Porsche 928 front exterior

Porsche 928 | Alternative Classics

Porsche 928 | Alternative Classics

If you’re in the market for a classic Porsche, the list of models you’re looking for likely begins and ends with the 911.

Its iconic looks and unique rear-engine handling have made it an all-time classic, with residuals to match, but it wasn’t always like this; back in the ‘70s, its dated design and widowmaker reputation had Porsche eyeing a replacement.

It was called the Porsche 928, and as a front-engined V8 hatchback with electric pop-up headlights, it couldn’t have been more different to its famous sibling. History, of course, tells us the 928 wasn’t the replacement Porsche intended it to be, but its less-than-iconic status means it’s at least affordable for mere mortals and, as the Nardone Automotive resto-mod proves, there is still a lot of love for the big V8.

And you don’t need to do too much digging to understand why. Its lusty V8 engine and aerodynamic shape were enough to bag the 928 the car of the year acolade in 1978 – a rare honour for a GT – and even now it’s hard to believe it comes from the same era as a late Jaguar E-Type.

Even direct rivals like the Mercedes SEC, E24 BMW 6 Series and Jaguar XJS look dated in the 928’s presence thanks to its integrated bumpers (which could withstand 5mph impacts undamaged) and teardrop hatchback boot.

Porsche wasn’t happy leaving the 928 as it was, and there were steady improvements throughout its life. The 928 S joined the standard V8 in 1979, while the S2 came on stream in 1983, replaced by the 5.0-litre quad-cam S4 in 1986.

GT and GTS models followed, in 1989 and 1991, respectively, the latter packing a 350PS (257kW) 5.4-litre V8 that feels quick to this day. This constant evolution means the earliest 928s compared to later versions are chalk and cheese.

Porsche 928: Why buy one?

The Porsche 928 combines the long legs of a GT car with the balance and forgiving handling of a rear-wheel-drive transaxle sportscar with a bonnet, doors and wings made from aluminium. It’s a balance few cars get right, as a browse through most of Aston Martin’s recent back catalogue proves.

Even the original 928 with a 4.5-litre V8 hunting out a modest-by-modern standards 240PS (177kW) demonstrates remarkable flexibility. At the same time, performance of 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 142mph means it can show a clean pair of heels to something more modern like the Toyota GT86.

Even these early cars have excellent traction and, although ABS wasn’t offered on the 928 until 1983, becoming standard with the S4 onwards, ventilated brake discs all around translate to modern stoppings. The three-speed, Mercedes-derived automatic gearbox meanwhile is best avoided.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

The original model laid a solid foundation that the 928S could build on. With 288PS (212kW) from its 4.7-litre V8, it was a giant leap forward by the standards of the time, bearing in mind a Mercedes SL500 wheezed out 104PS less from its larger 5.0-litre displacement. With 0-62mph coming up in 6.7 seconds on its way to an impressive 154mph top speed, the 4.7 gave the 928 the power its chassis deserved. Then there’s the 409Nm (302lb ft) of torque available from just 2,700rpm, which more accurately defines the 928 – it’s not a classic that’ll easily fall victim to the turbocharged youths of the 21st century.

The 928S was rebranded the S2 in 1984 when a higher compression ratio, Bosch electronic fuel injection and an EZF dual distributor brought power up to 310PS (228kW). The S4 replaced it in 1986, which brought a facelift and an extra 10PS to the table. In turn, it bowed out to the 330PS GT in 1989 before the 5.4-litre GTS launched in 1992 with a punchy 350PS (257kW) on tap. It has the performance to beat the current crop of ludicrously fast hot hatches, with 0-62mph coming up in 5.6 seconds and a 171mph top speed.

Porsche 928: Problems to look out for?

Before buying any 928, a documented service history is a must, as is a professional inspection by a mechanic familiar with the model.

While the 928’s V8 engine is one of its defining features, it can also be a significant source of problems and oil consumption of a litre every 500 miles is not uncommon. Experts reckon the big lump’s top end needs a rebuild every 120,000 miles – oil fumes on start-up indicate this could be an issue – and the bottom end needs looked at every 150K.

Head gasket failure is a risk on all models, but S4s built between 1986-1989 are most susceptible. Early GTS models, meanwhile, suffered from problems with their cylinder liners.

The cambelt and water pump should be changed every 60,000 miles, although the 4.5-litre founding model has a noninterference engine, which means valves and pistons will never collide.

Misfires caused by the fuelling and ignition problems can be hard to diagnose and costly to fix, but a Porsche specialist should be able to supercharge the diagnosis process. Lumpy vibrations could be down to worn engine mounts, which are relatively cheap to replace.

The cooling system is another weak spot; the aluminium radiator is expensive to replace and needs new fluid every four years.

The 928 has the powerful brakes you would expect of a Porsche, but discs, pads, and ABS sensors are also characteristically expensive. Another Porsche foible not unique to the 928 is the fuse box hidden in the passenger footwell, which is susceptible to moisture with disastrous results.

Porsche 928: How much to pay?

Just 20 per cent of 928s had a manual gearbox that made the most of Porsche’s flexible V8 and made it significantly quicker.

At the time of writing, there are just a handful of manual cars available. The low end starts from around £6,900 for an early 1979 4.5-litre car in need of recommissioning and with 130,000 miles on the clock. Raise the budget significantly to anywhere from £23,000 to £70,000 for a rare 1984 Strosek modified S2 complete with boxed wheel arches and NACA ducts.

Automatic models are cheaper, give you more options and are better than you might think if you avoid the three-speed, replaced with a four-speed in 1983.

A 1984 4.7-litre S with just over 45,000 miles on the clock caught our eye – owned by its current keeper for the past 14 years, it was garaged in the winter months and had a fetching blue interior. The best automatic on offer was a £69,950 928 GTS from 1992 that had clocked up just 16,000 miles.

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