Home » Here’s Why The Unpopular Porsche 968 Cabriolet Is A Classic Worth Buying

Here’s Why The Unpopular Porsche 968 Cabriolet Is A Classic Worth Buying

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Gg Ts1
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Let’s say you’re having a mid-life crisis, or a quarter-life crisis, or, more likely if you’re into cars, an entire life crisis. How do you shake things up in the stable? If the answer you come up with is a Porsche cabriolet, congratulations, you’re normal. Mind you, deciding which one to buy is a bit tricky. If you’ve done well for yourself, you might be looking at a modern 911 Cabriolet, a 718 Boxster GTS 4.0, or something air-cooled. If you shorted Lehman Bros. in 2008, you might already own a Carrera GT or a 918 Spyder. As for the rest of us, choices aren’t so vast. Maybe a Boxster feels just right, or perhaps a 996 cabriolet, or maybe even a 944 cabriolet or a 914? All good choices, but there’s also something we’re forgetting — the Porsche 968 Cabriolet.

Yes, for people who want a weird convertible Porsche, the 968 Cabriolet has been flying under the collective consciousness’ radar since 1991, when production kicked off. Sure, the 968 Club Sport is now a hot commodity, but aside from the Speedster models, drop-top Porsches don’t hold the most collector appeal, and front-engined cars doubly so.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Crazier still, the 968 Cabriolet marks the end of a 19-year era. The time of the front-engined transaxle Porsches officially came to a close when it and the 928 exited production in 1995. At the time, Porsche was entering its chrysalis of survival, metamorphizing into the dominant sports car brand we know it as today.

What Are We Looking At?

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Black Profile

With the 968 Cabriolet, we’re looking at the best of the 1970s in the 1990s. The 968 may have gone on sale in 1991, but its bones date back to the 924 of 1976. Who’d have thought that the entry-level Porsche of the early ’90s would still be based on a Volkswagen engineering project that VW walked away from? Still, since Porsche is an engineering company, it couldn’t stop optimizing, and the 968 ended up pretty far from the 924’s van-engined beginning.

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Porsche 968 Cabriolet Engine

Under the hood of the standard 968 sits a three-liter four-cylinder engine. That’s 0.75 liters per cylinder! To keep this weird engine singing smoothly, Porsche licensed balance shaft technology from Mitsubishi. To update it for the 1990s, Porsche added variable valve timing. The result was a reasonably spirited 237 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 225 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm, all harnessed by a six-speed manual transaxle or available Tiptronic automatic. In Car And Driver testing, the tin-top 968 managed to leap from zero-to-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and top out at 153 mph, which makes it still reasonably quick today.

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Tan Interior

Unfortunately, the Porsche 968 Cabriolet remained glued to showroom floors. The Deutsch Mark was weak in the early 1990s and these cars were expensive to build, so the 1992 968 Cabriolet started at $51,000 in 1992 money. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $112,111.67. Ouch. As a result, Porsche was only able to sell 4,374 of the 968 Cabriolets across the entire world in four years, a rather disappointing figure. This means that 968 Cabriolets are incredibly rare today, but rare doesn’t always equal valuable.

How Much Are We Talking?

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Black 1

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Sure, top-notch 968 Cabriolet examples with incredibly little mileage on the clock are expensive, but they’re the outliers. The realistic ceiling for a decent example is around $25,000, and you can buy a 968 Cabriolet for much, much less than that. On Tuesday, this 1993 968 Cabriolet sold on Cars & Bids for just $14,200. Despite having 86,300 miles on the clock, it appears well-kept, with a little bit of somewhat expected cosmetic wear being present. Sure, black-on-black isn’t the liveliest color scheme, but we’re still talking about a rare and fun classic Porsche convertible for used Mitsubishi Mirage money.

Green Porsche 968 Cabriolet 1

Maybe you’re interested in a touch of green? This 1993 968 Cabriolet sold on Bring A Trailer in November for $16,500, and while it is rocking aftermarket BBS wheels, that Oak Green Metallic color is just tremendous. Sure, it may have 111,000 miles on the clock and not be a perfect example, but it’s a great driver-spec car that someone can have a ton of fun with.

What Makes It So Great?

