As you may already know, the automotive is buzzing about Porsche right about now. Stuttgart has been the equivalent of a beehive of late, with the 991 Turbo and Turbo S being announced with monstrous power, and Road and Track magazine getting their palms wrapped around the GT3s steering wheel. Old racing footage graces the compilations Porsche’s YouTube channel has put together for us as they continue to tease us with their return to Le Mans next year, and Porsche is celebrating fifty years of its iconic 911.
Although the visual evolution of the Porsche 911 moves at a snail’s pace, the 991 generation certainly looks good. The tail lights flare out a bit farther than on the 997, giving more of a flow in the design. The car is wider than the 997, so the new car seems to have a bit more of a snarly presence.
However, if you were to sit a 1975 Porsche 911 and take the 991-generation’s iteration of the iconic sports car next to each other, it is quite remarkable how different the two likes are. The first thing you will probably notice is that the 991 has much more of a modern look to it, obviously because of the nearly forty year difference between the two. The 991 is also longer than the 1975 car, and has a more smooth, flowing shape thanks to hours spent in the wind tunnel.
But it’s not as if the 911 just jumped from its 1970s era of styling to what you see in magazines and the sort today; there must have been a middle point that brought us from there to here. There was. And that middle point was the car you see above: the Porsche 993.
In 1994, the 964 had just put the wraps on its five years of production and it was time for something new in the storied 911 chronicle. The famous German automaker turned to an Englishman for the design of the car who went by the name of Toni Hatter, who used much of the architectural structure of the 964, although changing external panels, flaring the arches, and rounding out the sharp edges.
Under that then-fresh 911 body kit the car sat on an all-alloy multi-arm rear suspension attached to an all-alloy subframe. This structure change drew inspiration from the not-so-attractive 1988 touring sedan concept Porsche 989, a four-door sedan that is claimed as having no existing models to this day. This allowed the car to corner better, granting it better stability and helped to reduce the 911 trait of oversteering from lifting the throttle while aggressively attacking corners.
The 993 also introduced a six-speed manual transmission, as previous cars, excluding the 959, had either a four or a five-speed ‘box. However, arguably the most notable feature of the car is something that did not begin with the 993, but instead ended with it. If you’re a Porsche aficionado you probably no what I’m talking about, but if you’re not, the 993’s discontinuation marked the end of the air-cooled 911s, a feature that some Porsche lovers today consider to be the sole thing that completes a pure Porsche 911.
In total, there were ten different variations of the 993, with the Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet being considered as the base models of the generation. 3.6-liters was the displacement for none other than a flat-six engine which sat on the rear axle. The naturally aspirated six-cylinder boxer engine produced 272 horsepower for cars produced between 1993 and 1996 and 285 horsepower between the 1996 and 1999 production years, both producing maximum horsepower at 6,100 rpm. So take your pick, although a roof is something many can certainly live without.
And then there was the Turbo and Turbo S. Going into production in 1995, 3.6-liters remained the displacement on the Turbo, but the addition of a turbocharger (literally) boosted the power output to 402 bhp. And if that wasn’t enough to please your desire to scare yourself silly, a 424 horsepower for the U.S. and a 450 horsepower version for, well, everyone else came along in 1997, although it may be difficult to find one of those Turbo S’ due to the mere 183 car production run. From rest to sixty took 4.5 seconds or less, and top speed was in excess of 180 mph. Worthy for the top ten fastest cars of the 1990s? I think so.
To accommodate this added power and give it a go-faster look, the wheel archers were widened, new front and rear bumper moldings were added, and a trademark rear wing put a roof over the intercoolers. 18-inch alloy wheels with weight-reducing spokes came as standard for the car. 450 horsepower is quite a good deal of power to put on the pavement, so the 993 Turbo and Turbo S became the first all-wheel drive Porsche 911 Turbo. Anyone who wishes it was rear-wheel drive can enjoy digging their car out of a ditch after an oversteer-induced shunt.
If maniacal performance doesn’t suit your appreciation for entertainment, then hopefully the Carrera RS is the sort of machine that pleases your driving taste. When you strap a turbocharger onto the back of an engine, it’s inevitable that there will be some sort of turbo lag, thus the reason why many enthusiasts prefer naturally-aspirated engines to forced-induction engines. And the Carrera RS has no shortage of the naturally-aspirated immediate throttle-response trait. While the naturally-aspirated 3.8-liter flat-six produces more than 100 less horsepower than the Turbo variants, the 993 being rated at 300 horsepower, the lightweight element makes it one of those cars that you would jot down on your ‘Must Drive’ list.
