PORSCHE 968 CLUB SPORT BUYING GUIDE
Renowned as one of the sweetest handling cars of all time, values of the Porsche 968 Club Sport are rising fast. Better act quick.
By Alex Dunlop
Photography by Jake Thomas
The 968 Club Sport is a curiosity from Porsche’s back catalogue, the only front engined car to be given the Club Sport treatment and also one of its sweetest cars, endorsed by none other than Walter Röhrl as Porsche's best handling car. Given the 911’s back catalogue, that's quite the accolade.
The 968 was an evolution of the 944, and took up the baton in 1993. Despite Porsche claiming the 968 was 83% new and a fresh new look taking cues from the 928, sales were slow. Its high list price, awkward looks and poor press reception meant that sales were slow. The ageing platform it was based on (first seen in the 924) was no longer competitive and the boom in affordable sports cars had left Porsche in a pickle.
The BMW M3 had moved up market in six-cylinder E36 guise and the Japanese had muscled in on Porsche’s territory with the likes of the Nissan 300ZX, Mazda RX-7 and Toyota Supra. All had over 280bhp for less money, making the 240bhp, four-cylinder Porsche look undernourished.
Money was very tight at Porsche and the 968 still had a few years of production left to run. In an attempt to reconnect with customers and prove that Porsche could still make a great drivers’ car out of the 968, the Club Sport was developed. By taking a regular 968 and putting it on a diet, sharpening its chassis, and adding a few colour coded touches, it transformed the mediocre 968 into the car it should always have been.
This time, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and the Club Sport even took Performance Car magazine's coveted Car of The Year title, fending off the likes of the box fresh Supra, Lotus Esprit S2, Lancia Delta Integrale, TVR Griffith and Ferrari 348 Spider in the annual showdown. Autocar also awarded it their ‘Best Handling Car’ title. The CS was unveiled in 1992 and built between 1993 and 1995 for the UK, European, Japanese and Australian markets. A total of 1923 cars are believed to have been built, with 179 cars coming to the UK.
Five colours were available - Black, Maritime Blue, Guards Red, Grand Prix White and Speed Yellow - and as standard the car came with Club Sport decals and colour coded 17 inch “Cup design” wheels. Optional PTS (paint to sample) colours were available, as was the option for silver wheels and decal deletion.
An impressive 50kg was cut from the curb weight of the 968 in order to create the Club Sport, all thanks to a meagre standard specification. Due to having little money for the project, Porsche decided that removing anything it deemed unnecessary, rather than engineering lightweight components was the way forward.
The interior was stripped back and only the bare essentials, i.e. a pair fixed-back bucket seats and a sports steering wheel were left. Nevermind the air conditioning and stereo, even the alarm, central locking and electric windows were culled, whilst the heated washer jets were ditched for non-heated, and the rear screen lost its wiper mechanism.
All this allowed Porsche to fit a smaller battery, meaning the kerb weight of the CS was 1,320kg, and unlike today's trend of charging more for less, the list price of the Club Sport was actually reduced to reflect its lack of luxury.
The M44 three-litre inline-four engine remained untouched from the standard car and still put out 237 bhp & 225 lb-ft. This engine was an all-new design for the 968 (the 944 had finished production on a 2.5L four-cylinder, which was effectively half of the 928’s five-litre V8), and featured Porsche’s VarioCam technology which gave a better spread of low down torque whilst maintaining power at higher rpms. Thanks to the weight reduction its 0-62mph time was down to 6.1 seconds (from 6.5) and its top speed was up to 158mph (from 157mph). The 968 had also moved from a five-speed gearbox to a six-speed unit.
Whilst the regular 968 never set the world on fire, the previous 944 Turbo and UK only, limited run 944 S2 SE proved the platform had huge potential, despite being able to trace its origins back to the 924 of 1975. The transaxle layout proffered a near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution and although the CS ran 20mm lower than a standard 968, the biggest difference from the standard car came with the M030 option kit. This added a 0.8 inch drop from new springs and dampers, stiffer anti roll bars, and bigger brake discs. A 40% locking Torsen diff was also available under option code M220 for those who wanted the ultimate 968 CS experience.
Alongside the suspension revisions, the Club Sport also benefited from adopting 17” wheels over the standard cars 16” items, which were wrapped in wider rubber - 225 front/255 rear (up from 205/225)
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There were 3 option packs available for the CS. The most desirable is the M030 sport pack, then there’s the comfort pack which added original seats, electric windows and electric mirrors. There was also the security pack which added central locking, alarm and locking wheels nuts.
It's worth noting that Porsche did allow buyers to option back in a stereo, AC, sunroof etc, so don’t be surprised if you see a car with these. It sounds like a minefield but handily an option sticker should be found inside the boot and this will detail what the car left the factory with. For 1994my cars, Maritime Blue was superseded by Riviera Blue.
