Porsche 911 History


For most enthusiasts the 911 remains the one "true" Porsche, the only one with a direct link to the original Porsche 356, yet longer-lived by far. Though Ferry Porsche thought his first six-cylinder production car would have a good long run when he showed it in late 1963, even he couldn't have foreseen that it would endure into a new millennium.

Porsche 911 Image Gallery

Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 is both modern and timeless. This is a 1998 Carrera S.
See more pictures of the Porsche 911 series.

But this seeming immortality is not without reason. Over the years, the 911 has been put in a coffin more times than Dracula -- mainly by the press, though certain forces in Zuffenhausen also wanted to kill it at various times. Yet, as the Beetle once was for Volkswagen, the 911 became such a strong symbol of everything Porsche that it overshadowed -- and outsold -- its intended successor, the Porsche 928. VW finally made its great model change, but Porsche has not. The Porsche 911 became too profitable, too vital to be cast aside -- one reason you can buy a new one today.

Another reason is over four decades of Porsche-style honing that have kept the 911 fresh, exciting, and quite extraordinary. The result is both a living legend and a perpetual classic -- a car that seems like it's always been around yet in many ways is more relevant now than it was in the beginning.

Of course, the 911 was very good to start with, preserving the essence of earlier Porsches while setting a new and entirely higher standard of engineering and design. Mechanically, it was a sharp break with Porsche practice in several areas.

For example, it was the first production Porsche without front trailing arms or rear swing axles, though it retained 356-style torsion bars. It was the first roadgoing Porsche with more than four cylinders, yet its new six-cylinder engine was also a horizontally opposed air-cooled type placed behind the rear wheels.

Also unlike the Porsche 356, the 911 engine was supported at both ends: by the transaxle in front and by a transverse mount in back. An all-synchromesh gearbox with overdrive top gear was no surprise, but instead of four ratios, buyers could have five, which provided greater low-speed flexibility and higher top-end potential.

The 911 originated with Porsche Project 695, which also produced the 356's disc brakes. Planning began in 1956, a mere six years after Zuffenhausen began anything like series production.

At first, the Porsche 911 was seen not as a 356 replacement but as a larger four-seat car with performance comparable to that of the charismatic Carrera. It was intended that other 356s carry on even after the "big Porsche" was launched, as indeed some did for a time. But Ferry Porsche changed his mind about the size, fearing a full four-seater would put his firm in the unaccustomed and uncomfortable position of competing with much larger outfits, notably Daimler-Benz.

By 1959, work was underway on what emerged as the T-7 prototype (T-6 was the last 356 body, appearing in 1961). Styling was entrusted to one of Ferry's four sons, Ferdinand Porsche III, known as "Butzi." Ferry wasn't a body designer per se, but he knew what he wanted. A family resemblance to the 356 was a must, but so were (as he later described) "more space inside" and a "luggage space that could take an owner's golf clubs."

High performance was naturally a given, too, but Ferry put new emphasis on smooth, quiet running: "We decided on a 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine because sixes are more comfortable and refined," he said in 1984. "We studied the concept of a mid-mounted engine...but we could not give [the car] enough interior room for the outside size we wanted."

What they did want, in short, was a roomier, smoother, quieter, more practical, and somewhat more luxurious Carrera. In that regard, it's interesting to note that the late Dean Batchelor observed "the four-cam Carrera engine was considered briefly as an across-the-board replacement for the pushrod-and-rocker-arm engine, but was too costly and too complicated to be considered seriously for general use."

Without greatly extending the wheelbase, Butzi did a remarkable job of providing near four-seat interior room. Outside, the T-7 showed a low beltline, lots of glass, and a sharply sloped "hood." Front fenders remained high and prominent, something Butzi considered vital to Porsche identity.

With a huge wrapped backlight and stubby semi-notchback tail, the T-7 looked a bit unorthodox, but its styling from the B-pillars forward would survive almost unaltered to the production 911.

When Ferry decided on a more evolutionary look with Porsche's traditional 2+2 seating, Butzi revised the T-7 from the doors back, creating the now-familiar fastback with ovoid rear side windows and back-slanting B-posts. Batchelor recorded that Ferry decreed a wheelbase of no more than 2,200 mm, 100 mm longer than the 356's, and that's about how it worked out: 2,211 mm (87.0 inches) versus 2,100 (82.7) for the 356.

Porsche 911
As time would show, the Porsche 911 was destined for a long and exciting life.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1965 Porsche 911 Design

Designated Type 901, the Porsche 911 greeted the world at the Frankfurt Automobile Show in September 1963. Porsche allowed that it was being shown early; production wouldn't begin before the summer of '64. Road & Track's John R. Bond reported "there were so many rumors circulating they were forced to show it."

Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 was unveiled at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The new design and the 901 designation weren't linked. The Porsche organization has never been strictly sequential in assigning project numbers and has skipped quite a few; "901" was chosen simply to suggest a new direction.

And, of course, it didn't last. Peugeot claimed a "right" to three-digit model numbers with middle zeros and threatened to prevent a "901" from being sold in France, so "911" badges were substituted before sales began. (Zuffenhausen got the last laugh by giving middle-zero numbers to a half-dozen of its competition cars, including the beautiful 904 GTS.)

As Ferry specified, the Porsche 911 had a split fold-down rear seatback for greater cargo/passenger-carrying versatility. And despite having a more streamlined tail than the T-7, it still offered enough rear room for one adult or two small children.

Yet for all its newness, R&T's John Bond felt the chrome-yellow Frankfurt show car was "not as much different from the 356 as it appears in the photos...The big difference is the elimination of the broad-beam hip effect that results in a trimmer, narrower look and a roofline that, in [overhead] view, no longer tucks in at the rear. The net result of these appearance changes is a car 2.7-in. narrower overall, and more head, shoulder, and leg room for rear-seat passengers."

Though another all-independent concept, the Porsche 911 suspension broke new ground for Porsche with front MacPherson struts on single transverse A-arms connecting to longitudinal torsion bars. Rear suspension comprised transverse torsion bars and semi-trailing arms, a logical progression from swing axles.

After its inaugural test in 1965, R&T judged the Porsche 911 "neutral in its behavior and perfectly controllable throughout the whole speed range and even on atrocious road surfaces. True, the suspension is on the firm (not to say harsh) side, but for a high-performance car like this, it appears a small price to pay."

Steering design also parted company with the past, as ZF rack-and-pinion steering ousted the Volkswagen-based worm-gear mechanism, one of the last remnants of the old Porsche/VW kinship. The new system was not only more direct, with virtually no play at the wheel, but light, full of feel, and virtually shock-free (thanks, as usual, to a hydraulic damper).

Porsche also took pains to provide effective heating, ever a challenge with air-cooled engines. Air was drawn from the cooling fan to a heat box, then fed to the cockpit via underdash and dashtop vents.

Still optional was a gasoline heater with an electric fan to force more air into the heater boxes, but it was rarely needed once the car was warmed up and moving. Interior ventilation improved with the addition of extractor slots above the backlight to speed cockpit flow-through.

But the big attraction was the new 1991-cc flat-six, designated 901/01. Developed by Ferdinand Piech, Ferry's nephew, and Hans Tomala, it was quite oversquare (bore and stroke: 80 × 66 mm/3.15 × 2.60 inches). With twin triple-choke Solex 40 PI carburetors and 9:1:1 compression, rated output was 130 DIN horsepower European (148 SAE gross) at 6,100 rpm and 140 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm.

Unlike previous Porsche fours, the 901 six employed a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank. Each operated two valves per cylinder (arranged in V-formation) via rocker arms and was driven by a pair of roller chains instead of the complex train of bevel gears used on Porsche 356 Carrera engines.

Enhancing the greater inherent smoothness of the "boxer" six was a six-throw, forged-steel crankshaft with no fewer than eight main bearings. A countershaft mounted beneath carried impulses to twin chain sprockets at the crank's rear end, each sprocket driving a camshaft.

Ahead of the countershaft were two oil pumps: a large scavenger for circulating oil between the dry sump and a separate, remote reservoir, and a smaller pump for maintaining oil pressure. An oil cooler was also specified, reflecting Porsche's passion for proper lubrication as one aid to overall engine cooling. The factory said that oil temperature should never exceed 130 degrees, and no tester ever recalled that it did, which was only to be expected from a system developed in the literal heat of competition.

Also per Porsche practice, the Porsche 911 engine had a cast-aluminum crankcase and separate cylinders with hemispherical combustion chambers of cross-flow design. Cylinder construction was rather exotic for 1963, comprising aluminum-silicon alloy with a thin aluminum layer chemically etched away from the bores to leave silicon crystals as the pistons' working surface. The design had the advantage of providing microscopic "valleys" that ensured constant surface oiling. For strength, the pistons were forged aluminum, and the con rods were forged steel.

