copyright 1998 phil tong


photo copyright 1998 RV
Imagine opening the garage door everyday to find an ultra-rare aftermarket 928 Cabriolet!
Finding and maintaining such a beast won't be easy.  Here's some generalized tips for those shopping in the field for a 928...


This section is in response to the tremendous amount of mail
I get almost daily from 928 hunters throughout the U.S.   Yes, the market
has never been so hot - and there are many cars to choose from - and just
as many you might do better to stay away from, unless you can commit
to the level of time and expenses required to refurbish the car.  

There is no such thing as a budget 928 but a budget for a 928.

That said, it's time to stack the deck in your favor!

Get as many reference books as you can about the 928 so you are
better prepared as a 928 buyer.  I recommend (in no particular order):

*  Panorama magazine July 97 (available to PCA members)
"Buying a used 928" by Kim Crumb - a must have article!

*  928 Performance Portfolio by Brooklands Books, ISBN 1-85520-269-7, about $19
contains a smattering of magazine write-ups from the original 928 through the
latest 928 GTS.

*  excellence magazine back issues-
August 1990 - Write up on Bob Devore & Bob's tips on modifying 928s
December 1997 - Write up on Marc Thomas of Devek Performance
Plus the latest 928 Market update by Bruce Anderson - great info

*  european car magazine back issues - 
April 1998 - Write up on Mark Anderson of 928 International & tips on buying
and restoring 928s

*  Porsche 924-928-944-968 by David Vivian, ISBN 1-85223-483-0, about $24
has some info on the rare Club Sport, SE and GT

*  Porsche, Excellence was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen, ISBN 0-915038-09-9
about $70, expensive but worth it - covers every model & history of the company

*  Project 928, published by Motor Buch Verlag, out of print & you'll have
to search dealers & automotive bookstores/sources to find it.  This is the
granddaddy of all 928 texts.  Shows all 928 development beginning with sketches
and clay models, to test mules and prototypes, punishing dyno tests, grueling
road tests, a historical time piece and testament to the 928.  Priced to $100+ in the 
aftermarket.  Good luck on this one!

*  The ultimate info source comes from Porsche itself - the full 9-volume
928 service repair manuals.  Any dedicated owner will have these, if only to
be able to converse with their mechanics on problem symptoms.  The most 
aggressively priced source lists the set for $236.  Used sets are available
as well via the internet.  Make sure which set you are buying as the earlier
set contained less volumes and does not cover the S4 and up.

* A cheaper alternative to the 9-volume set is to purchase the factory
microfeche films and a used reader.  Sometimes these pop up for only $75 complete
as shops and owners move away from feche to paper & CD-based resources.  And no,
the 928 manuals will probably never make it to CD, at least not this century.

*  The cheapest "928" service manual has got to be the Haynes / Chilton, I've
forgotten exactly who did this piece of work.  But surprisingly enough although
it lumps both the 924 and 928 in, the book does contain useful service information!
About $19 if you can find it.  Only covers up to 1981 I recall, but enough to do
simple procedures.

Additionally, begin / continue websearching for reference materials and price
tracking around the country.  


Narrow your search by purchase budget amount and cash reserves (or body style
preference ?)   to a target range ie. 1985 - 1986 928 S models, or, 1984 928 S only
etc.  Get the Porsche technical spec booklet about $9 so you can verify numbers 
ie. chassis VIN, engine, trans

Identify prospective cars and test drive them.  Heck, you owe it to yourself
to try to arrange test drives with cars both in and out of your price range so that
you get an idea of the entire range.  Many buyers have decided right at that point
that only a certain model year will do over others and reformulated their purchase
plans or temporatily shelved the idea to continue saving funds!

Those seriously afflicted with the must-have-a-928-itis start seeking out shops
and actual owners, who are more than welcome to share their experiences.
Many are PCA members and soon 928 Owners Club members, and there are many social
events where you can introduce yourself.  Word of mouth on cars for sale is some
of the best advertising, and some of the best cars for sale come from enthusiasts
of the model so what better way is there to find a 'land shark' of your own?

Of course there are car specialists who can locate and broker the sale for you.
This is a great way to buffer yourself from the agony of long distance searches
and such, but for shoppers of the earlier models may not be financially feasible.
Plus, many used car buyers want in on all the action themselves - the hunt, the
stalk, the inspection and (hopefully) the kill!


