If you’re not aware, Porsche has attempted to replace the 911 on several occasions. The 928 is one of those occasions but it’s actually a great car in its own right. Porsche designed the 928 as a front-engined (gasp!), V8 (gasp, again!), Grand Tourer. Did I mention that the V8 was also water-cooled? Blasphemy! Both Ferdinand Porsche and Ernst Fuhrmann were pushing for a grand touring car to replace the slow-selling 911. If you remember Fuhrmann, he was responsible for the high-powered engines in the Porsche 356. Ironically, the Porsche 928 was built with the idea of being more economical. To their credit, Porsche was able to get mid-20’s for miles per gallon out of a decent sized V8. It must be from that sweet, aerodynamic design!
Porsche 928 (1978-1982)
The original Porsche 928 design is unmistakably linked to the 1970’s. This is especially true when viewed from the rear. It has a very rounded rear with very unique looking tail lights. The early 928 didn’t feature a rear wing and hand a massive rear window in the hatch. Smooth lines continue around to the front for the coupe de grace, the popup headlights with visible lenses. You can actually see these in action in the movie Scarface. There was also no front spoiler on these early models. The car featured a 4.5 liter V8 making 240 horsepower. To put that into perspective, that is more horsepower from a smaller V8 than Ford would release with their modular 4.6 twenty years later! Even these early versions would hit 140 mile per hour.
Porsche 928 S (1983-1986)
In keeping with Porsche tradition, the styling changes to the 928 S are minimal. They added a front and rear spoiler and that was pretty much it. Brakes were upgraded to four-piston fixed calipers and engine displacement increased to 4.7 then to 5.0 liters. This bumped horsepower to over 300 which would drop to 288 after catalytic converters became mandatory. The twin-cam four valve design made more horsepower than a Corvette with similar displacement at the time. Car and Driver hit 60 miles per hour in just 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 152 miles per hour in 1985. The author put these numbers in perspective perfectly when he said, “These are amazing figures for a car with extremely tall, fuel-economy-oriented gearing.” Porsche would continue to find more power.
Porsche 928 S4 (1987-1991)
The S4 saw significant (by Porsche standards) visual changes. The front end was more rounded with air intakes under the bumper. They also moved the rear wing to the hatch and extended it away from the body. Gone were the taillights of the 1970’s in favor of a more flush look. Horsepower from the 5 liter V8 bumped up to 320 horsepower. The Porsche S4 was the fastest naturally aspirated production car in the world in 1986 hitting over 171 miles per hour at Bonneville. There are even rumors that it hit 180 miles per hour at Italy’s Nardo ring. The S4 is a pretty good buy as the 5 liter engine is known to be bulletproof. The redesign also smooths out the car and has aged pretty well.
Porsche 928 GT (1989-1991)
The GT level 928’s are easily the most sought after of the entire range. Porsche removed the manual option from the S4 and made the GT manual only. They also stiffened the suspension and added wide tires. Porsche upped the ante a little by squeezing out 326 horsepower and a few more miles per hour. They also had thicker cylinder heads further strengthening the block. Do you know what styling changes they made? That’s correct, nothing! You have to love Porsches persistency in design philosophy. If you’re looking for a valuable 928 GT stick with the dark metallics or Guards Red. Yellow, white, gold, and green are the least desirable colors. Of course that only applies if you are buying something for resale value and not to enjoy it. Me, I’d rather drive it!
Porsche 928 GTS (1993-1995)
A manual equipped Porsche 928 GTS is the absolute holy grail of this model line. They are super-rare with only a few hundred reaching the United States. Of those that made it here, only 40% had a manual transmission. Used examples with a manual go for well over $100,000. Porsche bumped displacement up to 5.4 liters and horsepower up to 345 horsepower. They strengthened both the engine and transmission and added larger brakes. Surprisingly, Porsche actual changed the looks adding rear fender flares and new Cup II wheels. They also extended the rear taillight all the way across the back of the car. Wild design changes for Porsche. The GTS is the most hardcore trim level but there are only about 400 in the states. Good luck finding one!
Legacy and Performance Enhancements
There isn’t much to the legacy of the 928. It never replaced the 911 and was out of production by the mid-1990s. Probably the closest spiritual successor is the Porsche Panamera which is also a front-engine, rear-wheel drive, V8 grand touring car. I’ve actually ran into a few of these still on the streets and they sound pretty good. There’s also a pretty healthy aftermarket but like anything Porsche, you are going to pay for it. Rennlist actually has a pretty robust section covering performance modifications for the 928. MSDS makes a header system that adds approximately 40 horsepower. There are also other exhaust options and intake improvements available. There’s also a company that sells superchargers though there isn’t much info on them.
If it were me, I would go with a Porsche 928 S4 in black, arrow blue metallic, or petrol blue metallic. I would search for a five-speed manual before 1990 as they discontinued the manual in favor of the GT. With some of the above performance additions, you could easily get the car into the mid-300 horsepower range. There is one with exhaust near where I live and it sounds pretty damn good. I keep telling myself no more projects, but every time I see something cool I fall into the trap again! The 928 was Porsche’s first “muscle” car and it would make a fun addition to anyone’s fleet!