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The 968 was almost called the 944 "S3", an upgrade to the "968 S2" that Porsche had introduced in 1989. With over 80% of the 944's components new or modified, Porsche decided instead to introduce the car as a new model, hence the 968 was born. Production was moved from the Audi plant in Neckarsulm (where the Porsche 924 and Porsche 944 had been made) to Porsche's own factory in Zuffenhausen. The 968 was produced from 1992 to 1995 and was marketed as the replacement for the Porsche 944. When production ceased in the 1995 model year, it represented the end of a line started almost 20 years earlier with the introduction of the Porsche 924. By late 1991, the 968 was ready. It retained all the good bits of its predecessor, while significantly improving appearance, handling, and performance. The 968 was introduced in September 1991 at the Frankfurt Motor Show as a 1992 model.
The big news new model was the engine. The 968 got an updated version of the 944’s straight-4 engine, now displacing 3.0 L and producing 236 bhp @ 6200 rpm and 225 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm of torque. Changes to the 968's powertrain also included the VarioCam variable valve timing system, a new dual resonant induction, a new exhaust systems with a rare metals catalytic converter, a dual-mass flywheel, and updated engine management electronics. A new 6-speed manual transmission was offered, as well as a dual-mode Tiptronic automatic. The options were plentiful, the most interesting of which was the M030 suspension.
The 968's styling somewhat resembled the 928 although it looks considerably more like a blend of the 993 911, which did not appear until the end of the 968's production and a 944 S2. Like the 944, the 968 was sold as both a coupe and a convertible. Much of the 968's chassis was carried over from the 944S2, which in itself shared many components with the 944 Turbo (internally numbered 951). Borrowed components include the Brembo-sourced 4-piston brake calipers on all four wheels, aluminum semi-trailing arms and aluminum front A-arms, used in a MacPherson strut arrangement. The galvanized steel Unibody structure was also very similar to that of the previous models.
Performance models were also released. A street-legal race variant, dubbed Club Sport, appeared in 1994 with a stripped-out interior including racing seats, revised suspension, and larger wheels and tires, but was offered only in Europe. A UK-only version called 968 Sport, a Club Sport model with some comfort features added back in, was produced in 1994 and 1995. Porsche briefly produced a turbocharged version called Turbo S, of which only 15 were produced, and again was only sold in Europe. The 968 Turbo S was capable of 0–60 mph in 4.5 s and top speed of 175 mph. A race variant called 968 Turbo RS was added as well; only 4 were produced and raced with some success.
Over the 4 years of production, only 12,780 cars were sold worldwide, with less than 5,000 shipped to North America. Original sales price started at about $55,000 and dropped dramatically by the end of production, as lower priced Japanese competition, and the unwillingness of the public to embrace a front engine 4 cylinder Porsche spelled doom for the 968. The 968 was Porsche’s last new front-engined vehicle before the introduction of the Cayenne SUV in 2003. It was sold alongside the 928 GTS through 1995 when both models were dropped.