Bill Underwood's 944 World. All about the great water-cooled, front-engine 944 Porsche! Model history, maintenance tips, restoration, performance modifications, links to Porsche and other automotive sites; buying tips, a story about the 944 I drove off a cliff, oops...





Now live: this site at!


Welcome to Bill's Porsche 944 World

Bill's 944 World was SEVEN years old on August 29th, 2003.

Folks, I'm looking to buy a 944S or S2. Maybe a 951, if the right car at the right price comes along. If you have one (or know of one) you'd like see placed in caring and knowledgable hands, please email me. If it has race or other tracks mods, that's fine, but it needs to be California smog-legal, and somewhere within a few hundred miles of Silicon Valley - San Francisco Bay Area, California.

For ALL OTHER questions, please check my Letters Page first. If your answer is not there, use this link to send email.

And here's the new flash of the day -- I just aquired an '89 2.7L 944, black, exactly like the one pictured below, but with cookie cutter wheels. And the lead came from this very page. It has 149,970 miles on it. See a picture at!

Introduction -- Welcome to my personal compilation of Porsche 944 technical information, stories, Buying a Used 944, images, some simple New Owner Maintenance Items to check, and my ever-expanding Links to Things Porsche & More Page.

I've been running this site for over seven years. The other two 944-specific sites before me have been 404 for years, and I'm now the oldest 944 enthusiast site on the net.Only the 944 FAQ document is older. A net search these days returns hundreds. The visitation stats have been interesting. I was hopeful to get 1,000 visitors in the first year. Instead, I got 8,000. At year 2, I was just short of 70,000. At three years it almost reached 170,000. At four years, 285,000 hits. Since inception, this site continues to be a collection of 14 years of 944 driving, rebuilding (ouch at times) and tinkering, as much as being a dedication to the memory of my first 944, and my seatbelt, which saved my life.

Dedication, well...yes. To a (new) 944 I owned for ten years before I spectacularly sent it away: I ballistically launched it forward, through the air, about 100 feet into a redwood canyon one night. It's the black (on burgundy leather) 944 pictured on these pages. It had the optional 16 inch wheels, an aftermarket exhaust and beefed suspension. Drove it for almost 139,000 miles, hard at times, too. Then it was a deer, a redwood, a cliff-dive off the pavement, and then the large fallen redwood that finally stopped me. I think I went from 40MPH to Zero in about a tenth of a second when I hit that fallen tree. Ouch. Dislocated my right shoulder -- the seat belt protected my left side, and my face! I sprained both my wrists. And I cut my left index finger knuckle. That's it. The car was junk, I was trapped, and I eventually freed myself and have a (now infamous) story of luck.

Where I live, the local twisty and hilly roads (CA Hwys 84, 35, 9) make every day a driver's event. It's all here. Check and tighten your seatbelt, then read the crash stories...

Bill's Original 944

The break of dawn on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico
Islameralda Key, Florida; March, 1986
after a night of viewing Halley's Comet.

Unfortunately, this car is now a memory.
I did the deer swerve/tree impact, then I launched it
over a cliff to the tune of 100 feet or so. And I was pretty much uninjured. Miracle.

At home in 2000. This car used to be the daily road twister. It has been replaced by an '89 2.7L, black on black. A picture of the newest entry into my stable is at

At times the 944 functions as a time machine: it can greatly reduce the normal time spent to get around physical space.

You are driver to visit
since site rollout on August 29, 1996
Updated: 14 / OCTOBER / 2003
Bill Underwood

Bill's Porsche 944 World was profiled a year ago in the
San Francisco Chronicle's Oct. 15, 1998
Pagemaster feature, in the business section.

Check out, the new (apparently the only)
"factory approved" Porsche portal on the web.

Join RennList -- THE Porsche Online Forum Community.
And, it turns out I once worked with the webmaster,
John, many years ago back in NH. Small world...!

Thanks to all who have written to tell me this is one of the best 944
sites on the 'net! The site generates lots of email, and while I do try and
answer everyone individually, sometimes this just isn't possible, and some of
your emails fall thru the cracks. So if I don't answer you, please remind me. I have a
Letters Page with many common questions, and my real-world answers. If your question
isn't there, drop me a note and I will try to answer and help you out as best I can.
But, please check the
Letters Page first. Once you've read through this
introduction page, come back and check the
site map page for
links to all the pages that make up Porsche 944 World.

