and 207 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm. At the time magazines raved about the S2 being the better 944 to buy over the Turbo. Why? Because from 1986 to 1991, turbo technology was still new and they had quite a bit of lag. Around town, they said, the S2 was wonderful, because you had all of the power and torque without having to wait for it. The Turbo (chassis 951) from 1986-1987 it had a 2.5-liter inline-4 that made 217 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 243 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. The 944 Turbo S debuted in 1988 and featured the same turbocharged 2.5-liter motor, but this time with 250 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 258 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Most people don’t think of the 944 as a speed demon, but the 944 Turbo could reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, as Car and Driver found out in 1986. I can’t find the review online, however, thanks to the magesty of the interwebs, I was able to dig up a review of the 944, S2, and Turbo cars from the German car magazine Auto Motor und Sport where they matched Car and Driver’s quoted 60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The 944 S2, like mine, did the same deed in 6.8. I’ve seen everything from 6.2 all the way to 7 seconds for the S2. When it came to the Turbo S, the time dropped to 5.7 seconds, according to Porsche. However, I’ve seen as low as 5.5. That’s speedy as shit. Think about it: a brand new Volkswagen GTI gets to 60 mph in 5.1s with a dual-clutch. The 2019 Rabbit GTI did it in 5.8 with the DCT. The Turbo S weighed less, had similar power and torque figures as the GTI, but had 1980s turbo technology. So a 944 Turbo S is still competent today.
Now back to MY S2. Is it still competent today? Hell yes it is. Why? Well, for a few reasons that I can easily explain. The car weighed in just shy of 3,000 lbs in 1991 without my fat ass in it. The third or fourth owner (there have been quite a few) added a limited-slip differential in the mid-2000s, which was a factory option from ’89-’91; he also upgraded the wheels and tires to being 225/45/R17s up front, with 255/40/R17s in the rear. That matches the size of the 993 Carrera. So my car has grip for days. Funny, the day I got my license plate I took the S2 on a spirited drive. I warmed the car up doing a nice around town cruise to familiarize myself with the clutch, shifter, gearing, steering, the seats, how the car likes to be shifted, and whatnot. This is a large 4-cylinder engine, and it really, really likes to rev. In fact, shifting below 3K rpm is basically useless and sends sounds through the cabin that the driveshaft is not happy.
Once the car was good and warm, I went for it. I was doing launches to 60; throwing it into wild corners, some tight, others long and sweeping, and every single moment felt joyous. I felt as though I was in 1991 driving the car off the dealer lot. The radio was off, I took the sunroof off (more on that in a second), and the windows were down. The engine and exhaust aren’t the best sounding, but they are unique to the 944, especially a 3-liter 944. The body motions are well controlled; the brakes are solid, albeit with a hard pedal that feels like it takes some real pressure to build up really good stopping force; steering is tight; and shifting is best not rushed. I’ve read past reviews that say the steering on the 944 S2 is light, but mine is heavy. I reckon the reason that is would be thanks to the much wider front and rear tires. In 1991, the S2 came stock with 205/55/16 front, with 215/50/16 rear. For a car with no traction or stability control (ABS was standard at the time, though) it holds the road like something with all-wheel drive, or a rear engine. Having owned a 2007 911 Carrera S, I can tell you right meow, my S2 would hold the line very well when trailing the 911 on the same back roads. Sure, once the road straightens out the 911 is gone. But so long as its just twisties, the S2 isn’t falling far behind. I have since purchased a performance chip from a reputable 944 tuner who has sadly decided to hang it up after many, many years in business. I talked to him on the phone after I ordered my chip, and he said I was getting the very last one. We spoke for a while about 944s and my years-long lust for them, and he told me of his plans to retire and finally take a family vacation that he hasn’t had in a really long time. I have not put the chip in the car yet, though, because I am still trying to get good videos and such of my S2 for before and after comparisons. But from everything I’ve read, this should elevate the horsepower, torque, and performance to around that of a 944 Turbo. So, about 220 horsepower, 230-240 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 of under 6-seconds. I can definitely dig that.
While digging around the internet just trying to find every single piece of information I could find about S2s before and shortly after the car showed up, I found a listing for my car on Bring-a-Trailer. BaT, of all places, sold my car in 2016 for $18,500. To this day the website that was created to sell the car on BaT is still up and can be seen here.
By far the most interesting part about my 944 S2, though, is its in-service date. You see, I have a stack of paperwork for the car dating all the way back to the purchasing information by the second owner in 1992 from the first owner. I don’t have the original owner’s paperwork, but stamped in my owner’s manual is the day it was first serviced, which basically means that it got its pre-delivery inspection (PDI), which was May 11, 1991. My Birthday is May 11, 1986. In New Mexico on my 5th Birthday a gentleman was buying the very S2 that I would own 30 years into the future. It’s stupid to some, but it’s absolutely brilliant to me.
One of the coolest features about the 944 is the sunroof. This car is basically a targa. You can put the sunroof into tilt mode, right? But, get into the car and put the key in the ignition, turn it to the first position, not auxiliary, and then hold down the sunroof button. Two latches that hold the sunroof in place disappear into the roof, you unlatch the sunroof from under the sun visors, like you would an old, manual convertible top, and then you get out of the car and push the sunroof up from inside the car with your hand, and boom, it fully comes out and slides right between the wheel arches in the hatch. It’s fantastic.
Anyway, I want to tell you from one person who waited way too long to buy a 944, don’t wait any longer. If you find the right deal on a good car, jump on it, because I don’t think you’ll regret it. I should have bought a Turbo or Turbo S when I had the chance years ago so I could have enjoyed it longer and appreciated it before the values went wild. But I’m happy with my S2. It’s a time capsule of sorts. It’s from a time before I was able to drive, but when I started liking cars. When I was ten years old I told my brother my dream car was a BMW M3 after seeing a red E36 M3 driving past us. I now have an E36 M3, and I had a 2009 E90 M3 manual. When I was in high school I dreamed of one day owning a 911, and I traded my beloved E90 M3 for my 997.1 Carrera S. After high school I wanted a 944, and I finally have one. I have been beyond lucky, blessed, fortunate, privileged, and so much more. I assure you, though, I do not take it for granted. I love these cars, and I’m happy to have them.
Oh, and don’t worry, my 2017 Shelby GT350 is still here. Just without the stripes as they were getting disgusting. I have also since upgraded the headlights on my car from the European glass style to glass LED headlights that are really, really BRIGHT. It makes it so much more drive-able at night.
The first gallery below is of the photos that were listed in the Bring-a-Trailer ad, and the second set are all from my phone, as well as a few screenshots I had of specifications for the S2.