The rest of the Porsche 911 drivetrain was fairly familiar. A Fichtel & Sachs single dry-plate clutch transferred power to a fully synchronized Porsche transaxle, initially with five forward ratios and a racing-style shift pattern with first to the left and down (below reverse), out of the basic "H." Initial rolling stock comprised 4.5-inch-wide, 15-inch-diameter steel disc wheels shod with surprisingly modest 165-15 radial tires.

Porsche 911
"Butzi" Porsche designed the classic body style of the Porsche 911.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1965 Porsche 911 Road Test

As with every 356 evolution, the Porsche 911 garnered mixed initial reactions from confirmed Porschephiles, though most soon grew to accept it and, inevitably, respect it.

Press response was enthusiastic. Gushed Car and Driver: "Race breeding and engineering development ooze from the 911's every pore. The whole package, especially the power-train, is designed to be more reliable and less difficult to service...Although the 911 costs a lot less than the Carrera [about $6,500 in 1965] -- and a lot less than the [356] C and SC -- it's worth the price of all the old Porsches put together. More importantly, the 911's appeal should be considerably wider than the earlier models..."

Porsche 911
Strong demand for the Porsche 911 taxed labor-intensive production methods.

A bigger surprise was the glowing February 1966 assessment by Denis Jenkinson in Britain's Motor Sport. A veteran Porsche driver, but never one to mince words (even at the expense of advertising revenue), "Jenks" declared the 911 "the best car Porsche have yet built for normal road use [and] one of the best cars I have ever driven."

Like so many after him, Jenks faced a dashboard dominated by an elliptical binnacle housing five circular gauges, the largest of which was a tachometer mounted dead-center. To its left were dials for fuel/oil levels and oil pressure/temperature; the speedo and electric clock sat to the tach's right.

Below this cluster, a strip of genuine teak presented various knobs and switches. A molded crash pad stretched across the dashtop, and the usual shapely bucket seats offered Reutter's "stepless" backrest recliner adjustment.

Yet all this left Jenkinson unmoved: "Driving quietly away, [the] lack of character was even more noticeable, so that seasoned Porsche owners commented that it was all right, but hardly a Porsche."

Jenks found the car's "character" when he flogged it: "Out into the open country, the whole car immediately became alive...The more I drove it and the harder I made it work, the more Porsche-like it became." Helping to solidify his impression - literally -- was the usual "all-of-a-piece" Porsche driving feel regardless of surface or speed.

"The whole car [seems] indestructible, coupled with suspension, ride, road-holding, steering, braking and general good manners that are truly modern, and the nearest to perfection that production cars have yet reached...Why don't all manufacturers make cars like this?"

Supply was Porsche's biggest early problem with the 911, as demand was strong from day one. A mid-1963 purchase of Reutter assured better quality but did nothing to increase production capacity. Accordingly, Porsche soon contracted with the Wilhelm Karmann works for additional bodies.

But that effectively ended production of the 356C (in September 1965, by which time it was being sold only in the United States), so Porsche decided to fill the gap with a four-cylinder 911, the 912 (again, the project number was 10 digits below the type designation in actual order).

Both 911 and 912 bowed "officially" in late 1964, when a Porsche representative said he feared that new-model announcements were becoming a habit at Zuffenhausen: "We just had one 15 years ago."

The Porsche 911s went on sale in the United States in early 1965, for model-year '66; the first 912s arrived in June, two months behind initial European deliveries.

Porsche 912
The Porsche 912 was the four-cylinder companion to the 911.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1965-1966 Porsche 912

Inevitably, the Porsche 912 carried the 1600SC engine from the last of the 356s, though slightly detuned to 102 horsepower (SAE) at 5,800 rpm and 91 pound-feet of peak torque at 3,500 rpm. On paper, it should have been slower than the SC, because the Porsche 911 bodyshell added some 100 pounds to curb weight. But with its five-speed gearbox (a $75 extra) and superior aerodynamics, the Porsche 912 was actually faster all-out.

Porsche's top-speed figure was a conservative 116 mph. Car and Driver reached 115, and Road & Track managed 119, both with five-speed. The typical 0-60 mph run was 11.5-12 seconds, the standing quarter-mile an 18-second affair at 77-78 mph. Predictably, the 912 was much thriftier than the Porsche 911, averaging 25 miles per gallon versus 16-20 mpg.

Porsche 911
The Porsche 912 combined 356SC's horsepower with the 911's "Type 901" body.

R&T said the Porsche 912 "isn't a car in which one can amble around town in high gear with abandon. It's necessary to make full use of the five speeds, and there seem to always be more wrong gears than right ones," a snipe at the racing-style shift pattern.

Britain's Autocar found it possible to go from first to fourth, missing second gear, but that shifting became "subconscious" with practice. Conversely, observed R&T, the Porsche 912 engine "runs without fuss at low speeds and idles smoothly at 1000 rpm, [though] it's anything but quiet. It never sounds overworked, mind you, but it seems that all the clatter conies right through the bulkhead." The 911 also wasn't particularly quiet inside, so Porsche still had some work to do in that area.

Speed aside, the Porsche 912 drove much like its six-cylinder sister. Both had strong, virtually fade-free brakes; light, accurate, well-damped steering; and German Dunlop SP radials that worked perfectly with the suspension to deliver strong cornering with a good ride.

"Oversteer is a thing of the past," R&T concluded, "and one no longer need be an expert to keep from losing it -- even in the wet. The 912 is a car that is very responsive to small steering inputs...but not at all likely to wag its tail in vigorous cornering."

R&T judged the ride as firm "but most definitely not a harsh one. There's very little tendency to pitch or roll and, true to Porsche tradition, the body itself adds to the impression of a good ride by being absolutely rigid and rattle-squeak-free."

Reflecting its lower price ($4,700 U.S. POE), the Porsche 912 was relatively "stripped" compared to a 911. For example, the dash was trimmed with plastic instead of teak, was bereft of a clock and oil-pressure/temp dial, and the optional gas heater was initially unavailable.

But R&T decided that "nothing is left out that is really necessary. If you want to order a Porsche with no extras, be assured it will be a 'fully equipped' car." In both 911 and 912, that full equipment included three-speed wipers, a rear-window defroster, and backup lamps.

Porsche 912
The Porsche 912 had fewer standard amenities than the 911 but sold for less.

The 901 Series saw few changes through 1966. July '65 brought revised gear ratios to both models and a standard four-speed for the Porsche 911, the latter allowing Porsche to advertise a lower starting price.

Complaints of carburetion flat spots and fouled plugs were addressed the following February by a switch to Weber 40 IDA 3C carburetors. Gripes about front-end float and abrupt understeer/oversteer transitions brought a very un-Porsche solution: an 11-kilogram (24.2-pound) cast-iron weight bolted and glued to each inner outboard end of the front bumper.

A more sophisticated idea appeared at Frankfurt in 1965: an open 901 with a clever yet practical liftoff roof panel above the front seats. The lid attached to the windshield header and a fixed rear "hoop" that also provided rollover protection. The new body style was called Targa, after one of Porsche's most successful competition venues, the grueling Targa Florio road race in Sicily. Available in both 911 and 912 form, the Targa began export sales in 1967.

Butzi Porsche had objected to retaining the coupe's rear sheetmetal for the Targa, saying a "trunkback" (as on the T-7) was the only proper shape for a cabriolet. Nevertheless, shared bodywork was a must given the Targa's modest sales projections.

The plus side was that this decision "forced" Butzi to design in the strong rollbar. Initially, the Targa had a zip-out plastic rear window and a folding roof panel of rubberized fabric. The rollbar was trimmed in brushed stainless steel -- chosen, Butzi said, to emphasize its functionality.

As it turned out, the public wanted far more Targas than Porsche planned (originally 12.7 percent of total series production). Porsche also found that the 912 sold much better than the 911, though that wasn't too surprising given the price difference. Of the nearly 13,000 Porsches built in 1966, more than 9,000 had four cylinders.

But these were problems of success that everyone in Zuffenhausen was happy to endure. The new-generation Porsche was a solid hit. All that now remained was to apply the same sort of carefully considered honing that had been lavished on the Porsche 356.

Porsche 911/912 Targa
The Porsche 911/912 Targa was a semi-convertible with a lift-off roof panel.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1966-1967 Porsche 911S

The 901 Series had ample scope for development, though perhaps only the Porsche organization could see it. The first major advance came in late 1966, and it was an exciting one: the hot 911S -- "S" for Super. With this, Porsche returned to its old three-tier lineup of Norma, Super, and Carrera, respectively represented by the 912, standard 911, and the new S.

The S boasted modifications typical of a higher-performance Porsche: reprofiled cam, larger valves, better porting, loftier compression (9.8:1 vs. 9.0), larger jets for the Weber carbs (which were otherwise much like those given to the base 911 from early '66).

The result was 30 more horsepower for a total 160 DIN horsepower European (180 SAE). Torque improved fractionally, to 127 pound-feet, but peaked fully 1,000 rpm higher.

