Before the 944, there was the 924. Originally it was planned as a VW-only model to replace the 914. It was designed by Porsche and used many more VW and Audi parts than its predecessor, at Volkswagen’s request. After everything had been designed and engineered, and was essentially ready for production VW backed out of the deal. Nice. So Porsche decided to sell it themselves, though VW contracted to build the cars for Porsche. It was introduced for the 1976 model year.
It might be hard to believe in today’s world of Porsche Cayenne and Macan SUVs and crossovers, but about 40 years ago, the Porsche 924, 928 and 944 caused no shortage of angst among Porsche fans. The Porsche 924 and subsequent 944 were the first Porsches with a front-mounted, water cooled engine. For 356 and 911 fans, it was hard to fathom. What the heck was this? Everyone knew Porsches should have the engine out back, for Pete’s sake! With the exception of the joint venture VW/Porsche 914, all Stuttgart sportsters since the beginning had been air cooled and rear engined. But that was about to change.