No way is the 944 the poor mans porsche
that term was used mostly by the anti-water cooled crowd who looked down on a Porsche that didnt have its engine hanging out over it's ass end
except these same guys looked down on the 912 and 914
basically, if you didnt have enough scratch for a 356 or 911, you were a pleb.
air cooled 911s are a delight to drive (newer ones are kinda boring) and if you get the chance, do it.
But tbh, the most fun I've ever had in a Porsche was in an old faded green 914.