Originally conceived in 1971 as a supposed successor to the flagship Porsche 911, the 928 was finally released in Australia in 1978. The idea behind the conception of the 928 was to mix the space of a sedan with the performance of a coupe and indeed, the 928 was arguably comfortable enough to be driven over long distances, with all of the requisite poise and handling one might expect from a Porsche sports car.
Initially comprising a 4.5L 8-cylinder engine with only a manual 5-speed transmission available upon introduction, a 3-speed automatic option was made available by 1979. This was followed in 1980 by a bigger 4.7L engine, a 4-speed automatic gearbox in 1983, a 5.0L engine in 1986, and finally by a 5.4L in 1993. The early 928 had sizeable kit for its day, and by 1991, the kit was even better.
At first the 928 was rejected by Porsche enthusiasts due to its water-cooled (as opposed to air-cooled) front-mounted engine, causing initial sales to be slow, which in turn affected resale value in the used market.
However, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear has stated that the 928, with its sleek 2+2 body, was ‘one of the best-looking cars ever made’ and that it ‘looks and feels like a contemporary [i.e. modern] car.’ Indeed, the 928 was arguably ahead of its time.
Underneath the bonnet of the original 1978 Porsche 928 was a 4.5L SOHC with 8 all-alloy cylinders, meaning that the car could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 7 seconds and could reach speeds of 220km/h.
The 928S was released in 1980, with a more capacious 4.7L engine with a power output of 221kW and an increased top speed of 244km/hour. The powerful 928 S4 model came complete with a new DOHC 5L all-alloy V8 engine, complete with Bosch LH-Jetronic fuel injection that had a power output of 254kW at 6000rpm and a massive amount of torque at 430Nm at 3000rpm. The final 928 model before being discontinued in 1995 was the GTS, which could reach an immense 257kW of power output, accelerating from a standstill to 100km/h in under 6 seconds, with a maximum speed of 270km/h.
In terms of handling, the complex trans-axle of the 928 helped achieve a 50/50 weight distribution and added a distinctly modern feel, even without the limited slip differential of the later models – 1990 onwards. While one must work hard to keep the car under control when taking corners at speed, the 928 is a lot of fun due to mainly to its sheer power and brutishness. Earlier models were criticised for underperformance of the braking systems, but the S models made from 1984 onwards added larger brakes with 4 piston callipers, improving performance considerably in the process.
The Porsche 928 has recently gained a reputation as a racing car, but during its lifetime, the car was marketed as a GT and accordingly, about 80 percent of 928s were sold with automatic gearboxes. This is good news for the used market because the huge V8 engines are ideally suited to automatic transmission, which enhances the smoothness of the ride and drive.
The original 1978 Porsche 928 was impressively equipped for a car of its day, comprising a luxurious interior with ergonomic seats, electric windows and mirrors, as well as air-conditioning. Later models include anti-lock brakes, fog lamps, air-conditioning with climate control, an alarm, leather seats, alloy wheels, power windows in the front and back, central locking, cruise control, and finally a radio cassette player. The great thing about the Porsche 928 is that spare parts are readily available from Porsche, so if your car is not equipped with some of these features, they may still be found with relative ease.
The body shell of the 928 was galvanised to guard against rust. This was a feature right from the start of production, so rust is very much a rarity, even on early models.
Competition comes in the shape of Japanese cars like the Toyota Supra and Honda MSX. These cars perform very well, certainly giving Porsche a run for its money in terms of performance and pricing, which was markedly lower than that of the 928. However, the Porsche 928 has that extra bit of class that goes beyond the prestige of its marque; spare parts will be easier to find, and the car will command a much higher resale value to boot.