Photos by Randy Wells
When the very first U.S. 944s were imported in 1983, Alex Kalymon was ready. He was working at Volkswagen of America, the official importer for Porsche at the time. Only one digit had changed from the previous model 924, but in his mind it represented a huge step forward for Porsche’s water-cooled transaxle sports car.
The 944 had the styling of the 924 Carrera GT with sculpted side panels and voluptuous rear fenders. The four-cylinder engine’s capacity also had been upgraded from 2.0 to 2.5 liters, with the U.S. receiving a 143 hp version. The early 944 sported a 5-speed manual gearbox produced by VW/Audi and 7 x 15 cookie cutter wheels as standard equipment.
Alex custom ordered his 944 with Sapphire Metallic paint ($445) and a Gray Berber cloth interior, instead of the popular Guards Red/Black combo. The car was manufactured was built in November 1982 and delivered on February 9, 1983. The only other options were a rear window wiper ($240), leather covered steering wheel ($70), wheel locks ($50), and alarm system ($200). With his employee discount, the total cost was $20,335.
“I loved my Porsche but did not want to expose it to the harsh winter roads in my hometown of Detroit,” Alex recalls. So the pretty silver-blue 944 spent months sitting in his attached garage, covered with a soft cloth car tarp and waiting for the spring. By 1986 he came to realize there were only a few months of really good weather available per year. He failed to ready the car that year or the following year. “That’s how the 29 years of hibernation began,” he admits.
Steven Nofar, a young college student who grew up four houses away, offered to buy the lonely 944 a few years later. “I first saw Alex’s Porsche when I was 12 years old,” Steven recalls. “I loved the lines and color, and I remember getting excited just seeing it drive by.”
At the time, Alex was not interested in parting with his 944. He thought his young daughter might want it some day. But when she turned 16, Alex came to the conclusion that the old Porsche sports car might not be the best choice, so he bought her a VW Jetta instead.
In 2015, Steven, now 43 and an accountant/attorney, wrote a letter to his old neighbor, asking if the 944 was for sale. “I already owned a Porsche 997, and could afford to buy a nice 944 turbo or a 968, but I wanted the simplicity of an early 944 with no power steering, no power sunroof, no power seats, and a weight of only 2,700 pounds.”
After settling on a price and inflating the Pirelli P6000 tires, Steven had the 944 flat bedded to a local Porsche mechanic for reconditioning. A year later, Steven had added only 27 miles to the car and realized he didn’t have a desire to store or show it. So he decided to sell the ultra-low mile Porsche on the popular Bring a Trailer auction site. Bill Morris, a neurosurgeon in Tacoma, Washington happened to be in the market for just such a car.
“I had been looking at 944s for a couple of years,” Bill reports. “While I’m a 911 fan at heart, I’ve come to appreciate the looks and historical position of Porsche’s 944 and 928. My collecting strategy favors low-mileage original cars, so when I came across this car almost by accident two days before the BaT auction ended, I was captivated by the car’s history and originality. Everything came with the car including perfect tool kit, warranty book, window sticker, and the factory order form.”
The story of Bill’s purchase is equally captivating. “Dirk Layer is my advisor on most things Porsche,” he reveals. “He had advised against some other 944s I’d considered but thought this one looked good. Dirk suggested that I call David Conklin in Ohio to see if he knew anyone near Michigan who could look at the car. I knew David from an article he had written in Excellence Magazine about one of my cars (a 1973 Carrera RS). David responded by calling his friend Jared Rundell.”
Jared couldn’t view the car, but he happened to know a Porsche expert who was able to meet Steven and the car at 8 am on the last day of the auction, August 4, 2016. His report was glowing, so the neurosurgeon moved forward with confidence into the final bidding.
“With an hour to go, five or six people were still placing bids, and the cost was getting close to my limit,” Bill recalls. “Finally, only one other bidder and I were left. Those familiar with the BaT auction format know that near the close the timer resets at two-minute intervals after each bid, so no one can dive in and snipe at the very end. Those last few seconds were a nail-biter. I think the hammer price of $27,000 plus 5% buyer’s fee surprised everyone, but the car’s uniqueness justified that record price in my mind.”
With its amazing original paint full of “orange peel”, Bill’s time capsule 944 will surely knock them dead in the Preservation Class at the 2017 Porsche Parade Concours in Spokane.
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Article Copyright 2017 Randy Wells. All Rights Reserved.