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911 Turbo 3.3 – 320 ch [1991 à 1992]

Turbo v Carrera: 964 RS v Turbo II

Less is more. Or perhaps more is more. After an unforgettable day with two iconic 964s, I’m still struggling to decide. Both cars are Midnight blue,
and both will set you back around £200,000, but there the similarities end. As driving machines the Carrera RS and Turbo 3.6 could scarcely be more different.

I rendezvous with Editor Lee at Hexagon Classics, where the 911s are waiting outside. I’m drawn to the RS first: its neat, narrow-body lines and just-so stance look purposeful yet achingly pretty.

The Turbo is almost cartoonish by comparison, with swollen flanks, dished alloys and a mighty rear wing. If the former appeals to connoisseurs, the latter is an unashamed crowd-pleaser.

Driving either Porsche around London would, frankly, be like eating a Michelin-starred meal in a motorhome, so we set a course for rural Buckinghamshire, me in the RS and Lee in the Turbo.

As we join the gridlocked North Circular, though, I’m already beginning to regret my choice. The Rennsport’s cabin is so spartan it borders on masochistic. Indeed, it’s more useful to list what it doesn’t have: items binned include the sunroof; air conditioning; electric front seats, windows and mirrors; rear seats; radio and cassette player; heated rear window; central locking and alarm. 

This isn’t what carmakers euphemistically term ‘decontenting’, however. The reborn RS also has a seam-welded bodyshell, aluminium bonnet, thinner glass, shorter wiring loom, virtually no soundproofing and no underseal.

Porsche’s standard ten-year anti-corrosion warranty was cut to three years as a result. On the plus side it weighs 120kg less than a 964 Carrera 2 in Lightweight spec, as tested here.

Hemmed in by towering SUVs as we approach Hanger Lane, I have only the coarse clatter of the single-mass flywheel for company. Even at idle the RS sounds austere and combative, the fluctuating churn of its flat six transmitted to my ribcage via hard-shell Recaro seats.

Its ride is rock solid, too, amplifying every ripple in the road. Thank 40mm lower suspension derived from the Carrera Cup racer, larger 17-inch alloys and solid engine mounts.

Filtering onto the A40, a national speed limit sign finally hovers into view. The Turbo is up ahead and I watch its haunches squat as Lee lights the fuse. I slip the stubbier gear lever into third and give chase.

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930 v 964 v 993: air-cooled Turbos

This is the story of an action hero: one who starts as a trigger-happy maverick, becomes all-powerful, then ends up going straight. Well, that’s the Hollywood version at least.

The truth about the air-cooled 911 Turbo – from 930 to 964 and 993 – is harder to sum up in a sound bite. So dim the lights, grab some popcorn and settle in for a saga of sequels without equal.

Posing outside the Paul Stephens showroom in Essex, our Turbo trilogy makes for a great movie poster. They’re The Expendables in four-wheeled form: brimful of testosterone and bulging in all the right places.

The 964 Turbo 3.6 has the most visual clout, crouched like a coiled spring on dished Speedline split-rims. It’s one of the most aesthetically aggressive 911s, on par with the 993 GT2 and 991.2 GT2 RS.

The 930 isn’t far behind, its fulsome hips and signature spoiler immortalised on a million bedroom walls. And the 993 Turbo is equally iconic, albeit smoother and more urbane.

The 964, built in 3.6-litre guise for the final year of production only, is also our A-lister in terms of price. At the time of writing it was offered at £224,995 – enough to buy both the 930 and 993.

Is it the big-budget blockbuster those looks suggest, or does the sweet-spot of this air-cooled 911 line-up lie elsewhere? I’m childishly excited to find out.

I start with the 930. ‘The Widowmaker’ shares its epithet with a movie about a nuclear submarine, and its presence feels equally forbidding. However, it could have been much wilder.

