Produced from 1976 to 1988, the 924 was Porche's entry-level model. It was the first Porsche model powered by a water-cooled, front-mounted engine. Although the front-engine, rear wheel drive arrangement was normal for most other manufacturers, it was unusual for Porsche having previously only used mid- or rear-mounted engines of a boxer configuration, all of which had been air-cooled. The 924 was the first Porsche to be offered with a fully automatic transmission.
The first official appearance of the 924 took place in November 1975 at the harbour at La Grande Motte, Camargue in the south of France. The 924 was replaced by the 944 in 1983 in the U.S. market, but continued to be produced until 1985 for other markets. For the 1986 to 1988 model years the car acquired the powerplant from the 944 model and became the Porsche 924S.
The 924 was originally intended to be Volkswagen's flagship coupé sports car. At the time, Volkswagen lacked an internal research and design division, and Porsche was doing the bulk of the company's development work. The project at VW was scrapped and Porsche made a deal with Volkswagen to buy the design back.
The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, the Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche's best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The success of the 924 not only helped to take Porsche out of financial ruin, but created the revenue stream needed to continue building and developing the 911.
The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission for the 924 mated to VW's EA831 2.0 L I4 engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van, as well as in the AMC Gremlin, Concord, and Spirit.
European models differed visually from the US spec model by not having the US cars' low-speed impact bumpers and the round reflectors and side-marker lamps on each end of the body.
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