One of the 951 prototypes

Please don't get too exited, it is not a prototype from 1983 or 1984, when the 944 Turbo (951) prototypes were created, but still quite an interesting car from 1986 where some new features were tested. If you know Porsches, then you can see from its VIN WP0ZZZ95ZHN100008, that it was not a series production car.

From the outside it looked 100% like the series production car© James Herne

My story with this car started in 2003. A Porsche 944 Turbo was for sale at a car dealer in Germany, but the advertising read that the engine was stuck. Because of the engine not working, the price was cheap and cheap price made the risk worth. My brother, a Porsche specialist, bought the car for a flip. He found out there wasn't anything wrong with the engine, just a broken distributor and he got the car running in no time. I had had a 944 Turbo in the past and I just really wanted to have one again. And this example was so right - it had one of the best Porsche color combinations, Guards red with black interior, and the car didn't have the sunroof, which is always nice when you want a light and simple car, which every real sports car should be (a sports car and a luxury car are different things).

The Porsche prototypes get the first chassis numbers starting with 00001 each model year. This car with VIN ending 00008, was the 8th 944 Turbo test car of its model year. It was a 1987 model year car made in 1986. First strange thing to notice about this car were the airbags. They were made standard on the 1987 US-versions, but at the same time in Europe the airbags were not offered even for money. So, this European 951 built in 1986 and having airbags raised our eyebrows. And there were more strange unseen items on the car - the inner lining of the glove compartment was of aluminium (plastic on series production cars) and the windscreen had elastic inside layer, both probably related to the airbags. The car also had the new ABS anti-lock braking system, widened axles and wheels with new offset.

When you see a Porsche with strange options, it's always wise to have the VIN decoded to see what the M-codes tell. And that I did. Now I found out that the car had M734 non-series engine and M735 non-series transmission. We put the car on the lift to inspect the drivetrain. We could only notice that the headers weren't from series production. In the series production 944 Turbo the headers are in a 4-2-1 form meaning the pair of pipes goes together and then the new pair goes together. In this prototype the headers were in the 4-1 form meaning that all the pipes coming from the engine went to one large pipe at the same point. We couldn't notice anything strange with the transmission. As the first model year 944 Turbos all had transmission oil coolers as standard and from 1987 model year the cooler became optional, this gearbox was probably noted as non-series because it was one of the first ones without the oil cooler.

Porsche prototype VIN is easily recognisable - there are many zeros in it© James Herne
A prototype glove compartment lid with aluminum inner face. I guess it had some relation to the airbag/crash... The boost gauge I installed myself in the glove compartment. I like added power, but even more I like original look of the car, so I didn't want the gauge in the center console, where it is usually installed on the cars with increased boost pressure.© James Herne
The windscreen had a soft plastic inner layer, probably to protect the occupants from the shattering glass when the airbags were deployed. The inner surface of the windscreen was rather soft! The text on the sticker says "Glass plastic material, see owner's manual for care".© James Herne
The label says "This vehicle has air bags for the front occupants. However, for maximum safety all occupants must wear safety belts whenever the vehicle is in use". Sorry for the bad photo (digital camera quality in 2003).© James Herne
Prototype headers - from 4 pipes directly to 1 © James Herne
Under the bonnet it looked 100% stock © James Herne
The specs sheet tells that the engine and gearbox are not series production items © James Herne
Abgassonderuntersuchung translates as "Exhaust special examination", probably related to the prototype headers © James Herne
First registration in Weissach, another proof of the prototype. Registration date: September 17, 1986. © James Herne
This page shows Porsche registered the car in 1989 from Weissach to Stuttgart and sold it in 1997 to mr. Bodo Pohl. I was the next owner. © James Herne
© James Herne

The car appeared accident free, but the red paint always fades with the years, so I had the car fully repainted in 2004.

Indischrot / Guards Red © James Herne
This 951 was also my wedding ride (here with 18" BBS). While the marriage wasn't a happy one for too long, the joy from driving a Turbo Porsche lasts forever.© James Herne
Optional cloth door panels. The prototype seat was 6-way electrical (series production seats were 4-way or 8-way electrical). Seat heating button can also be seen. © James Herne
Airbags in 1986 - Porsche was the leader of the industry © James Herne
The Becker radio is not original (was installed by me) © James Herne
The color of the seat material was black, but it had faded into brown because of the sun. Note the lightweight no-power seat (series production seat).© James Herne
Black with white pinstripes - a bit strange, but at the same time pretty cool© James Herne

I think 944 Turbo is one of the best Porsches ever made considering all the aspects. Its only problem is: it is now too old for a daily driver. Comparing the 951 to the 911 Carrera 3.2, I couldn't find any reason to prefer the 911. I once went to Germany to buy a 911 3.2 Turbo-look, but decided to buy a 944 after the test drive with the 911. If you have driven a slightly modified 944 Turbo, you don't find anything interesting in a powerless 911. It was the 944 S2 Cabriolet that I bought instead. I already had the 944 Turbo prototype and the first generation Boxster. The Boxster was a dissapointment performance and engine durabilty wise compared to the 5 years older 944 S2 Cabriolet. And the 944 Cabriolet had the rear seats, too. So, you see, the 944 Turbo and the S2 just are good in so many ways. The 944 was probably the first series production car in the world to have airbags and my prototype was one of the cars that led Porsche to this world. To praise the 944 even more compared to the 911 of the same era, the 944 never rusts (if the car is accident free), the driver space is ergonomic, rear seat headroom is better, the luggage space is enormous, the handing is better and with the Turbo the performance is better. The problem to step up from the 944 Turbo is that the better Porsche is many-many times more expensive. In my opinion naturally aspirated 911s are mainly for cruising, you don't win a track day without a turbocharger. There is even a saying about turbochargers and subwoofers - nothing can substitute them, except the bigger ones! So I'm talking about a 911 Turbo. But of a more modern one as the 930 and 964 Turbo's handling on a race track is not up to the image of the car and definetely not up to the asking prices. The 944 Turbo with its 50/50 weight distribution is as easy to drive fast as it could get. Luckily, the modern turbocharged 911s handle well.

I sold this 944 Turbo prototype in 2007. It was my second 951 and it should be confessed, there was the third one too, between 2011 and 2014 (also red with black interior, without sunroof, accident free and with relatively low mileage).

James H.

May, 31 – 67th birthday of the 550 (1953)
Jun, 08 – 72nd birthday of the 356 (1948)
Jun, 11 – 48th birthday of the first Turbo-Porsche (1972)
Jun, 28 – 4th birthday of the 971 (2016)
Jul, 10 – 54th birthday of the 910 (1966)