Today, the words ‚Porsche Cup‘ likely conjure the boxer scream of 911 GT3s and 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsports being hustled around some of the most challenging circuits worldwide. It might surprise you to learn, then, that the inaugural seasons of the single-marque series was campaigned not by 911s, but by the water-cooled, front-engined 944 models. And while the works-backed 944 Turbo Cup championship predictably debuted in Germany in 1986, plans for a Cup series using the 944 fascinatingly originated in Canada almost three years prior. In 1983, former racing driver and then manager of Porsche Canada David Deacon sought a way to promote the successor to the company’s entry-level 924 models. His solution had been proven by countless motorsports icons turned sales successes before it: win on Sunday, sell on Monday.
Two months after the inaugural 944 Turbo Cup race at the Nürburgring, Mosport Park, Toronto hosted the first round of the Canadian Rothmans Porsche Challenge. The race featured a 30-car grid of naturally-aspirated 944s pulled from the production line and uprated for high-level competition. Running costs were low, the prize money was attractive, and most importantly, the racing was close and hard. Period race footage can still be found on YouTube of stripped-back 944s drafting, banging doors, and jumping curbs in these brutal half-hour shoot-outs. Naturally, such a spectacle attracted numerous sponsors and generous television coverage, eventually spawning additional series in France, South Africa, and the U.S. Having proven the 944’s motorsport credibility, the Canadian Rothmans Porsche Challenge switched to the more powerful 944 Turbo for the 1988 season.
Thirty-eight Weissach-prepared 944 Turbo Cups were allocated to Canadian privateers, which, unlike their German counterparts, these factory-built, lightweights remained road legal. Each was equipped with a slightly larger than-stock KKK turbocharger and a magnesium intake manifold and oil pan, making the 2.5-liter Cup engine tunable to over 300-horsepower. The most important changes were made to the 944 Turbo’s chassis, which was reinforced via stiffer front and rear springs, a 30 mm front anti-roll bar, upgraded steering, stronger spring pads, and a full Matter light-alloy roll cage. Any items deemed unnecessary for racing were removed – including power steering – and further weight saving was achieved through a fiberglass hood, light Sekuriflex windshield, Recaro bucket seat, and magnesium ‚telephone dial‘ wheels. All told, the 944 Turbo Cup weighed approximately 600 pounds less than the series-production car.
This Guards Red 944 Turbo Cup, chassis number JN165069, is one of the very few spare cars included in the 38 total distributed to Canada for use in the Rothmans Porsche Turbo Cup Championship. According to previously sourced documentation included with the car, the Turbo Cup remained with Audi-Porsche dealer Norden Autohaus, Edmonton, Alberta, following its importation by Porsche-Volkswagen of Canada until selling to its first private owner, Dr. Curtis Smith, in 1990. Having never seen race use, the virtually new Turbo Cup was enjoyed by Dr. Smith on the streets of Edmonton, Alberta over the following decade, accumulating approximately 14,500 kilometers before parting with it in 2002. From there, JN165069 entered the esteemed Taj Ma Garaj collection of John Dixon in Dayton, Ohio, joining some of the world’s most coveted and well-preserved Porsche and Volkswagen motor cars. While in Mr. Dixon’s care, the Turbo Cup was the subject of sympathetic refurbishment of the car’s exterior and application of period-correct Canadian Rothmans Porsche Turbo Cup Championship livery.
The consignor has since continued its careful preservation since leaving the Taj Ma Garaj collection in 2019. Indicating 16,231 kilometers at the time of cataloging, this unraced, numbers-matching piece of Porsche racing history remains one of the most intact and original of its type. Furthermore, this lightweight, factory-built racing 944 Turbo Cup can be competitively entered into any Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) sprint/endurance event or road rally or placed among other collection vehicles to be enjoyed on public roads.