Ownership Review by Richard ‘Jackal’ Morris
The 968 Club Sport feels heavy, solid, rudimentary and mechanical. It’s a blunt edged brute with perfect balance as its trump card. When you were a kid, if you imagined how an archetypal ‘sportscar’ would feel, well this is it; rear wheel driven, meaty controls, a firm ride and a long bonnet stretching out in front of you.
When you set off you immediately have a sense of this mechanical mass, a handmade arrangement of metal and cogs and arms and bushes. It’s a very simplistic feel, quite crude in fact. If you are thinking BMW E30 M3 or Lancia Delta Integrale of the same vintage then think again, it has a more rounded feel. The steering is full of communication, but on standard geometry and standard or M030 dampers, the turn in of the car is less precise than some of its peers. The Club Sport goes exactly where you want it to and it imparts massive confidence turning in but it’s never a sharp, light-footed or even a nervous experience. In standard form you couldn’t call it a tool-like car. In many ways this is a good thing though and it makes the 968 Club Sport such a wonderful all round road car and companion. Apart from the driving position (which some find less than perfect), it will never tire you out or frustrate you and after a few hours spirited driving it will easily then flip roles and get you home without you having to think or concentrate too much.
The steering feedback is spot on. Just a small mixture of power steering so the weighting is sweet and there is bags of feel. It takes a bit of effort to steer and together with a heavy clutch, gives the whole car a physical character. Even the thick steering wheel adds significantly to the whole meaty feel. The gear change is a bit loose but still mechanical and a world away from the more clinical changes of modern Porsches. Where many modern cars lack this physical interface the Club Sport has it in spades. When I drove my car back to back with a Porsche Cayman S, engine aside, it was the older car that was the more engaging, the more visceral and the most personal.
The brakes are very reassuring and the ultimate stopping power is immense, especially with optional M030 callipers. On a fast run you only have to brush them and they ooze confidence and make you trust the car even more.
Gathering speed it’s this rounded, tank like feeling that dominates. Get up to really high speed and the thing just feels bulletproof. The engine is torquey and gives more and more as you get closer to the redline. The delivery is very smooth for a 4 cylinder engine but the acceleration has an ‘efficient’ nature to it rather than feeling actually ‘fast’. In the last 1000 revs or so, if your timing is spot on, then there is a harder edged note and an aggressive pull, but generally the car is not more than ‘hot hatch’ brisk in a straight line.
To focus on this slightly underpowered character though is to miss the point of the car entirely. If you have even the smallest appreciation for driving and all the sensations it involves, the first time you turn hard into a bend you will fall in love with the way this car goes round corners. Turning in the Club Sport is so beautifully balanced, the nose goes in and the rear follows in such neutral and natural fashion that the whole bodyshell really does feel bolted to a set of tracks on the road. Mid-corner there is this wonderful sense of perfect weight distribution, an outward centrifugal force that feels completely equal front and rear. The uprated M030 roll bars only augment this cornering ability even further.
This beautiful light feeling is in my experience as good as it gets in terms of balance, so whilst 50/50 distribution isn’t necessarily the ultimate aim or fun you can have in a car, if you like your cars to have a fundamental ‘rightness’ to them then the Club Sport is for you.
This rightness extends to the chassis and suspension as well. Show the Club Sport some rough country lanes and it will gather itself and exude a sense of composure that’s up there with the best. Like any of the great competent point to point cars, cross country the Club Sport begs you to drive it harder. Because everything is so resolved, it all feels sorted and you are left with the urge to just go faster.
Organic is the best word to describe it; gunning it through the twisty lanes, you, the car and the road just merge into one and everything flows in a beautifully instinctive and natural manner. And in a convenient way that 240bhp engine is everything you want here. The ‘backseat’ nature of the engine frames the car, it ensures that you focus on handling and balance.
The limits of the Club Sport are so well communicated and it’s all so progressive that you really can drive it with wild abandon. As you’d expect slides are easily controlled. In spite of the slight lack of grunt you can keep the car on the boil and hustle it at a tremendous pace cross country. Other cars might force you to ponder, slow the pace down, show hesitancy when turning in or applying power, react to skittishness or back off when the roads get a bit rough or damp, but you will be full on in the Club Sport, ten tenths, leaning on it like there is no tomorrow. It’s a car that is always on your side and instantly controllable.
