In 1978, Porsche released the Porsche 928, a luxury grand tourer designed as an alternative to the Porsche 911. Combining the performance of a sports car with the comfort of a luxury sedan, Porsche’s new flagship was built with mass appeal in mind, correcting as it did the handling issues of the iconic 911 and representing a new word in refinement and power. But despite the massive marketing push that drove its launch, it never quite managed to find its niche in the way the 911 had. Less than 20 years after its release, its number was up. But now, Porschephiles are finally starting to come around to the model, belatedly recognizing just how much more it is than just a cheap (ish) status symbol. With its stock rising on an almost daily basis, it’s time to find out the facts about the 1978 Porsche 928. Here’s ten of them to get you started.
1. The development
In the mid-70s, Porsche decided its iconic flagship, the 911, was just too complicated to tap into the mass market in the way it wanted. Although it had no plans on retiring the 911 completely, it decided the time was ripe for it to share some floor space with an altogether more compliant car. The then managing director of Porsche, Ernst Fuhrmann, believed the days of the complicated sports car were numbered; the future lay, or so he thought, in grand touring cars. As the declining sales of the 911 seemed to support his opinion, Porsche’s team of designers turned their hand to creating a grand tourer that combined the best of both worlds. The result was the 928.
2. The debut
In 1977, the 928 made its debut at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show. It's flashy, almost space-age design, supreme comfort, and superb handling immediately impressed, and by the time it went on sale a year later, Porsche’s confidence in its new flagship was running high. The good feelings didn’t last long. Sales were slow to pick up, with many Porsche aficionados dismissing the new model as little more than a yuppie status symbol. The all-new front-engined, water-cooled design didn’t exactly go down well either. Sales did eventually pick up, but for whatever reason, it never quite managed to worm its way into the hearts of Porsche fans in the way of the 911.
3. The spec
One of the most distinguishing features of the 928 was its big, front-mounted and water-cooled V8 engine – the very first of its kind from Porsche. In the US, the engine was rated at 219 hp (163 kW; 222 PS). In other countries, it boasted an even more powerful rating: 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp). The engine represented a big shift in direction for Porsche, who until that point had powered its motors on rear- or mid-mounted air-cooled flat engines. But all of a sudden, here was a car that could not only boast being Porsche’s first production V8 powered, but the only coupe in its collection to run on a front-mounted V8 engine.
4. The style
The 928 has one man, in particular, to thank for its futuristic style - Wolfgang Möbius. Möbius was the designer responsible for the galvanized steel and aluminum shell, as well as its sizeable luggage, the nude, polyurethane elastic bumpers, and the pop-up headlamps on the front wings.
5. The changes
For the first two years of its production, the 928 followed the same style as the original model conceived by Wolfgang Möbius. But over the next two decades, it went through some significant changes, starting with the front and rear bumpers that were added in the 1980s. Other changes included the addition of side skirts, wider rear fenders, and a complete redesign of the wheels.
6. The concept car
Sales on the 928 were never quite as good as Porsche would have liked, but it nonetheless found a devoted following. One French designer, Anthony Colard, became so enamored with the model, he went so far as to design his very own, 21st-century version of the classic. After presenting the concept to Porsche, he was knocked back, with Porsche criticizing his designs for being over-complicated (a sore point indeed, when you consider how the 928 was initially created as a simpler, more user-friendly version of the comparatively complicated 911). Determined not to let the harsh words stop his plans, he set about bringing his designs to life. The subsequent “concept car” aimed to blend the best of the original 928 with the technical advancements that had happened since the end of its run. Did it manage to bring the 928 back into production? No.
7. The editions
As Top Speed notes, the 928 wasn’t limited to just the basic model. In the years following its original release, Porsche released an S variant, a Club Sport (CS) edition, and GT versions. In the last four years of its production, the 928 was available as a GTS only.
8. The never seen prototype
In 1987, the 928 was given a brand new look. An extra few inches were added to its length, its doors were narrowed, and the overall style was given a significant shaking up. The original model was giving as a 75th birthday present to Porsche’s founder, Ferry Porsche. But it never went into mass production. “Study H50", as it became known, seemed to have vanished without trace… until several of its features turned up almost two decades later in the Porsche Panamera saloon.
9. The resurgence
In the early years of its production, the 928 was considered a flashy status symbol that never quite managed to reach the heights of popularity of the 911. But those days are gone. As hagerty.com notes, the 928 has gone from the black sheep of the Porsche family to one of its most coveted classics. It may be significantly more expensive to buy now than it once was, but for Porsche fans, it’s never been more appealing.
10. The price
Fancy getting your hands on a Porsche 928? Then start saving. As auto.howstuffworks.com notes, this car will cost you, big time. Expect to part with around $28,500 for the 1978 model and a whopping $38,500 for the 1980 model.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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