The Porsche 928 (1977-1995)

In this weeks look into cars of the past we here at Crown Classic Auto are going to be looking at the car that almost replaced the 911.

The Porsche 928 was the company’s first production car with a V-8 engine and the only coupe powered by a front-mounted V-8 as of today. Developed in the 1970s as a replacement of the 911, the 928 was eventually sold alongside the rear-engine sports car. Production lasted from 1977 until 1995.

Porsche’s only luxury grand tourer up to date, the 928 was sold in various configurations. In addition to the base model, Porsche offered an S variant and later on changed the badge to the 928 S4. Club Sport (CS) and GT versions followed while the final four model years saw the 928 sold as a GTS only. While it wasn’t as popular as the 911, the 928 developed a following, and it’s now considered a classic.

The Background

The idea was to design a car that would be the best possible combination of a sports coupe and a luxury sedan

Already a successful automaker by the late 1960s, Porsche began to consider adding a luxury grand tourer to the lineup. At the same time, the Germans were concerned that the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential. This, paired with slumping sales and fears that the U.S. would ban rear-engined cars due to concerns over safety problems with the Chevrolet Corvair prompted Ferdinand Porsche to push for the development of a brand-new model.

The idea was to design a car that would be the best possible combination of a sports coupe and a luxury sedan. Porsche also believed that a grand tourer would have wider appeal than the 911, a car that felt cramped and spartan inside the cabin and was difficult to drive due to its rear-engine, RWD layout. Originally, German engineers considered a mid-engined configuration for the 928.

The 928 debuted at the 1977 Geneva Motor. Sales began later that year as a 1978 model

However, this layout was eventually dismissed as it would have sparked the same emissions and noise control issues the company already had with the 911. Additionally, Porsche concluded that having the engine, transmission, and exhaust cramped behind the seats would not allow enough room for rear-seat passengers.

The 928 debuted at the 1977 Geneva Motor. Sales began later that year as a 1978 model. Production ended in 1995 without a direct successor. Although it was the first front-engined Porsche with a V-8, the 928 wasn’t the only car from the German firm with this layout. In 1976, Porsche launched the 924, which had a similar layout but used a four-cylinder mill. The 924 was considered a successor to the 914 and was followed by the 944 in 1982. In 1992, it was replaced with the 968, the company’s last front-engined coupe.

Porsche 928 Exterior

Layout-wise, the 928 is a standard grand tourer with a really long nose, and the doors placed further back.

The 928 looks unlike any other sports car the German firm had introduced until 1977. Sure, the front-engined layout wasn’t new, the 924 arrived a year before, but the 928 was longer and sleeker, and also looked decidedly more aggressive. Needless to say, it also looked modern compared to the 911, which was starting to show its age despite the somewhat significant update from 1975.

Layout-wise, the 928 is a standard grand tourer with a really long nose and the doors placed further back. However, while GTs from Ferrari and Aston Martin had conventional decklids, the 928 had none, with the rear window extending all the way to the rear fascia. The quarter windows are also big and ran the entire length of the rear fenders. Access to the trunk is made through a large hatchback instead of a traditional trunk lid.

While the 911 had kept the organic design introduced in the 1960s, the 928 was penned with a dash of wedge styling.

While the 911 had kept the organic design introduced in the 1960s, the 928 was penned with a dash of wedge styling, which had been very popular in the 1970s. The sharp and narrow nose had big headlamps on each side, while the lower section lacked a traditional spoiler. The pop-up headlamps were a bit unusual too. While most vehicles had them hidden under the hood, the 928’s were mounted on the outside and oriented upward when not in use. Once activated, they popped forward.

The engine hood and the side panels were rather clean, with the belt line a bit wider than the rest of the car. Thanks to the big, slanted quarter windows, the lack of a decklid, and the "phone dial" wheels, the profile looked quite exotic. The rear end was equally unusual, with big taillights carved deep into the body. The clean fascia featured big "Porsche" lettering, while the license place was placed below. The first edition had no spoiler or rear bumper.

The GTS trim added new features in 1992, including flared rear fenders and "Cup-style" mirror caps

Although it remained relatively unchanged for 18 years, Porsche made a few improvements. In 1980, the S model arrived with front and rear spoilers. A small, optional wing also became available the same year. In 1987, Porsche redesigned the front and rear bumper light assemblies that were narrower. The taillights were also revised without the original outlets into the body and a red light bar was added between them. The GTS trim added new feature in 1992, including flared rear fenders and "Cup-style" mirror caps.

Of course, Porsche added numerous wheel designs throughout the years, as well as various exotic colors. In 1995 for instance, Porsche offered the 928 GTS in the iconic Iris Blue and Amazon Green.

Porsche 928 Interior

Although it was designed to compete with rival offerings from the GT market, the 928’s interior remained decidedly sporty

While the modern 911 can be labeled as a premium sports car when it comes to materials and features, the first-gen coupe was rather spartan by comparison. Sure, Porsche offered leather upholstery and a few interesting options, but the 911 was far from fancy. The 928 arrived to fix just that, and it did so with features usually found in Ferraris and Aston Martins, plus a few novelties.

Although it was designed to compete with rival offerings from the GT market, the 928’s interior remained decidedly sporty. The tall center console and the sloping center stack separated the driver and passenger compartment just like in full-fledged supercars. The dashboard was smooth and simple, but the big instrument cluster mounted on top gave the interior a race-inspired vibe. The larger, central speedometer and rev counter is flanked by oil pressure and fuel/coolant gauges, which in turn are flanked by buttons on each side.

A particularly interesting feature was the tilt-adjustable steering wheel that moved the instrument cluster with it

A particularly interesting feature was the tilt-adjustable steering wheel that moved the instrument cluster with it to provide good gauge visibility at all times. While this is a common feature nowadays, only a handful of vehicles had it back in the day. And Ferrari and Lamborghini weren’t among them! Other unusual features for the era included an air-conditioned glove box and back-seat sun viso