1985-1987 Porsche 911 Carrera and 911 Turbo

It says much about Porsche engineers that they kept finding ways to enhance the 911, a car many thought was already quite good back in 1964. If nothing else, the steady stream of improvement testified to how well the basic concept could be adapted to new realities that Porsche couldn't have possibly foreseen more than 20 years before.

Porsche 911
U.S. horsepower for the 911 rose from 172 to 200 in 1985. Pictured is a coupe.

The 1985 models proved that point anew. The Turbo Look option was extended to the Targa and Cabriolet, power front seats arrived (the driver's as standard, the passenger's at extra cost), shift linkage was revised (though to no real effect), a "safety" windshield was added, and central locking became optional.

Also new was an expanded warranty: two years/unlimited miles on the entire car (up from one year), 10 years on rust, 5 years/50,000 miles on the powertrain.

During 1984, Porsche AG had taken over its U.S. operation from Volkswagen of America, creating Porsche Cars North America (PCNA), headquartered in Reno, Nevada. Zuffenhausen also kept moving toward a "world" 911 specification to simplify production and certification, as well as to reduce pesky gray-market doings, particularly in America. Thus, all non-U.S. 1985 models received the American catalytic converter and exhaust-gas oxygen sensor for emissions control.

Coinciding with the new distribution arrangement was Porsche's decision to reintroduce the storied 930 to the United States for 1986. Labeled 911 Turbo and base-priced at $48,000, it was all but identical to the European version.

Unfortunately, performance was all but identical to that of the previous 1979 U.S. model despite an extra 29 horsepower -- now 282 total at 5,500 rpm -- achieved via a three-way catalyst, oxygen sensor, and computer control for the fuel injection (mechanical Bosch KE-Jetronic). At least the beast was more predictable in really fast work thanks to wider-than-ever nine-inch wheels mounting 225/50VR16 tires in front and 245/45VR16s rear.

A genuine 930 stood to be a lot better than a Turbo Look Carrera, but Car and Driver wasn't so sure. Admittedly, said the editors, "it's obviously been taught some manners. Antics that would have spun you out [in a 930] hardly faze [the 911 Turbo]. [But] back in 1979, there really wasn't any other car in America that offered anywhere near the 930's kind of speed. [Now] we're in the middle of a horsepower boom [and] the march of technology has produced a whole flock of turbo cars with much better manners...Taking a cold, hard look at the 911 Turbo's vexing return, we get the feeling that fond memory may have been better left undisturbed."

Minor refinements attended the 1986 Porsche Carreras. Front seats were lowered for extra head room, and a heavy-duty windshield cleaning system became optional. Porsche again fiddled with climate controls and the shifter, though many testers felt neither was still quite right even after all this time.

Porsche 911
The entire Porsche 911 lineup was renamed Carrera for '85. Here's a Targa.

Wind leaks and minor rattles also persisted, which were downright curious for a car that had been around more than 20 years, let alone a Porsche. More damning, these problems were big letdowns in light of towering prices that in part reflected a fair degree of handcrafting -- which, come to think of it, may have caused the problems in the first place.

More encouraging was the extra power given to 1987 Porsche Carreras. Thanks mainly to recalibrated DME electronics, horsepower increased by 14, to 214 (SAE net) at 5,900 rpm, and torque by 10 pound-feet to 195 (still at 4,800 rpm). A separate thermostatic electric fan was added for the secondary oil cooler in the right front fender, and the clutch was upgraded from mechanical to hydraulic operation, which made stop-and-go driving less tiresome and less tiring.

But the most welcome change for '87 was a new five-speed transaxle with cone synchronizers, and not the familiar Porsche ring-type. More positive shifting was again claimed, but this time, testers agreed.

After sampling a Cabrio, Road & Track declared that the "new 911 gearbox shifts smoothly, has a well-defined gate and exhibits little of the old tranny's balkiness when cold...Because the brake is part of the same pedal cluster as the redesigned clutch, its position is improved and it's now possible to heel and toe the 911 without contorting your right foot or resorting to wearing snowshoes." Victory at last.

The Turbo was mostly a carryover for '87, but could again be ordered as a coupe, Targa, or Cabriolet. The last cost $78,415 before options, so its audience was mainly the millionaire's club.

Both the Carrera and Turbo gained electric front-seat height and cushion-angle adjusters. "Full" power seats, with electric fore/aft and backrest-angle movement, were standard for Turbos, optional on Carreras. Height-adjustable power lumbar support was another new separate option, borrowed from the 928S4.

Porsche 911
A power top became optional for the 1987 Porsche 911 Cabriolet.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356
Porsche 911
Porsche 914
Porsche 924, 944, 968
Porsche 928 Porsche 959
Porsche Boxster Porsche Cayenne Porsche Cayman

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