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911 Turbo S 3.6 – 450 ch [1997 à 1998]

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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White giants

Since the launch of the 930 3.0 Turbo in 1974, the “Turbos” have been the most powerful 911s of any generation. Porsche Classic pitted the two latest air-cooled turbo 911s – the 964 Turbo 3.6 and the 993 Turbo S – against the latest 991 Turbo 150 to compare three of the best sports cars of all time.

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£250k Porsche 993 Turbo S headlines Silverstone Auctions Porsche sale

59 Porsches are set to go under the hammer at the one-marque sale later this month.

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The Porsche Index: 993 Turbo

Development of the Neunelfer has always been viewed as evolutionary, but since the 1984 launch of the 3.2 Carrera, Porsche was determined not to let the grass grow under the 911’s wheels.

That model was replaced by the substantially redesigned 964, a car that introduced modernities such as power steering, anti-lock brakes and four-wheel drive. By 1993 it was all change again, Tony Hatter’s interpretation bringing a smoother look and the promise of a body that was 80 per cent new.

More rigid and boasting new VarioRam-equipped engines and a sophisticated multi-link rear axle, the 993 proved hugely popular and was a fitting curtain call for the air-cooled era. But for the best part of a year, the range had lacked a crucial element, one that had featured on 911s for two decades.

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That situation was remedied for the 1996 model year with the arrival of the Turbo. As befitting a range-topping 911, buyers who stumped up the £91,000 asking price were treated to a unique styling and aerodynamic package, which included voluptuously flared rear arches and a fixed rear wing to replace the pop-up item found on other models.

But it was beneath that rear wing where the real intent lay, Porsche equipping the new car with an engine that, GT2 aside, was the most powerful yet fitted to a road-going 911, the 408bhp output and 4.3-second 0-62mph time eclipsing the figures of the Ferrari F355 that had been launched two years earlier.

Those numbers came courtesy of a 3.6-litre M64/60 motor that had been thoroughly revised. The new forged alloy cylinder heads contained a single spark plug per cylinder; there were stronger internals, and a pair of smaller KKK K16 blowers that negated the laggy throttle response, which had characterised previous turbocharged 911s.

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And the technological advances didn’t stop there, the 993 benefitting from a strengthened six-speed manual transmission – the 540Nm of torque precluded use of the Tiptronic automatic – that drove through a new, power-assisted clutch.

A 911 Turbo first was a viscous coupled four-wheel-drive system distributing the power, while stopping duties were taken care of by 322mm discs, Big Red calipers and Bosch ABS to convince buyers they really were buying the ultimate incarnation of the 993.

Until 1998, that is, with the unveiling of the Turbo S from Porsche Exclusive. Boasting the aggressive Aerokit II body addenda, power and torque were hiked to 450bhp and 585Nm respectively, numbers that ensured this model a place among the quickest of 911s.

To read our Porsche 993 Index in full, including expert market analysis and tips of prospective owners, pick up Total 911 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it to your digital device now.

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Gallery: Porsche 993 Turbo v Porsche 993 Turbo S

The Porsche 993 Turbo is a firm favourite among the Total 911 team and you, our loyal readers. In a poll of your favourite 911 Turbo generations, the 993 overwhelmingly trumped its forced induction opposition, taking 44 per cent of the vote. We even bumped the 993 Turbo up to a five-star rating in issue 135.

So, how do you best the 993 Turbo? With a 993 Turbo S, of course. In issue 138 earlier this year, we got the two ultimate air-cooled Neunelfers together for a twin test of epic proportions.

The photography from South Africa was pretty special too, so much so that we just had to share these seven stunning shots with you. Enjoy:

Porsche 993 Turbo

Porsche 993 Turbo S

Porsche 993 Turbo

Porsche 993 Turbo S

Porsche 993 Turbo S

Porsche 993 Turbo S

To read our 993 Turbo v 993 Turbo S head-to-head, download Total 911 issue 138 straight onto your digital device now.

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