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Green 1

Part of the appeal of the 968 is that it’s new enough to have modern amenities and all the kinks worked out, yet old enough to feel, well, old. Those ’70s bones shine bright and true, forming a platform which at one point, made for one of the best-handling cars in the world. The front-engined transaxle layout promotes slow, predictable rotation, and although the torsion bar rear and MacPherson strut front suspension isn’t particularly sophisticated, it can still make the 968 dance.

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Porsche 968 Cabriolet Black Interior

Stepping into the cabin, it’s hard to ignore the overall richness in there. The 968 was engineered before CEO Wendelin Wiedeking’s drive to combine platforms and cut costs was in full effect, so everything in the interior feels proper old-school quality. From the click of the fan speed selector to the extensive upholstery, the result is a cabin that simply feels more expensive than what you’d find in a Boxster. Interestingly enough, the trip meter is reset by pushing a tab located in an interior air vent. How’s that for a clever quirk?

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Trunk

Uncharacteristically for a convertible, the Porsche 968 Cabriolet is immensely practical. You get locking bins behind the seats, a huge parcel shelf, and a genuinely sedan-sized trunk with a pass-through for longer items. It’s entirely possible to use this as your everyday fair-weather car, capable of backroad blasts and IKEA runs alike.

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Pop Ups

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Oh, and then there’s the glorious external weirdness of the 968 Cabriolet. As this bodystyle was effectively an afterthought, the entire rear deck is one strange molded piece with a noticeable seam overlapping the quarter panels. The flip-forward pop-up headlights are nothing but charming, and the presence of actual quarter glass in the doors harkens back to a different time. This isn’t a traditionally beautiful car, but it’s endearing, and character means a lot.

Should You Buy A Porsche 968 Cabriolet?

Porsche 968 Cabriolet Green Rear

Normally, when it comes to my usual depreciated luxury car for new regular car money stuff, I’d say no, you shouldn’t buy one. However, this is a different case. If you’re considering a Porsche cabriolet of any sort, you’re the sort of person willing to spend a few Grover Clevelands every year in upkeep. In that case, I reckon you should at least consider a Porsche 968 Cabriolet, especially if the term “IMS bearing” scares you.

With proper timing belt changes and general upkeep, these are remarkably solid cars, and Porsche parts support is genuinely second to none. Sure, an original Boxster feels lightyears more modern, but if you’re looking for a classic feel and a bit of weirdness, the 968 Cabriolet ticks those boxes.

(Photo credits: Cars & Bids, Bring A Trailer)

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Sheldon Sackstein
Sheldon Sackstein
1 month ago

How about owning a 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo, and a 1993 Porsche 968 Cabrio
I get to try them out every day. The 968 with 49k miles is a very solid, comfortable riding car and it moves along at a brisk pace. It could certainly be better with an additional 100 horsepower. But it can’t compare to the bang you get when the 9k mile totally rebuilt engine with the Lindsey chipped 944 turbo comes on. A few years back we did on all out restoration on an ’87 944 turbo which took first place at the PCA Nationals in Jay Peak and again in Boca. How you set these cars up also makes a big difference. But at the end of the day, all these years later, they can still hold their own with the best cars out there.

Logan King
Logan King
1 month ago

I can’t get over how they sold 924/944/968 varieties on convertibles forever and they look so terrible with the roof down.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

BBS wheels are so ugly they should be illegal

Patrick
Patrick
1 month ago

I’m sorry, but this take should be illegal.

(Admittedly, those are not their best and aren’t period correct, but I cannot accept such blasphemy!)

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago

Not a fan of the 968. But I do love those headlights.

Racer71
Racer71
1 month ago

I have a hardtop, rare color, as well as the earlier version in a 951, I love them both but the 968 had better looks but worse performance. I lusted for a 968 6 spd for my 951 until I bought a 968, I’d rather have the 5 speed in both cars.

Last edited 1 month ago by Racer71
Goblin
Goblin
1 month ago

I blame the 968 for what it represents on several levels, and for what it is at a single level.