Ok, you've seen about a dozen dogs for sale but here's one you REALLY like!

Clear title is presented.  Records and service documentation are present.
Any necessary smog certification is completed (note in California the SELLER
is to provide clean & recent (within 60-90 days) proof of smog certification.
If this is not present -walk from the car - smog certification can be a nightmare!
If your car fails the initial smog check it is labeled a gross polluter and/or
earmarked for certification by the smog referee only.  If you are in doubt as
to if the car will pass the first time out you should do a "pre-test".  This
is a dry run of the entire smog check and non-reporting to the DMV.

Ok, you like the color combo and the overall condition matches or betters it's
observed mileage.  It drives well and you check operation of all various
systems and switches.  The asking price seems workable too compared to your
notes of comps (comparable other cars for sale, this is just like real estate...)

To get a pre-purchase shop inspection or not?  And I don't mean a 'foo-foo'
inspection ie. cosmetic - no, this is brass tacks - compression & leak down, observe
& pin point fluid leaks, wheels off brake inspection, inspection of clutch disc
wear & operation, etc.  A pre-purchase inspection runs $150 or so but can be worth
tens times that expense should any number of hidden gotchas be discovered.

Here is where the seasoned hunters and the intrepid novices oftentimes part
company - and each not necessarily choosing the inspection option you'd think.
Of course I'll recommend the full inspection route to all but the bravest of home
mechanics or gamblers.  It's your call, I understand time is of the essence some
times but try not to get pressured into a sale, or over emotional during the hunt.

Never forget that the 928 was THE TOP OF THE LINE PORSCHE and parts and repair
costs can be breathtaking!


So Phil, what are some of those costs?  Maybe we can dispel some rumours at the 
same time...

T-belt service - an ideal  schedule is every 4 yrs. or 40k miles.  Some cars are
running 100k on the original belt!  The gilmer (toothed) style t-belt is a sturdy
unit but I think this is a disaster waiting to happen. 

The part itself is barely $50.  Inside there may be tensioner bits that need
replacing as well.  Since the covers are off, it's recommended to replace the
water pump at the same time.  Rebuilts are around $200, so you might want to 
just get a new one for $280, your call.  Some also figure hey, the coolant's out
so now let's do the hoses (upper $___  lower $___) and thermostat ($25).  
This is sound judgement, especially for the older cars.

Ok, plan on 3-4 hours of shop time at the going rate for your area (where to service
your 928 is whole 'nother story - there is a new 928 site that is tracking shop
recommendations, I should update my links section soon).  If you desire, you can equip
your home workshop with the factory tensioning tool for $500, or, find a source that
rents/loans it out.

Still with me?  Let's talk brakes, IMO one of the most important systems besides
steering in any car.  These cars are fast.  These cars are heavy too, you know all
that luxury leather-lined, computer-controlled stuff adds up.  Add that fact that
the 928 is one of the most competant GT cars around means spirited driving to say the

Front rotors run around $80, rears $75 OEM.  Pads you can count on about $50 set
front, $40 set rear.  Additionally there's a special spring kit ($40) and brake pad
wear sensors ($___).  Let's add new fluid since not flushing and refilling when you service the brakes this far is a waste - there's a wide variety of fluids available like ATE Super Blue for 
$12 a bottle.  Again, get your shop time quote at your local labor rate.  Note
the 928 will require additional time on the manual trans cars as there are more
points to bleed the system (clutch and brake share the same fluid system, clutch
has slave cylinder also).

Hey, what a segue into clutches!  OEM / Sachs clutch package prices (w/disc, pressure
plate and throw out bearing) depends on year.  For pre-S4 figure about $400, S4
and later $500 in parts.  Upgrades to GTS spec are $850+ in parts.  Add in some
resurfacing of the flywheel but this depends car to car.  A clutch R&R doesn't really
fall into the DIY category, except for truly mechanically inclined owners with 
the tools and shop space.  Be glad it's not something you need to do often, but 
I fear on many older cars, this job will have been neglected and left to you.

Noisy torque tube?  Often times it's bark is worst than it's bite (at least until
you have to start paying for parts).  A slightly rattling tube may not be a real
cause for concern for thousands of miles.  You see, the driveshaft is actually a
1" thick rod suspended within bearings inside that central tube.  Many of the 
automatic-equipped cars will display a rattle from the tube because these cars
only have two bearings inside vs. the three on manual trans cars.  Should the rattle
turn into a squeal, I'd say you have a problem that needs to be addressed asap.

