A car similar in sentiment to Ferry Porsche's 356 of the '40s, precursor of the classic 911 series, the 924 was diverse in concept. Instead of the 911's air-cooled flat-six slung behind the rear axle, the 924's long sloping bonnet covered a front-mounted, water-cooled straight-four which drove the back wheels via a rear-mounted gearbox and clutch assembly.
The 924 thus, ended the long line of rear and mid-engined Porsches using either the air-cooled flat-six or, in the case of the 914, a flat-four VW unit. In fact, apart from the short-lived 914, throughout the late 1970's the 924 was the only modern Porsche to carry that name without being 100% original. It was designed by VW/Audi and sold to Porsche to develop and produce.
The four-cylinder, water-cooled 2-liter ohc Audi 100 engine was fitted with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and developed 125 bhp at 5800 rpm; the transmission, too, was from the Audi 100, but in the 924 application mounted with the clutch assembly at the rear of the car to give almost 50/50 weight distribution; front suspension was mostly VW Golf with a touch of Scirroco and the rear torsion bar was straight out of the Beetle
Such a pot pourri of mechanicals and components struck despair into the hearts of Porsche purists, but they overlooked the 924's real potential: commercially it made a lot more sense to market the 924 as a down-market Porsche than an upmarket Audi, for obvious reasons. To own a Porsche was then (and remains) the dream and ambition of many a well-heeled but not rich, enthusiast. The 924 fulfilled that dream.
To our eyes the 924 was a good looking car with smooth clean lines, which necessitated pop-up headlamps, and generous glazing along with a standard of paintwork and finish that went some way to vindicating the Porsche badge. The interior was, by the standards of the time, modern and bright, although a little 'plasticky', although it did have proper 911 seats and comprehensive instrumentation.
The 924 had a hatchback of sorts with an opening glass rear-screen, rather than a third door. It certainly added to the car's versatility but the luggage platform was rather high and therefore restrictive of awkward loads. The 'occasional' back seats were well contoured but very modestly dimensioned and only really suitable for children if a journey of any length was contemplated. Performance was good for a 2-liter coupe. With high overall gearing in four-speed form, it was a relaxed motorway cruiser and, given enough space, could reach 125 mph.
Acceleration, despite the high gearing, didn't suffer that much with 60 mph coming up in under nine seconds, the mark of a respectably quick motor car. The transaxle gearbox gave balanced handling and excellent grip. But unlike Alfa Romeo's Alfetta
, which also used a transaxle layout and possesses even stronger road-holding, "if inferior handling, the 924's gear change is a joy to use with positive, snappy changes -quite an achievement considering the length of the linkage.
Probably because of the price rather than the cars true ability, the 924 soon became the best-selling Porsche of the era. It 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.
Porsche 924 Quick Specifications:
Front-mounted, water-cooled straight four. 86.5 mm (3.41 in) bore x 84.4mm (3.32 in) stroke 1984 cc (121 cu in). Maximum power (DIN) 125 bhp at 5800 rpm; maxi- mum torque (DIN) 121.51b ft at 3500 rpm; cast-iron cylinder block and light alloy head. Compression ratio 8.5:1 - 5 main bearings. 2 valves per cylinder operated via rockers by single overhead camshaft.
Single-dry-plate clutch and four-speed manual gearbox. Ratios 1 st 3.59, 2nd 2.10, 3rd 1.36, 4th 0.96, rev 3.60. Spiral-bevel final drive. Ratio 3.44:1.
Front-independent by MacPherson struts, wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar and telescopic dampers. Rear-independent by semi-trailing arms, transverse torsion bars, anti-roll bar and telescopic dampers.
Rack and pinion. Turns from lock to lock 3.4.
Servo-assisted discs front, drums rear.
in x 14. Tires 165HR x 14in.
2 door, 4 seat, coupe. Integral.
Dimensions and weight:
Wheelbase 92.7 in; track-front 54.5 in, rear-53.0 in; length 164.2 in; width 65.2 in; height 49.6 in; ground clearance 4.9 in; dry weight 2381 Ib; turning circle 33 ft; fuel tank capacity 13.6 gal.
Maximum speed 125 mph; acceleration 0-60 mph 8.9 secs; fuel consumption approx 27 mpg.