Porsche 924

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Porsche 924

1975 - 1985
Straight 4
1984 cc
125 bhp
5 spd. man
Top Speed:
125 mph / 201 km/h
Number Built:
2 star
Porsche 924
Porsche 924
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2


The 924 was the first front engined water-cooled engine Porsche ever made and designed to the low-cost market to replace the 914. The 924's life started as a VW, its powerplant and gearbox came from Audi. The 924's 2L fuel-injected engine came from Audi's 100 saloon. The overall styling was created by Dutchman Harm Lagaay, a member of the Porsche styling team, with the hidden headlights, sloping bonnet line and grille-less nose giving the car its popular wedge shape.

The car went on sale in the USA in July 1976 as a 1977 model with a base price of $9,395. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. A five-speed transmission, available in normally aspirated cars (type 016) starting in 1979 and standard on all export turbos (type g31), was a "dogleg" shift pattern Porsche unit, with first gear below reverse on the left side. This was robust, but expensive due to some 928 internal parts, and was replaced for 1980 with a normal H-pattern Audi five speed on all non-turbo cars.

The brakes were solid discs at the front and drums at the rear. The car was criticized in Car and Driver magazine for this braking arrangement, which was viewed as a step backward from the 914's standard four-wheel disc brakes. However, four wheel disc brakes, five stud hubs and alloys from the 924 Turbo were available on the base 924 as an "S" package starting with the 1980 model year. Also, standard brakes could be optioned on the turbo as a cost saving measure.

Turbo charged variants received many different, non-VW sourced parts, throughout the drive train, and when optioned with the m471 disc brake package and forged 16" wheels, the car was twice as expensive as a standard model. Porsche was designing its own front engined model, the 928, at this point, but it appeared after the 924 in 1977. The coupé was designed by Porsche's Harm Lagaay. When the 924 was completed, Volkswagen was wrestling with the first defecit in its history, because the sales of the aging Beetle were faltering.

At this point Porsche bought back its design from VW for 100 million DM (100 million US dollars). When the 924 was released in late 1975, it came an instant success and became the best-selling Porsche of its day. The 924 dissapeared from the US market for six years when the 944 was released, but it re-appeared as a 924S model with some modifications. The biggest change was the engine, it came from 944. The interior was also completely redone and it was very similar to the later 944/968 fascia.

The 924 Design

Originally the 924 was drawn up by Volkswagen with collaboration from Porsche engineers, but as the project became too expensive for Wolfsburg to pursue Porsche took over the design and produced it as an almost pure Stuttgart model. The 924 used an Audi engine, VW Golf front suspension, steering, instruments, cockpit hardware (switches, steering wheel, door handles etc) and an Audi gearbox. Despite all this rationalisation there was a lot of Porsche in the car. What made the 924 special was that, given these volume components, the Porsche engineers were still able produce the sophisticated and impressive sports coupe they did.

Basically the two-plus-two was only 90 mm shorter than the 911 series, but it was almost 50 mm lower and a lot lighter. The wind-cheating body gave a 200 km/h maximum speed with 34 mpg economy and rushed to 100 km/h from a standstill in under nine seconds. The rear seat folded down to provide increased luggage space and this made the 924 an extremely sensible touring coupe for two people. Its balance, even when loaded, was practically dead neutral. The front end styling of the car was very clean and smooth with built-in collision protection from the soft bumper panel. Under the bumper there was an integral spoiler which contributed to the car's good aerodynamic efficiency factor. Despite the lack of obvious crash protection it should be noted that Porsche engineers devised a system which complied with the tough American regulations yet it was one that still looked good.

The 924 Engine and Transmission

The Audi engine was a two-litre design (it was this engine that American Motors used in their Pacer), but Porsche used the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system instead of carburettors. The engine was a SOHC design, with the camshaft being driven by a toothed neoprene belt. It produced a healthy 92 kW at 5800, but the big news was torque. The torque curve was almost flat and rose only slightly from 2000 rpm up to the peak 3500 where maximum torque of 164 Nm was produced. This gave the 924 excellent flexibility in all conditions with near maximum torque available over most of the engine's rev range. The engine cooling (by water) was another departure for Porsche, but careful attention to radiator design gave lots of capacity and few road testers were able to induce operating temperature variation, even when punishing the car. The engine was reasonably quiet in operation and had a metallic, mechanical whine, rather than a throaty, exhaust-based sound.

The gearbox used in the 924 was also an Audi-designed unit, featuring four closely-linked ratios with an overdrive top gear and 3.4 to one final drive ratio. The change was positive, but heavy at first until transmission oil warmed up. The ratios were extremely well chosen and always provided the right gear at the right time. It was a quiet transmission, probably due to its location at the rear axle. The layout was unexpected with power being transmitted to the combined gearbox/ differential unit via a torque tube mounted between the engine and the rear axle. The concept was not all that new for Porsche however, Ferdinand Porsche used the idea in the Mercedes racing car he designed in the early thirties.

