In a rare miss, Porsche introduced the 1976 924 with a weak engine that could also be found under the hood of Volkswagens and Audis, the latter of which developed the motor. Customers howled in protest at sharing running gear with such plebeian brands and so, the good people in Stuttgart went back to the drawing board. They returned with the 944, a car resembling the 924, but with a far more muscular body backed up by a heavily reworked chassis, suspension and engine.
In fact, the engine was 100% Porsche, as was the transaxle and everything else on the 944, all of which was highlighted in period advertising. There would be no more confusing a Porsche with a VW. It featured near 50/50 weight distribution, earned awards like Best Handling Imported Car in America and sold record numbers. Five years into production, the 944S variant was introduced with a host of improvements to the suspension and transmission, but most notably the engine.
Reworking the naturally aspirated 2.5L inline-four found in the standard 944, this new motor featured the first use of four valves per cylinder in a 944 along with a higher compression ratio, magnesium intake manifold passages and improved Bosch engine management system. This all led to a 40-horse jump in power and 6.8-second sprint to 60 mph. Porsche used “16 Ventiler” script in the engine bay to identify this new 16-valve setup, which meant “giving vent to your lust for speed sixteen ways from Sunday,” according to Car and Driver.