Unlike other models, the S lacked a choke, but pumping the accelerator was usually enough for starting. On the other hand, merely blipping the throttle on the freer-breathing S would send the tach needle zinging to its 7,300-rpm redline. Porsche thus wisely fitted an ignition cutout that interrupted spark to the plugs near maximum revs, thus protecting the valvetrain from overly enthusiastic drivers.

Naturally, the S also received chassis upgrades to match its extra power. These included a rear anti-roll bar (augmenting the one in front), Koni shocks, ventilated instead of solid-rotor disc brakes all-round and -- soon to be a 911 hallmark -- pretty, five-spoke Fuchs alloy wheels that cut five pounds from unsprung weight at each hub. Curiously, the S had the same skinny tires as the normal Porsche 911, at least for the moment.

Porsche 911S
Five-spoke wheels identified the hot Porsche 911S, which bowed in late 1966.

S gear ratios were evenly spaced except for the five-speed transmission's overdrive top, which was purposely very "high." It gave 100 mph at 4,200 rpm, hardly a strain for the free-revving flat-six. Pulling max rpm in the lower gears netted 0-60 in eight seconds or less and ran a standing quarter-mile of under 16 seconds at 90-plus mph.

Interestingly, the torque curve had two distinct steps. As Autocar reported: "The catalogue peak comes at 5200 rpm, but before that, at about 3000, the engine takes a deep breath and literally surges up to the next step, where the extra punch feels like an additional pair of cylinders being switched in. This kick in the back leaves passengers unaccustomed to it slightly winded, and it is sudden enough to cause momentary wheelspin on wet surfaces, even in third."

As for road manners, the S earned mixed reviews. "Oversteer is back -- and Porsche's got it!" screamed Car and Driver. "At low lateral accelerations it understeers mildly . . . By 0.70 g, it's in a full-blooded four-wheel drift. . . . Beyond the limit of . . . adhesion, the 911S reacts like any car with a rearward weight bias, and spins, or, if you're quick enough to catch it, power-slides like an old dirt-track roadster."

Road & Track found "less of the [low-speed] understeer that so surprised us in the 911, [though above 40 mph] we were hard-pressed to detect any difference. . . . Certainly it's easier to hang out the tail if you're in the right gear, simply because of the increased power. But the simple application of steering to the 911S at highway speeds gets the same results as in the 911, which means stick-stick-stick-oversteer! And you'd better know what you're doing in that last phase."

In a calmer vein, C/D declared that "Porsche's admonition, 'not for the novice,' is a bit gratuitous. Within normal driving limits and with reasonable caution, the 911S handles predictably, controllably, and head and shoulders above anything else on the road."

As proof, the magazine reported lateral acceleration of 0.93 g in right turns, 0.89 g in lefts, and a calculated 0.81 g overall. These figures, good even today, came despite the modest rubber.

Both U.S. magazines were disappointed in Porsche 911S braking, blaming the skinny tires for unchanged stopping distances despite the model's new vented rotors. C/D also found some minor lapses in workmanship, though its test car was admittedly "right off the boat" and had not been dealer-prepped.

The engines in both test cars evidently weren't up to scratch either. Though C/D cut a full second off Porsche's claimed 7.5-second 0-60 time, R&T managed only 8.1. But there was no disputing that the engine itself was beautifully smooth and fantastically willing.

Autocar applauded "the superb lightness of all the controls" and "excellent seating . . . The Porsche 911S is a car one never likes to leave parked when one could be driving it."

Road & Track was more critical, saying that in American conditions the Porsche 911S "offers no real gain over the 911 and perhaps even a slight loss. It is a bit less flexible at ordinary speeds; deceleration below about 1800 rpm brings on bucking and considerable clatter from the drivetrain, demanding an immediate downshift." But even R&T's hard-nosed editors weren't immune to that intoxicating powerplant: "For the driver who really wants to get on with it, the 911S is bound to be more fun than the 911."

The fun suddenly stopped when the Porsche 911S left the American market for 1968 (though it continued in Europe). While the ostensible reason was that year's new federal emission standards and the engine retuning needed to meet them, some say it was the persistent plug-fouling, which had become a tremendous service problem. But the S would return, for 1969.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1968 Porsche 911

Three new variations appeared during 1968: two for Europe, one for the United States, and both part of a Porsche 911 updating designated "A-Series." America's model was the Porsche 911L, replacing the standard issue just after the start of the model year. The L stood for Luxus (luxury) and attached to what was basically an S with the normal-tune engine.

An upmarket move, it sold for $600 more than the previous year's 911, with some of the increase reflecting modifications to meet 1968's new federal safety and emissions standards. Outside, all '68 U.S. Porsches were distinguished -- if that's the word -- by add-on side marker lights, again per Washington edict. Why Porsche didn't simply integrate them within the wrapped taillight and parking-lamp clusters isn't known, though this would be done later.

Porsche 911
German police used Porsche 911s for high-speed pursuits in the late '60s.

Europe also got an L-model (from August 1967) plus a low-priced 911T (Touring). The latter, trimmed to Porsche 912 standards, carried a detuned 110-horsepower (DIN European) six with reduced compression (8.6:1), cast-iron rocker arms and cylinders, milder cams, no crankshaft counterweights, steel wheels, and a lighter front anti-roll bar

For all this updating, Porsche 911s were still far from perfect. Plug-fouling afflicted even the base model (though not as severely as the S), and a switch to Weber carbs didn't completely cure the jetting and adjustment bothers of the old Solexes. Bosch WG 265 T2SP sparkplugs helped some, but the '68 L met emission limits with an air-injection pump at the exhaust manifold that produced rough running and backfiring on deceleration.

It was a makeshift solution for Porsche and another one that would not last. In fact, the factory later made amends with a retrofit kit comprising revised jets and readjusted accelerator rods.

Announced in Europe during 1967 was a surprising new Porsche 911 option that went to America for '68: Sportomatic, Porsche's first automatic transmission. Devised by Fichtel & Sachs expressly for the United States, it was, said Car and Driver, a throwback to "Detroit's bizarre efforts at clutchless shifting that died a merciful death in the middle Fifties."

That description was apt, as Sportomatic was another semi-automatic transmission: specifically, a four-speed Porsche manual gearbox operated by a three-element hydraulic torque converter with a single dry-plate clutch.

Road & Track described it this way: "The converter is a 'loose' one, with a stall speed of 2600 rpm and stall torque ratio of 2.15:1; its oil supply is common with the engine's, adding 2.5 qt. to that reservoir. The clutch is disengaged by a vacuum servo unit that gets its signal from a microswitch on the shift linkage; thus, a touch on the shift lever disengages the clutch. The gearbox is the usual all-synchro 4-speed unit but with a parking pawl added."

Gear ratios differed considerably, though. The Sportomatic's first through third were all numerically lower than the manual four-speed's, while its fourth was slightly higher. Its final drive was numerically lower, too. With that, a Sportomatic L was slower off the line than its manual counterpart but almost as fast all-out. Helping performance was a very high converter efficiency of 96.5 percent.

Driving with Sportomatic took practice. As R&T explained: "For all normal acceleration from rest, D (2nd gear) is used. The converter lets the engine run up to 2600 rpm immediately and...gets the car moving briskly, but noisily...A direct shift to 4th at some casual speed will be the usual upshift. For...vigorous driving, the Sportomatic is just like the manual 4-speed except that one shifts without the clutch...We found that the best technique was to engage 1st gear, let the clutch in (by taking the hand off the stick), 'jack up' the engine against the converter while holding the brakes, and release the brakes to start."

The technique was a little hard on the transmission but good for 0-60 in 10.3 seconds and a standing quarter-mile of 17.3 seconds at 80 mph. Car and Driver did better: 9.3 seconds to 60 mph and 16.8 seconds at 82 mph in the quarter. "There's absolutely no trouble in shifting," the magazine asserted. "Just grab the lever and move it. No matter how fast you do it, it's impossible to beat the clutch or the synchronizers."

In effect, Sportomatic was a compromise answer to the penchant of U.S. drivers for lugging along in high gear at low revs, thus fouling plugs and otherwise loading up engines. It was also perhaps a nod to the American preference for easier drivability than previous Porsches offered.

Where the 911's high torque peak meant lots of manual shifting, R&T found that Sportomatic allowed one to stay "in 4th gear down to ridiculous speeds like 20 mph and still accelerate smartly away with traffic. The 911 engine likes revs, and the converter lets it rev." Unhappily, it also made for more engine noise, which R&T likened to that of "a GM city bus."

Viewed objectively, Sportomatic was a typically well-judged Porsche response to a perceived need, and it didn't much hurt performance or mileage. Yes, declutching by mere touch was disconcerting (one wag suggested putting burrs on the shifter, to be removed after 500 miles), but drivers grew accustomed to it.

Still, it wasn't the sort of thing most Porsche fans could endorse, and by the early Seventies, demand for Sportomatic in the United States was practically nil. Regardless, the option would be available to special order all the way through May 1979.