My Daily Driver News and Road Update -- My current 944 is a modified Sapphire Metallic '84, pictured above and elsewhere. Between the two 944's in my life, there was a 911 Targa in there for a little while. That was a fun car, it made a real nice roar and was interesting in the corners on a low gas tank, and it lacked the creature comforts and refine I love in the 944. Small/Front View/Sapphire Blue 944Today, my rebuilt 944 continues to run perfectly after the top end was overhauled and updated. The previous owner had the belt tension adjusting eccentric come loose, and the motor lost timing and the valves hit the pistons, bending them. And thus the car I bought for $1500 (not bad, huh?) went in for major surgery at X-FAB Racing in Mountain View, CA. We removed the motor (we pulled it from the top with the car on stands) and went at it. A rundown on the rebuild is here. Lately, I've got some weird squeaks and such coming from the rear hatch area, and I still hear an occasional chaff from the rear wheel bearings in descending right hand curves. So I described what I heard and how to my mechanic and the first words he said were "Oh, rear carrier bearings..." So I'm now servicing the CVs, and other rear end suspension parts I bent recently...been a bit of a longer term project than I realized.

Then I was adding up the miles on this car since the new belts and top end rebuild, and yikes, I'm close to 30K miles after that timing belt went on. Everything up there is new, so all I have to do is change the belt, a procedure I have had the pleasure of doing twice so far. With the special tool, too.

The February 1998 floods and mudslides that hammered California's coast last year gave me my first taste of driving through mudslides in a 944. Growing up in the US Midwest, outside of Detroit, I learned to drive in the snow at 16. But mudslides?? It's just like wet heavy snow, only heavier! For the current San Francisco Bay Area satellite imagery, local time and a weather snapshot, I often go to my local weather page to see what's happening in the Bay area. Note, however, that the images returned seem to all carry date stamps from May 13th, 1999. Either the server, or the satellite itself, has spun out of control.

Enter 944 World -- While much of the 944's information also applies to the Porsche 924/924S, 951 and 968 models, this site focuses primarily on the 944. Since these pages will be eternally under construction, check back for continual updates. Like more technical specifications, maintenance tips, PCA info and Bill's Porsche Links.

I got an email asking where the trip odometer reset switch is. With the late (and improved) 944 dash, this gizmo went into hiding. See my page comparing early and late 944 dashboards to find it. To answer this popular question up front, no, you can't put a late dash into an early 944. I suppose you could, with enough money, but there are electrical, mechanical fit ,and steering column angle changes, so it's not a simple swap. One question I also get is "What are the differences between 'early' and 'late' 944's?" So I put together this page that runs down the major exterior and interior visual clues. Other common questions pop up in my email now and then, so I eventually created a Letters Page covering common 944 questions and answers. Spiked with a bit of humor, too.

You may have reached this page from, my personal home page. If not, drop in and learn a little more about the guy behind the steering wheel and computer keyboard.

Mystique -- Dr. Ferdinand Porsche left us a legacy of automotive excellence that continues to this day. Few machines have earned Porsche's mystique and tradition. I've handled lots of different vehicles, from Pipers to Cessnas to a sailplane, an ultralight, and 4G events in a Bianca Decathelon. On four wheels, from U-haul trucks and pickups to Toyotas and big old American iron. And I've managed to crash only one motorcycle. As a 944 driver since 1985, I believe there are few comparisons that match the 944's crisp feel and agile, smooth-as-silk responses. Except maybe the Koning 928 I got to test drive once -- and that, my friends, was awesome.

Today, the Porsche 944 is a very desirable, relatively affordable sports car that delivers loads of full-on Porsche driving fun. There are lots of these cars around, and parts are easy to come by. One thing, though: parts and the mechanics are not often cheap; something to consider if you want to buy one! In general, early 944 parts are cheaper than late models, and that's about the best generalization I can make about that.

Handling -- You have to hand it to Porsche engineering. Superb handling is one of the Porsche 944's claims to fame. It's an easy car to drive fast. Press a Porsche 944 through the turns, and quickly you experience a new level of handling precision that has more potential than you, the driver, can extract -- unless you have had some driving instruction. The low mass of the front-mounted aluminum-alloy engine is nicely balanced by a rear-mounted transmission.

With a front-to-back weight balance almost exactly 50/50, the Porsche 944 has been regarded as one of the best handling production cars ever produced. You can still make a 944 swap ends, however, if you execute a screaming brake stomp and twist the wheel on a narrow curvy road while lifting throttle. So don't do that. Take it from me.

at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve
overlooking San Francisco Bay

After you've been loving life in a Porsche for a length of time, it's gets pretty hard to drive anything else. My friend's full size Chevy truck is a monster,and my girlfriend's Land Rover Freelander has decent handling for an SUV. The little Toyota pickup I drive is really a charm (NOT) -- even when it has good tires.... I liked the BMW 740 iL I blasted thru the hills once. I've never gotten sick in small plane aerobatics (I used to fly), and have have never been thrown from a horse. And, I have only crashed one motorcycle.

If you think I'm spoiled after 17 years in a 944, you're right. A few times in rent-a-cars or borrowed vehicles, I have surprised myself in a curve by not slowing down, forgetting I'm in a less capable vehicle, and feel it start to get lost..yikes...

