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964 RS

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 It came at the right time, too, replacing the outdated 3.2 Carrera and boosting sales for Porsche when it needed them, the Carrera 2 and 4 selling 63,570 examples, those specials and the Turbos and RSs adding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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Porsche 964 RS 3.8: the rarest Rennsport

If, like us, you’ve a keen eye on 911 values and auction results in particular, RM Sotheby’s recent Amelia Island sale would have made for a fascinating watch. While many Porsche struggled to build on their lower estimates, lot 167 reached well into seven figures before its frantic end, the sale transporting us back – momentarily, at least – to the explosive heyday of the Porsche auctions of 2014 to 2015.

The car in question was a 964 RS that set a new record for the model by fetching an eye-watering $1.65million. This wasn’t any ordinary 964 RS though, but the rare, wide-bodied, 3.8-litre 964 RS. Achingly desirable having covered just 800km and looking stunning in Paint-To-Sample Ferrari yellow, the car is just one of 55 examples ever built by Porsche.

But what do we really know about Porsche’s rarest road-going Rennsport? It’s worth a reminder of the car that sired this very special Neunelfer, and that model was the 3.6-litre 964 RS. Appearing in 1991, it was born from Porsche’s need to go racing in the Carrera Cup – a series that had been conceived by Roland Kussmaul and talented engineer, Helmut Flegl – and pared a mildly fettled flat six producing 260hp with an obsessive focus on weight saving. The result was a 911 that exhibited a purity of focus not really seen since the seminal 2.7RS.

Naturally, Porsche felt the need to take things a step further, and it would again be motorsport that lay at the heart of their decision. More specifically, it was the desire to race an RSR variant in the bigger-engined GT-category, and the result was the car you see here. Constructed by the racing department at Weissach and only available by special order from them, there has tended to be some dispute around the actual numbers made, although our information tells us that just 104 examples of the 3.8 RS were built and, of those, just the aforementioned 55 were for road use. The remainder were RSR racers, and of the total production all except two were left-hand drive. 

But anyone thinking this was little more than a warmed-over 3.6 couldn’t have been more wrong, and by the same token if Porsche had set a budget for this project, then it seemed the engineers had ignored it. For one thing it differed markedly in appearance, being based on the wider Turbo body shell and featuring a more extreme aerodynamic package that encompassed a deeper front spoiler and a biplane rear wing that was both adjustable and formed in one piece with the engine lid. The shell was also strengthened over the 3.6 and contained additional welds, while aluminium was used for the doors and luggage compartment lid. Along with lighter glass, and a cabin stripped of all extraneous trim and equipment, Porsche quoted a kerb weight of 1,210kg, made all the more impressionable given the larger brakes, body and wheels.

Whatever the actual numbers, it could still be considered extremely lithe compared to any other 964 variants (the 320hp Turbo was a positively porky 1,470kg), and then there’s that engine. The M64/04 unit gained its extra capacity via an increase in stroke from 100mm to 102mm – the bore remained at 76.4mm – although that was just the beginning. Developing 300hp at 6,500rpm and 360Nm of torque at 5,250rpm – both notably higher crank speeds than required by the 3.6 – the new motor featured a raft of careful developments, including an increase in compression ratio (up from 11.3:1 to 11.6:1), a revised intake with individual throttle butterflies to sharpen the throttle response and tweaks to the engine-management system. Bigger inlet and exhaust valves were fitted, too, with sizes increased to 51.5mm and 43.5mm respectively, and gas flow improved with polished ports.

For the full, in-depth article on Porsche’s rarest Rennsport, order your copy for delivery direct to your door here, or download the digital issue to your Apple or Android device. 

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964 RS v 991.2 GT3 Touring: Blood Brothers

Porsche’s 911 GT3 has been on quite a journey of late. Just five years ago, ‘Mr GT3’ himself, Andreas Preuninger, met with journalists to talk through the company’s latest, seemingly indomitable GT3 in 991.1 guise after its public reveal at the Geneva Motor Show. The venue is a long-time happy hunting ground for Porsche to unveil its hottest GT cars.