The 968 represents the times just before the Japanese fixed Porsche’s plants and production process.The 968 represents not the last, but one of the most obvious examples of the “these hands are made for milking, and that’s just what they do” philosophy that was so Porsche. The epitome of “we can get away with anything” and “It’s underwhelming and ordinary, but at least it’s expensive” . It was outrageously expensive for what it was, when new. Another outrageously expensive for what it was German car (at least in Europe) – the Corrado – at least offered some thought and effort put into making something exciting. The 968 had all the joy of what it basically was – a 944 (in itself the second in a 2.5 generations of wannabees) who stole the 928’s clothes and ruined them because it was too short and dragged them through muddy puddles.And we come to what it was and what I blame it the most for: making me think “what’s wrong with this 928 ?!?” from afar, before realizing what it is (and what it is not).I didn’t cry when the M3 mercilessly and savagely killed it by being very clear about how much a car in the category can cost.

What I am thankful to the 968 for, is that it was probably the one model that made Porsche get serious about starting to provide some minimum bang for the buck, and for being a clear delimiter and mark in automotive history of when a dry spell ended and good stuff started.

Yes, I’m a blamer 😀

Last edited 1 month ago by Goblin
Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Goblin

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. I’m curious, however, if you have ever owned or driven an S2, 951 or 968?

The “wannabees” bit suggests the answer is no… The 951 was the fastest 4-cylinder car in the world for a time. It outran Corvettes, Ferraris, BMWs… and most of the 911s of its day. The handling was (and is) fantastic. What’s “wannabe” about that?

Yes. It was expensive. But adjusted for inflation… it compares to a Corvette, M3 and… a lot of trucks in price today. I’d much rather have my Porsche than a bro-dozer truck with a leather interior.

And… “too short and stole the 928’s clothes?” Once they integrated the bumper (S2 and Turbos)… I’ll respectfully disagree. It’s a beautiful car.

Goblin
Goblin
1 month ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I am of course criticizing from the sidelines and have never touched a Porsche except in the tire shop 🙂

I have never owned one. I simply think that they were overpriced when new.
Keep in mind that my memories were from when they were new, which was when I was living in France.

The French importer’s pricing policies were quite creative and making for a very specific world. Experience in the US would have differed (especially given how strong the USD was back then), and maybe these models wouldn’t have carried the extra-negative aura they had back where I was.

As for the design – I simpy have always been stunned by the 928, and disliked any attempt to emulate it at less than 100%.

I absolutely agree that the 968 looked better than the 944, but that’s not a very high hurdle to clear.

Logan King
Logan King
1 month ago
Reply to  Goblin

The 944 Turbo was outrageously overpriced for what you got, but a 968 was a perfectly valid competitor to a Z32 300ZX, FD3S and C4 Corvette and cost similar to them all.

Last edited 1 month ago by Logan King
Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Logan King

From what I can dig up… ‘86 951 about $30K new. ‘86 Vette about $26K when new.

I would have taken the Porsche at the time. Nicer car in just about every way (IMO).

Logan King
Logan King
1 month ago
Reply to  Millermatic

Road and Track says the 1987 944 Turbo started at 37 grand. The base 944 was the one that just under 30. I have a C4, a late post-refresh one when it was significantly less compromised than it was in the 1980s, and the 944S2 I drove once was definitely a nicer car, but almost half-again nicer for a car that wouldn’t have been any faster or handled any better than an equivalent Corvette? I don’t really see that even in comparison the early C4 with its shitty interior. I definitely don’t see the value proposition in a base 944 that would struggle to outpace a V6 Fiero; nevermind needing to comprehensively outclass all of the still way cheaper Japanese competition of the 1980s that pointedly was gunning specifically for the 944.

A normally aspirated FC RX-7 was what? Half as much? Less? A base 944 certainly isn’t twice as good of a car as one of those.

Last edited 1 month ago by Logan King
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Beautiful car, good price, better than normal Porsche reliability? I’d take this at the price before any other deutsch mobile. Frankly the less Porsche appeal the better.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago

As an owner of a ’90s 911, I think there’s a ton of truth to Thomas’ sweet spot argument regarding Porsches of that era.

They have what we’d think of as modern critical tech (airbags, ABS, fuel injection, etc.) but they still have the visceral feel of a vehicle out of the ’70s.

Like when you shut the door, you hear that old-school metallic thunk that lets you know yep, it’s closed, but in that Teutonic way that says “and will stay that way until you open it.”

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago

I’ll occasionally stumble upon these but they’re not particularly cheap in my neck of the woods. As you might imagine the DC area has a wealth of…well, wealth, and the Porsche Tax is real. I saw a nice examples of one of these listed in the high 30s recently, fucking yikes.