Though "unhappy" with Sportomatic in its March 1968 road test, Car and Driver was pleased to note the adoption of 5.5-inch-wide wheels for all Porsche 911s. "Racing seems to have improved the breed here, and Porsche, which stormed off with the under 2-liter championship in the '67 [Sports Car Club of America] Trans-Am series, has obviously paid attention to how they accomplished that. Ride harshness suffers, but what the hell."

Though C/D liked Porsche 911 handling more than ever, it warned first-time pilots to "approach [the car] with great respect."

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1969 Porsche 911

For 1969, the Porsche 911 line was sorted out on both sides of the Atlantic with a three-model B-Series that entered production in August 1968. The 912, to be replaced in 1970 by the "Volks-Porsche" 914, continued to evolve in parallel, though its engine was unchanged. The new 911 trio would run three model years. The initial U.S. versions were as follows:

  • 911T -- 110 DIN horsepower European (125 SAE) at 5,800 rpm, 8.6:1 CR, 110 mph official top speed; base price (coupe): $5,995.

  • 911E -- 140 DIN horsepower European (160 SAE) at 6,500 rpm; 9.0:1 CR; 134 mph; base price (coupe): $7,195.

  • 911S -- 170 DIN horsepower European (190 SAE) at 6,800 rpm; 9.8:1; 140 mph; base price (coupe): $7,895.

Only the T used carburetors (twin Weber 40 IDTs). The new E, replacing the L, and the revived S both sported fuel injection, the modern way to reconcile high performance with low emissions. Transmission choices comprised Sportomatic and four- or five-speed manuals for T and E; the S was now five-speed only.

Developed by Porsche and Bosch, the new fuel-injection system was a mechanical type similar to the one used by Mercedes, with a squirter at each cylinder (making it a multipoint setup) and a double-row, six-plunger pump driven by toothed belt from the left camshaft; tubes delivered fuel to the ports just below.

An electric fuel pump fed the injection pump; check valves in the injectors opened at a set pressure from the injection-pump plungers. The ram tubes and a richer mixture improved power at higher crank speeds while reducing pollutants at lower rpm. To combat the old plug-fouling problem, a capacitive-discharge (CD) ignition was installed.

Fuel injection permitted other power-boosting changes. The E reverted to the original 911 cam profile, which was wilder than the superseded L's. The S had slightly higher compression and reshaped inlet passages, plus an extra oil cooler for greater reliability with the higher power. Crankcases switched from aluminum to cast magnesium construction.

Porsche 911
The 911's shape would last over three decades. Here, an example from 1964.

There was an obvious visual change for '69: slightly flared wheel openings, necessitated by wider brakes that expanded E and S track width by 0.4-inch. The S also got six-inch-wide wheels. Less apparent was a 2.25-inch (57-mm) wheelbase increase -- to 89.3 inches/2,268 mm -- via longer rear semi-trailing arms.

Despite an unchanged drivetrain position, fore/aft weight distribution ended up more even, going from 41.5/58.5 percent to 43/57. At the same time, the previous Nadella axle shafts gave way to Lobro assemblies with Rzeppa constant-velocity joints; the shafts were also re-angled slightly rearward from the inner joints.

Another new chassis wrinkle for 1969 Porsche 911 was Boge self-adjusting hydropneumatic front struts, which were standard for the E and early S models, an option for later Ss and all Ts. Replacing the normal front struts, torsion bars, and shocks, they kept the nose at a specified height regardless of passenger or cargo load.

Unlike Citroen's oleopneumatic system, their pump was not engine-driven but pressurized by suspension movement. Though the longer '69 wheelbase shifted static weight distribution forward about 1.5 percent, this was balanced on Boge-equipped cars by deleting the front sway bar.

Still, final oversteer remained the dominant handling trait in any Porsche 911, though it was never a surprise to the skilled, knowledgeable driver.

The Boge struts were part of a new 911E Comfort Package that was optional in Europe and standard in the United States. Also included were 14-inch wheels and tires, aluminum brake calipers, a more strident "highway" horn, bumper rub strips, bright-metal rocker-panel trim, gold deck script, velour carpeting, a leather-covered steering wheel, and an oil pressure/level gauge.

Fuel injection and the CD ignition wrought terrific improvements in 911 drivability. The E, for example, could lug down to 35-40 mph and then pull smoothly away, yet it was almost as fast as a '67 S. Road & Track's example ran 0-60 in 8.4 seconds, the standing quarter in 16 seconds, and hit 130 mph while averaging near 20 mpg overall.

Completing 1969 refinements were a new three-speed heater fan, flat-black wiper arms, and an electric rear-window defroster. The last was also standard for Targas, which exchanged their leaky and noisy plastic zip-out rear window for fixed wraparound glass that made things less open but more comfy and solid. In all, the '69s were the most tractable and pleasurable Porsches since the 356C.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1970-1972 Porsche 911

All Porsche 911s became incrementally quicker with the 1970 C-Series, thanks to a 4-mm larger bore that upped displacement to 2,165cc (132.1 cid). Compression ratios stayed put, but the T switched to Zenith carbs (40 TIN). Because horsepower and torque were higher across the board, clutch diameter was increased 10 mm (to 225 mm).

Porsche 911
This Porsche 911 is outfitted for law-enforcement work.

On the chassis, the front-strut upper attachment points were moved 0.55-inch (14 mm) forward, which reduced steering effort and kickback. Model-year 1970 also brought first-time availability of an optional limited-slip differential. The 1970 U.S. lineup was as follows:

  • 911T -- 125 DIN horsepower European (145 SAE) at 5,800 rpm, 128 mph official top speed; base price (coupe): $6,430.

  • 911E -- 155 DIN horsepower European (175 SAE) at 6,200 rpm; 137 mph official top speed; base price (coupe): $7,895.

  • 911S -- 180 DIN horsepower European (200 SAE) at 6,500 rpm; 144 mph official top speed; base price (coupe): $8,675.

Porsche used the extra displacement to make the S engine a trifle more composed, with still-better low-end flexibility and a cleaner exhaust. "As impressive as the fact that it meets smog laws is the way the 911S runs," said one tester. "It idles smoothly at 800-1000 rpm and runs without any of the common symptoms of mixture leanness found in today's emission-control high-output engines at moderate speeds."

Even so, the S remained too much car for speed-limited U.S. driving, displaying "very little torque until about 4500 rpm...But going up through the gears...brings out noises that will warm hearts even of those accustomed to exotic V-12s. Glorious noises!"

While the S was in the same performance league as the Jaguar E-Type and Chevy Corvette, it was far better built and achieved its exciting ends through finesse, not brute force.

But it was also becoming quite costly now, rarely delivering for under $9,000 -- though even that had a certain appeal. As Road & Track quipped, the S offered "performance on the order of an American Supercar but without the stigma of low cost."

By contrast, the bottom-line T was relatively affordable in 1970-71 at around $6,500. True, that was more than the E-Type or Corvette, but $1,000 less than a Mercedes 280SL -- fortunate, as the prospective T buyer was quite likely to consider the Merc.

After a little-changed group of 1971 D-Series models came the E-Series Porsche 911s for 1972, with further increases in both displacement and wheelbase. A longer stroke (to 70.4 mm, up 4.4 mm) on an unchanged bore took the flat-six to 142.9 cid/2341cc, though engine-lid badges optimistically stated "2.4" liters. Wheelbase lengthened a mere 3 mm to 89.4 inches (2271 mm), a change that has never been explained.

The extra displacement stemmed from Porsche's desire to maintain performance against the fast-stiffening U.S. emission standards. California, still requiring lower pollutant levels than other states, mandated that all cars be operable on low-lead 91-octane gasoline beginning with model-year 1972.

Detroit responded by simply reducing compression -- and thus performance -- while most European producers went to different pistons and heads. Thus began the disappointing era of "federalized" imports marked by an ever-widening performance/economy gap with Porsches designed for the German market.

Porsche also lowered compression for '72, but the greater displacement more than offset it. In fact, all three engines showed useful output gains, so Porsche 911 performance scarcely suffered. The specifics:

  • 911T -- 130 DIN horsepower European (157 SAE) at 5,600 rpm, 7.5:1

  • 911E -- 165 DIN horsepower European (185 SAE) at 6,200 rpm, 8.1:1

  • 911S -- 190 DIN horsepower European (210 SAE) at 6,500 rpm, 8.5:1

These figures weren't very different from those of Porsche 911s sold in Europe (which would soon enact its own emissions standards), reflecting a corporate philosophy that Porsche publicly declared a decade later: namely, one engine spec and one performance level for all markets (or as many as technology allowed). As if to signal this, Bosch fuel injection was applied to the 1972 U.S.-market T.

Porsche 911
Porsche production became more automated, yet hand labor still went into each car.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1972 Porsche 911 Model Comparison

Car and Driver compared all three 911s in a 1972 test, and the results bear scrutiny:


911T 911E 911S
0-60 mph (sec.) 6.9
5.8 6.0
0-1/4 mile (sec.) 15.1
14.3 14.4
1/4-mile mph 91.7 96.9 96.8
Top speed (mph) 125 135 140
80 mph braking (ft) 271 234 280
Curb wt. (lbs) 2,425 2,475 2,455
Base price $8,804 $10,506 $10,749

Two things emerge here: the T's continuing status as a remarkable buy in Porsche performance, and the close similarity between E and S, even though C/D's E was the heavier Targa (the others were coupes). Evidently, the E was improving at a faster rate.