On paper at least, the car represented something of a technological tour de force: Porsche’s new 991 was its most clinical take on a track-focused GT3 yet. With an active steering rear axle, electrically assisted steering through the wheel inside plus a compulsory seven-speed PDK gearbox, this was the do-it-all GT3, supposedly providing greatness on both road and track. However, despite this influx of tech and the plethora of inevitable Porsche acronyms describing it, journalists had just one question to ask: “Why no manual gearbox?”

Preuninger’s response, championing the merits of a clinical transmission system in a car built for performance driving, was of course perfectly sensical, yet it drew little inspiration among hacks. Surely Porsche, the company famed for its mantra of ‘it’s not how fast you go, but how you get there,’ wasn’t in the process of killing off the manual gearbox? That reaction from the press at Geneva, plus the ensuing wave of outcry from the buying public, forced Porsche to reconsider. From there, the GT3’s story – and inevitably, its future – has drastically altered.

It began with the 2015 Cayman GT4, Porsche GT department’s first foray into fettling the company’s mid-engined, baby sports car. It boasted the usual repertoire for a car blessed with Weissach wizardry, including a tuned engine, a healthy weight reduction and, for the first time in four years, a six-speed manual gearbox.

Needless to say, the Cayman proved a popular acquisition. While there’s little doubt enthusiasts were intrigued by a mid-engined GT car built by Preuninger’s team, Total 911 also witnessed staunch Neunelfer customers ditching the ‘uninvolving’ GT3 in favour of the analogue GT4. Estimated worldwide sales of up to 5,000 units later, Porsche had well and truly got the message.

Though the GT4 proved successful, enthusiasts still coveted a lightweight, manual 911, which was cut from the same cloth. This duly arrived in 2016 with the 991 R. Considered by many to be the 911 of the decade, its only problem was the fact it was largely unobtainable, with 918 Spyder owners offered first dibs on a car with a limited production run of just 991 cars globally.

The debacle sparked widespread anger among long-time buyers of Porsche GT cars who missed out in favour of the super wealthy, many of whom didn’t share that passion for the brand and who consequently flipped the R for obscene sums of money. However, Porsche was clearly getting warmer in its mission to deliver an analogue experience in a modern, blue-chip 911, but it still needed a launch that would really appeal to the masses.

That car came in 2017 with the launch of Porsche’s 991.2 GT3 with Touring Pack which, for the first time since the 997 generation, would come only with a six-speed manual transmission. The Touring’s repertoire is impressive: gone is the fixed wing and PDK gearbox resplendent on that 991.1 car, replaced by a discreet, traditional 911 silhouette and, of course, three pedals in the driver’s footwell.

Sound familiar? It should do, for while the Touring represents new ground for Porsche’s GT3 lineage, there’s evidence to suggest the company may have looked to its past for inspiration when building it. We are talking, of course, about the 964 RS.

To read the full feature of our comprehensive 964 RS v 991.2 GT3 Touring test, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 165, in stores now or available to purchase here

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Watch This ’88 Carrera Deploy 650 Horsepower on the Hillclimb

Despite the jolly color scheme, this ’88 Carrera does not suffer fools. Its instantaneous turbo response, frightening thrust, and surprisingly compliant suspension should encourage any hot-blooded enthusiast to start saving their pennies for the day when they can build something equally terrifying—and perhaps something just as colorful.

This is the creation of Rupert Schwaiger, an Austrian hillclimber who, despite pushing 80-years of age, still drives with the conviction and precision of a much younger man. Thirty years of racing experience taught Schwaiger what was needed to go quickly on the public road, and this 650-horsepower 911 is the result. Incredibly capable, dramatic, and one of the few turbo Porsches which makes a truly mellifluous exhaust note, this machine pleases everyone sitting alongside the picturesque French, German, Italian, and Austrian roads on which this Porsche competes.

What’s the Recipe?

