Vintage Corner: Porsche 928

Under-appreciated no more.

It should be celebrated as one of the greatest GT coupes of all time. It could be held up as the blueprint for a modern GT coupe. Instead, it is sometimes brushed off, even by some marque loyalists, as the product of brand misdirection.

It is the 1978-1995 Porsche 928, a front-engine, V8-powered 2+2 coupe that remains one of the most misunderstood sporting machines ever made. It’s entirely possible that it arrived in the Porsche lineup three decades too early. But occasional rumors that a successor is in the works always fizzle out as wishful thinking.  Meanwhile, collectors have taken notice of the 928, particularly the later cars. With values rising, it’s a good time to talk to the experts at Premier Financial Services to see how leasing a Porsche 928 makes sense for smart cash management – and driving pleasure.

Lease this Blue Porsche 928 profile

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Accidental Detour

The arrival of the four-cylinder Porsche 924 in 1976, and then the V8 928 a year later, gave all appearances that Porsche was making a planned blanket shift away from the rear-engine 911 to water-cooled front-engine models. The 924, however, was an unplanned birth, having begun as a project for Volkswagen. Development of the 928, in contrast, had begun in the early 1970s as a new flagship model and potential 911 successor. We know how that turned out.

The Masterpiece

It would be difficult to overstate the engineering achievement of the Porsche 928. This was a true clean-sheet design, sharing nothing with previous Porsches. The layout put the aluminum V8 up front and a 5-speed manual or automatic transaxle in the back. The result was a 50-50 weight balance, something quite foreign to Porsche 911 drivers.  The 5-speed’s “racing pattern” shifter, with first gear outside of the H, hampered quick 1-2 shifts. Most customers chose the automatic. The complex rear suspension, called the Weissach Axle by Porsche, allowed a small amount of passive rear-wheel steering to increase stability while braking during cornering. It helped make the 928 a stellar handler.

Lease the Porsche 928 with badging at the rear

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The 928’s 4.5-liter engine gave 219 horsepower and 245 lb.-ft. of torque, outclassing a V8 of the same displacement in the Mercedes-Benz 450 SL. The 1978 Chevrolet Corvette’s optional L-82 350 V8 produced the same hp as the 928 and a bit more torque, and the Vette was just as quick – in a straight line, at least.

There was no comparison in the curves, though, and the Porsche 928’s comfort, luxury and solidity were also in a different league. So was its price — nearly three times a base Vette’s at about $28,000 to start, and some $6,000 more than the 911SC. In a 1981 road test, Car & Driver’s Patrick Bedard said of the 928, “I can’t think of another car that offers as happy a combination of road comfort and ultimate handling.”

The Real Risky Business

Porsche fulfilled its plan to make a design statement with the 928, but some thought the look a bit odd, particularly the somewhat bulbous tail section. (Yet somehow, homeliness hasn’t hurt today’s Panamera.) The 928’s pop-up headlights remained exposed and pointed upward, as on the Lamborghini Miura, and the “telephone dial” alloy wheels were unique and very ’70s chic. In terms of comfort and luxury, the Porsche 928 was second to none. One cool feature: the instrument cluster adjusted with the tilt steering wheel.

Green Porsche 928 Rear badge

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The Other Risky Business

The 928’s price rose quickly, reaching $43,000 just four years later. Power did not rise as much, now 234 hp with a 4.7-liter engine. But after driving a 1983 928 S, Car & Driver’s Rich Ceppos said, “The feeling around these parts is that the 928 actually gives you your money’s worth in today’s inflated market.”

Car & Driver got 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, and Tom Cruise used the performance to good effect to evade Guido the pimp in 1983’s hit film “Risky Business.” The Porsche 928 might have had a bigger screen career had the producers of the “Magnum P.I” TV series gotten their wish for an open 928. Instead, according to a former Porsche North America insider, the company declined to build one, fearing it would trigger demand for a car it did not offer. Magnum got a Ferrari 308 GTS instead.

Black Porsche 928 GTS financing

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Bonneville Record Setter

The V8 was revitalized for 1985 with 5.0-liters displacement and 4-valve-per-cylinder, double overhead-cam cylinder heads for 288 horsepower. Porsche Motorsports chief Al Holbert drove a stock 928 S4 to 171.296 mph at Bonneville, setting records for a naturally aspirated car.

Porsche 928 Advertisement

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With the 911 series growing stronger, the uber-pricey 928 had become virtually sales-proof by 1990, even with its V8 now at 326 hp. Porsche issued a swan song for 1992, the 928 GTS, packing a 345 hp 5.4-liter engine. Just 463 more cars were sold here through 1995, by which time the base price had reached $83,000.  At the time, Road & Track writer Joe Rusz advised, “This may be your last chance to own one of the world’s finest gran turismos. Also one of the most underrated … and under-appreciated.”

The Perfect Lease For The Perfect Porsche

The 928 may not be under-appreciated much longer. Concours-condition 928 GTS models have risen from a high of about $47,000 to nearly $80,000 in the past three years, according to Hagerty Classic Insurance valuations.  Beware of “bargains,” but don’t let that perfect Porsche 928 get away. Choose Premier Financial Services and its simple, transparent lease to help make getting one just a little easier.

Jim Koscs of Audatomive Communications

Written by Jim Koscs,  Audamotive Communications
For Premier Financial Services