In a way that’s the car’s biggest weakness; it’s almost too easy to drive. From an ownership point of view it doesn’t take long to ‘conquer’ the Club Sport. You very quickly reach its depths. That doesn’t really wreck the scorecards though, it’s very well sorted and poised. It’s the indestructible old schooler that you get in to enjoy, go sideways in, to banzai when you really are in the mood to exert yourself. It draws much admiration from other enthusiasts and will always be a rare and coveted piece of sportscar history.
Written by Raj Hunjan
The large capacity four cylinder engine may not be the engine of choice for a track orientated Porsche but it is actually very well suited to the characteristics of the car. The Club Sport was introduced to help boost lack-lustre sales of the standard 968 across the globe. The stripped out 968 Club Sport was cheaper than the regular luxury equipped model and increased the popularity of the 968 greatly.
The changes were substantial and removed around 100kg from the standard UK Spec 968. The changes to the car transformed the handling and led to praise from the motoring press. When it was released Walter Röhrl claimed that the Club Sport was the best handling car that Porsche had made to date when it was released. Options included the M030 kit which comprised of stiffer
suspension springs, adjustable Koni dampers, stiffer anti roll bars and larger cross drilled brake discs. A further performance orientated option was a Torsen limited slip differential, designated as option M220, which cost an additional £1300. Many cars were not specified with this LSD.
Many of the Club Sports sold in the UK were optioned with a sunroof due to the lack of air conditioning. The extra rigidity of the non sunroof models makes them more desirable today.
Prices vary considerably, from £15k to around £30k depending on mileage and condition (February 2014). Low mileage examples are being bought up by collectors fast. Due to the small numbers of 968 Club Sport models in the UK (and globally), there are only a handful for sale at any time. It is believed that there are only 80 Club Sports left in the UK from the original 179.
The 3 litre four cylinder engine is extremely durable that handles high mileage and track use well. The only major issue is around the variocam chain sprockets so ensure there is evidence of a recent inspection or service of the system. The large capacity four cylinder engine tends to sound quite rough on startup, but this should disappear quickly. The idle should be even, if it isn’t then the car should be diagnosed for the cause before buying.
Clutch & Gearbox
The 968 was engineered to be extremely tough, the clutch and gearbox hold up to fast road and track use. Some owners have reported clutches lasting over 80,000 miles.
Suspension & Steering
Just like the rest of the car, the suspension components are hard wearing, even down to the mounting bushes. There are no reported wear issues with the steering rack but given the age of the cars, check for play around the centre while test driving. Inevitably the more track time a car has seen, the greater the rate of wear on mechanical components such as the suspension and steering. As long as the car has been well maintained, evident from the history and also current condition of the car, this shouldn’t put you off buying.
As standard the 968 Club Sport was equipped with Brembo sourced 4 pot calipers front and rear. The brakes are well suited to the performance of the car, but if the car has been used frequently on the track the brakes may have been upgraded to Porsche 928 S4 components or even 911 brakes from the same era.
Wheels & Tyres
Check for any damage on the alloys. The tyres should be Porsche approved N-rated tyres that are a matching brand. Tread wear should be even across each of them, if not the car may need the suspension alignment adjusted.
Bodywork & General
There are no reported weak areas of the bodywork, despite the age of the car it should show few signs of corrosion.
Servicing should be carried out every 15,000 miles. With track use ensure that the car has had oil and filter changes every 7,500 miles. It is recommended to change the cambelt every 36,000 miles.
“Club Sport lays down a dynamic marker that few cars can reach. As soon as you guide a CS into a decent corner at a decent speed, you know you’re driving one of the greats.”
EVO Magazine, 2003
“As a total package, the 968 Club Sport is one of the greatest sports cars of all time.”
911 & Porsche World, 1995
“The Club Sport strips away the fripperies, builds on the best bits, amplifies the soul and delivers more pure driving pleasure than almost any car we can think of.”
Performance Car, 1993
1993 – Porsche 968 Club Sport released as a more track focussed version of the standard 968. The changes included:
1994 – Alloy wheel design changed from Porsche Cup 1 to Cup 2.
1995 – Production ceases of the Porsche 968 Club Sport.