But then, the same could be said of all 911s for '72. For example, the oil tank was now made of stainless steel and relocated from the right-rear wheelarch to a position between it and the right door.

Even better, it gained an external flap, like the one for the gas filler on the left front fender. But the arrangement was axed after this one year because people tended to put fuel in the oil tank by mistake -- with disastrous results. The fuel tank was expanded to 21.1 gallons when its upper half was stamped around a new space-saver spare tire (an arrangement prohibited in Britain).

The 1972 Porsche 911s also enhanced both appearance and high-speed stability with the addition of a small under-bumper "chin" spoiler. The result of aerodynamic work by Porsche engineers, it reduced front-end lift from 183 to 102 pounds at 140 mph -- though that was purely academic to Americans heading for a 55-mph national speed limit. The spoiler was optional for the T and E, standard on the S, but became so popular that it was included on all models after 1973.

Among chassis changes for '72 were larger-diameter anti-roll bars for the S (now 15 mm front and rear), and cancellation of the optional Boge struts, which had garnered few orders. The S reverted to a standard four-speed gearbox. The optional five-speed was strengthened, made easier to shift, and -- a welcome change -- given a conventional gate with fifth on a dogleg to the right and first at the top left of the "H."

Car and Driver's comparison test noted that the T "has exactly the same acceleration in the quarter-mile as the 2.0-liter 911S of 1969 and is a whole lot less fussy about the way it's driven...The E is easy to get along with too...It's smooth at low speeds, feels strong at 3000 rpm, and climbs up to its 6800-rpm redline with determination."

By contrast, the '72 S was "a top-speed car more than anything else. The engine doesn't feel capable until about 5000, and you usually end up shifting there even in routine traffic...It is rough at low speeds and wants to buck in traffic. The torque band is narrow, so much so that even though all of the 5-speed 911s have the same transmission ratios, they feel too wide only in the S."

After track testing at California's Riverside Raceway, the least costly 911 emerged as C/D's favorite "because it was the most predictable. The E, whose Targa roof likely give it a fractionally higher center of gravity, had slightly more steady-state understeer and more vigorous tail-wag in transients. Its most conspicuous trick, however, was its three-legged dog stance in turns. Typically, 911s lift the inside front wheel, but few to the dizzying heights of this Targa."

Car and Driverwent on to say, "The S was much like the E. Perhaps a little less understeer and an extra increment of twitch. Like the T, the S was a coupe, but its electric sunroof alters its weight distribution somewhat. There were extra pounds in the roof and the electric motor was back in the engine compartment. If handling is your goal, it's best to stick with the plain coupe."

Porsche 911
A racy new 911 model appeared in 1972 as the Carrera RS 2.7.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1973-1974 Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 continued its winning ways for 1973. Changes for that year's F-Series models began with big black-rubber bumper guards and steel reinforcing door beams per federal mandate, plus distinctive "cookie-cutter" alloy wheels for the E. Engines stayed the same through mid-model year, when the T gained Bosch's new K-Jetronic fuel injection (a.k.a. CIS -- Continuous Injection System), good for an extra 10 DIN horsepower European (seven SAE).

1973 Porsche 911
The 1973 U.S. Porsche 911 lineup (from left): S, T, and E models.

Despite a now decade-old basic design, the 911 seemed to have aged hardly at all. Of course, it was still getting better -- and not a moment too soon, given the upheavals that rocked the American auto industry for model-year 1974. The toughest U.S. emissions standards ever made most engines less efficient than ever. A new federal edict for 5-mph bumpers brought power-sapping weight and ugly looks to too many cars. Inflation was still pushing prices up and sales down, even as soaring insurance rates continued devastating the ranks of performance machines.

But the real shocker came in late 1973 from a heretofore little-known cartel called OPEC -- Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries -- which decided to make "black gold" as precious as real gold by shutting off Middle East pipelines. Long waiting lines began to form at gas pumps across the United States, and prices for all petroleum-based products went out of sight. That winter was longer and colder than usual for the world's industrial nations as rationing and other energy-conserving measures threatened to become a way of life.

Against this bleak backdrop stood refurbished Porsche 911s that remained uncompromising high performers in utter defiance of the day's news. They naturally had "crash" bumpers, but so skillfully integrated as to look like they'd been there all along. And while many automakers resorted to smaller engines, the 911s got a larger one that met all the latest "smog regs" while sacrificing little in performance or fuel efficiency.

Of course, these changes were pure coincidence, for no one could have predicted the events of 1973-74. Still, the Porsche 911 entered its eleventh year as unassailable proof that when the going got tough, Porsche knew how to get going.

Porsche 911
Larger, sturdier bumpers for 1974 marked the 911's first major design change.

Much of the groundwork for the '74s was laid in 1973 with a very special European 911: the Carrera RS. The initials meant Rennsport ("racing sport"), signifying a competition Porsche -- here, a 911 trimmed and tuned for the Group 4 GT class. Rules specified a minimum 500 be sold, and Porsche deliberately held the price to the equivalent of about $10,000 in Germany to ensure they would.

Happily, demand proved so strong that 1,636 were ultimately produced. With that, the RS was reclassified as a Group 3 series-production GT, a class it stood to dominate because of minimal allowable modifications. Porsche raised the car's price by several thousand dollars to more closely reflect true worth.

The late Dean Batchelor recorded that some 600 RS models were trimmed a la 911S for road use in Europe. None came to America, though: "dirty" engine, you know.

Dirty or not, the engine was indisputably powerful. Designated Type 911/93, it was a new 2.7-liter version of the now legendary flat-six, achieved by boring out the 2.4 from 84 to 90 mm. This required deleting the Biral cylinder liners and instead coating the bores with Nikasil, a nickel/silicon carbide alloy that brought a happy bonus in reduced internal friction. The 2.4's valves, timing, compression, and fuel injection were all retained, but the extra cc's added 20 horses for a total of 200 DIN horsepower European/230 SAE at 6,300 rpm in roadgoing trim.

As a homologation special, the RS 2.7 was much lightened (thin-gauge body steel, for instance) and thus tipped the scales at less than a ton -- about 300 pounds under a stock S. The chassis was beefed up with gas-pressurized Bilstein shocks, super-stiff sway bars, and aluminum wheels measuring an inch wider at the rear than on a roadgoing S (six inches versus five).

Outside, RS 2.7s were unmistakable. All were finished in white, and Zuffenhausen designers played up the return of a production-based Carrera by putting an outsize version of the traditional name script (in blue) above the rocker panels. Rear fenders were further flared to suit the wider wheels (also blue), and a small "bib" spoiler sprouted beneath the front bumper.

But the visual keynote was a prominent rear spoiler molded into the engine cover. Aptly nicknamed "ducktail," it kept the rear firmly planted at speed by reducing lift from 320 to just 93 pounds. It also improved airflow through the engine-cover grille and moved the effective center of pressure about six inches rearward as another aid to stability.

The Carrera RS was greeted with high enthusiasm, and the full-fledged RSR track version wrote a brilliant record in Group 4 competition. Porsche upped the ante for '74 with the RS/RSR 3.0, needing to build only 100 for homologation as a 2.7 "evolution."

Despite similar weight-reducing mods, the 3.0 was some 400 pounds heavier than the 2.7. But that was more than offset by another 5-mm bore stretch that gave 2993cc and net roadgoing horsepower of 220 (DIN European) at 6,200 rpm.

Also featured were a wider, horizontal rear spoiler, quickly dubbed the "whale tail"; a bulkier front spoiler with large, rectangular air intake; even wider wheels (8-inch front, 9-inch aft) and tires (215/60VR15 front, 235/60VR15 rear); die-cast aluminum crankcase; and huge cross-drilled disc brakes from Porsche's mighty turbocharged 917 Can-Am racer.

The 2.7 had needed a special road permit in Germany because the ducktail was deemed hazardous to pedestrians. Porsche got around this on the 3.0 by supplying two engine covers: one with a large racing spoiler, the other with a smaller whale tail edged in protective black rubber. Several wild colors were added, and black replaced chrome on most body trim.

Porsche 911
Here's the 1974 Targa semi-convertible in base-model trim.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS

The Porsche Carrera RS 3.0 was an amazing performer by mid-1970s standards, and it's not too shabby even now. Journalist/race driver Paul Frere tested one for Road & Track and recorded a 124-mph average over 78 miles of fast Italian autostrada.

What's more, "60 mph is reached in a staggering 5.2 seconds with the help of superlative rear-wheel grip, and the 1/4-mile mark comes in 14 seconds...The car understeers, though lifting off at the limit of adhesion will swing the tail out sharply. On the Casale track, near Torino, I found that fast bends must still be approached with some power on and that getting the car around fast and safely still calls for a certain amount of delicacy."

