The car that began life in 1963 as the Type 901 has undergone constant but subtle change throughout almost 60 years of existence.
Come 1989 and big alterations were announced; a move essential to keeping Porsche’s most famous shape viable well into the century that was about to unfold.
From the outside there was subtle blending of reshaped panels with all-new bumpers. The wheels were bigger, tyre profiles lower and a retractable rear spoiler was introduced.
Significant mechanical and chassis changes also arrived. The familiar flat-six engine grew to 3.6 litres – the Turbo staying at 3.3 – there was a new Tiptronic automatic transmission and ABS braking was standard across the 911 range.
Buried down low at the front was the most significant engineering change to that point in the 911’s lifetime. The torsion bars from the original design were gone, replaced by MacPherson struts with coil springs. Also new and equally controversial was introduction of All-Wheel Drive as an option across the range. Non-turbo cars with this feature were designated ‘Carrera 4’.
Australia was a popular destination for Porsche products and the introduction of a new sports model would routinely be accompanied by a price increase. A jump of $16,000 in the price of a Carrera 2 Coupe at launch was probably fair but within 12 months and as Australia entered its worst recession in 50 years the base price climbed from $148,500 to $175,000.
Looking at cars available in the market it seems that far from abandoning plans to buy a Porsche, those with money preferred to spend $20,000 more on a Carrera 4. These were heavier and slower than the ‘2’ but gave owners confidence that their skills wouldn’t be stretched by a bend that suddenly tightend or an unexpected downpour.
In addition to its popular Coupe, Porsche retained 911 Cabriolets and Targas in its 964 range. An all-new Targa system wherein a glass panel replaced the old-style removable roof was introduced in 1996.
The 911 had never been promoted as a ‘luxury’ car and people who buy them understand that. From 1989 though, Carreras came with climate-control air-conditioning. power steering and electric seat adjusters. 964 Series cars would carry through until late 1994 when the evocative 993 arrived in Australia. Power increased initially from 184 to 200kW and within a year had increased by an additional 10kW.
Six-speed manual transmission was standard, with Tiptronic auto optional on 2WD cars. The Carrera 4 was manual only and with the $18,000 ‘S’ enhancement took on the appearance of the more expensive Turbo.
Leather seats became standard and although less flamboyant than they might have been there was a good range of adjustment and decent comfort. The traditional five-dial Porsche dash was retained, as was the peculiar pedal arrangement.
Annual Australian sales in a depressed, early-1990s market averaged fewer than 100 cars nationally. There haven’t been many imports over ensuing years either so stocks of 964-Series Porsches are limited. Better news exists for 993 buyers with a stronger market and prices for Carrera 2 Tiptronic Coupes and Cabrios beginning at less than $80,000.
(993 Carrera 4 Coupe)
(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)
SMART BUYER’S TROUBLESHOOTING
1989 - 1997
Major parts of the 911 structure are zinc-dipped steel or aluminium alloy so rust isn’t a huge problem. Crash repairs undertaken on cars that should have gone to scrap are a bigger issue and on-hoist inspection by a specialist is essential. Rust bubbles at the base of the windscreen pillars can be just that or considerably more extensive and expensive. Other corrosion will likely be due to poor preparation or failure to rust-proof during a repair. The spoiler on cars that have one pop up – or are meant to – at 80km/h so do some freeway running during the test-drive to check.
The flat-six Porsche engine has been with us for decades and offers few challenges for those who know how to maintain and enhance them. Not until the arrival of the 3.4-litre did Porsche miss a serious flaw when amending its flat-six. Fortunately the 964/993 engines suffered from nothing endemic. Even quite serious neglect won’t cause the 3.6-litre major harm but you obviously prefer one that has been serviced in keeping with factory protocols. Oil leaks from around the cylinder heads were cured via a redesigned gasket but check anyway. Look under the luggage-area cover for leaks coming from the oil delivery pipes. Early 964s used a dual-mass flywheel that was said to cause transmission vibration, however it was redesigned in 1992 and it’s unlikely that any of the original units survive.
An untried suspension set-up would seem to invite gremlins but Porsche’s MacPherson strut front end revealed no inherent nasties. In practice it worked with less fuss or feedback issues than the traditional torsion bars and provided no new maintenance headaches. Porsche suspension wears of course and a car that creaks, bounces and jiggles the steering wheel more than is normal in a 911 needs professional evaluation. Brakes in Porsches will often be worked hard but unless you plan on using the car on a race circuit the standard rotors and pads are up to the job and replacing them (excluding labour) costs $1500-3000.
Test all of the interior electrics but especially windows and seats which are at the age where cables are breaking and motors failing. Be very cautious when checking a window that doesn’t function in case the door contains an air-bag. Leather seats in 993s suffer bolster wear and can crack if subjected to sunlight and neglect. Seat retrim kits in correct pattern leather cost $1500 per seat (plus freight) from Europe. It is also possible although not recommended to use leather filler and re-colour the seats for around $200 per side.
NUMBER BUILT: 54,793 (964) 61,037 (993)
BODY: galvanised steel and alloy, integrated body/chassis two-door coupe and convertible
ENGINE: horizontally-opposed six-cylinder with overhead camshafts and fuel injection
POWER & TORQUE: 200kW @ 6100 rpm, 330Nm @ 5000rpm (993 Carerra)
PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 6.2 seconds, 0-400m 14.4 seconds (993 Carerra 6 speed)
TRANSMISSION: five or six-speed manual, four-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Front: Independent with MacPherson struts and coil springs & anti-roll bar. Rear: Independent with wishbones, coil springs, tubular shock absorbers and anti-roll bar.
BRAKES: disc (f) disc (r) power assisted with ABS
TYRES: 205/50ZR17 (f) 255/40ZR17 (r)