Porsche 928 GTS (1992 - 1995) Wed Nov 22 06:40:09 Europe/London 2006
(First written on 2005-10-25)
MODELS COVERED: 928 5.4V8 3dr
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
In 1938 Hendrick Goosen, whilst fishing off the coast of Madagascar, hooked
a coelacanth, a living fossil of a fish that was supposed to have become
extinct 400 million years ago. You can experience a similar feeling by
test-driving a used Porsche 928 GTS, a true dinosaur amongst performance
cars. Unlike a coelacanth, a used 928 is fitted with a 5.4-litre engine,
generates 340bhp and will still look good in twenty years time.
In common with its fishy forebear though, it has benefited from years of
development whilst being largely ignored by Madagascan fishermen. Which
means that tracking down a good used example is easier for the likes of us.
The V8 engine is almost worth the upfront payment on its own,
but what do you get thrown in with it? The body shape is
undoubtedly the best looking of all the 928 variants which is
perhaps surprising, as when most cars get older they become
tarted up in the most questionable manner. The last of the
XJR-S models are a case in point, face lifted until
their sump plugs sit on the grille. The GTS looks considerably
sportier than any other 928, with a shape thats all power
bulges, welts and aggression, with just the right amount of cool
branding. Not too eighties, in other words.
The 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels are shod with enormous
40-series Bridgestone tyres that appear to stand proud of the
wheel arches, giving the GTS a cartoon character attitude. The
sporting intent is reinforced by the fact that a manual gearbox
was a standard fit, with automatic an optional extra. Inside,
its a mixed story. There are some genuinely nice touches, like
the way the instrument binnacle moves with the steering wheel
when you adjust it up and down, but do make sure you avoid some
of the more lurid colour schemes.
Best to opt for classic black leather and carpeting. Space is good up front,
and the dash design doesn't betray the cars antediluvian origins too badly.
If you want to get in the rear, youll probably need legs that are less than
two inches in diameter, else you'll need to sit sideways. And remember to
duck when the tailgate closes, else you could find yourself wearing the rear
screen as a hat, which as the Audi TT has shown us, is very This Year.
When Porsche 911 owners trot out the old clichés about how, in the long
term, a 911 is a relatively cheap car to run, 928 owners tend to go rather
quiet. The GTS is an expensive car to run, but no more than any
premium-priced GT car. To gain entry to this exclusive club, you wont need
to be nominated or seconded, youll just need around £12,000 and a keen eye.
This should net you a 1993 K-registered GTS, still a few thousand less than
an equivalent year 911 which would still be 90bhp shy of the power of the
A 1994 L-plated example is worth around £13,000, whilst top book price for a
928 GTS will be around £15,000, for which you should be able to land one of
the last 1995 M-registered cars. Insurance is Group 20, although given the
928s more mature driver profile, premiums tend to be loaded less punitively
than for sporty 911 variants.
First and foremost, bear in mind that if/when things do go pop, you could
well be facing a bill equivalent to the GDP of Burundi. 928s are not cheap
to run, so a careful check of your intended purchase is a must. If its being
offered with a warranty, talk through the terms and conditions, finding out
exactly what is and isnt covered. Check the condition of the exhaust system,
make sure that the cam belts have been changed every 65,000 miles and gauge
the alignment of the suspension by the relative tyre wear.
Inspect carefully for accident damage, bearing in mind the motor traders
maxim See overspray, Walk away. The engine should burble at idle, but should
be loud with a slight thrashiness when worked hard, courtesy of the 32
valves in the cylinder head. The gears should engage cleanly with plenty of
bite in the clutch. Check that the automatics kick down properly in all
gears and that they dont fire too much smoke out the back under hard use.
Interiors should be in good condition, as the materials are hardwearing.
Even high-mileage 928s should only show a slight polishing on the steering
wheel and gear knob, although the leather seats can crack. Aftermarket hide
food treatments work wonders on 928 leather, though its probably best to
avoid the inexplicably popular pale grey interiors. There are a number of
big value parts that can go wrong on a 928, so the best advice if youre
paying this sort of money is to have the car professionally inspected and
invest in an HPI check.
This may seem like additional upfront expense, especially if you plan to see
a few cars, but invariably works out as a wise use of your cash. A full
Porsche main dealer/specialist service history is a minimum basic
(Estimated prices, based on a 1995 928GTS) Take your wallet out, put it on
your coffee table, take a short run up and give it a firm thrashing with a
blunt implement. With 928 ownership it had better get accustomed to large
and regular leatherings. In all seriousness, spares prices for the big
Porsche are a good deal more reasonable than many of its similarly priced
competitors. Its just that taken in isolation they do look a bit fearsome.
A clutch kit is £500, while front brake pads are around £60 with rears
weighing in at about £50. A new alternator is around £450, while a new
headlamp is in the region of £170. A new exhaust muffler and silencers is
around £1200, whilst a starter motor is a fairly reasonable £290.
The 928 has a reputation as a muscular, if slightly lazy, cruiser capable of
swatting entire continents like irksome flies. The GTS is a slightly
different proposition, preferring a Gatling gun to a fly swat. As soon as
you turn the key and fire up the engine, you realize that this experience is
going to be rawer and more urgent than you at first expected. The engine
throbs like a classic American V8, not like the more modern flat-plane crank
equipped units which feel like two four cylinder units stuck together.
Blip the throttle and you feel the torque reaction rock the car slightly on
its springs, a more insistent induction noise taking over. Drop the car into
first gear and you'll notice a gear change that feels quite languid before
unexpectedly clunking into gear. The lever hums gently, the linkage
transmitting good vibrations from the five-speed transaxle mounted between
the back wheels and the steering feels slick, oily but at the same time rich
in feedback. The ride is another surprise, being a good deal suppler than
the liquorice strip tyres would lead you to believe.
That 340bhp should catapult the 928 GTS down the road with a purpose
shouldn't come as a revelation. In any gear at any time the car never feels
anything less than pumped up and looking for trouble, the only shock being
that your 15mpg is consumed in unleaded petrol rather than nandrolone. The
anti-lock braking system conforms to the normal Porsche superlatives, as
does the handling. Again, the 928 has the capacity to catch you relying on
The GTS is a much more capable weapon than you'd at first believe, its
bulbous dimensions shrinking round the driver and marking its capability as
a serious driving tool. This is one 928 that's not a respite for ex-911
pilots on the slippery slope to pipe and slippersville.
The 928 GTS is a magnificent used car if you make yourself explicitly aware
of the costs of ownership beforehand. Whilst £25,000 may seem like
reasonable money to pay for a new Saab, a used Porsche 928 GTS is a car
which once retailed at over £70,000 with concomitant running costs. Just
because its a few years down the road doesn't make tyres or exhausts any
cheaper quite the opposite in fact. What you are buying into is a marque
that offers an uncanny understanding of what makes a proper drivers car.
In 1992 Porsche was emerging from a period when it could sell anything with
the Weissach crest on it into a decade where it had to justify every last
pfennig put into the cars. As such, you can tell the 928 GTS comes from an
era when Porsche was really trying. Find a decent one and you'll wonder why
they ever gave up on it.