Porsche 911
The top-line Porsche 911 for '74 was a new Carrera, which used the S engine.

Like the 2.7, the "street" 3.0 wasn't sold in America, though Roger Penske gave the RSR lots of publicity by using 15 in his inaugural International Race of Champions series of driver showdowns. Another 49 were built and continued to dominate the likes of SCCA Trans-Am and the IMSA Camel GT series. A final 60 were finished as roadgoing RS models.

But it scarcely mattered that these race-and-ride Porsche 911s didn't ply U.S. streets, for their influence was evident in a new top-line '74 model looking much like the 3.0 RS -- whale tail, bulged fenders, big graphics, and all. It, too, was called Carrera, returning the name to American showrooms for the first time since the last 356 Carrera 2s. Inevitably, it was slower than its European cousin but somewhat more civilized.

At the other end of the scale, the base '74 was just plain 911 again, and much like the previous T. The S was now the midrange offering, equivalent to the former E in trim and performance. All used the new 2.7 engine, but much more mildly tuned than in the 2.7 RS.

The American-market Carrera and S listed 167 horsepower (SAE net) at 5,800 rpm, the base 911 "only" 143 horsepower. The extra displacement was yet another timely Porsche response to tightening emissions limits, complemented by linewide adoption of Bosch's more modern CIS injection.

This same model group was also sold in other markets, though with freer breathing and commensurately more horsepower: 150 DIN horsepower European at 5,700 rpm (911), 175 at 5,800 rpm (911S), and 210 at 6,300 rpm (Carrera 2.7).

Regardless of tuning, all '74-model Porsche 911s wore the new front and rear bumpers mandated by American Law. After all, why have different bumpers for just one market?

Road & Track reported that "Porsche went beyond 1974 requirements for sports cars and did a major redesign to put the bumpers' effective heights at the 16- and 20-in. level already required for sedans and to be [required] for sports cars next year." This involved pulling the bumpers out and putting them on aluminum-alloy tubes that collapsed when struck at 5 mph or above -- and thus had to be replaced.

Still, they did protect the body much better, and the bumpers were now also aluminum, which saved weight. Hydraulic shock-absorber attachments that didn't need replacing were standard for the United Kingdom and available elsewhere -- in the United States as a $135 "mandatory option." Accordion-pleat rubber boots neatly filled the gaps between body and bumpers, which were overlaid in color-keyed plastic with black rubber inserts.

Here was yet another thoroughly Porsche solution, and one that made most other "crash" bumpers seem clumsy. Not that Zuffenhausen didn't have reason to do it right: The United States was now taking over 50 percent of the company total yearly production. (By contrast, the U.S. accounted for well under 20 percent of annual BMW and Mercedes volume.)

Other changes for '74 included a full-width taillight lens bearing the Porsche name, black-finish engine grille with a "2.7" legend in chrome, high-back bucket seats, tiny fresh-air vents at each end of the dash, and new steering wheels. Targas lost their fold-up roof panel for a more convenient one-piece affair.

Chassis-wise, forged aluminum replaced welded steel for rear semi-trailing arms in all '74s, and sway bars and wheel/tire packages were tailored to each model. The base 911 had the usual 5.5 X 15 alloy rims and 165HR15 tires; the 911S rolled on forged 15 X 6 wheels with 185/70VR15 rubber (optional on the base car). Both sported a 16 mm-diameter front anti-roll bar and could be ordered with an 18 mm rear bar. The Carrera used the S wheel/tire combo in front and 215/60 tires on 15 X 7 rims at the rear. It also came with the rear bar, plus a larger 20 mm front bar.

Comfort and performance options proliferated for 1974. The five-speed was still reasonable at $250, a new two-stage electric rear window defroster cost $70, and buyers could now order Koni shocks, a deluxe steering wheel, and contrast-color 911S road wheels. Also on the list were paint and upholstery "to sample," meaning any hue or trim material the buyer wanted. By default, Zuffenhausen was becoming a "boutique" automaker in the face of soaring prices fueled by rampant inflation.

Porsche 911
The 2.7-liter flat-six, used in all '74 Porsche 911s, lasted through 1977.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1974-1975 Porsche 911

Road & Track sampled all three 1974 Porsche 911s. The results were about what you'd expect despite the non-stock tires on the base and S examples that made handling comparisons tricky.

The Carrera had more stick and less understeer on the track, but equal-size tires made the base 911 quicker and more agile through the slalom. Car and Driver also found the "plain Jane" model had more cornering power than the Carrera: 0.83 g versus 0.80. Of course, both figures were excellent at the time. In fact, they still pass muster today.

Porsche 911
The Carrera name also was used for this 1974 race car, the RSR Turbo 2.1.

As for go-power, R&T observed that "all our '74s would beat [a '73] 911S soundly in the 1/4 mi despite having taller gearing. The basic 911 is plenty quick, getting to 60 mph in 7.9 sec and covering the 1/4 mi in 15.5 sec; its top speed is limited by power to 130 mph. The 911S and Carrera accelerate identically to 100 mph and beat the 911 to 60 or the 1/4 mi by 0.4 sec; the margin widens to 2.6 sec by 100 mph.

There's quite a difference to be felt by the driver, too: whereas the less powerful 911 pulls evenly toward its rev limit (all three [stop] at 6400 because of their rev limiters) the S/Carrera unit comes 'onto the cam' strongly at about 3500 rpm and shoots toward 6400 at a dizzying rate. All our test cars, by the way, had the optional 5-speed gearbox -- which we think you can jolly well do without, so strong is the low-speed response of either engine."

Unfortunately, the high-power engine still suffered "a good old-fashioned case of temperament" at low speeds, "bucking just like the more highly tuned older S unit." At least fuel economy was "still reasonably good. At 17.5 mpg overall, the 911 is a bit more thirsty than last year's 911E and the S/Carrera does another 1.5 mph less but remains more economical than the old S."

R&T carped about prices, which were up some 20 percent from '73 to a minimum $10,000 and close to 14 grand for the Carrera. "The Porsche people also have the nerve to charge you extra for opening rear-quarter windows in all but...the Carrera, and the air conditioner costs $1125!" At least the Carrera came with power front windows.

Still, as R&T grudgingly concluded, "they've got you over a barrel: a Porsche is like no other car, and if you want one there's no substitute."

For 1975, the Carrera gained a deeper front spoiler and IROC-style rear spoiler. The 911S was visually unchanged, but the base 911 disappeared. Apropos of Road & Track's griping, Porsche expanded standard features to include push-out rear windows, plus intermittent wipers, a rear anti-roll bar and, for the Carrera, a leather interior.

Having bowed in Europe during 1974, high-pressure headlight washers (developed with Hella) arrived as a new option for U.S. buyers. The heating system gained separate left/right controls, and a higher-capacity alternator was fitted along with a single battery (ousting the two smaller cells used since'66).

Engine news was less heartening, as the Carrera and 911S each lost 10 horses (15 in California), the result of detuning for lower emission levels. The Carrera's 0-60 time was up a second (to 8.4), and its official top speed fell 10 mph (to 132), yet fuel consumption was no worse than before -- though no better, either.

Still, Porsche had avoided the worst maladies of the "desmogging" era by offering exhaust-gas recirculation on 49-state cars and twin thermal reactors for smoggy California. And in city driving, the'75s were better behaved than the '74s.

The Carrera now cost $1,700 more than the S but made up for it with standard bodyside graphics in special colors, a three-spoke steering wheel, and the items mentioned above. Interiors were becoming funereal, with matte black or silver replacing shiny materials now banned by the feds.

Overall, though, the 911 remained "one of the world's best sports cars," in R&T's widely shared view. "If an automotive bargain still remains in our inflation-ridden world, the Carrera, or any 1975 911, is it."

Honoring 25 years of Stuttgart production, Porsche issued a limited-edition Silver Anniversary 911S in 1975. Only 1,500 were built, with half going Stateside. Each wore diamond-silver metallic paint, custom interior trim of woven silver-and-black tweed, and a numbered dash plaque with Ferry Porsche's facsimile signature.

Ever looking ahead, the good doctor confirmed that the old warrior was far from finished: "With all the regulations that are known to us now, we think the 911 can keep going for the next six years." As usual, he was being modest.

Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 wasn't substantially changed from 1975 to '76.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1976-1977 Porsche Turbo Carrera

America celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, and Porsche added to the fireworks with the mightiest 911 yet: the Turbo Carrera. This was yet another creation of the prolific Ernst Fuhrmann, who became Porsche chairman in 1972 (after the Porsche and Piech families relinquished control and the company became a joint-stock corporation with a board of directors -- today's Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG). Fuhrmann had designed the original quadcam 356 Carrera engine; he also directed development of the 1972-73 European Carrera RS/RSR.

