The Porsche 944 is a great car (this may stoke some fires of controversy using the word “great” but it is) though it may feel a little tired by modern standards. The Porsche 944 first entered the German domestic market in 1982 and then the rest of the world in 1983. It ran until 1991 and was a front-engine, rear-wheel drive, coupe, or cabriolet sports car.
The Porsche 944 was based on the older 924 and retained a lot of its charm (and oddities) that made the 944 not quite unique but certainly special. Engine swaps on a Porsche 944 while not super common are not unheard of so there is plenty of information in the following article for you to consider if that’s something you are interested in doing.
What Is An Engine Swap?
An engine swap is quite simply the process of swapping out one engine for another. It isn’t always possible to swap every engine for every other engine and have the car still work as intended. For example, swapping a 1.4 petrol engine for a 2.5l diesel might not have the desired effects. An engine swap is something that gets done rarely and only by huge petrol heads.
Usually, anyway. An engine swap is not something to be done with little consideration and is naturally not something that anyone can just do at home. You need the know-how and the equipment to really get the job done. It’s not as simple as a game like Need For Speed might have you believe you can’t simply pull an engine out of one car and drop it in another.
Why Would You Want To Perform An Engine Swap?
Not every car was created equal and the reason for that largely rests on the fact that not every engine was created equal. This is especially true when comparing newer engines to older ones. We all like the idea of a 65 Mustang but how well does it hold up to modern mechanical and comfort standards and expectations?
Even swapping engines from the same era is not uncommon as you might want something a little punchier. We just mentioned that you couldn’t swap a 1.4l petrol for a 2.5l diesel engine. But what about a 1.4l for a 1.6 or 1.8? Suddenly everything is a little more plausible.
Why Would You Want To Perform Porsche 944 Engine Swaps?
The Porsche 944 is a great car but it is by no means perfect. There are several common problems that might cause you some concern after so many years and simply swapping the engine might be the best solution to them going forward. Firstly, the timing belt and cam chain tensioner are prone to failure. Especially after all these years.
Additionally, the DME relay is likely to fail at some point and the water pump will almost certainly need replacing by now if it hasn’t been already. Individually all of these components can be replaced. However, if you are going to replace those four components + several more then it isn’t much more expensive to just bite the bullet and swap the engine for something better. Potentially something a little newer. But what?
The Top Porsche 944 Engine Swaps That Can Be Done
There are a ton of cool options out there if you are going to perform a Porsche 944 engine swap. Here are some of the best ones that you might want to consider:
Grand National Engine:
The Buick Grand National offers a very different type of power and performance than the Porsche 944 engine. It’s obviously far closer to a muscle car than a sports car and feels a lot grittier to drive with. The Grand National has a V6 3.8-liter beast of an engine. The 944 is likely to have anywhere from 2.5 to 3.0 so this is a big step up.
The “sr20det” Nissan Silvia Turbo Engine:
Now you aren’t likely to think of Nissan Silvia and elite sports cars in the same frame of mind. However! The Nissan Silvia turbo engine is pretty darn good and pretty nippy compared to an aging 944. This 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine packs a real punch and is not totally foreign to the era that we are talking about. Taking a Japanese engine and sticking it in a German sports car is almost cheating. It is a deadly combination.
Honda Prelude VTEC/Honda Integra Type R:
The Honda prelude uses an H22A engine while the Integra uses a B18C5. Why are they under the same heading? Because it’s another example of Japanese mechanical engineering that fits seamlessly into a German machine. Both engines are well suited for the Porsche 944 for two reasons. One, they are affordable and they fit perfectly fine in the Porsche. They are a little smaller (volumetrically) but still manage to get the job done. And secondly, because they are both extremely versatile and customizable. If you want to turbocharger them, plug in a new ECU, sports filters, the works – you end up with an extra 100-200+ horsepower than the standard 944 engine. And it doesn’t break down every other weekend.
How Much Do Porsche 944 Engine Swaps Cost (Parts Excluded)?
If we ignore the costs of the engine itself, all the components, fluids, oils, all that good stuff – how much is it going to cost? About $1200-$2000 depending on the complexity of the job and where you are in the world. Realistically it’s going to cost you $1500 for a straight swap that can be done in about 10 hours of continuous work.
The mentioned Porsche 944 engine swaps are definitely not the be-all and end-all of Porsche 944 engine swaps options. There are of course tons of other options on the market that you could theoretically perform. However! These are “safe” choices and have been tried and tested. They work. They are affordable and feasible and definitely worth the money. There is nothing wrong with restoring the old 944 engine to keep it keeping on. But… If you want to breathe new life into an old and tired Porsche 944 swapping the engine isn’t a bad place to start.