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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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Porsche index: 991.1 Carrera S

HISTORY & SPEC

Launched alongside the Carrera, the S made its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and went on sale in December of that year. It was instantly apparent that Porsche had taken a slightly different path with its new Neunelfer, the relatively compact dimensions of the 997 making way for something notably wider and longer.

Sitting on a wheelbase stretched by 100mm, this was an altogether roomier, more luxurious proposition, and it’s one that not all 911 devotees were comfortable with – more than a few voices accused the new model of being more cruiser than sports car. Thankfully the flat six sitting in the tail would appease most critics, the Carrera’s 350hp, 3.4-litre unit making way for the larger 3.8 boasting 400hp and 440Nm of torque. Naturally aspirated, it featured direct fuel injection and VarioCam Plus and was linked to a new seven-speed manual gearbox or an optional PDK unit.

The manual has come in for criticism since, but the double-clutch unit was impressive, getting the Carrera S to 62mph in 4.3 seconds and on to 187mph. However you view this car those are impressive numbers, and they were little different for the Cabriolet variant that arrived in March 2012 wearing a price tag of £89,740.

This was certainly a cleaner, more efficient 911, with Porsche claiming that fuel consumption and CO2 emissions had been reduced by 14 per cent; new technological features such as auto stop/start, better thermal management for the engine and a coasting function for the PDK ‘box all coming to the 991’s aid.

Adopting electrical assistance for the steering no doubt shaved further fractions when it came to efficiency, but it was at the expense of yet more criticism in some quarters. In reality, it’s a good system. As for the rest of the chassis specification, it was a more-than-tasty recipe that featured PASM and Porsche Torque Vectoring as standard, along with uprated and iconic ‘Big Red’ brakes: compared to the Carrera there were larger discs and Monobloc fixed front calipers with six rather than four pistons. 

There was the option to spend plenty of cash on further enhancements, too, from the likes of Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and Sport Chrono to special interior finishes and £3,000 of Burmester hi-fi. With plenty of buyers happy to indulge when it came to options, there are rich pickings to be had for today’s buyers.

Like its immediate predecessors, just four years were allowed to pass before the Gen2 model arrived, bringing with it the end of natural aspiration. Today the 991.1’s specification marks a good link between the more classic-oriented 997s and the tech-laden drive of the 992.

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The Devil Is In The Details Of This Custom 993 Speedster

Porsche officially built just one 993-generation 911 Speedster. On the occasion of Butzi Porsche’s 60th birthday in 1995, the company presented him with a one-off tiptronic Speedster on 17″ wheels. Longtime Porsche customer Jerry Seinfeld commissioned the Sonderwunsch program to build him a silver widebody Speedster as well, starting from a cabriolet base car in 1998. Since then, a handful of home-built and specialist assembled cars have been produced, and this red example, as featured by Petrolicious is perhaps among the most often seen of them. It takes a serious passion to re-make your 911 into a different style of 911, but with the right parts, the right mechanic, and enough money, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Even if the factory didn’t build these in large number, it really should have, because this look works incredibly well. The parts installed on this car are largely factory original, with only as few custom pieces as necessary. The windshield has been sourced from a 964 Speedster, and the bodywork has been expertly crafted from other 993 components. The interior is all carbon fiber, and it was hand-crafted by a guy in Germany who did carbon work for the Porsche factory, which is a cool little note. The 993 badge is actually a factory Porsche component, but Porsche never made a 993 badge, so the owners of the car bought a 968 badge. The 6 has been flipped to become the second 9, and the 8 has been cut just right to become a 3. Pretty slick if you ask me.

The car lives in Las Vegas today, and it feels perfectly in line with the car’s ethos. It’s a little flashy, very visible, and has been custom made and personalized to a degree not often seen. From relatively humble beginnings, this 993 won the jackpot and was transformed into a unique vision of Porsche specialness. If you can dream it, you can build it.

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Driving A Porsche 356A Is An Analogue Experience

Things are too digital these days. We’re always connected to the world at large with a bombardment of news, information, status updates, and reactions. We’ve been trained by social media to constantly check and re-check our phones or computers for the latest. It’s hard to escape from the world of connectivity, as many of us depend on the so-called Internet of Things to run our homes and require the internet to get our jobs done. If you are looking for a way out of all that, even a source of temporary respite, go drive your Porsche. You’re on the internet right now reading about this, in case you needed a dose of irony to go along with it.

For the owner of this gorgeous Meissen Blue A coupe, profiled by Petrolicious below, that’s exactly what this car provides. It’s the ability to disconnect from the world and go analog. The joy of the drive should be uninterrupted by texts, updates, and news flash briefings. Pop that iPhone into the glove box, the one originally intended for actual gloves, and focus on the road ahead. Don’t let the ‘real world’ distract you from driving, let the driving distract you from the larger world. Focus on just yourself and the car for a few hours. Hit a great driving road near you, and forget the world.

It’s clear from the outset that this gorgeous blue car is well cared for, and has been properly maintained. The driver is clearly a vintage Porsche fanatic as he also owns a Porsche tractor for work around the farm. The original German doesn’t quite translate how beautiful his passion for this car, and the brand that built it, has been, but the subtitles help a little. If only for the intense joy that can be seen when the protagonist drives the car, give this video a click.

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Father And Son Team Up To Revive This Beautiful 356

In this new video from Petrolicious, a French father and son team show off their oddly beautiful 356A coupe. This car was a literal ‘barn find’, which they tracked down by following a leaking vehicle back to a tractor collector’s farm. They managed to get the tractor man to sell off his old long-dormant Porsche, but he would only sell it in a bundle job with the other two dilapidated cars in his barn. Why take on one project when you can get three dumped on your head all at once? Focusing solely on the A coupe, this is the end result of that journey.

It is important to note that, unless you’re fluent in French, you turn on the closed captioning to enjoy English subtitles.

I’d have a hard time restoring a Porsche on my own, let alone working with someone else. Clearly this father and son team are immensely patient with each other, and the finished product is a testament to that. When they took delivery of the cars, the package deal came with about 20 boxes of spare components, which took the pair over two weeks to sort through. Everything from the bodywork to the exhaust note are perfection now, but it’s been a long road to get here. Auratium Green over a mocha and tan trimmed interior is an excellent combination, too.

From the outside, you can see that this 356 means business. With a few motorsport-inspired decals, a roof rack with a spare tire mounted up top, a Sebring-style exhaust on the 1600cc engine, and a flip-top fuel filler, it’s clearly taking bits from Porsche’s history to combine into its own aesthetic. And it works to great effect, as the look is cohesive and interesting. You wouldn’t confuse this Porsche for any other when you see it on the street, and it would even stand out from a row of 356s.

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