1988 Porsche 944Rothmans 944 Turbo Cup
Year of manufacture1988
- Retains it matching-numbers drivetrain
- A factory-built race car that has never competed
- Documented history; delivered new to Porsche/VW of Canada
- Includes Porsche Certificate of Authenticity
What Porsche enthusiast would not want to own and drive a real factory-built race car? If not one that had been raced successfully in period, what about a race car that never saw the track? Offered here is exactly that—a Weissach-prepared 944 Turbo Cup intended to be a backup spare for the 1988 Rothmans Turbo Cup series in Canada, but was never put to that use.
Eager to build enthusiasm for its new and increasingly popular 944 Turbo (Type 951) in the mid-1980s, Porsche created an international championship racing series for specially prepared, lighter-than-standard 944 Turbo coupes. Developed by Porsche’s racing department, these special 944s were called “Turbo Cup” cars. Contests were often staged as supporting events for major races in Germany, France, South Africa, the U.S., and Canada. The first U.S. series was sponsored by Escort radar detectors and drew 16 entries. The Canadian series, backed by cigarette maker Rothmans, attracted 36 entries. These races, which often had well-known racing drivers at the wheel, proved immensely popular. Canada’s series was carried on nationwide television.
944 Turbo Cup cars were carefully prepared, starting with the lightest shell available: a sunroof-delete coupe. The tub of each car was reinforced, with a front strut brace installed between the strengthened strut towers. A full Matter light-alloy roll cage was installed, along with stronger rear torsion arms, racing struts, shocks, and springs; larger anti-roll bars with the rear unit adjustable; harder suspension mounts, quicker-ratio steering, a racing clutch, strengthened transmission gears in the rear-mounted transaxle, strengthened axles and a higher-percentage, stronger limited-slip differential, a transmission oil cooler, 928 S4 brakes with 12-inch rotors and driver-controlled ABS, a brake-cooling kit and racing pads, a single engine radiator, lightweight battery, a Recaro racing seat with Sabelt harness, interior and exterior kill switches, and a fiberglass hood with racing hold-downs.
Underhood, the 1988 version employed a larger KKK K26-8 turbocharger and revised engine mapping, which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5,800 rpm. Further weight savings was achieved with a magnesium intake manifold and oil pan. While the rest of the car appeared fairly standard, just about every item not required for racing was removed. Deleted items included the outside power mirrors (replaced with lightweight mirrors), air-conditioning, power seats, leather upholstery, sun visors, power windows and steering, rear wiper, headlight washers, fender liners, engine shield, undercoat, storage pockets, and the rear trunk release. The standard 16-inch aluminum wheels were replaced with magnesium “telephone-dial” rims, eight inches wide in front and nine inches in the rear, and fitted with Pirelli P-Zero “Asimetrico” racing slicks, 245/45ZR and 255/40ZR, respectively. The net weight savings was variously estimated as between 400–600 pounds and helped the Turbo Cup launch to 100 kph (62 mph) in 5.3 seconds and give a top speed of almost 170 mph, mirroring the performance of the 1988 944 Turbo S.
The Guards Red Turbo Cup offered from the Taj Ma Garaj might well be dubbed “the one that got away.” An included letter from Randy Myagishima, former sales manager for Norden Autohaus, the Porsche-Audi dealer in Edmonton, Alberta, states that he had learned that importer Porsche-Volkswagen of Canada had a spare race car intended for use as a replacement in the Rothmans Cup series in the event that one of the race entrants needed a fresh car. This car had remained in Norden’s shop, and Porsche AG wanted it back—but Myagishima had already committed to selling it to one of his customers.
That customer, Dr. Curtis Smith, thus became the car’s first registered owner in 1990, driving the car occasionally on the street. Service stamps in the warranty book show Smith bringing the car in for service at 12,780 km in 2000 and 14,536 km in 2002. Norden Autohaus installed a new Walker stainless-steel exhaust system for Dr. Smith, but the original system with its factory catalytic converter was retained and is included with the car. In 2002 Dr. Smith sold the car to John Dixon at the Taj Ma Garaj in Dayton, Ohio. Smith sent along a spare set of wheels and used tires, along with other small parts. In December 2002 Mr. Dixon commissioned a cosmetic freshening of the body, which included a full high-quality repaint in its original color, along with a clear-coat and retrimming in correct Rothmans livery. Mr. Dixon was invited to show his 944 Turbo Cup car at the 2015 Porsche Club of America Parade’s Heritage display. In January of this year, the car received a new timing belt, battery, a new distributor, and an oil change with new filter.
Currently displaying just 14,903 km, which is believed to be the original and correct total, this numbers-matching 944 Turbo Cup is supplied with a notebook of sales documents, export and shipping paperwork, factory publicity materials, and a clean CARFAX report. This exciting Turbo could be enjoyed at any PCA Club Race event or club-level concours, or take a starring role at one’s next Cars and Coffee gathering.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/tg19.