Porsche 924
Porsche 924.

The 924 Brakes and Suspension

The braking system on the 924 consisted of front discs and rear drums. The discs utilised a floating calliper and were diagonally linked with the rear brakes which provided near maximum braking efficiency in an emergency situation, should part of the brake line malfunction. The brakes were servo-assisted and provided positive, but firm braking with moderate pedal pressures. The pedal gave excellent feedback and was located close to the accelerator. The 924 would pull up easily and safely at speed with absolutely no evidence of fade. German motoring journalists noted that the 924 required careful bedding-in of brake pad/lining materials before optimum stopping power was achieved.

The front suspension and steering used on the 924 was lifted straight from the VW Golf. It was a McPherson strut system at front, with lower wishbones, plus front and rear anti-roll bars available as optional extras. The rear suspension featured transverse torsion bars carried in a tube mounted ahead of the transaxle, with trailing arms and double-acting telescopic shock absorbers. Drive to the rear wheels was by universal-jointed half shafts. The suspension settings provided adequate spring travel for bump absorption, but the ride quality was generally firm.

The 924ís Performance and Handling

Due to the inherently fine balance achieved with the front engine/rear transaxle design the 924 had almost neutral handling, everywhere. The 924 could be confidently pointed at any corner at just about any speed and you would be sure of exiting safely. That said, it was still possible to get off-balance and untidy if you were not concentrating, but the 924 was so easily controlled that it took little effort or drama to bring the coupe back on line. The 924 could safely cope with any road surface too, because it was almost impossible to throw the 924 off-line. It really did challenge the 911 God-like status in the handling department, the latter's heavy rear end weight bias making it twitchy when you had the car just on-balance in a fast corner. There were times when a patch of wet leaves or gravel on the road could have you worrying whether or not you'd be able to hang onto the 911. There are no such worries with the 924.

The 924's weight distribution was 48 percent front, 52 percent rear - even under full load conditions. This made the 924 directionally stable and was further improved by its resistance to crosswinds. The shift to drift condition was predictable and easily controlled - in fact the 924 was almost totally 'viceless'. The two-litre engine would easily run to the 6500 redline, and even beyond, without fuss. The motor gave the impression of being finely balanced and the delivery of power was smooth at all times. Owners have spoken with nothing but praise about the Bosch fuel injection - few having ever experienced a problem provided some level of service was undertaken. The 924 was economical too, returning up to 34 mpg.

Due to the even torque spread across the range the 924 has very consistent overtaking times in third and fourth gears and the acceleration curve was smooth and impressive. Road testers of the time ran to 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds and covered the standing 400 metres in just under 17 seconds. The top speed of over 200 km/h was easily obtainable - not that it was ever possible on Australian roads. On the autobahn, and at speed, the 924 was reported as being reasonably quiet, but wind noise increased dramatically near maximum velocity. Motoring journalists noted that the engine could be heard in the cabin under heavy acceleration, but thankfully never at an uncomfortable level.

Inside the 924

From behind the wheel, the 924 afforded good all-round vision. The large, wrap-around rear window gave a commanding view and the rakish front windscreen and slim pillars offered an unobstructed view which contributed to excellent vehicle safety. The sill-line was quite high, perhaps too much so for small drivers, but the headroom was excellent and legroom for front passengers was adequate. The seats were comfortable and covered in a free-breathing plaid cloth - they were not quite as good as the then very popular Recaro type, but they handled the task well enough. The driving position could be adjusted for all, but access to the car was a problem for most drivers.

The dash was well set-up for sporty drivers with the main instruments mounted immediately ahead of the driver and all the necessary controls were column-mounted, just as they were in the VW Golf. The gear lever was nicely positioned - it was a short, stubby type which had short, but positive movements. Due to the linkage shaft being directly mounted to the torque tube there were no rattles, nor gear selection problems, which one might justifiably have expected in a transaxle car.

The centre console was headed by a big, efficient centre air vent, then came three gauges, supplementary switches, the radio and heating/ventilation controls. The handbrake was mounted next to the driver's seat between the seat and the door. There was a shallow parcel shelf beneath the glove-box on the passenger's side and some stowage space for occasional items on the centre console. Interior finish was excellent and reflected Porsche's usually high quality control standards. There were no rattles and everything worked as expected. The window winders were very heavy to operate, but door lock action was light and easy.

The hatchback was operated by a lock button on the rear panel and this required use of the all-function key. The liftback was carried up and open by gas-filled struts and was very easy to close. Once open it exposed a flat area for luggage stowage, with additional space below the carpet. The spare wheel rode upright against the rear panel and was very easy to remove and replace. The whole car reflected intelligent design and although it was very much a compromise design it worked well and was a credit to its engineers.
Porsche 924
Porsche 924

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Also see:

Porsche 924 Turbo
Porsche 924 Advertisements
Porsche Heritage
Ferdinand Porsche
The House Of Porsche
The House Of Porsche - Pictorial Edition
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