What made the Porsche 928 such a cool car?

Prior to the introduction of the 928 Porsche's reputation had been built mainly on out and out sports cars with rear mounted engines. However the new 2+2 model was designed to appeal not so much to the out and out speed merchant, but to a different type of driver; those wanting something a little more comfortable and family friendly. In short they were aiming at the Mercedes or Jaguar market. It was to have an engine at the front - the first time for a true Porche - with rear wheel drive and a high level of comfort.

Was it exciting to drive?

Not as exciting as Porsche owners had become accustomed to. Then again, existing owners were not really the market that Porche were aiming for. Initially at least it was not as fast as it's predecessor, the much loved 911. Most of the 928s had automatic gearboxes provided by Mercedes; these made the car much easier to drive but took quite an edge off the performance. The engine was smooth and had an excellent power output throughout most of it's range but it was situated at the front rather than the rear; this gave it more stability when cornering but less actual power at the rear wheels. It was, in short, more a grand tourer than a sports car.

Was it powerful?

With the V8 4.5 litre engine producing 240 brake horsepower it had a top speed of 143 mph. Engine size increased to 5 litres when the S4 was introduced; this twin cam, 32 valve V-8 churned out 320 brake horsepower and then finally, when Porsche were getting concerned that rivals were producing faster machines, a 5.4 litre engine giving 350 brake horsepower and a top speed of 171 mph was brought out.

Was it comfortable?

Comfort for the driver and front seat passenger was excellent and equipment levels could only be described as lavish. Rear passengers, as usual, were not as well cosseted, and had very little leg space.

Did it handle well?

It may have had a re-design but it was still a Porsche, and handling was superb. Many thought it actually superior to the 911, whose rear engine could give it a bit too much oversteer when pushed hard.

Was it successful?

Around 35,000 were built, which is reasonable for a car of this class. However; it was not, apparently, as successful as Porsche had first hoped. The simple fact was that their buyers preferred 100 percent sports cars; and the 928 was a little too staid and gentlemanly for many of them. This is a lesson that Porsche have never forgotten since.