Anyway, if you’re interested in a 944 you might as well save a little more and get one of these. They’re more or less just a perfected 944, and that’s alright!

Edit: I just searched for these nationally and most are listed in the high 20, 30s and even 40s. Fuck. Guess we’re all getting hooptie Macans at this rate ????

Last edited 1 month ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Yngve
Yngve
1 month ago

I feel like this article was written for me. I’m admittedly a child of a certain age, and have crystal clear memories of the model lineup poster I grabbed from a Porsche dealer in 1990 fresh in my mind. I’m also finally coming to terms with the fact that at some point in the foreseeable future I’ll be selling my >80,000 original mile Del Sol VTEC (inherited from my mother) for something that I’m more inclined to drive year round, albeit as second fiddle to my full size truck when there’s snow on the road.

A cabriolet/targa is a must. Budget and latent Deutchophilia mostly point me toward Early 2010’s BMW, Audi, or Porsche, while the fact that I live on the top of a 7000′ mountain pass pushes me toward something with AWD – TT, S5 Cab, or m240i xDrive are high on the list. Despite such “common sense”, 968 cabs seem to keep finding their way into my bring a trailer/autotrader search histories…

Last edited 1 month ago by Yngve
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago
Reply to  Yngve

That you own a Del Sol is so wonderfully autopian. Such a cool little guy that we never hear much about anymore, from the era when cars could simply be fun, not menacing or “the ultimate” in anything.

Captain Chaos
Captain Chaos
1 month ago

I daily drive a 1994 968 6-speed coupe. It is the sixth 944 variant I’ve owned, and by far the best one. People who say it is the ultimate variant of the line aren’t kidding; it really does feel more refined and modern than all the others, even if the interior is identical. It does all of the things it is supposed to do with minimal care and feeding (unlike the 951 I had prior), and is comfortable, fun to drive, and unique. In the 8 months I’ve had it, I have never seen another on the road here in Northern Virginia. They’re great cars (though I do think the cab is kinda ugly).

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago

These actually look pretty good in person with the top down; one of the local club members has one. The engine is based of the V8 in the 928, which is also pretty robust.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 month ago

LOL Porsche got 20 years out of that old Audi

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
1 month ago

The green one is great it just needs period correct wheels.

Bryan McIntosh
Bryan McIntosh
1 month ago

Thomas’s assertion that Porsche’s parts support is second to none reminded me of this wonderful commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8-9oIq1hxw

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Bryan McIntosh

Evidently, some 70% of all Porsches _ever_ built are still on the road. Parts support is great. I can still get a “new from Porsche” block or cylinder head for my 1986 951. This is not to confuse “great” with “inexpensive.” You can even make requests to Porsche Classic to bring back parts that are no longer available. If enough people are interested… they’ll bring it back.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I doubt this marketing statement. Don’t think half of Porsches made make it out of warranty period.

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I’d be willing to bet that of the two statements… “70% still on the road” is more likely to be true than “1/2 don’t make it out of warranty.”

It is, of course, possible (and perhaps likely) that neither statement is true.

What is certainly true is that Porsche has excellent parts support.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Millermatic

Well of they fall apart easy it would make it sense they have many parts available

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

You’re trying too hard.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 month ago

I see these as the C4 of the Porsche world. Nothing wrong them but some folks have a stick up their butt about them.

Aaron Nichols
Aaron Nichols
1 month ago

Agreeing with Stef and Chronometric here, I had a chance to buy a 968 cab, but ultimately passed as it seemed like a great car with an unforgivable compromise.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

I always like the 944 but the 968 is actually better looking IMO, more powerful (most models), has a better interior, and has all the kinks worked out. I agree that it is a great way to get into a P-car. Thhe chop-top has an ugly afterthought top storage so I’m with Stef on this one. Get a really nice coupe!

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

The 968 interiors are… absolutely identical to post-1985.5 944 interiors.

Only difference? Speaker pods on the doors and tweeters in the doors didn’t show up until… 1987?

That said… post 1985.5 944 interiors… are a very nice place to be. Pre 1985.5 interiors… have their fans. I’m not one of them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Millermatic
Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I guess I got used to the interior in my friend’s ’84.

