The 928 occupies a peculiar place in Porsche history. Conceived as a replacement for the venerable 911, the factory soon discovered that their customers would never prize a front-engined, water-cooled alternative — even if it did make more power than the company’s bread-and-butter sports car.
Maybe the 928, with its upward-staring headlights, was too strange-looking to appeal to Porsche buyers. This is really an accomplishment in itself, given the unique designs common to the marque. Maybe it was obvious that, similar to the 924 in the same era, the 928 shared too much with down-market VW and Audi offerings. Remember that Audi was not yet a premium car in those days.
Perhaps it’s most likely that the 928 never captured the hearts and minds of the Porsche faithful simply because it lacked any demonstrable historical connection to the great Porsches of the past.
For whatever reason, the 928 never received the love that the 911s of the same era have had. Yet the 928 model persisted in several production iterations for an astonishing 17 years — clear through to the 1995 model year. That’s much longer than the 924 or even the more-successful 944. Maybe the 1983 film “Risky Business” gave the 928 enough 1980s glam to keep business brisk.
Seriously, the 928 lasted for so long because it was a good car. The people who bought the 928 were different from the sports car enthusiasts who purchased the 911 or even the 944. The 928 is a Grand Touring car in the classic style, with over 80% of the cars equipped with an automatic transmission.
The V8 engine in the 928 started as a 4.5-liter, 16-valve DOHC model, which used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection to achieve 219 horsepower in 1978. That may not sound like much, but the 911SC of the same year offered just 172 horsepower.
Later iterations of the 928 bumped the displacement up to 4.7, 5.0, and finally 5.4 liters, with horsepower rising commensurately to a maximum of 345 in the final 1993–95 928 GTS model. The 1985 and later 5.0- and 5.4-liter engines went to four valves per cylinder, making either one a good choice for performance.
The rear-mounted transaxle gearbox gave the 928 good balance and handling. Upgrades to the suspension and brakes during the middle of 1986 make cars produced after that time especially desirable, but the model was not deficient in either area before that time.
The 928 was gifted with a nice interior, reflecting the design sensibilities and technology of the era, and the car was designed to be luxurious. The back seats are not really intended for adult use, but the 928 will carry two people in perfect comfort — with adequate space for luggage.
As an Affordable Classic, it’s hard to beat the 928 line. Early models are estimated at about $6,000 to $8,000 in the SCM Price Guide, while the desirable 1987-to- 1992 model years of the 928 S4 start at $11,500 and run to a maximum of $25,000. The vast majority of those will land in the lower end of that price range. Only the final 1993–95 era of 928 GTS models can command prices over $30,000, and most of those actually sell for much less. It is quite possible to buy a very nice 928 for prices in the teens, and maybe even under $10,000.
The downside of the 928 is the cost of keeping it on the road. This is a Porsche, after all.
Notably, the early 4.5-, 4.7-, and early 5.0-liter models have it a little easier simply because of the great number of cars that used the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, making parts easily available to this day. 1987 and later models feature the less-common Bosch LH-Jetronic system.
Most importantly, steer well away from needy examples. There are plenty of cheap 928s that an owner could afford to buy — but couldn’t afford to maintain. Find a loved — yes, plenty of people loved their 928s — and well-cared-for car. Pay extra for a good example — and be prepared for Porsche shop costs from time to time.
A bargain in Auburn
All this brings us to a nice 928 that recently caught the eye of several SCM staffers.
This 928S is a 1985 model year car, with the 32-valve 5.0-liter engine rated at 288 horsepower. It’s also one of the comparatively rare 5-speed models.
With only 61,532 miles on the clock, it seems to have been immaculately kept. The navy blue exterior over tan leather interior is tasteful and in great shape. In short, if you want a 928, this is the one you hope to find, and it was at the Auctions America event in Auburn, IN, this past May.
It sold for $11,440.
For a top-grade, low-mileage collectible with a Porsche badge on the nose, that’s chump change. It’s also not a fluke. Porsche made about 60,000 units of the 928 over its lifespan. The cars are not hard to find, and as Porsches, they’ve generally been treated well.
A 928 might not get the attention of a 930 or a 356, but it will leave you with more money in the bank — and a fairly risk-free Affordable Classic in your garage. ♦