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Porsche 911 Cabriolets: G-series v 964 v 993

Yorkshire dry-stone walls have a very useful application that was never intended by the original builders several centuries ago. In addition to providing the unique signature style that is the Yorkshire landscape while also containing livestock over the centuries, they also make a superb surface to echo back the bark of an air-cooled 911 engine. Combine that with the final days of a long, hot summer and a trio of Cabriolet 911s – all with the hoods folded as they truly should be – and we have the perfect recipe for a great day’s driving and a chance to investigate the appeal of the open-top 911 experience. Will we enjoy a day in the sunshine, or will the bumpy Yorkshire lanes highlight the compromise of 911 body stiffness?

Heading out of the market town of Malton, I’m at the rear of the convoy in the 993 Cabriolet. The air is filled with the bass burble of air-cooled exhaust tones at low RPM, the whiff of that unique 911 aroma of hot oil and burned hydrocarbons from the two cars ahead spilling over into the interior, the sun providing a warmth on my face that is still pleasant so late in the summer. Good times.

Turning left down some of our favourite B-roads, the sunshine dapples the tree-lined road ahead… it’s time to increase the pace. We’re staying away from the vast, open moorland of the North Yorkshire Moors today, instead staying on the lower ground of the Vale of York and the twisting, turning B-roads that keep hands and feet busy as the road snakes between those ancient dry-stone walls. The three cars span an eight-year period of 911 evolution, from the torsion bars and impact bumpers of 1989, through the transformation of 1990 with power assistance and coil springs, to the final development of the air-cooled Porsche 911 in the 993.

Without a doubt everyone will have a personal favourite. Indeed, as we gather the cars together for photographs, the debate commences even before photographer Alistair has rigged his first flash head. The most visually arresting is the 1989 Super Sport in Guards red. For me this car is the epitome of that period of Porsche sales. The hedonistic period when excess was encouraged and every businessman and city trader in the City of London had to have a giant Motorola brick phone, expensive Italian shoes and matching briefcase, plus a Guards red Porsche 911. For the full-on effect it had to be the Turbo body, Fuchs alloys and the whaletail spoiler. And if you really wished to be publicly on display through the city streets, then the Cabriolet ensured that you shared your cellphone conversation with everyone around you as you discussed the day’s share trading at the traffic lights.

So how does the drive compare almost 30 years later? We hand over the keys to the 993 that we arrived in and swap to the cream seats of the Super Sport. Instantly I’m missing the powered steering as we shuffle back and forth to leave the photo location, the non-standard steering wheel not helping with its smaller diameter, though once rolling along the country lanes it’s much less of an issue. The road is initially bumpy, and several things become apparent. Firstly there is indeed that flex and shake from around the windscreen area that I recall from previous drives. Secondly, despite there only being a few years between the registration dates, the 1989 car does feel as though it’s from a much older generation of Porsche.

That’s not to say it’s a bad car – far from it. And as the road smooths out and widens we’re able to enjoy the bark of the 3.2 engine and use the echo board of Yorkshire’s dry-stone walls to enjoy some rather delightful pops and crackles on the downshifts. Through the avenue of trees we return to our location, and I swap into the black 964.

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Lee’s 996 Carrera 4S Diary: new brakes and tyres verdict

So that’s how a 996 C4S is supposed to stop! I mentioned last month I had discs and pads replaced all round on my Porsche 911 after the items present when I bought the car were looking very tired. I got the new parts from VW Heritage’s newly-created Heritage Parts Centre and have now had a chance to bed them in. I am so impressed. The C4S now stops with the ability I’d expect from a set of Porsche’s ‘big red’ brakes and has transformed the way I drive the car. In short, I have more confidence in the 911, and can drive it harder as a result – as we all know, the harder you push a Porsche 911, the more you get back from it.

I also replaced the worn Continental tyres for a set of N3-rated Michelin Pilot Sport 2s. A few people have since asked me why I didn’t get a set of the newer PS4s, but the honest answer is there weren’t any available in my size when I needed them, so PS2s it was. Again, I am immensely impressed by my new rubber.

500 miles in, in comparison to the Continental Contact Sports, the Michelins are noticeably quieter, which is great for me as I wrack up a lot of miles, plus the Michelins are simply superb in the wet – I’ve not come across better for a 996. If the PS4’s can build on that, I already know what tyres I’m getting next, though I do note the PS2s have a slightly quieter rating. In the dry, there’s not a lot between the Michelins and Continentals (for fast road driving at least) but I’d love to try a track day to see how they differ at greater speeds and temperatures in them. Any excuse…

I’ve also had the C4S back at Porsche Centre Bournemouth for its annual service, this one being a major/72,000 mile service. We’re lucky that in the UK we have a broad selection of very good independent specialists that in the past I’ve had little hesitation in using, however my current 911 has an immaculate service record at Porsche main dealers and I’ve decided it’s important for me to uphold that for the sake of its value. As ever, the Centre didn’t let me down, even sending me before and after pics of the various parts, consumables and sundries being replaced on the 996.