Fuhrmann appreciated good engineers (he hired many himself) and shared Ferdinand and Ferry's belief that racing really does improve the breed. He also knew a good deal about turbochargers from work on the racing 917's tremendous hyperaspirated flat-12. What could a turbo do for the 911? Soon after taking the helm, Fuhrmann set up a program to find out.

Porsche 911
The 930 was the fastest road car Porsche had ever produced.

One of the first fruits of the program was a "911 Turbo" displayed at several 1973 European shows -- without comment on possible production. The following year, the Martini & Rossi team had mixed results with a turbo 2.1-liter Carrera RSR packing 333 horsepower (one was doing 189 mph on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans when it threw a rod and retired).

Nevertheless, Fuhrmann and company were sufficiently encouraged to proceed with a production turbocar: a smooth, quiet, very fast 911 coupe with a blown version of the 2993-cc Carrera 3.0 RS engine.

It bowed at the 1974 Paris Show as a prototype called 911 Turbo, a name later changed to Porsche Turbo. So extensive were the modifications that this new model was given its own type number: 930.

Motive power was a terrific 260 DIN horsepower European at 5,500 rpm and 245 pound-feet of torque peaking at 4,000 rpm. An American version, emissions-tuned to 234 SAE net horsepower (245 DIN European), arrived for model-year 1976 as the Turbo Carrera. It returned for 1977 unchanged save an upgrade from 15- to 16-inch standard wheels.

Despite being the ultimate roadgoing 911 to that time, the 930 packed most every luxury the factory could squeeze in. Air-conditioning, AM/FM stereo, electric antenna and windows, leather interior, tinted glass, headlamp washers, rear-window wiper, oil cooler, and Bilstein shocks were all included in the initial East Coast base price of $25,880 -- a bundle of bucks in those days.

The U.S. options list was short: electric sliding sunroof ($675), limited-slip differential ($345), heavy-duty starter ($50), "Turbo" graphics ($120), and custom paint ($250). The 930 came only as a coupe and was never sold with Sportomatic (though several factory test cars were so equipped and worked well).

Porsche 911
U.S. net horsepower rose from 157 to 234 with the Turbo Carrera.

The 930 engine (produced in /50, /51, and /52 variations) testified anew to the amazing adaptability of the 911 flat-six. The 3.0-liter size was chosen for good off-boost performance with the lower compression then deemed necessary with turbocharging (6.5:1 for all markets). The blower itself sat on a cast-aluminum manifold studded to the heads, and the Bosch fuel injection was upgraded with Ultramid plastic tubing.

Maximum boost was set at 11.5 pounds per square inch. Even in emissions-legal U.S. form, the 930 had a prodigious 246 pound-feet of torque (SAE net) at 4,500 rpm, which Porsche thought sufficient to pull a wide-ratio four-speed transaxle instead of the close-ratio five-speed.

If the 930 was predictably less torquey than a 911 below 3,000 rpm, things started happening quickly above that. Yet there was "no sudden surge of power as there is with the cammy S," said Road & Track. "Rather, the buildup is...strong and silent as the turbocharger muffles the usual raucous-sounding Porsche exhaust to a dull roar. It takes the driver a moment or two to realize [that] some awesome, unseen force is pushing him back into his seat and thrusting the Carrera forward at an incredible rate. And another brief moment to realize that the engine is starting to stumble because it's reached its 6950-rpm rev limit. Then it's shift into the next gear and prepare for the same heavy loads and fireworks to start all over again."

R&T allowed that a slipping clutch made its test car a bit slow, so it's interesting to compare the magazine's results with Car and Driver's 1976 Turbo test:


C/D R&T
0-50 mph (sec.) 3.7 5.2
0-60 mph (sec.) 4.9 6.7
0-80 mph (sec.) 7.9 9.9
0-100 mph (sec.) 12.9 15.3
0-1/4 mi. (sec.) 13.5 15.2
Top speed (mph) 156 156

Though dynamic behavior was basically routine 911, R&T judged the Turbo more stable at speed because of its larger rear tires and wider track. Not everyone agreed.

NASCAR ace Bobby Allison, after testing the similar '75 Carrera for C/D, termed handling "almost squirrely." But R&T insisted the Turbo was "far and away the easiest Porsche to drive near the limit that we have ever tested."

Its 62.8 mph through the slalom broke a record set with a Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer by 2.4 mph. And ace racer Sam Posey, who happened by while R&T was testing at Lime Rock, hopped in and unofficially broke the track record for production cars!

The 930 had stiffer springs and shocks in addition to its wider rear boots, so it didn't ride as well as lesser 911s. Its steering was heavier, too, and tire noise was considerable.

There were no complaints about the brakes, however, for they were fade-free, impossible to lock, and capable of 60-mph halts in less than 160 feet -- excellent for the fairly hefty 2,825-pound curb weight.

Porsche 911
A "whale tail" spoiler made the Turbo Carrera unmistakable in traffic.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1976 Porsche 912

Despite its explosive acceleration, the 930 Turbo Carrera was a remarkably civilized and undemanding car. "It can be pottered around town all day in top gear and a bit of second without bother," said Britain's Autocar. "And when the town limits are past, there is all that ocean of surging performance under your right foot, immediately, with not the slightest need for tiresome plug-clearing first."

Today, of course, we take street-legal turbocars for granted, but they were big news in '76 -- as was the Porsche 930's shattering performance. Like so many technical breakthroughs, Porsche had pioneered this one. And it was only the beginning.

Porsche 91
The 250,000th Porsche was completed on June 3, 1977.


Though ousted by the Turbo from the '76 U.S. lineup, the normally aspirated Carrera continued in, along with a base 911. Both offered 200 DIN horsepower European at 6,000 rpm -- still pretty impressive -- and sold in Germany starting at DM44,950. Europe

The 1976 American-market S was little changed aside from a $1,000 higher base price that included most of the '75 Carrera's standard features, plus remote-adjustable body-color door mirrors and a still-further improved climate system with optional automatic temperature control (also available on the Turbo).

Another new extra for both '76 models was Porsche's first cruise control. Sold under the catchy name "Tempostat," it was devised mainly for long-distance driving conditions in the United States.

Responding to buyer concerns about durability in the face of rapidly rising prices, Porsche began galvanizing all 901-series bodyshells on both sides and backed it with a six-year no-rust warranty. It was only fair. If Porsches had to cost the earth, they should at least outlast the loan payments.

A new Porsche 912 was far more down to earth -- and not entirely unexpected. The mid-engine 914, the "people's Porsche" developed with Volkswagen to replace the original 912, had failed to make much headway in the popular-price sports-car market since its 1970 debut. A substitute was coming, the front-engine 924, but wasn't quite ready yet, so the 912 was brought back to anchor the bottom of the'76 line while the last 914s quietly exited showrooms.

Typical of Porsche, this new 912 was no mere rerun. For one thing, it was designated 912E -- E for einspritzung. And it carried not a Porsche engine but the injected 2.0-liter VW four available in 914s after 1972.

While that change was dubious, the 912E did benefit from most all the body and chassis improvements accorded the 911 since 1969, and its U.S. East Coast price of just under $11,000 was far more reasonable, though more than late 914s cost. But then, this was a "real" Porsche to most eyes, not a half-breed like the mid-engine "Volks-Porsche."

"The 912E will obviously find favor with those who prefer a slightly more practical and tractable Porsche," predicted Road & Track. "It's a car with almost all the sporting virtues of the more expensive 911S, yet its simpler pushrod 4-cyl. engine should make for better fuel economy and less expensive maintenance than the 911's six" (though the injection tended to misbehave in cold weather).

SAE net horsepower was just 86 at 4,900 rpm, torque a modest 98 pound-feet at 4000. Curb weight was 2,395 pounds, which meant the Porsche 912 had somehow picked up no fewer than 400 pounds since its last incarnation. Still, R&T's 11.3-second 0-60 mph time and 115-mph top speed looked good against the observed 23.0-mpg economy.

As a stopgap, the 912E was the single instance of "planned obsolescence" in Porsche history. Only 2,092 were built, but this plus year-only status and the desirable qualities inherited from contemporary 911s have since made the 912E one of the more collectible four-cylinder Porsches.

A busy 1977 saw Porsche introduce its "heretical" new water-cooled front-engine models: the V-8-powered 928 in Europe and the four-cylinder 924 in America. As a result, the 911S and Turbo were little changed. An extra pair of air vents appeared in the middle of instrument panels, heater controls were altered again, interior door locks were reworked to better foil thieves, and carpeting was run up onto the lower door panels.

A downer for U.S. models was the addition of a governor that limited maximum speed to 130 mph, the rating for the tires now specified. The speedometer was recalibrated to suit. Sportomatic 911s (except with right-hand drive) and the U.S. 911S received an ATE vacuum brake booster, and softer tires and shocks were optional in a $495 U.S.-market Comfort Group that also included electric windows.

Like most everything in these years, Porsche prices pushed relentlessly higher. The Turbo stood pat for '77, but the 911S, which had been under $12,000 three years before, was now nudging $15,000.