Inspired by the on-track success of the turbocharged 917/30, the prototype 930 was a back-to-basics road racer – effectively a Carrera 3.0 RS with forced induction – and just 200 cars were planned. Porsche’s sales and marketing department had other ideas, though, envisioning the 911 Turbo as a luxurious super-GT.

In the end profit triumphed over purity, and the Turbo debuted in 1975 with air conditioning, electric windows, a rear wiper and a four-speaker stereo. Climbing aboard, this flagship 1987 911 still feels well-appointed today.

There’s supple leather, deep-pile carpet and even heated seats. Only the boost gauge, nestled within the rev counter, offers a clue to its added oomph. Well, that and the four ratios etched atop the gear lever – the SC had switched to five-speed back in 1978.

The original 3.0-litre 930 served up 260hp: a modest 63hp more than a contemporary Carrera 3.0, and Golf GTI power today. Even so, edgy handling and all-or-nothing power delivery made it a challenging steer.

Le Mans-winning Porsche racer Tony Dron said: “Frankly, it demanded too much skill, even from an experienced driver, and that made serious driving hard work… I was far from convinced that selling them to the public was a good idea.” An upgrade to 3.3-litres and 300hp in 1978 also included beefier 917 brakes and a more stable chassis. This had “better handling, but was still something of a monster when driven really fast”, noted Dron.

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30 yearsof 964: C2 v RS and Turbo v Turbo-look

Modernity is what the 964 brought to the 911, it arriving on the cusp of a new decade and would, in the then-CEO Heinz Branitzki’s words, “be the 911 for the next 25 years.” It never was, nor, admittedly, was it intended to be, but in the six years it was produced the increase in technology, as well as the proliferation of models, set the template for how the 911 would evolve into the model line we recognise today.

Its massively revised structure and chassis was able to incorporate necessities like power steering, driver and passenger airbags, an automatic transmission and also four-wheel drive. It was tested more rigorously on automated test beds, was built using more modern, cost-effective production techniques and brought the 911’s look up to date, without taking away from its iconic lines.

Such was Porsche’s focus on four-wheel drive it was launched as a Carrera 4, the Carrera 2 following it into production in 1989. Over the six, short years that followed the 964 would proliferate into a model line-up including Targa, Cabriolet, Turbo and RS in the regular series models, with specials like the Turbo S, RS 3.8, 30 Jahre and Speedster models all adding to the mix. It came at the right time, too, replacing the outdated 3.2 Carrera and boosting sales for Porsche when it needed them, the Carrera 2 and 4 selling 63,570 examples, those specials and the Turbos and RSs adding around 10,000 sales on top of that.

It was a successful, important car for Porsche, but just how does it stack up today, and which one to go for? The 964 is the car that introduced the 911 conundrum, one which, in part at least, we’re going to try and settle here today. We’ve four 964s here: a Carrera 2, an RS, a Carrera 4 widebody with its Turbo-aping hips, and a later 3.6 example of the 964 Turbo. The Carrera 2, naturally, is the most available, with some 19,484 sales globally, the RS selling some 2,405, the widebody being very limited (numbers are hard to come by) and the Turbo 3.6 finding 1,427 buyers for the year it was produced.

For many the Carrera 2 is the obvious choice, but take all the numbers out of the equation and things get a little bit different. To digest it there’s a natural split, the narrow and widebody cars, which is why I’m jumping first into the slim-hipped Carreras, and specifically that big-selling Carrera 2.

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Friends reunited: 964 Turbo 3.3 retro road test

Winter time in Yorkshire, a cold day with a piercing blue, cloudless sky and a biting wind. The low sun makes the shadows under the overhanging trees deep black and impenetrable. Driving into the glare makes those shadows deeper than ever. The scary sudden blackness, combined with the inevitable damp patches, can sap a driver’s confidence as vision is lost for a few fractions of a second, eyes struggling to adjust regardless of
the position of the sun visor or shades. Perhaps not the best of days to be re-acquainted with the Porsche 964 Turbo.

