The 968 is a sports car sold by Porsche AG from 1992 to 1995. It took over the entry-level position in Porsche's lineup from the 944, with which it shared about 20% of its parts. The 968 became the final model in an evolving line, starting almost 20 years earlier with the introduction of the Porsche 924.
Porsche's 944 model debuted for the 1982 model year, was updated as "944S" in 1987 and as "944S2" in 1989. Shortly after the start of production of the S2 variant, Porsche engineers began working on another set of significant upgrades for the model, as executives were planning a final "S3" variant of the 944. During the development phase, 80% of the 944's mechanical components were either significantly modified or completely replaced by the engineers, leaving so little of the outgoing S2 behind that Porsche management chose to introduce the variant as a new model, entitling it 968. In addition to the numerous mechanical upgrades, the new model also received significantly evolved styling both inside and out, with a more modern, streamlined look and more standard luxury than on the 944. Production was moved from the Audi plant in Neckarsulm (where the 924 and 944 had been manufactured under contract to Porsche), to Porsche's own factory in Zuffenhausen.
The 968 was powered by an updated version of the 944's straight-4 engine, now displacing 3.0 L with 104mm bore, 88mm stroke and producing 240 PS (236 hp/177 kW). Changes to the 968's powertrain also included the addition of Porsche's then-new VarioCam variable valve timing system, newly-optimized induction and exhaust systems, a dual-mass flywheel, and updated engine management electronics among other more minor revisions. The 968's engine was the second-largest 4-cylinder ever offered in a production car up to that time. A new 6-speed manual transmission replaced the 944's old 5-speed, and Porsche's dual-mode Tiptronic automatic became an available option. Both the VarioCam timing system and Tiptronic transmission were very recent developments for Porsche. The Tiptronic transmission had debuted for the first time ever only 3 years prior to the debut of the 968, on the 1989 Type 964 911. The VarioCam timing system was first introduced on the 968 and would later become a feature of the Type 993 air cooled six cylinder engine.
The 968's styling was an evolution on that of the outgoing 944, itself styled evolutionarily from the earlier 924, but elements were borrowed from the more expensive 928 model in an attempt to create a "family resemblance" between models, and the swooping headlamp design, inspired by those of the 959, previewed similar units found later on the Type 993 911. Along with the new styling, the 968 featured numerous small equipment and detail upgrades, including a Fuba roof-mounted antenna, updated single lens tail lamps, "Cup" style 16" alloy wheels, a wider selection of interior and exterior colors, and a slightly updated "B" pillar and rear quarter window to accommodate adhesive installation to replace the older rubber gasket installation. Because some parts are interchangeable between the 968, 944 and 924, some enthusiasts purchase those parts from Porsche parts warehouses as "upgrades" for their older models.
Like the 944, the 968 was sold as both a coupe and a convertible. Much of the 968's chassis was carried over from the 944S2, which in itself shared many components with the 944 Turbo (internally numbered 951). Borrowed components include the Brembo-sourced 4-piston brake calipers on all four wheels, aluminum semi-trailing arms and aluminum front A-arms, used in a Macpherson strut arrangement. The steel unibody structure was also very similar to that of the previous models. Porsche maintained that 80% of the car was new.
Source: Wikipedia, 2011