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HomeEventsAudrain adds second 30 Under 30 class, and you may be surprised...

Audrain adds second 30 Under 30 class, and you may be surprised at its makeup

Concours lets younger entrants decide what to include in the new category

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As I sit here at my laptop, the ClassicCars.com Marketplace website lists 38 Porsche 944 cars for sale. Asking prices range from a high of $46,900 to a low of $7,995.

Perhaps more significant than either those extremes is the fact that 25 of those 38 cars are priced at $25,000 or less, and 3 more are in the $25,000 to $25,995 bracket.

The point is that there are plenty of them in the marketplace, and at relatively affordable prices for a ready-to-drive classic German sports car from a famous and historic brand.

Which brings us to this: Not only will the Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week, scheduled for September 30-October 3, again include a 30 Under 30 category for younger car owners, there will be a second 30 Under 30 class just for the Porsche 944. 

The 30 Under class was created at the suggestion of part-time Newport resident and full-time car guy Jay Leno. who was honorary chairman of the inaugural Newport concours and festival in 2019. The class is open to car owners ages 30 or younger who spend less than $30,000 on a vehicle and its restoration or modification. 

“We knew we were going to have two classes because the demand was so high (after the inaugural event),” Audrain’s chief executive officer Donald Osborne explained. “We figured it would be chronological, or (divided by) domestic and foreign.”

But as the entries arrived, “There’s a 944,” he recalled. “There’s another. There’s another.” And suddenly there was a full class of the entry-level Porsches produced from 1982 through 1991.

“The entrants picked the 944,” Osborne observed.

“The 944 is interesting in that it shows to me what the true crossover is in collecting. People like myself remember the 944 when it was new and remember the car fondly. And there are young people who are looking for an engaging and interesting driving experience and are looking for a way to get into an iconic marque like Porsche.

“The 944 appeals to the 60-year-old and to the 20-year-old, and for the same reasons, the driving experience.”

The 944 is equipped with a liquid-cooled and front-mounted 4-cylinder engine like its predecessor, the 924. But unlike the 924 and its 110-horsepower VW/Audi engine, the 944’s 4-cylinder was produced by Porsche and provided considerably more power — 143 horsepower — and included dual balance shafts to reduce vibration. 

Later, the engine would go from 2.5 to 2.7 liters and for a couple of model years, turbocharging would boost the horsepower rating to as much as 247. Porsche produced more than 163,000 of the cars.

Many of the younger owners of the 944, Osborne noted, are recommissioning their cars, which is not an easy task, especially not with a clutch that has to be balanced with the flywheel and a transaxle that incorporates the transmission, differential and axle in a single unit at the rear of the car, which is great for weight distribution and vehicle dynamics, but complicated when it comes to maintenance and repair.

“It’s a car with a transaxle, for Pete’s sake, a car with a steep learning curve, and expensive to take to a mechanic for repair.” Osborne said, adding that if you can do the work yourself, there are rewards for having a true sports car that can be both a daily driver and a track-day vehicle, as well as qualifying this year for a major concours d’elegance.

Osborne said that just as the 30 Under 30 class has grown, so has the Audrain concours. From 98 cars on the show field in 2019, nearly 180 will be featured this year, and look for at least three 30 Under 30 classes in 2022, he said.

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

1 COMMENT

  1. Bravo on the recognition of the 944 as an important gateway to the hobby for younger folks. It’s a well-deserved recognition for a model line whose sales success was a key factor in keeping the whole company alive at a critical moment in its history.

    As for the “30 under 30 category”, (who am I to second guess the great Jay Leno?) while I applaud the whole concept and premise, my suggestion would be to consider expanding the category to “40 under 40” (40 years or younger, & under 40K investment in purchase and restoration). Here’s why: By the time they are 40, more folks have found a house, are on a career path, and otherwise made family & life choices which might afford them the chance to start looking at a hobby such as classic cars. They are more “established” by then, with more possible discretionary income for such a venture. I personally know of several younger folks who at 30 were still making career choices, life partners, and weren’t settled down yet. But by 40, were diving in to the hobby, and ready to participate. Younger folks don’t settle down as early as older generations did. Also, they live longer. At 40, they still might have up to 50-60 years in the hobby! As an example, note Keith Martin’s “40 under 40” special issue, highlighting a younger generation who is making a difference in the hobby. Plus, setting the cutoff at 40, allows for participation by an even larger demographic in the event!
    Cheers!
    Just an old car guy in White Post, VA

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