The story behind the 944 model is an interesting one, and it all began with a mooted joint project between Porsche and Volkswagen. The front-engined, water-cooled 924 of 1976 was originally a product of the VW-Porsche merger team set up to develop the 1969 914. When the idea to sell the 924 as a VW, Porsche or Audi in various different markets didn’t bear fruit, Porsche purchased the designs outright, continued development, and pushed it to market with an Audi-derived 2.0-litre engine. The model drew praise and criticism in equal measure – some loved its poise and tactility, others felt that the humble origins of certain parts did much to dilute the brand – and Porsche sought to mollify the naysayers in 1979 with the 924 Turbo. This was a capable but arguably prohibitively expensive car, although rather than abandon the whole idea Porsche soldiered on and evolved the model into the 944 – a sturdier-looking prospect featuring a new all-alloy 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine which, to an extent, can be viewed as the 5.0-litre V8 from the 928 that’s simply been chopped in half. (Although naturally it’s a bit more complex than that.) The 944 featured wider arches, akin to the homologation-special 924 Carrera GT, along with a fresh new interior and thoroughly revised suspension and braking systems. Any ill-advised criticisms levelled at the 924 for ‘not being a proper Porsche’ were rendered wholly redundant by this radical evolution of the breed. And it was a bona fide success too – production ran from 1982-91, with a grand total of 163,192 examples being sold. A variety of specs and variants were offered over the 944’s nine-year production run, from the bare-bones launch model to the frisky S and brawny S2 – and the fireworks really arrived in 1985 with the introduction of the 944 Turbo. Powered by a turbocharged and intercooled version of the 2.5-litre motor, it had crisp styling with enhanced aero, a well-specced interior and, most importantly of all, vivid performance. And with the 944 Turbo we have here today, there’s an extra twist in the tale…
Any 944 Turbo is a desirable thing in 2021, but this one is perhaps rather more desirable than most, as this particular car was previously owned by Nick Mason Music Ltd, the private company set up by renowned high-end car collector and Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason.
Evidence of this stellar provenance sits within the history file: a copy of Octane magazine can be found there, from April 2008 – a time when Mason was a regular contributor to the mag. In the letters page is a photo of this car, sent in by a reader who said: “I recently purchased my first classic car – a 1991 Porsche 944 Turbo SE. According to the history, it was previously owned by none other than your own Nick Mason. Pink Floyd is one of my all-time favourite bands, so my face lit up when I was reading through the history before buying the car. It is utterly original, and I’m enjoying a few tail-out moments while listening to Dark Side of the Moon’s finest. The beat that Nick created 30 years ago is now setting the pulse racing of a 23-year-old.”
The magazine responded thus: “Mick Hallowes of Ten-Tenths adds: ‘Nick Mason Music bought this car in 1993, and we part-exchanged the silver Honda Civic that Nick raced in a charity event with a fibreglass baby on the roof. [The 944] was Annette Mason’s car and replaced the black Renault Turbo she had before.’”
Along with that extremely helpful copy of Octane, this 944’s history file is positively brimming with treats. All of the original books and manuals are here, with the service book showing stamps from right up to 2013 (when, judging by the recorded mileage, it was presumably put in storage) and then again in May 2021. There’s a large sheaf of old MOTs, and a variety of receipts and invoices for work carried out over the years. We can see that the wheels were professionally refurbished in 2016, and that the car has a Cobra alarm installed. The current MOT runs until May 2022.
The Linen leather interior is an excellent choice for the 944 as it gives the cabin a light and airy feel, and it’s all in lovely condition too. The seats are very good, with just a little wear to the driver side bolster, and the electric adjustment mechanisms are in good working order; the front seats both tilt correctly to allow access to the rear bench which is in great condition. The carpets are very good throughout, and the headlining is all complete – it’s come detached at the driver side rear, but shouldn’t be hard to reaffix. The electric sunroof works correctly, as do the electric windows, and as you’d expect of a car with Mason heritage it’s got a decent audio system – a remote-control Alpine radio-cassette with quality Alpine 2-ways in the doors. The dash is excellent with no marks or cracking, and all the dials are working as they should.
Inside the boot it’s all dry and tidy, with the original space-saver spare tucked away beneath the carpet, an Alpine 6-disc CD changer, and a battery that was replaced in 2019.
The bodywork of this 944 is in beautiful condition, with the Graphite Grey paint really suiting the crisp styling. We found no evidence of scratches, scuffs, dings, dents or corrosion, and aside from a smattering of the inevitable minor stone-chips around the nose, it all presents extremely well. The panels are all straight and honest, hanging neatly with even panel gaps. The window glass and light lenses are all good, and the pop-up headlights operate correctly. 944 aficionados will be interested to note that it’s fitted with the ‘bridge’-type rear spoiler, and all of the model-specific aero elements are in place. The wheels have been refurbished and are in outstanding condition – they’re fitted with Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres on one axle and Nankang Sportnex NS-2s on the other, all with plenty of tread.
It’s a formidable mechanical package, the robust 2.5-litre turbocharged motor producing a muscular 250bhp. We can see from the history how fastidiously this 944 has been maintained by specialists, and the results bear fruit today: this is a dreamy car to drive, behaving precisely as a 944 Turbo ought to. The engine is willing, eager and reliable, with no leaks or noises or anything untoward; the transmission feels just as tight as you’d hope, and the characteristically poised chassis is all in fine fettle; there are no issues to report with the suspension, steering or brakes, it’s all doing what it should. An extremely pleasant and entertaining car to drive.
The front-engined, water-cooled Porsches are becoming a real cult thing these days, as enthusiasts and collectors cotton on to just how wonderfully entertaining these cars are. The 944 Turbo’s chassis is poised and well-balanced, the engine is strong and the performance brisk, and the interior strikes just the right balance of cosseting and spaciousness.
So of course you want a 944 Turbo, and this is the one you really, really want. The condition is superb throughout, with excellent bodywork and a supremely pleasant interior. The mechanicals are sweet, with the car being an excellent runner that’s impressively tidy underneath and through the engine bay. There’s the brilliant history to consider, with all of the painstaking servicing carefully recorded. And of course, perhaps most importantly of all, there’s the knowledge that Nick Mason Music Ltd once chose this car, out of all the 944s available, as the one to have. Provenance doesn’t get a lot more reassuring than that.
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