1994 Porsche 911 Turbo and 911 Speedster

Back in 1964, even the most ardent Porsche fan probably couldn't imagine that the 911 would be around 30 years later, or that its basic concept would be intact yet radically improved. But, of course, that's exactly what happened. Exciting new proof of the Porsche 911's ageless versatility appeared for model-year 1994 with the return of both the Speedster and the Turbo.

Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 Speedster was reincarnated for 1994 to close out the 964 series.

The Turbo actually came back twice. First up was a revised "standard" model badged Turbo 3.6, with 355 emissions-legal horsepower in U.S. trim. Road & Track described its powerplant as a Carrera 2 unit "modified to accept heftier cylinder barrels and lower-compression pistons [7.5:1], new camshafts, plus the old Turbo's single-plug heads (Porsche says there's no room for dual-plug heads). Also, the same induction system with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection...the same KKK turbocharger and intercooler and the same exhaust system."

But the result was "an engine that produces not only more horsepower but considerably more torque at low rpm (2500)...while delivering plenty of low-end performance and all-round smoothness. In short, a turbocharged powerplant with the instantaneous response and linear power delivery of an aspro [normally aspirated]."

The rest of the Turbo 3.6 was much like the previous 3.3-liter model, but again, Porsche prudently upgraded rolling stock to sticky Yokohama A-008P tires -- 225/40ZR18 front, 265/35ZR18 rear -- wrapped around handsome new three-piece Speedline wheels. This plus more considered chassis tuning made all the difference.

Said R&T's Joe Rusz: "Nearly two decades ago, or even as recently as 1988, trailing throttle in a corner was a no-no...But with nearly a foot of rubber on the road at each wheel, the Turbo 3.6 is very forgiving even when I...overcooked it going into a turn...[I]t's still possible to get oversteer -- on loose pavement or by punching the throttle to break loose the rear wheels. But [it] takes some doing."

R&T measured lateral acceleration of 0.91g, close to race-car level. Forward acceleration was equally impressive. "There's a horrendous amount of driveline judder as tires cling to the pavement (and visions of driveline repairs dance in our heads)," said Rusz. "But a bit of fancy footwork nets a 4.5-second 0-to-60-mph time." He demurred on top speed, but typical of Porsche, the official 174-mph claim was probably conservative.

"Better to enjoy the new Turbo's other strong points," Rusz added; these included excellent drivability in heavy traffic, a smoother ride than the old Turbo, and the traditional Porsche 911 virtues of great long-haul comfort and solid construction. Even fuel economy wasn't bad: about 25 mpg on American highways, though just 8 mpg in heavy flogging.

One thing not to like was price: $99,000 to start and nearly $110,000 with guzzler and luxury taxes. "The Turbo has come a long way," Rusz concluded, "shedding a lot of nasty habits. Except one: It's still an E-ticket ride."

Which made the revived Turbo S the key to the whole park. This one was U.S.-legal, hence its simultaneous premiere at the Los Angeles and Detroit shows in early 1994. Built to honor the Turbo's third consecutive season championship in IMSA Supercar racing, won in '93, it carried a racing-inspired 3.6 engine with a unique four-branch exhaust system that helped boost rated horsepower to no less than 380, making it the latest "most powerful production Porsche" yet sold in the States.

Of the approximately 100 built, most did come Stateside. One hundred was a tiny run indeed, and the car's pricing assured further exclusivity: $119,121 minimum, 159,179 with the slant-nose option and matching front spoiler.

The reincarnated Porsche 911 Speedster was a different ride entirely, but just as thrilling in its way. Road & Track said drivers should think of it "as a cross between the Carrera 2 Cabriolet and the 911 RS" -- and as "the antidote to the 1989 car." America

Being based on the 964-series C2 platform made all the difference, abetted by the same wheel/tire package and judicious "de-frilling" accorded the RS America. But being a Porsche, the '94 Speedster benefited from considered changes of its own, including a strengthened windshield frame, a smoother-looking fiberglass top cover, and easier top operation.

Paint colors were limited to red, white, or black, and the mostly black cockpit was dressed up with liberal swatches of red on the gauge cluster, seat shells, and gear lever. The seats themselves were normally one-piece racing-type buckets that were a tad snug for heftier occupants. However, less restrictive sports seats and power Carrera-style seats were both available.

Other extras included air, stereo, and cruise control; power windows and central locking were standard, as was modern Porsche 911 performance: By R&T's clock, 60 mph came up from rest in 5.7 seconds to 60, and the standing quarter was conquered in 14.1 seconds at 103 mph. Handling? Try 0.90g.

Best of all, the new Speedster was more affordable than its '89 forebear. Of course, "affordable" is always a relative term, but at $66,400 base, the '94 listed at $1,000 less than the '89, yet was better in most every way. Maxie Hoffman would surely have approved. And as Motor Trend advised: "Pay the money, drop the top and take off down the road. You'll forget all the about the price after 10 minutes."

While enthusiasts cheered the reborn Speedster and another new Turbo in 1994, Porsche breathed a sigh of relief as sales finally turned up. Global production jumped by 34 percent from 12,483 units to 16,789, and U.S. deliveries shot up 56 percent to 5,838 units.

Porsche 911
A pair of Porsche 911s play "fox and hound" in the 1994 Carrera Cup competition.

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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