944 Turbo S
The 944 Turbo S began in 1988 as a limited production model of Porsche's highly successful 944 and 944 Turbo models. They were based on Porsche's "Turbo Cup" race cars. Initially "S" production was scheduled for a limit of 1000 such cars to be produced with the LM3Z appearence — Silver Rose paint and a Burgundy Plaid cloth interior. In fact Turbo S production was 1635 cars, almost half of them in other color schemes. 1989-1991 Turbos (very few Turbos from 1990-1991 made it to the US) were equipped much the same as the '88 Turbo S except the "S" designation was dropped.
Through a slightly larger #8 turbine housing on the K26 turbocharger and slightly remapped software in the DME and KLR computers power was increased from 217 to 247 bhp (SAE measurement) and torque was increased from 243 to 258 lb-ft. Larger 4-piston brakes were borrowed from the 928 S4 parts bin as well as the 16" forged wheels from the 928 Club Sport. The brakes required fitting 928 S4 wheel hubs for the proper caliper mounts. All Turbo Ss were fitted with a limited slip differential, anti-lock brakes, the "M030" suspension and various chassis strengthening including the torque tube. The M030 suspension consisted of single-adjustable Koni shock absorbers with threaded "coil-over" spring collars for ride height adjustment, stiffened torsion bars and harder rubber bushings. First and second gears in the "AOR" transmission were hardened and the transaxle was fitted with an external oil cooler.
I purchased my Turbo S in the Summer of 2002. I was originally looking for a 944 Turbo to take to driver's education events at the track and for some fun weekend driving in the nearby Texas Hill Country. I had read about the Turbo S but their scarcity commanded much larger sums of money than their increased performance earned. I investigated many Turbos across the US that were either priced too high or were in unsatisfactory mechanical condition. Fortunately for me I found this Turbo S in less than excellent cosmetic condition within a day's drive. A previous owner had reportedly rear-ended a pickup truck damaging the hood, bumper cover and the right fender and the car was sold as such. The subsequent owners attempted to repair the damage and came up a little short of total success. I cannot imagine why they replaced the right fender with one that already had body fillter in it. They also purchased torn or managed to tear the bumper cover above the right marker light. Both panels were from a Guards Red car. Long days in the Oklahoma sun damaged the interior, especially the vinyl dashboard. Eventually it was purchased by a long-time PCA member already a Turbo S owner and enthusiast. A quick check revealed that already having the limited slip differential and big S4 brakes saved me about $3000 which I would have spent on a regular Turbo anyway. The car was in excellent mechanical condition requiring nothing but a power steering hose repair. It wasn't pretty but that cut the price to less than half of what some were offered at the time. I'm trying to think of it as a chance to lighten the car in the future. ;-)
What is a 951?
951 is the Porsche factory designation for the 944 Turbo similar to the way that 930 is the designation for a 911 Turbo and 931 is a 924 Turbo. We Porsche guys like to refer to our cars by these internal codes because it makes us sound cool. Some have taken to using "952" to refer to a 951 S. When you consider the Turbo and Turbo S engine codes, M44/51 and M44/52 respectively, the logic is clear. However 952 refers to a right-hand-drive 951 much as 945 refers to a right-hand-drive naturally aspirated 944.
It is a different car than my 928 S4. First of all and despite its mostly steel construction it's lighter than the mostly aluminum 928 by about 500 lbs. which is immediately noticable in the car's handling. The Turbo S has a tighter suspension but it's missing the 928's "Weissach" rear axle making the rear end a little more twitchy in turns. It doesn't have the low-down, right now torque of the big V8. Its power comes on much higher in the rev range — about 3800 rpm depending on conditions — in an exhilirating rush of turbocharger boost. The Turbo S excels at highway passing (wait almost one second for the turbo to spool, but of course you anticipated this) while the V8's broad, flat torque curve makes it a more "streetable," all-around touring car. It also doesn't have the number and variety of creature comforts found in the luxury 928. Did I mention it's 500 lbs. lighter? It definitely shows in the business at hand: handling and braking. The Turbo S is definitely a fast car.
Personally I much prefer the smooth, round, timeless design of the 928 but that's a completely subjective matter. The 944 doesn't get noticed the way the 928 grabs the attention of onlookers. In a way that makes it more stealthy for the stoplight racer. Perhaps some fools still think, "It's not a real Porsche." Morons. I still like the looks of the 944, especially the smoother nose and sporty rear valence of the Turbo. I think the 968 is a fine marriage of the two.
I don't have any personal experience with a 930 (911 Turbo) but it makes sense to draw comparisons between Porsche's highest performance models of the late '80s. This article on Rennlist has a scan of an article from the June 1988 issue of Automobile Magazine comparing the 951S and the 930 on the track and on the street. It's a good read.
Certainly the 911 Turbo has advanced the envelope in the ensuing fourteen years. However, while you might be hard-pressed to find a decent $30,000 '88 911 Turbo today that same money will purchase and prep an incredible lightweight, 400 hp, race-ready 951.
Hey, I own a Turbo S
Nice choice, if I do say so myself. I suggest you mosey on over to the Turbo S Register and proudly claim your VIN.