I've been advised by Mark Anderson at 928 International that rebuilt tubes
on an exchange basis are $495.  Cash only as-is used tubes are around $350.  You
pick your comfort level.  Much labor is involved in tube swapping (as you can
imagine) I think 8 hours was quoted in the european car article.  Add your choice
of fluid - Redline or Swepco are excellent choices but do check for proper type
with each manufacturer for specific recommendations ie. GL-5 hypoid NS non-slippery.

Pre-85 cars with the early synchros are known to have hard 1-2 shifts, especially
when cold.  If noise is present you can be sure the synchros are worn.  This doesn't
mean you need immediate replacement though.  I know of many cars where the owner
has adapted by learning doubleclutching to avoid the expense of a rebuild.  Complete
rebuilt trans depends on year but in general used boxes go $1200 and up, the later
cars to $2500 and up, GTs and GTS's with traction control etc. $3500 and up.  No,
this definately ain't your father's Oldsmobile!

"Help, my shark is more like flipper at speed on the highway!"  Bobbing around like
an old caddie isn't the best nor safest way down the road.  Phil Kalamaros advised me this is a shock issue.  Shocks in any car can 'go' after as little as 20k miles.  Springs are supposed to hold their rate almost indefinately - the issue with old springs is sag.  There are many sources
for suspension bits and here you've got to make up your mind if you'll be racing
or not, since swapping springs and the ensuing alignment job are not something you
want to repeat often.  (Some shops can't even do this right to begin with - it is
critical you find a 928 aware alignment shop or your tires will suffer on the inside
edges from over-negative cambering)

Standard Boge shocks run $60 or so, doesn't matter front or rear.  Pretty generic
stuff!  Koni internally adjustables go $150 front or rear.  You can go Bilstein
or other as well.  Springs can be sourced used from a reputable enthusiast or shop
or you can opt for the Eibach progressives ($___ set).  If you do go used, I am 
wondering how you can be assured about condition unless the seller has a shock and
spring dyno, in the least you should be able to take the used components to a
race shop that does for verification prior to installing them.  

Those seeking the premium issue Devek-spec'd Koni/Hyperco coilovers be prepared to spend $1200 - $1800 for the set of four.  A bonus of this setup is easy height adjustment and OEM quality springs - I doubt you'll experience coil sag in your lifetme with this setup!  Plus you get full support from the very respected Devek shop.  

Track fans wanting to specify their own coil heights and rates, this is
way beyond the scope here!  The most serious numbers I've ever heard of yet is Mark
Anderson's race car at 1200+ lbs front / 600 lbs. rear.  Can you say go kart.  Can you say Go Mark!

Steering racks have been known to spring leaks.  Rebuilts can be had for under $300
more on later cars.  I haven't priced out what shop time is on this.  Power steering
resevoirs can leak as well but this is pretty cheap fix $20 or so used and simple to 
install.  The power steering hoses are a different story, going to a couple of hundred
each for certain hoses.

Hey Phil this all fine and dandy but my eyes are starting to glaze over!  I just
want to know how much a tune up is!


There is still no shortcut to success.  Not with a car that can triple the legal
speed limit at least!  Bosch distributor cap & rotor sets can go to $110.  Plug
wires to $220 on the 32v, $120 on 16v cars.  Remember if you put some cheap, cross 
firing purple wires on, you are on your own.  Ignition components should last quite
a long time so the cost is minimized in this respect.  Just watch for EMI suppression,
you wouldn't want your wires to mess up the fuel injection or worse, stereo or cell phone reception ;)

Plug wise, the Bosch platinums are about $1.25 each and are a great general plug.  I
stay away from Splitfires completely for the street - in my experience with a few different cars
they ruin idle quality and cost much more than 'regular' plugs. If they dyno out better on your 
car, so be it and get a set dedicated for track use.  I'd prefer seeing you use TorqueMasters or GTS-spec plugs but we are getting into mods and that is a different subject!