So, clear the apex, stand on the gas, and explore my 944 site. Relax; no timing belts to break or water pumps to sieze on you here! And no deer, either.

A Dedication

I mentioned that this site is a dedication to the 944 that saved my life. Yep. You are reading this because of Porsche 944 sturdiness and stock seatbelts.

My first 944 was a a black/burgundy leather late '85, which I drove for almost 139,000 miles. One night, this fine automobile met a deer, which resulted in an unfortunate demise 100 feet down a Northern California redwood canyon. I got out OK (amazingly, I lived) but the car was dusted. And I had just put a new radiator, thermostat and hoses on the car two weeks earlier. Oh well. Parts exist today in a half dozen or so other cars on the road...including my sapphire blue 944. Sort of like live organ transplants. Except that new (two weeks old it was) radiator, which looked like a potato chip.

What Tom Cruise said in "Risky Business"..."Porsche - there is NO substitute." Especially if you need the seatbelt restraint system to work for you...When your life depends on it, there really is no substitute!

This was the car I bought new just before my 30th birthday, when I lived in New Hampshire. Nice birthday present, huh?

One night, a few months before my 40th birthday, I managed to launch this very car into a California redwood canyon. This after a little deer strike and some severe wheel twists (basic pilot error folks), then a glancing blow to a 3-foot diameter redwood tree on the opposite side of the road -- which sent me on a flight through the air. Going down, I cut a six-inch diameter tree off at chest level before I smashed perpendicular into a large fallen redwood down on the forest slope. I remember it like yesterday, though it was over three years ago.

Stock 944 seatbelts -- you gotta love 'em -- I do. I owe my very life to the folks that engineered the 944.

Bill's Snow Porsche
at the base of Pack Monadnock Mountain,
Temple, New Hampshire

And so: A sincere thank you to everyone who worked on bringing the 944 into production.

OK, regarding requests for pictures of the wrecked Porsche 944: For a time (before I posted these paragraphs about it) I was getting lots of email on the topic that went something like "do you have pictures of the wreck you could post?" A once-popular groundswell of requests for pictures of a 944 parked in a redwood canyon notwithstanding, my reply has always been the same: yes I have pictures someplace...and one day they will probably appear on my web page.

But to formally say what the exact status of this is, here goes: I have a little cheapo camera that I used to take pics the morning after, and soon after the wreck this little disposable camera disappeared. I have looked for it, and cannot find it. Maybe it went away with the dead car. Next, there are digital pics on my Sony Xapshot. As one of the very first such cameras (the 2" removable diskettes are cute) the quality is not great. Plus, to suck the pictures out of the camera requires that I install the ancient video capture board and the Extension that makes it work on an old retro Mac Quadra 950...

So, bottom line -- I have good pictures in a lost (forever, I think, never found it again) cheapo camera that would scan nice, and inferior digital shots that take some tech work to make appear. So I'm thinking of dragging out those 944 wreck pictures so that they may "grace" these pages and serve as a good reminder of how NOT to park a Porsche. So here I am, and the four year anniversary of The Event passed in late Sept. 1999. To tell you the truth, however, after several pleas for wreck pictures, I next started to get email saying "don't post pictures of a wrecked Porsche!"

The Machinery

Macintosh Racing

Pretty much, it's all Macintosh, "the Porsche of computers", right down to the scanner and the printers!

I also have a Pentium laptop running Windows 95, and an Epson Color Stylus Pro inkjet that's sharable between all the computers.

I even have a few vintage racers, like an old Mac IIfx (still works, not using it) and an Apple StyleWriter II (the "Speed Racer" project!) which I worked on while employed at Apple in Imaging R&D. StyleWriter II owners: click here to learn about the secret test modes hidden in your printer's ROMs! This is one of the more unusual easter eggs you'll ever discover...

944 Web Ring
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Bill Underwood's Porsche 944 Site's Internet Search

Drivers have been on this stretch of the infobahn since 29 / August / 96.

Last update: 14 / OCTOBER / 2003

The pages which comprise this Geocities site are Copyright© 1996-2003 by Bill Underwood. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOT affiliated with
Porsche Cars North America or the guys in Stuttgart. Apple, Macintosh, Netscape and Porsche, and their venerable logos, are trademarks of their respective owners. Your mileage WILL vary. Don't lift in the corners. Always wear your seatbelt and keep those hands on the wheel at proper 10 and 2 o' clock positions. Keep the power on when driving through mudslides (treat it like wet heavy snow!) Keep an eye on your wife or girlfriend, if ya got one, lemme tell 'ya. Avoid too many fats and don't drink heavy. If you smoke, quit. Leave all Volvos and BMWs behind. If you pass a Sheriff and he's waving his radar gun at you wildly but seems too excited to turn the lights on, put the hammer down and get lost.
Don't look back, and don't slow down...

If you get caught, remember, it's nobody's fault but your own...

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