The 968 was the last iteration of Porsche’s four-cylinder line to roll out of the Stuttgart factory, developed as a stopgap between the aging 944 and the upcoming one Porsche Boxster replacement. For many, the 968 was just an updated 944, the shape of which was itself over two decades old. Additionally, the 968 came just after a global recession at a time when Porsche sales were falling rapidly.
Enter the 968 Clubsport. A sports car that became one of the most revered Porsches of the ’90s. More importantly, the car helped boost sales of the 968.
Porsche introduced the 968 Club Sport at the 1992 Paris Motor Show. The Club Sport Edition was a bespoke version of the 968, a lightweight, driver-focused machine with a striking appearance that immediately captured the public’s imagination. Its three-year production was short-lived, running from 1992 to 1995. Arguably the best front-engine four-cylinder sports car developed by Porsche.
Porsche showed with the 968 Club Sport that they were not only good at building air-cooled, rear-engined sports cars, but also more than capable front-engined performance machines. Also, the lightweight Porsche was slightly cheaper than the standard 968. However, the Clubsport versions were only officially available in the UK, Europe, Japan and Australia.
The 968 CS was praised by the trade press for its driving characteristics. In fact, the Clubsport variant has won countless awards. In addition, rally legend Walter Röhrl praised the Club Sport as the “vehicle with the best handling that Porsche has built”. He’s a Porsche ambassador, after all, and their test driver, but his words were backed up by others who weren’t.
With fewer than 2,000 examples produced worldwide, the 968 is certainly a rare sight on the road and highly sought after. In terms of driving technique, it is considered a true masterpiece of the 90s.
The 968 Club Sport was a lightweight racetrack weapon
The 968 CS was the last part of Porsche’s legendary transaxle era. The 968 had the most powerful four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine in the world at the time and quickly became a purist’s favourite.
Thanks to its rear-mounted gear arrangement, the track-focused 968 delivered ideal weight distribution and predictable handling. In addition, under the long hood, the output of the robust 3-liter M44 powerplant delivered 240 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, just like the standard car. Mated to a glorious six-speed gearbox, the Club Sport’s acceleration was punchier than the standard model. With a weight loss of around 100 kg, the Club Sport was lighter and more manoeuvrable. This reduced the sprint from 0 to 60 mph to under six seconds. In addition, the top speed was increased slightly to 260 km/h.
With bigger brakes and stiffer dampers that reduced ride height by 0.7 inches, the 968 CS took on a firmer ride but remained nicely balanced. The communicative steering was sharper and the more capable lightweight chassis encouraged the driver to push the car to its limits. The lighter Porsche established a connection between driver, car and road.
The 968 Club Sport offers the “less is more” interior
In line with the “less is more” philosophy, Porsche dispensed with most of the luxury equipment in the 968 CS. The rear seats, power windows, air conditioning and soundproofing were all removed. In addition, a three-spoke steering wheel without an airbag replaced the traditional steering wheel to save weight.
Porsche opted for beautiful, manually adjustable lightweight racing seats from Recaro with backrests painted in the car colour. However, all CS models came with black interiors similar to the 944 S2.
In addition, Porsche also redesigned the front end of the 968, which now incorporated round pop-up headlights in the style of the 928, which was the company’s design language at the time. More importantly, the CS still retained Porsche’s bulletproof build quality.
The lowering gives the 968 Club Sport an athletic stance. In addition, the 968 received body-colored 17-inch alloy wheels, which were wider than the standard 16-inch and contributed to the exclusive appearance. In addition to the wheels, the lightweight 968 came with “Club Sport” decals on each side of the car. The Club Sport model’s style was certainly distinctive, and it was only available in a few select but coveted colors – Grand Prix White, Black, Speed Yellow, Guards Red, or Maritime Blue.
The Porsche 968 Club Sport was for an exclusive bunch
The 968 Club Sport quickly became a cult classic. In general, front-engine Porsches are experiencing a kind of renaissance. However, the club sport is still considered to be one of the best.
After 30 years, the value of the 968 CS continues to rise and surpasses that of the production car. According to classic.com, the average price of a used 968 CS is around $50,000, which earns more bragging rights than the standard 968 due to its handling characteristics and rarity. As already mentioned, almost 2000 copies left the Porsche factory. Good, pristine examples are becoming increasingly difficult to find as many are no doubt often used as track day racers.
However, increasing used values of the Club Sport and the comparatively low maintenance costs make the iconic 968 Club Sport a coveted investment. Without a doubt one of the best driver’s cars of the 90’s!
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