Today's post is written by Mike Frye. Mike is a Porsche 928 owner and a friend from Rennlist. As one of the first people to answer my post requesting guest bloggers for 993C4S.com, Mike has served up a great article on the Porsche 928. If you want to get in-touch with Mike you can do so by commenting on this article or using the contact form and I will forward to him.
3 Common misunderstandings about the Porsche 928
- The Porsche 928 is prone to engine fire
- The Porsche 928 is expensive to maintain
- The Porsche 928 is fat and slow
About 18 months ago I found myself in a position to purchase a 1985 928. Over the years I had heard some of these “myths” about the 928, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy a car that I had coveted since I was a teenager (when it was the premier Super Car on the planet). Well I’m here to tell you that each one of these myths (like most rumors and stereotypes) has a kernel of truth to them but can easily be avoided with a little preventative maintenance or are not based on complete facts. The following is information I’ve gathered from personal experience or from others I’ve met through the 928 tech forum on Rennlist.com.
So let’s take each one in order and examine where the stereotypes came from and just how true it is.
- Porsche 928s are prone to engine/exhaust fires. Many of us have heard stories or even seen pictures or videos of 928s with an engine fire or the whole car simply burning. Here’s a disturbing Youtube video that was recently circulated showing one:
I chose this myth first and in fact I chose the topic of this article for one reason. A person I know from Rennlist recently had his 928 burn up (within the past month). This person was someone who had recently had a small fire underneath his car and had attempted to fix the problem, but was unsuccessful. The car in question had not had any of its many rubber and flexible lines replaced and was over 20 years old.
The Porsche 928 has hard lines and rubber lines for fuel injection (under pressure), transmission fluid cooling (from the transaxle in the rear, all the way up to the radiator and back) and power steering lines (not only under pressure, but the 928 uses ATF which is flammable, instead of power steering fluid). The fact that there are flammable fluids under pressure in the engine compartment and along the bottom of the car is not the problem, in fact this configuration is common to quite a few cars. The fact that they use rubber or soft lines isn’t the problem; this is also common. The fact that these lines were not replaced in over 20 years and were expected to work indefinitely is the problem.
Items high on the preventive maintenance list for the Porsche 928 are replacement of the fuel injection lines, power steering lines, and for automatics, the transmission fluid cooling lines. If these are replaced every 20 years or so, there is no more likelihood of a 928 bursting into flames than any other car. I think the fact that the body, suspension and engine last so long and run so well in these cars leads to people just driving them until they stop. Most 20+ year old cars would be badly rusted out in the body and show signs of corrosion everywhere else, so the rubber lines would be the last thing to go. In these cars after 20+ years, the lines start to go and it’s sometimes the first indication of aging and sadly, it can be the last.
- Porsche 928s are expensive to maintain. This is a very interesting observation. I think it stems from people who buy a former Super Car for $10,000 or under (when the original retail was anywhere from $50k to over $100k, at a time when a home could be bought for $75k) and then are surprised when a routine tune-up can cost over $1,000 in parts and labor. The car is a Porsche. There are two components that contribute to cost: parts and labor. Parts are not cheap and in fact are going up in value as they become more rare and some are actually no longer available at all.
The majority of Porsche 928s on the road today are over 20 years old and will require some deferred maintenance (maintenance that a former owner neglected to do or put off). This deferred maintenance is usually the part that people complain about and which is most costly. Once the 20+ year old parts have been gone over and the fuel lines, electrical systems, ignition system, suspension and drivetrain have been sorted out, the actual operating costs are no more than any other car of the same caliber.
- Porsche 928s are Fat and Slow. 928s are not slow at all. The original design called for a 5.0L engine, but because of the economy at the time they were introduced (1977) the engine was reduced to a 4.5L that was unfortunately not quite enough to provide the neck-snapping acceleration that later models would have. For this reason, the initial offering, though quick, was not ‘FAST’. The 928 never seems to have been able to shake this reputation. Even the later models were not designed for 0-60 or 0-100 acceleration though. It’s not a muscle car. The 928 was designed as a Grand Touring (GT) car, for touring Europe and driving on the Autobahn at speeds in excess of 120mph in style and comfort with enough luggage to last a weekend. For this it was perfectly equipped originally and it only got better over time.
The Porsche 928 is a 'fringe' Model
Its many unique traits have been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere, but having these myths floating around doesn’t help its case. If you’re considering buying a Porsche 928, consider it based on factual first hand experience rather than rumors, stereotypes and hype.