The formula is simple and effective. Take a basic ’88 Carrera, drape it in the skin of a 993 GT2 Evo, add a 964 RS’ rear end, then place an incredible powerplant betwixt the car’s haunches. The custom 3.5-liter mill builds boost instantaneously thanks to nicely-sized Garrett turbos, which help make 640 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and 442 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. The vital aspect with this engine is the powerband suits the tightest hairpins; always providing Schwaiger with the low-end response he’s after, and yet, the enginer has that infectious top-end that every turbocharged racing engine ought to have. Who needs a hybrid?

The engine uses camshafts from a GT2 Evo, Carillo conrods, a racing exhaust manifold, and a custom intercooler with truncated runners for that lightning response. With that hybrid-like torque pushing a mere 2,200 pounds around, the 911 squats, rotates, and fires out of corners with surprising poise; only formula cars and four wheel-drive machines match that sort of slotcar acceleration. Chalk some of that up to 335-section Avon slicks in the rear, but there’s more to it than sticky rubber.

Mellowing with Age

Still, it would be borderline suicidal to not take a few precautions with such a monster—especially at Schwaiger’s ripe old age—if it wasn’t softened in one way or another. KW 3-way coilovers provide great body control, but it’s the paddle-shifted gearbox from 997 RSR which allows Schwaiger to keep his hands on the wheel the whole time, which comes in handy when countersteering at high speed. Additionally, a Conti-Teves ABS offers a margin of safety to keep Schwaiger from parking his pristine Carrera in an Italian ditch. So, despite the fangs this edgy machine has, it’s been muzzled—just barely—to make it truly usable on pockmarked roads without an inch of runoff.

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Nervous, Oversteering 993 Chases 964 RS at Dijon!

Showdown911 is already a YouTube legend in his own right. Videos of him driving his 993 without a shred of fear have garnered him a respectable following. Sandro Ziegler, as he’s better known, took a fairly plain-jane 993, added a few clever modifications, and made himself a rewarding track car that can outrun some fairly high-dollar machinery—provided he grabs his Porsche by the scruff of the neck.

Ziegler’s tail-out style occasionally has him countersteering all the way to the lock stops.

A man as handy as Ziegler understands the value of lightweight cars, and so he put his 993 on a mild diet without breaking the bank. While the removal or the air conditioning and carpet are predictable track-car modifications, the plexiglass windows and RS door cards prove he’s committed to trimming the heft. Additionally, OZ Racing Alleggerita wheels dot each corner, and in total, all these touches bring the Porsche’s weight down to an enviable 2,650 pounds, and that makes his 911 very nimble and very lively.

Details on the 993

Propelling the lightened 993 is a simple powerplant: a revalved engine with slightly bigger cams provide roughly 270 horsepower. With what sound like stock gear ratios, the 993 isn’t much of a dragster and it’s not going to outrun many cars in a straight line. However, it compensates for that lack of power with its agility and braking prowess. Ziegler needs (read: loves) to manhandle the edgy 993 to get the most out of it. It breaks traction on entry; yawing wildly with a flick of the wheel, and it puts the power down well, provided he avoids the curbs. If it’s not power-understeering slightly on exit, it’s completely on the lock stops after cresting a curb. This hot-blooded driving style, at the very least, put on a display for the man following closely in the 964 RS.

When a driver on-par with Ziegler arrives to the party in a mint 964 RS, there’s not going to be much of a fight; the lightweight RS simply streaks away. Though revised gear ratios would aid here, the way the RS accelerates suggests a little more punch than the standard 3.6 provides—as both the 993 and the 3.6-liter 964 have similar power-to-weight ratios. Therefore, it’s likely the car is a 3.8 RS with a power output closer to the 300-mark. With more stability, comparable braking, and a definitive straight-line advantage, the RS leaves Ziegler within the course of a lap. Try as he might, Ziegler’s acrobatic driving display can’t match the RS’ sheer grunt. Nonetheless, you can’t help but take your hat off for this exuberant, slightly nutty man behind the 993’s wheel.

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