Collectible Classic: 1978-1995 Porsche 928

Don Sherman
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The first-generation 928 arrived for 1978 with 219 hp and a choice of five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmissions. That power allotment isn't impressive by today's standards, but the only Porsche with more power thirty years ago was the king-hell 911 Turbo (930) armed with 253 horses.

Enthusiasts weren't sure what to make of a Porsche that looked like the coupling of a 911 with an AMC Pacer. The introductory psychedelic-pattern cloth upholstery and headlamps gazing heavenward didn't help. As the 928 evolved with additional valves, camshafts, power, and displacement, it gradually earned a following, although those disciples rarely included 911 owners.

Mike Maesch, a Detroit-area management consultant, is an exception. His Porsche fleet includes the 930 slope nose formerly owned by Olympic and NFL great Willie Gault, a slightly less distinguished 1972 911T Targa, and the 1989 928 S4 featured in these photos.

Maesch's grand prix white 928 is a clean, three-owner car with 87,000 miles. Updates for this fourth series, which bowed in 1987, included more power (316 hp), larger taillamps, a larger wing (which is handy for serving tailgate buffets), and a nose job.

The 928's low cowl and bucket seats tell you that this GT takes driving seriously. The first instrument binnacle to adjust vertically with the steering column helps optimize cockpit ergonomics, and there are storage locations galore. With an overall length only 0.8-inch longer than a modern Honda Civic sedan and a wheelbase that's shorter by nearly eight inches, there's not much room in this tidy package for rear passengers. Two full-scale adults can plug their behinds into the +2 perches, but riding there for more than a few miles is not for the intolerant or the infirm.

The Mercedes-Benz-supplied four-speed automatic (which first became available in 1983) takes the edge off initial acceleration, so the four-cam, 5.0-liter V-8 doesn't really hit its stride until second gear. Charges to the 6400-rpm redline serve up 60 mph in a bit more than six seconds and a top speed of more than 150 mph. According to Maesch, his 928 delivers about 20 mpg on long trips.

The 928 takes bumps in stride. There are slightly squishy roll and pitch responses following quick steering or braking inputs, but high-speed sweepers are confidently executed with mild understeer. The steering is heavy and numb on-center in Maesch's car, but that's probably due to the high-mileage status of his particular rack-and-pinion gear--a known problem area for 928s. The fixed-caliper, opposed-piston brakes (upgraded in 1985 models) felt powerful and fade resistant during our sprints to and from 120 mph.

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