Oil changes figure on 8 quarts of oil and a $5.00 filter.  A $5.00 oil filter???  
When you see it and the suggested Porsche change interval you'll understand.  This
filter is almost three times the size of other cars - superior and longer lasting
filtration was the goal.  You might want to retrofit the 928 filter to your other
cars!  Buy the filters by the case and you can share them with your friends too.  Me?
I subscribe to the change your oil & filter often camp, what can I say, I want my engine
to last and don't like the looks of dirty oil one bit. 

Wow.  We haven't even gotten into replacing AC compressors, dead electric seats and mirrors
(they can be related) or freaky climate controls!  But this is just to give you, the 
potential 928 owner, a small sample of various ownership costs.  Studying the 928 design is like opening up an artichoke - the layers keep going.  Recall the Porsche 928 was the most technically advanced car in the world at the time!  

This is by no means to say all 928s require frequent repairs or parts - most well-cared for examples soldier on without incident for hundreds of thousands of miles.  .  
However, as the cars age it is only natural for items to wear and other parts just
need to be changed as a matter of course ie. rubber brake lines, hoses & belts, etc.
These are the same items that need attention no matter what vehicle you are dealing with.
'We' just tend to prefer the best roadcar Porsche used to make - the 928!

As a buyer, you can and should leverage the cost of immediate repairs into your purchase bid.
Because eventually you will have to do them!

If you are considering a service contract - READ THE FINE PRINT.  Many aren't 
worth the paper they're printed on with too many exclusions or clauses against 
your favor.  You might be better served saving the contract money for future expenses.

If you are buying long distance and having the car transported - READ THE FINE PRINT.

I purchased my 928 GT long distance and the car was shipped by A-AAA Atlantic & Pacific Transportation, CA.   
Actually they only turned out to be the middle man and some other company, D&D Auto Transport of TN.  If my experience with them is any indication - Stay away.
I'd call them "two guys and a truck" instead.  Mistakenly, I opted for un-covered
transport - a big mistake as the car arrived so filthy I could not detect paint damage
done to my front bumper until I washed the car a few days later.  The car in front of mine must've been riding on my front bumper all the way!  No matter, their 
arrival contract released the company's liability for any damage due to damage obscured 
by road filth.  No sh#t.  And never my business again.

Too add insult to injury, my front spoiler was sitting in the trunk.  What in the 
hell was it doing there?  Well, they scraped it off unloading the car.  And who knows
how many times the car went on and off the trailer during transport, the driver didn't
note arriving mileage.  I should have.  And yes, of course their contract protected them against
spoiler damage.  Hell, I might as well have flown to Florida and drove back, the
repair estimate for respraying the front bumper came in over $2k.  Luckily I remounted
the front spoiler myself, it's probably on there stronger than stock as I backed
everything with washers.

I've got to say this, I wasn't there when the car was loaded, and wasn't there when the car
was unloaded.  I got a call from the trucking company late in the day saying due to
scheduling could I get the car  in the evening.  All the better to hide the damage
they did no doubt.  Of course I was anxious to get in my new ride!   
*Do not fall for this trick*  
Pick up your car in the light of day.
Do not sign anything until you've read and understand it - and TURN THE PAGE OVER, 9 times 
out of 10 that's where all the exclusions are hiding and they may not even match the 
original contract doc!    

Do not accept your car if it is covered in filth, even if you have to get a bucket to wash it.  
Please, Trust me!

Whew, know what I'm getting pissed off at D&D again.  I sent letter
after letter to them to no avail.   Everytime I called, their claims person wasn't available.  Now it's past the time period allowed to file a claim.  

I hope to save you grief by posting all this info and hope you can put it to good use in your shark search.

This is not to say all trucking companies are out to screw you.  I'm sure there are many reputable firms out there, a good start is to look at the ads in Panorama.  If I were to do it all over again, I would get referrals and check with the local BBB for complaints.  Trying to repair any paint damage could run well in excess of any shipping costs so you have been warned.

Now, I'm going to the garage to see my car to lighten up.  All the trouble is definately
balanced out knowing that blue beast is all mine!  For my continuing ownership story, see Photo Gallery Vol. 1 - I'll be updating my own section time allowing. 

I hope the 928 of your dreams will someday grace your garage as well!

Good luck - let me know how it goes and someday we'll all meet up!

Phil Tong
1984 928 S "Rubin" - sold
1990 928 GT "Big Blue"
PCA Golden Gate Region member

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