As these cars get older a comprehensive history file becomes less important & the actual condition of the car becomes more so but you still want to see evidence of regular care. If you are on a tight budget its better to buy a decent early car than a cheap later one as there may be some big bills looming, plus the early cars are generally cheaper to run. A lot of people seem set on buying a late model turbo with M030 suspension and a limited slip differential (lsd), in my opinion both options are only desirable for a car used purely on track. In fact the M030 is such a harsh suspension you are much better replacing it with a modern equivalent, such as KW, Spax, Koni or Gaz even for track use.

If you've found car you like make sure you ask some important questions when speaking to the seller:
bodywork condition, especially the lower edge of the front wings & sills.
length of MOT & tax
any advisories on the MOT (you can check online with the certificate number)
when are the belts due
have the cams & chain been inspected (16v models)
any accident history (again, check online)
has the headgasket been replaced
and the clutch

If the car has only received its regular servicing then some (or all) of the following WILL be required:
headgasket - rots with age, can cause overheating, oil & coolant leaks before failing completely. Often the cylinder head needs some work at the same time.
cams and/or chain (16v models) - not a service item but does wear eventually, the plastic guides become brittle & break up, chains stretch and cam teeth can break off, potential for massive bills.
sills - rust will get them eventually, later cars with the plastic sill trims seem to suffer most.
wishbones - later alloy arm balljoints can wear requiring a complete new arm.
suspension - any 20 year old suspension will be worn out although the 944 hides it quite well.
fuel lines - rots mainly above the rear axle, easy to bodge a repair, expensive to fix properly.

When inspecting your potential purchase check the following:
sills - if possible pop out the black vents in the door aperture & use your camera phone to take a pic inside. Even a tiny bubble in the paint can be hiding a huge repair.
listen for any rattles from the engine, check for exhaust smoke. If possible follow the car being driven down the road & check for excessive smoke on the overrun - a sign of worn piston rings / worn bores.
accident damage, usuall at the front or rear ends, poor headlamp alignment is your best clue. lift the carpet at rear & check the spare wheel well & boot floor.
fluid levels, clean fluids are a sign of a well looked after car.
listen for a rumble with engine running in neutral. Depress clutch, if it goes away could be clutch release bearing or more likely torque tube bearings, very expensive to put right.
check all the electrics, seat switches can fail, sunroofs cause problems & can be tricky to fix.
oil pressure - 4-5bar when cold & at high revs. 1-2bar when hot at idle. Also check the coolant temperature remains stable.
wipers can fail, usually just the linkage arm.
electric tailgate, problems often caused by worn mechanisms or poor adjustment, fiddly to fix.
heater sometimes sticks on hot, often a vacuum pipe fault or mechanism clip failed, easy, cheap fix.
slow elec windows can usually be sorted by cleaning the mechanism.
play in gearlever, can cause selection issues, usually a simple fix.
gearbox noise, a 'slight' noise can often be heard on the overrun, although a noisy box will often soilder on for some time.
engine vibration & whine, it should be rock steady & reasonably quiet. Causes include worn engine mounts, incorrect balance shaft timing & adjustment.
brake calipers, suffer corrosion (early & late type), late 4 pot brembo's can be expensive to sort out.
water leaks, check rear footwells & areas behind rear wheels for dampness (under the battery). Usually a simple fix.
oil leaks, some is to be expected at this age & there are a lot of potential culprits, some are expensive to fix.
fuel pipes, get right under the car & have a really good look for any corrosion or dampness around the fuel lines, particularly above the rear axle.

Although not every possible fault is shown here it should provide a few ideas of what to look for when buying a Porsche 944. These cars have won numerous awards for their fine handling, performance and quality & can be very rewarding to drive. But remember, they were very expensive when new and a cheap car can still cost a fortune to put right.