Be wary of cars that are being listed as a Club Sport as they may be a 968 Sport which was made in higher numbers (over 300 came to the UK). The Sport was essentially a 968 CS but Porsche GB optioned in all the creature comforts under a lux pack and sold the car as a 968 Sport. An easy way to tell is that the Club Sport will have no rear seats and instead will have a large rigid parcel shelf covering the area, a Sport will have rear seats and no shelf.
If unsure, you should contact Porsche Heritage with the VIN of the car and they will be able to tell you exactly what the car is from the original build sheet. Should the car be fitted with air conditioning, it's important to give the system a good workout when inspecting the car - a regas may not be enough if the condenser or compressor is faulty - leading to a potential £750-£1,000 bill.
All CS examples are now over 25 years old and as such, you should buy on condition and history. Ensuring the car has had regular servicing, evidence of a recent timing belt service and a clean MOT history is a must. Some cars will have seen lots of track action and may be fitted with aftermarket upgrades like bigger brakes, coilover suspension and different anti roll bars, which isn’t an issue, but if you plan to return the car to standard specification it can be expensive to hunt down original parts.
Clues that all is not well with the suspension include a clunking noise or front wheel shake when driving suggests either lower control arm or anti-roll bar drop-links, while loose handling indicates worn out or leaking shock absorbers. It's key to get under the car to assess the suspension as well as the condition of brakes and brake lines. Whilst a worn exhaust isn’t a deal breaker, expect a decent, custom stainless system to set you back around £4-500. Given many Club Sports will now also be cherished weekend cars covering lower annual mileages, make sure to give the tyres a quick once over to check for any signs of age related degradation.
968s are mechanically very sound, but avoid high mileage cars with little paperwork. Top end rebuilds tend to be required at the 120k mile mark and a full rebuild required at around 150k. Higher mileage cars can suffer from corrosion and will most likely have tired suspension components. It's highly recommended to buy a CS from a specialist or have a pre-purchase inspection carried out for peace of mind.
In recent years, the 968 CS has developed a cult following and values have risen significantly. Bottom-of-the-market cars with high miles and less desirable options start at around £30,000 and low mileage collector-grade cars have sold for north of £50,000. Expect to pay £40,000 for a mid-market example with over 60,000 miles.
The 968 Sport is the smarter buy if you want to actually use the car. It’s still a Club Sport, but by having the lux spec, you have a car that is easier to live with. Another bonus is that Sports tend to command less of a premium than a true Club Sport, so you get more for less, when does that ever happen?
With these cars being so rare due to low production numbers, RHD UK Club Sports are becoming harder to find. A handful of cars come up for sale each year and are often snapped up by Porsche savvy collectors who know the 968 CS is yet to have its day. With the likes of the 964 RS and 993 RS reaching stratospheric values, it’s only a matter of time before the 968 CS follows suit.
OWNERS POV - Chris Falk
Having been passionate about cars all my life I had a love for 2 cars all my childhood which was the E30 M3 and 944 so when the 968CS came out it took over my passion. In the late 90s I managed to find myself a good E30 M3 and in 2008 I found the best 968 CS I could find at the time. I went for miles, service and condition over colour. I really wanted a riviera blue but got a 63k miles Grand Prix white lux model. The great thing about the lux is that you get creature comforts while having the CS. Lots of people see the interior and say it’s a sport but the rear seat delete, no rear wiper and smaller alternator confirm the CS
Driving the car is unreal - the car is 28 years old yet has a 6 speed gearbox and could be driven everyday unlike the E30 M3 that drives like an underpowered BMW until you ring its neck to get it going. The 968CS can do 70mph in second if you feel the need but also 25mph in 6th - the car really can be everything to everyone. Caning it round the twisty roads with the fine chassis or cruising at 30mph taking in views. The way Porsche have set the car up needs no playing with, if you want to give it some beans it will stick to the road like glue yet sedate enough to absorb the usual bumps and undulations you come across everyday. The gears seem very long yet make pace very quickly, the 6th gear can see over 150mph which is very fast for the early 90s and still a good number these days.
With every classic car you’ll have a job list, as you take a couple off another three are added. Because the 968CS was put together so well there’s no need to replace anything with any aftermarket uprated parts. Just make sure the part numbers are the right ones and get them from Euro Car Parts. A full set of discs and pads can be had for around £1,000, cam belt service with water pump around £700 and a full set of OEM shocks can be had for around £400. Because it’s an old and pretty basic car a decent home mechanic can do most of the work themselves and get a decent Porsche specialist to do the rest.
Having had the car for 14/15 years I have no interest in seeing it gone because it’s everything I want from a classic car and can’t think of anything newer or older that could replace it!
Engine - 2,990cc naturally aspirated inline four, VarioCam, 16v
Output - 236bhp @ 6,200rpm, 224lb.ft @ 4,100rpm
Weight - 1,320kg, bhp/tonne – 179, lb. ft/tonne - 170
Transmission – front engine, rwd, 6sp manual, LSD
Performance - 0.60 – 6.5s, 1/4m – 15.3, top speed 157mph
List price - £28,975 (1993)
Value today - from £30,000-£50,000 (July ‘22)