Although designed by Porsche in 1973, the car that would become the Porsche 924 was originally conceived as a flagship coupe under the Volkswagen brand. This plan, however, was cancelled in the midst of the 1970s oil crisis, which made the focus on sports cars less attractive to VW. Accordingly, since a new model was needed to replace the 914, Porsche made an agreement with VW to buy back the design, and the result was brought to the market in 1977.
The 924 was a two-door coupe, initially available with either a 3-speed automatic gearbox or 4-speed manual gearbox, as well as an Audi-produced 2.0L multi-point fuel-injection engine that was water-cooled and front-mounted – a first for Porsche. The 924 represented another first for Porsche, as it was the first ever Porsche model to be made available with an automatic gearbox.
Although it had a relatively short lifespan in Australia – being replaced by the similarly styled yet more powerful 944 in 1982 – the Porsche 924 offers attractive retro styling and low insurance premiums, due to its classic car status, at an affordable price.
The Audi-produced 2.0L engine initially produced 93.3kW at 5800rpm and a torque of 164Nm at 3500rpm, enabling the 924 to reach 0-100km/h in 11 seconds, which somewhat dispelled Porsche’s claim that the 924 was a fast car. However, the Porsche 924 Turbo model improved on these statistics significantly. Indeed, the 1980 Turbo 924 produced a power output of 155kW at 6000rpm and a torque of 275Nm at 3000rpm. The car was able to reach 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds.
In terms of handling, many have noted the ease with which the 924 can be controlled at speed. This is due to the front engine/rear gearbox layout, ensuring that it transitions smoothly with no drama. It will not fight when pushed, and it performs well on corners.
In terms of what the Porsche 924 is to like to drive, it feels oddly like you are sitting on the floor of the car due to the low ride height. Accordingly, the view of the road seems unusual at first, but it does not take long to get accustomed to this. Also, the handbrake is on the right of the driver’s seat – another unusual feature on right-hand drive vehicles.
The gear lever has a tendency to feel stiff, especially when shifting to first gear or reverse, and it can often require quite a lot of force to engage. This is probably not the sign of a fault, however, as it may well be attributed to the fact that the gearbox is placed at the rear of the car, and it has a long linkage combined with a short shifter.
The braking system on 924 models was criticised at the time of release as a backward step from the 914 predecessor, due to the inclusion of somewhat antiquated drum brakes at the front with disc brakes at the rear in place of the four disc brakes included on the 914. However, four disc brakes were included on the turbo models.
If considering the purchase of a 924, check that the brakes function properly and for any signs that the engine has been worked hard by its former revhead owners of yesteryear. But rest assured, the engines are well-designed products of German engineering, and it is not hard to find engines in good condition, even if they have covered more than 200,000 kilometres.
By today’s standards, standard equipment on the Porsche 924 was extremely limited. Those listed at the time included solid front disc brakes, independent rear suspension, retractable pop-up headlamps, front row sports seats, and independent front suspension. Options included electric windows, AM/FM cassette with two door speakers, automatic 3-point rear seat belts, a central locking system, platinum anodized wheels, an alarm, and air-conditioning.
Space in the rear seat area is somewhat unpractical, yet rear boot space remains ample for a coupe. Front seats are surprisingly comfortable.
This came largely in the form of the Mazda RX-7, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the 924. In terms of performance, there is also little to differentiate between the two cars. The Porsche 924 is, however, the more economical of the two. Despite its higher price tag, it has a softer ride and lacks the level of depreciation to which the Mazda is subject due to its relative lack of prestige.