We don’t see too many Porsche 964s on the roads these days. Sadly, the escalating prices mean many have been retired to a life of suspended animation beneath a fitted cover, battery saver blinking away like a life support machine. 964 Turbos are even less common, with just over 3,600 of the 3.3-litre cars built worldwide. So the opportunity to be re-acquainted with a car I last drove when it was cutting-edge performance is something I won’t turn down, even if we won’t be getting much heat into the tyres.

The last time I was behind the wheel of a 964 Turbo was actually back in the day when it was for sale brand new in the UK. I had a reasonable amount of experience in cars, but not so much in Porsches at that time. That car was Rubystone in colour: incredibly sought after today, but back then, not so much. That’s a whole different story for another time, but I can still vividly recall my quickening pulse as I walked over to it, doing my hardest to look nonchalant. I had the usual battle with the demisting system, for those familiar with it, before driving away to find a quiet piece of road. The memories of transition from off-boost lethargy to full-blown whistling velocity are even more vivid than that paint scheme. Now, more than two decades later, will the performance still be as striking, or is it a memory I’m about to have tainted by the passage of time?

This car is considerably more muted in hue, Marine Blue looking truly conservative, but the deep shine has stood the test of time. This colour was probably a lot closer to the option that most Porsche owners will have selected in 1991. Ordered new in right-hand drive by a UK Army officer serving in Germany, and delivered to his local Porsche Zentrum, it has some useful options, such as a factory sunroof and limited slip differential, something you would have expected to be standard. The 964 Turbo body looks just as curvaceous as ever – in my view it’s the pinnacle of the classic 911 silhouette, before the Darwinian advancement of the more aerodynamic designs, beginning with the 993, that changed the unique profile forever.

The rear wheel arches have a curvaceous quality that you never tire of admiring from any angle. A rather curious original factory option choice of no Turbo badging really doesn’t hide what this car is. Time to be reacquainted. Back in 1993, the 964 Turbo was one of the first Porsches I ever drove, so the impact on my senses was especially vivid. Many thousands of 911 miles later, I’m wondering…

To read the full feature, pick up your copy of total 911 issue 161 in stores now or get it delivered to your door via here. Alternatively, you can download the issue to any digital device via Google and Apple newsstands. Fancy subscribing? Hit here to take advantage of up to 30% off as well as early delivery. 

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One Take: 600 Horsepower Andial-Powered 964 Turbo

GT2s excepted, the 964 was the last widowmaker 911 Turbo. Lots of power, lots of boost, and trailing arm rear suspension made for a much trickier Porsche than the 993 Turbo which followed. Even stock, this is a car that wants you dead. As they say; the closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. Of course, the best approach to modifying such a car is to nearly double the horsepower. The video does not specify which 964 Turbo variant this started life as, but this build brought the already-intimidating base Porsche from somewhere between 316-380 horsepower to a full 600.

The engine was originally built by Andial for Jeff Zwart’s 1994 Pikes Peak car (which can be found about halfway down this page). While Andial is now defunct, though Porsche did purchase the name, the company left no small mark on motorsports. Victories include a 1994 class win at Pikes Peak with this motor, plus class wins in 1996, ’97 and ’98. Andial cars have also won the 24 Hours of Daytona (including powering all of the top 5 finishers in 1987), the IMSA Supercar series, SCCA World challenge, and more.

That level of development and provenance propels a 964 which is seriously impressive on its own merits. The builders shaved the roof rails, which is no small job on an air-cooled 911, deleted the heat and A/C, and replaced some of the glass with Lexan. All-told, the 600 horsepower, CIS flat-six has just 2,800lbs to motivate.

Of course, because  of the old-school CIS injection, the redline is limited to just 5,800RPMs. With the amount of power this Porsche produces, I’d guess few will miss the extra revs.

The post One Take: 600 Horsepower Andial-Powered 964 Turbo appeared first on FLATSIXES.

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