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

I (think) I agree on the looks. I have a 951. I’d seriously consider trading it for a 968. Or I would if I weren’t so emotionally attached to my particular car because of all of the blood (literally), sweat and tears I’ve put into it restoring it. What I really need to do… is get _another_ Porsche. But I wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy it. By which I mean I’d be murdered by my wife.

Last edited 1 month ago by Millermatic
Captain Chaos
Captain Chaos
1 month ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I replaced my 951 with a 968 and only have good things to say. My 951 also had a lot of my literal blood, sweat, and tears, but that wasn’t so much on the restoring as the general just keeping the damn thing running and boosting.

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Chaos

Knock on wood… mine is running pretty well now. Of course… that’s after paying for the car twice again while totally overhauling…everything.

I’ve got a number of minor issues left. I think my HVAC control needs replacing (I’ve got both heat and AC… but not at the same time. I have to reverse the one-way valve on the vacuum line depending on the season to switch between them… but that’s not something they fixed in the 968. I’m on my second used replace unit… and might just suck it up and get a new one. For, I think, about $1200.

Used to live in NoVa. (In MD now, and work in DC).

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago

Counerpoint: 968s come with roofs, too! It has the biggest version of my car’s engine and hhhhhrrrrrnnnngggg.

(Also, cars with fixed roofs are better.)

Last edited 1 month ago by Stef Schrader
Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Here here! I’m not a convertible fan, nor do I think the rear of the convertible 968 is anything other than odd looking, so I’m all about the fixed roof 968.

Though, to Mr. Hundal’s point, I remember these things hitting used Hyundai prices back in the late 90s and early 2000s. I had an acquaintance who picked up a 968 convertible sometime around 2002. He was originally looking for a Fox body Mustang convertible, but the 968 was cheaper. Oddly enough, that still might be true today!

Last edited 1 month ago by Squirrelmaster
V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

 a three-liter four-cylinder engine. That’s 0.75 liters per cylinder!

It really is funny upon some reflection how odd it is that 6+ liter V8s are so common as to be unremarkable, but 3 liter 4 bangers don’t (and almost never have) existed.

It seems like before ubiquitous turbocharging there would have been enough space advantages, especially in smaller and midsize FWD cars, for someone to try a large 4 cyl over a small V6, but it was never done.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

Three letters, NVH.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Sure, but it’s not as if V6s are balanced either and I would think the packaging advantage might be worth a bit of NVH, but perhaps not.

Yngve
Yngve
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

ISTR there was some co-licensing between Porsche and Mitsubishi around the balance shafts used to mitigagate shaking in both the 944 S2/968 3.0L and the Mitsu Starion/Dodge Conquest 2.6L 4cl engines. Both were rumored to run relatively smoothly, tho I have only distant memories of a 1985 Starion that I neglected to purchase, and no relevant beta on the P-car engines.

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  Yngve

Yep. Mitsubishi invented valance shafts for their 2.6-liter four-cylinder in the late 1970s, and Porsche had to license the design for its water-cooled fours.

Last edited 1 month ago by AlterId
Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago
Reply to  Yngve

It’s not just the S2 and 968. The 944, 944S and 951 all have balance shafts. As did the 924S – which was given a slightly detuned version of the 944s 2.5 liter.

Last edited 1 month ago by Millermatic
R Rr
R Rr
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

The secondary balance issues of a 4-cylinder are greatly magnified by the increase in reciprocating mass (see the special balance shafts mention). The V8s are inherently more balanced, so massive pistons are not an issue.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

As others have noted about NVH issues, you also start running into packaging issues once the deck height gets too tall and detonation/knock issues when the bore gets big enough. Certainly not insurmountable issues, as I recall GM talking about how they overcame them with the 2.7L in the fullsize trucks and Canyon/Colorado twins, but probably not worth the hassle if you already have a V6 engine in the corporate corral to use.

RataTejas
RataTejas
1 month ago

I’d probably part with my E46 M3 ‘vert for a well sorted one.

Jack Harris
Jack Harris
1 month ago
Reply to  RataTejas

Ive owned my 968 Coupe since 1999. Keeping it till i can no longer drive. Elmer Racing makes a 1000 HP drop in replacement 4.0 liter upgrade engine. The platform is alive and well.

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