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1967 911R prototype: story of R4

Such is the historical importance of the 911R for Porsche, it’s ludicrous to think the car was relatively unheard of for years for even the discerning enthusiast compared to, say, a 2.7RS. Indeed it wasn’t until the arrival of the 991 R last year, itself a seminal moment in the legacy of our beloved 911, which really shone a light on those 20 early cars and their acute significance to the brand with Stuttgart’s prancing horse on its nose. And to think some of those 20 original ’67 Rs were still available as late as 1970!

The brainchild of one Ferdinand Piëch and the lightest Neunelfer to ever leave the Zuffenhausen factory, the R set the benchmark for the endless engineering possibilities Porsche would accomplish for its cherished 911 platform. Perhaps more importably though, its creation really started the 911’s unrivalled racing legacy, something which, more than 30,000 race victories later, Porsche is still incredibly proud of.

The R, then, wasn’t just built so Porsche could go racing – plenty of early 911s in both T and S guise had already tasted success in competition at various events around the planet – moreover it was an inquisitive exercise to find out just how much the company could evolve its new 911 sports car for competition purposes. In the end, these cars marked the beginning of the process of a Porsche 911 sports car being homologated, a move which would culminate in many historical feats at some of the world’s most famous races and events. That’s quite an imprint on history: simply put, Porsche’s later and notable success at La Sarthe, Daytona, and Sebring to name a few all starts right here with the creation of the 911R.

Though there were only ever 20 production 911Rs built, four prototypes were initially created, those cars pulled from the production line originally in 911S specification. Those four R prototypes are today known as R1, R2, R2, and R4, so named in accordance with their production dates. The car you see in our pictures is that of R4, the last R prototype Porsche built, which today can be found in Scotts Valley, California, its Lemon yellow coachwork glistening under the showroom lights at Canepa. However, its journey to this point is nothing short of remarkable, taking in four countries and two continents despite still being the lowest-recorded mileage R rolling the planet.

For the full feature on this incredible 911R prototype, pic up issue 159 of Total 911 in hardcopy here or get your digital copy from Apple or Android newsstands. 

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Lee’s 996 Carrera diary: upgrading to a Carrera 4S

There has been quite a change in the Sibley household since my previous 996 Carrera diary earlier this year. That’s because After 14 months of happy ownership, I decided to sell my 996.2 C4. I felt I’d come to a crossroads with the car: its new paintwork meant the bodywork was way too nice to be spoiled by the rigours of track days, something I enjoyed immensely in 2016 and was keen to continue this year. With 88,000 miles on the clock, I was also conscious I’d introduce a sixth digit onto the C4’s odometer within the next twelve months and, even though the 100,000-mile barrier is immaterial really, I prefer my cars under that threshold. My good friend Alex at Apsley Cars agreed to sell the car for me and five days later it was gone.

I was sad to see the car go, yet absolutely delighted to know the C4 is to remain within the Total 911 family: Andrew, a subscriber to this fine Porsche publication, had read about the car’s escapades for the last year and wanted to write its next chapter. Andrew, you already know you’ve got one of the best 996.2 C4s in the UK, and if you have half as much fun with the car as I’ve had, you’re in for an amazing time.

My replacement 911 came about quickly indeed. Truth is, it was a road test of a 996 C4S back in January 2015 that alerted me to the 996s incredible value for me. I really fell for the C4S and, put simply, had to own one. I’d kept an eye on the market for the last year though by the time I had cash from the C4 in my pocket, the choice at my price point was altogether more limited as the market had moved on. I had, however, found a Seal grey example with 66,000 miles and an absolutely gorgeous spec. The drawback? The car had no less than ten previous owners.

I’d spoken with numerous Porsche friends and dealers who all had differing opinions on high owner cars but a common theme nevertheless came to fruition: condition is key. With that in mind, I arranged to view the car, which was being sold privately. Its condition was exquisite inside and out, and was one of the best C4Ss I’ve ever driven (they ALL drive differently).

I should have bought it there and then, but I didn’t. Perturbed by its high owners, I delved into the car’s history, intent on finding clues to an unscrupulous past. I took pictures of the service book (its history appeared perfect, with services every year at various Porsche Centres part from two at well-known specialists) and called up every single Porsche Centre to verify the job date and mileage. Everything checked out, as did the sizeable wad of paperwork detailing much of the expense undertaken by previous owners.

The car has had several private ‘plates adorning its face and rear too, and a little digging revealed these now resided on a GT3 and Macan, showing previous owners were all dyed-in-the-wool Porsche guys. The last owner even commissioned an independent, 230-point check by Peter Morgan back in 2015, which detailed no crash damage (but paint to nearside front) or significant over-revs. Put simply, there wouldn’t be another car out there with as much information on it as this.

Yet still I waited. Remaining undecided for a couple of days, I couldn’t shake the high number of owners from my mind, my main concern being a difficulty to sell the car myself should the time come. In the end, it was none other than Total 911 magazine that prompted me to buy the car. Reading Kyle Fortune’s 996 C4S v Turbo article in issue 153, I began to sigh as Kyle waxed lyrical about the merits of the C4S. What was I doing?! If somebody else bought that car, I reasoned, I’d be distraught. I had to act.

