Contrary to popular belief, all classic Porsches are not air-cooled nor are their engines only mounted in the rear. There is an entire series of front-engine cars that would run for an 18-year period. The first of these was the 924. The whole 924 project actually began when Porsche was contracted to design a sports car for Audi but, when Audi chose not to go forward with the new car, Porsche decided to build it themselves as a much-needed new entry-level model.
Despite some Porsche collectors looking down and dismissing the 924, Porsche would sell 152,082 924s—three times as many 911s during the same period. The 924 began a series of front-engine four-cylinder cars known among Porsche fans as “transaxle cars,” which continued through the last car of the series (the 968) through 1995.
It is interesting to note that most of the transaxle cars — 924, 924 Turbo and 944 in all its forms — were built at the Audi factory, but the 968 was built at the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen.
The 968 was powered by a 3.0-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine featuring variable-valve timing and produced 237 horsepower and 225 ft-lbs of torque.
In ads at the time, when Porsche stated that 80 percent of the 968 was all-new when compared to the 944, it was likely done to elevate perception of the car being more special than the less-expensive entry-level car it replaced. It also received a facelift that was somewhat a combination of 944 and 928, which contributed to Porsche giving the vehicle a new name instead of 944 S3 as planned.
I will say that the difference between the 944 and 968 is both the good and not-so-good, with the good being performance close to that of the 944 Turbo, plus the available six-speed manual gearbox, more available options and new styling. The not-so-good was the quality of the panel fit, which was not as good as the earlier cars despite being built at the Porsche factory. That being said, the 968 was the final and most advanced of all the four-cylinder Porsche transaxle cars, and they are also the rarest with only 12,780 built, (especially when compared to the production of 173,238 944s in all its forms).
The Pick of the Day is one of last of the transaxles, a 1995 Porsche 968 coupe listed on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Mesa, Arizona. The car is finished in Polar Silver over grey leather and features the six-speed manual gearbox which is preferable to the many cars that were equipped with the Tiptronic automatic. There is nothing wrong with the Tiptronic, but the six-speed makes the car much more involving to drive and offers quicker acceleration as well.
The seller describes this vehicle as a nice driver-level car in good condition with acceptable original paint, though a stickler would want to give a respray. Sale also includes owner’s manual and extensive maintenance records. The interior looks to be in excellent condition, with the seats in great condition and a solid dashboard; perhaps the only real wear is on the shift boot. Considering its condition, it is hard to believe that this 968 has covered 168,000 miles. If I were buying it, I would simply leave the paint alone (aside of having a paintless dent repair done on the small passenger side door ding) and enjoy it.
This 968 is a rare Porsche and, for $23,995, is a great deal for a Porsche you do not see every day, and one that is likely to continue to rise in value.