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Retroactive recognition: the Porsche 968 CS

You get the sense that, had they had any other badges on their bonnets, Porsche’s four-cylinder transaxle cars – the 924, 944 and 968 – wouldn’t have spent the years that they did with their purist credentials languishing. Any other company that brought out a range of affordable, sweetly balanced rear-driven sports cars would have been lauded for it, but that badge and that name carry with them much more enthusiast baggage than most.

An engine that wasn’t horizontally opposed (shock!) and was mounted ahead of the driver (gasp!) meant that for decades, these cars went comparatively unloved by the Porsche fraternity. This was a shame, although it was a blessing for those who snagged good examples before the prices began their steady and inevitable climb.

During the transaxle cars’ Age of Underappreciation, the 968 Club Sport was one of their greatest ambassadors. After all, it’s very rare that you hear anything bad said about a stripped-out, lightened Porsche, and the CS ticked all the boxes: a 50kg weight saving over the standard car, a sweet handling balance that won it contemporary plaudits, and a touch of retro flair with the optional colour-coded alloys and ‘Club Sport’ graphics.

It was also an interesting car mechanically: by the time the 968 rolled around, the M44 engine had ballooned to 3.0 litres in capacity, one of the largest displacement four-cylinder petrol engines ever. This allowed it, in CS form, to produce a hefty 237bhp without the aid of forced induction.

The CS would run from 1992 to the end of the 968’s short lifespan in 1995, making it something of a swansong for Porsche’s near 20-year-long flirtation with front-engined sports cars. It’s fitting, then, that it should be one of the finest examples of the breed, and that it’s finally gained some of the retroactive recognition it rightfully deserves – even if that does come at the cost of the last great lightweight Porsche bargain.

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