There was one last twist, though. As I was due to make the call to buy, I had an urgent email from my local Porsche centre, who knew I was on the hunt for a C4S. They had a late-build, one-owner example in. I went to view it but left soon after: despite being a one-owner car, it’s history was limited, its condition far worse, with rust all over the car (I’ve never seen so much on a car so new). The escapade well and truly made my mind up: if you put the high-owners car next to the one-owner car, many would say the immaculate car would surely be the one-owner car every time. But, as has been proven here, this is most certainly not always the case, and I left the Porsche Centre content I was making the right decision. I was to be the 11th owner of A911 HCM, and was absolutely delighted about it.

As for real-world differences between my old 996.2 Carrera 4 and latest 996 Carrera 4S purchase, there are quite a few to be had. The first is the most noticeable, which for me is the C4S’s wider track. Its Turbo chassis means the car has a 17mm wider front and 28mm rear track width than the narrow-bodied C4, which correlates most vividly to a better balance on initial turn-in to a corner. The car feels so planted and so much more stable through all manner of turns, and the extra grip available from those wider tyres means I can learn to carry more speed into turns.

Stopping ability is also markedly improved in the 4S, those Turbo-spec ‘Big Red’ brake calipers pinching the pads together to scrub speed with more intent than the C4. However, the lavishing of this Turbo-spec onto the C4S is to the detriment of its weight, a 65-kilogram penalty over the C4 keenly felt under hard acceleration. It’s not that the C4S feels sluggish per say, more that the C4 just seemed quicker off the mark. This would no doubt have been helped by single-mass flywheel I had fitted to my C4, which helped give me razor-sharp throttle response.

Lastly but by no means least is the sound, and here the C4S asserts itself as a clear winner. It has an advantage over the C4 in being fitted with PSE, which gives a louder, more bassy bark, flipping to a gutteral growl the moment the crank spins past 5,000rpm. There’s even a beautiful crackle when letting off the gas in the mid range. So, the C4S not only blows the standard C4 out of the water (I had a throaty Milltek system on mine), I don’t actually think there’s a better sounding Carrera out there outside of a 991 with PSE.

I’ve put over 5,000 miles on the C4S in four months, which has included summer road trip as well as day-to-day driving. It hasn’t missed a beat and I’m so pleased with my decision. Recently I took the C4S to Porsche Centre Bournemouth for a complimentary health check, too. I’ve mentioned before I think the results of these tests should be taken with a pinch of salt but its nevertheless a good way to get a second opinion on what sort of project I’ve undertaken. As it happens the test only brought up a couple of points for my attention, namely the worn brakes and tyres, which I’ll look to put right in the coming weeks.

 

 

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Opinion: Why time is the Porsche 911’s greatest friend

Every time Porsche releases a new generation of Neunelfer, almost without fail, there are a number of enthusiasts and experts quick to proclaim that “the Porsche 911 as we know it is dead” and that the new car isn’t a patch on the old one.

Years ago (before the arrival of the current editorial team) this particular publication wasn’t immune from this viewpoint; a number of online commenters have pointed out that Total 911 used to be less than favourable in our views on the Porsche 996.

The 996 is pretty much the case in point for this standpoint; arriving as the first water-cooled Porsche 911, the car (and it’s avant-garde styling) drew much criticism as many fans rued the end of the air-cooled era. After all, if the engine in the back wasn’t cooled naturally, was it really a Porsche 911?

Blue Porsche 996 Carrera 4 driving

Recently though, the rapidly rising values of Porsche 996 Carreras (despite the fact that even the earliest are less than 20 years old) shows that, among our ranks, there are numerous people who do believe that the 996 is a true Neunelfer. Total 911 editor, Lee is one of them; he recently bought one, after all.

The 996 is not the first Porsche 911 to have seen such a swing in public opinion however. When the 964 was a launched in 1989, people couldn’t believe that Porsche had added a four-wheel drive system to the 911. And what was that? Power steering! This couldn’t be.

Fast forward to the winter of 2014/15 and suddenly, after years of languishing around the £8,000-£10,000 mark, 964 Carreras (of both C2 and C4 ilks) were suddenly shooting up in value. Now, you’d struggle to find a nice 964 Carrera for less than £45,000.

Steinhardt_SP150914_DSC2955

Even recently, the first generation Porsche 991 was lambasted as overweight, oversize and over polished. Yet, with the release of the 991.2 Carrera last September, the new turbocharged engines have suddenly seen people reappraising the Gen1 cars.

A few years ago, these cars were, to some enthusiasts, “too Audi-like”. Now they are revered as the last naturally aspirated Porsche 911 Carreras. It’s likely that their values will stabilise more rapidly than previous generations because of this.

It’s funny how time changes our opinions. It is the Porsche 911’s greatest friend as each successive generation, without fail, always stands the test of time and we look back on each as a genuine Neunelfer. I’m sure that, in a few years time, we’ll be looking at the 991.2 with a similar stance. Just you wait and see…

Do you agree with Josh? Does time help to prove the DNA of each Porsche 911 generation? Join the debate in the comments below or head to our Facebook and Twitter pages now.

IP 991.1 v 991.2 017

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