To manage the lightweight bit a few changes had to be made to the car, both inside and out. The luggage lid was constructed from aluminum, thin-glass side windows were added in place of the regular side windows, the headlight washers were taken off the car, special racing seats were put behind the steering wheel and for the passenger (although a passenger is just added weight), spartan door cards were put in place, and 18-inch aluminum wheels replaced the alloy sets. And Rear seats? No thank you.
And if all this was still somehow too heavy for you, the RS Clubsport — or RSR — shed enough weight to the point that if there was such thing as a car doctor, he or she would be a bit worried. On the Clubsport, seat adjustments, headlight washers, and the airbag is thrown out the window. The Porsche engineers had to ensure that they rolled down the windows as the Clubsport does not feature electric windows. You know, for weight-loss reasons.
Both of these lightweight 993 Carreras feature quite noticeable fixed rear-wings, with the RS Clubsport featuring a larger rear-wing to help keep the extra lightweight car planted on all fours. Combining all of these features together equates into some pretty remarkable performance figures. Rest to sixty takes 4.7 seconds and top speed comes at 172 mph.
Without a doubt, the Carrera RS and RS Clubsport were edgy sport cars. Perhaps a bit too edgy, as the United States did not approve for the car to be exported across the ocean blue, while in Europe the car was street legal.
With every new 911, it is guaranteed that Porsche is always going to have one specific thing on its mid: racing. Porsches have been involved in motorsport with the 911 since the 1960s, and after a racing drought in the 1980s, the 993 returned the 911 to racing circuits across the globe. And with European racing comes homologation needs, therefore the 993 GT2 was Porsche’s way into the racing scene.
It goes without question that lightweight translates itself into success when it comes to circuit racing, so inside the GT2 shares many of the weight-reduction features with the RS and RS Clubsport. Outside, the Turbo’s fenders were cut back and replaced with plastic pieces that can be bolted on in order to accommodate larger racing tires and to help facilitate repairs in case the fenders are damaged.
The power source to the GT2 was similar to that of the Turbo, with a 3.6-liter featuring forced induction from a turbocharged engine. Higher boost pressure was the difference between the two engines, allowing 430 horsepower to be produced on the 1997 models and 450 horsepower on the 1998 models with the addition of a twin ignition. As for the racing cars, 465-600 horsepower was the range as far as power output is concerned. If that’s not powerful enough for you then you may want to see a psychiatrist, just in case, obviously.
All of this lightweight stuff and high-power stuff equates to a four second sprint to sixty and a top speed of 184 mph. Certainly good enough for the 90s, and still enough today to keep a modern Ferrari on edge. That is, of course, if the 993 has been well-maintained over the years.
So is all of this first to have this, last to have that the reason behind my belief that the 993 is the ‘middle man’ that links the classic 911s to the modern cars such as the 996, 997, and 991 that we see today? As surprising as this may seem, it isn’t. For me, it is the styling that bridges the gap between the classic 911 and the 911s of now.
The Porsche 911 classic, the car that you see and read about in classic car magazines and was produced from 1963 up until 1989, had a distinct look to it. The upright style of the headlights that finishes off the tubular shape that leads up to it was a distinct styling point of that era of 911s. The trench-like dip just before the windshield emphasizes the ‘classic 911’ bit and the exceptional slope at the back are without a doubt the finishing point of the 911.
While some may argue that the 964 plays the role as the bridge between classic 911s and modern 911s, I believe that the 964 still pertains to the cars produced from 1964 to 1989. Sure, the 964 is not officially recognized as being one of the Porsche 911 classics, but the biggest difference between the two sorts is the larger and rounder fender, with the car otherwise keeping the same ‘face’ as the previous models.
And when you take a car such as the 1975 911 that was mentioned earlier and put it side-by-side with the 964, the 993, and the 997 and 991, you will likely realize that the 993 certainly looks to be more of a cross-breed between the original cars and the modern 911s.
There is not much to be said about a 911. While in your mind you may be able to say a large amount of things about the car, there isn’t much you can put into words that is not already well-established. Being a car enthusiast generally brings about an element of nostalgia, appreciating the cars of a past era sometimes more than their modern versions. But whether we like it or not, cars must move on in design and engineering. Safety, emissions, usability, just some reasons of why we can’t always wish it was still the 1970s. However, if you want a perfect balance between classic 911 and modern 911, the 993 is certainly the way to go.