The Porsche 928 is Your Friend
by Edward Van Mourik
The unapologetic Porsche invention for the high-speed pursuit of personal transportation evokes many models starting with the 901 to the new Mission E. What makes the choice personal, as to what car fills your garage, is probably what you can afford.
My 1985 Porsche 928 was a fluke, to say the least. I was looking for a nice 944 with a manual back in 2012, when fate intervened. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, I drove by a small car lot in Shawnee. Sitting in the corner was a black 928. It called to me. I took it home that day. Six years later, I’ve learned what to do to make a relationship with these Porsches work.
I’ll start by saying these cars are very unloved. The cost to maintain these cars can eat the same amount of money as a maintained 911. That being said, most owners did not keep their car maintenance schedules up to date. It was time to invest in this relationship.
I’ve been working on cars since high school, so I knew I could deal with the quirks of this 80’s superstar movie car. You may remember its graceful shape from Risky Business and Weird Science. My Porsche may be a child of the ‘80s, but it was time to bring its maintenance up to date.
The 928 community is pretty tight and there are several known issues that I knew I needed to address. The first problem was the long timing belt. It is recommended to be replaced every 4 years or 30 to 40 thousand miles. I did not know when the last time mine was changed, so it was first on my to-do list.
The second issue, while your timing belt is removed, is to replace the water pump and rebuild the tensioner. I recommend Laso water pumps with a plastic impeller. I used the Porkens tensioner, as it replaces the stock one. It uses a modified Audi tensioner to keep things in line. It is a definite improvement.
Depending on the mileage or maintenance records, you might need to go further by replacing seals or even replacing the oil pump. The list of “while you are in there” can get long. When buttoning things back up, don’t forget to check your timing. The timing gears have a coating on them that looks like silver paint. You can find many web pages as to the step by step process. Maybe someone should start a website called “How to date a 928.”
The third issue is the Bosch fuel injection computer “LH” located on the passenger foot well. If it has not failed yet, it will. Change it. I found a guy in Arizona to completely replace the old electronic components. So, check that off the list.
A few things to keep the relationship improving are new oil and spark plugs. The 928-engine oil needs a blend of 15w50 synthetic. I only use Joe Gibbs Racing oil from Summit Racing. I use spark plugs WR7DC Bosh copper core.
You should get to know the 928 parts guys personally. They can help you with all your needs, or should I say they can help with relationship advice. I go to Roger at 928rus and 928 International for advice and parts. Most electrical gremlins can be traced by bad grounds, along with bad aftermarket stereo installer’s/owner’s bad fixes. The 928 does not like to be cheated on. To combat corrosion on all electrical connections, I use DeoxiT for all the corrosion inside and outside.
I have found that many people don’t know how to read a fuse panel diagram. So, another early to-do on my list was to replace all the fuses with the correct new ones. Relays are also a problem, so keep spares a plenty.
I found that the factory seal on the oil pan will leak, due to the loose bolts or a bad seal. To fix it without pulling the engine, I bought a stud kit with dimpled bolts and used blue lock tight. This quick fix has worked well and kept this relationship on the road.
The engine sizes and horse power have had increases over the years, but the 928-body style has very little changes. Both my engine and 5-speed transmission are from an S4. The brakes are big Brembo 4-piston. Top of the line options included LSD differential, sport seats, heavy duty cooling, and a stronger alternator.
My Porsche was ordered for California, the same place I was born. I like to think of it as knowing someone from grade school, losing track of them, and then meeting them later in life. Insert sound track from Harry Chapin’s Taxi;
If I would recommend to club members to purchase a 928, I would stick with the 1987 to 1990. They are much more refined. Try to get one with all maintenance paperwork. All the newer parts and modifications were added some time in the 90’s. For maintenance, you can learn a lot from DIY-ers like myself, as nothing is impossible to repair yourself. There are many good repair shops in KC, if you’re not so inclined.
I do have a confession about this relationship. I own a second 1985 928S that has all the stock parts, so if I need to restore it back to bone stock, I can. Knowing that, I will slowly turn the wheels of time to 1985, but just not right now. Right now, this relationship works.
Everything that my car is defies a silky smooth 928 GT car. It’s loud, it growls and snarls, stinks, sometimes is unruly, but put it on a track and it’s happy and so very gratifying. It is a relationship that takes work, but has wonderful rewards.
I was first attracted to the 928, because I loved old the 60’s era American Muscle cars. Thoughts of them take me back to high school. My 928 has that old school V8 muscle and modern well penned graceful lines. For me, it is a win win relationship.