Even so, the 911 remained an outstanding premium sports-car buy. Through one of the most troubled periods in automotive history, when most designers and engineers bowed to the wishes of politicians and bureaucrats, Porsche kept the 911 within the law -- and as exciting as ever.

On June 3, 1977, Porsche built its 250,000th car. Fittingly, it was a 911, a European 2.7-liter S. Yet many wondered just how long such an "old-fashioned" car could go on. After all, except for Alpine-Renault in France and, soon, John Z. DeLorean, nobody was building rear-engine cars anymore. Air cooling? Ancient history.

But Porsche's pride wouldn't permit neglect, and though bean-counters have never had the last word in Zuffenhausen, the 911 remained central to Porsche's image and, increasingly, to sales. That's why it got a new lease on life with the 1978 Porsche 911SC.

Porsche 911
Only a single version of the 911 coupe and Targa were offered in the U.S. by 1977.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1978-1979 Porsche 911SC

The 1978 Porsche 911SC defiantly disproved those who'd written off the air-cooled rear-engine concept. Of course, Porsche had often defied conventional wisdom, but it must have taken special delight this time in thumbing its nose at naysayers. "So you think ze 911 is no longer so good, ja? Ve vill show you!"

Porsche 911
The 1978 SC series was very similar to the European 3.0-liter Carrera.

Per company tradition, the SC bowed at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1977 alongside a virtually unchanged 930. Essentially, it was the old Carrera 3.0 in everything but name: same basic specifications, appearance, and features. (Autocar called it "a Carrera with a broader market appeal.")

Displacement and cylinder dimensions were unchanged, but 8.5:1 compression and other tuning differences took DIN horsepower European down to 180 at 5,500 rpm (172 horsepower SAE net). But that was up slightly on the previous "cooking" 2.7, and a flatter, fuller torque curve with a peak 189 pound-feet at 4,200 rpm (SAE net) made the SC even easier to drive.

In line with Porsche's policy of a "world" specification and performance level, all 1978-model 911s, regardless of market, got a U.S.-style air pump and Bosch breakerless electronic ignition with rpm limiter. But the American SC used the more efficient catalytic converter instead of thermal reactors as its main emissions-control device, which also enhanced drivability.

Other SC improvements included a stronger crank with larger bearings and the return of an aluminum crankcase. Outside were the Turbo Carrera's wider rear wheels and tires and flared fenders to cradle them. A new Sport Group package option added the well-known whale tail and front air dam.

With the SC, the Porsche 911 could finally claim tractability as a virtue. In fact, Road & Track likened it to "a big V-8-powered Detroit car. There's lots of torque, so constant downshifting isn't necessary even in slow traffic. No Porsche owner is going to let the revs fall to 1000 rpm in 5th gear and then attempt to accelerate. But to prove a point, we did this with the SC and the engine accepted the treatment with never a judder of protest...just roll your foot off the clutch pedal and glide away."

Autocar found that in fourth gear "there was scarcely more than half a second's difference between the times for every increment between 30-50 mph [6.5 seconds] and 80-100 mph [6.3 sec]...Even in fifth gear the same pattern emerges."

Some testers still griped about notchy shift action, though that tended to disappear after a few thousand miles. The linkage was stiff on purpose (though it would less so starting with 1987 models, suggesting second thoughts). Spring loading was biased toward the middle plane (third/fourth), so selecting top gear demanded conscious effort, at least by neophytes.

Like previous Porsche 911s, the SC tended to final oversteer, but it was set up to maintain understeer through higher cornering speeds and forces. The bigger rear wheels and tires helped, and even bigger Pirelli P7 boots were available (205/55VR16 front, 225/50VR16 rear). Apply too much power through a hard bend and the pilot merely got more understeer; lift off mid-bend and the back end might try to catch up with the front. Still, it usually took a professional now to elicit tail-wag.

In all, the SC was widely judged the most forgiving 911 yet, though the "wide tyres [sic] have some demerits in wet weather," warned Autocar. "We suffered occasionally from front-end aquaplaning under braking on water-covered roads, and understeer is also far more noticeable on wet surfaces. In these...conditions the tail can sometimes be provoked out of line with the throttle, and understeer can also be killed by the traditional remedy of easing back on the throttle, being prepared to catch the resulting slide. Such intricacies of handling make the Porsche very much a driver's car; experience with it constantly teaches new skills."

The SC rolled into 1979 with standard power brakes and a new clutch-disc hub that minimized gear chatter at low speeds. The latter necessitated moving the engine rearward by 30 mm (about 1.2 inches), but no handling changes were noticeable except on the track. Porsche engineers also decreed higher rear tire pressures (from 34 to 43 psi). The Sportomatic option was finally dropped for lack of interest, and base prices jumped in the United States by some $3,500.

Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 SC was visually unchanged for '79, as shown by this Targa.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1978-1979 Porsche Turbo

The 1978-79 Porsche Turbo -- a.k.a. 930 and 911 Turbo -- had more of everything: displacement, power, thrust, and sheer presence. It had bigger whale-tail, bigger brakes, and a bigger price: $34,000, an eye-popping sum at the time. But most felt it was worth every penny, and Americans made it even more valuable after events forced the Turbo into European exile.

Porsche 911
The 930 was renamed simply the Porsche Turbo in '78. This model is a '79.

Upgrades from the 1976-1977 Porsche Turbo began with a 2-mm wider bore that upped displacement to 3,299cc (201.3 cid). No less important was adoption of an air-to-air intercooler for squeezing a denser charge into every intake stroke, thus extracting more energy from every power stroke.

The intercooler was a squeeze itself. Shoe-horned into the engine bay, it pushed the A/C condenser to the right side of the whale-tail's air intake -- the main reason for enlarging the distinctive appendage. Compression was higher, if still mild at 7.0:1, and combined with the intercooler and extra cc's for 300 DIN horsepower European at 5,500 rpm (253 SAE net) and 303 pound-feet of torque (282 SAE) at 4,000 rpm.

For all this, however, most published road tests showed little improvement to Turbo performance. Again, Porsche fitted the larger engine mainly to keep pace with U.S. emissions limits -- and new European standards that were creeping in.

For the record, Car and Driver timed 0-60 at 4.9 seconds and 0-100 at 12.1, still quite colossal. Braking? C/D reported that the huge, cross-drilled four-piston discs delivered 70-0 mph in just 168 feet. Skidpad performance was as impressive as ever at 0.81 g.

But numbers weren't the whole story. As C/D's Don Sherman related: "Steep first-gear acceleration will jerk one wheel right off the ground if you light the booster exiting a slow turn. The shift linkage occasionally binds up to add a little extra excitement...Speed lightens front wheel loading dramatically, so understeer goes up with velocity. This would be a marvelous safety device were it not for the Turbo's lift-throttle antics. Aerodynamic understeer tricks you into lifting off the throttle when the nose starts drifting wide in a high-speed turn. It's not the thing to do...because this reverses longitudinal forces in the rear suspension. The back wheels toe out, the tail swings wide...The Turbo won't spin easily, but things can get very scary if you don't hang in there with some throttle and lots of steering."

All this may have prompted Sherman's conclusion that the Turbo wasn't so much a car anymore as a "valuable piece of auto-art" -- understandable given its high price and the high skills demanded of its driver.

The Porsche Turbo returned for 1979, then went into exile for five long years. Although the 3.3-liter 930 continued through 1986 for Europe and other world markets, it was withdrawn from the States as a public-relations response to the second energy crunch that began in early 1979. Of course, there are always those with extra will, and the notorious "gray market" provided the way for a few European models to reach determined, wealthy U.S. buyers.

With the Turbo's hasty retreat, U.S. Porsche fans had to console themselves with the "ordinary" SC -- hardly a burden. And despite suffering a few indignities of its own, the "everyday" 911 remained a ray of sunshine amid the general automotive gloom of the early 1980s -- especially once Porsche answered numerous requests by reviving a full-convertible Cabriolet body style in 1983.

Porsche 911
The Turbo had a larger engine that was more amenable to emissions tuning.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1980-1982 Porsche 911SC

Porsche built 911 number 200,000 during its 1981-1982 business year. It was a happy occasion, but an unhappy time. Though Porsche's global sales had run consistently in the low five-figures since 1967, demand withered in the first energy crisis to just 8,618 cars. A quick recovery followed, helped by introduction of the front-engine Porsche 924 and 928, and volume hit a record 41,350 units for 1978-1979.

Porsche 911
Few changes were made to the 911SC. Here are a 1982 coupe and Targa.

Then came "Energy Crisis II," and worldwide Porsche sales dropped over the next two years by more than 32 percent, bottoming out at some 28,000 in 1980-1981. Of course, other automakers suffered from these events, too, but the unprecedented twin oil shocks dramatically highlighted Porsche's relatively high vulnerability to sharp, sudden market swings.

And why not? As John O'Dell of the Los Angeles Times later wrote, "Porsche makes a product no one really needs," and "discretionary" purchases are always the first to be postponed when people feel pinched in the wallet.

Nevertheless, Porsche made another fast recovery. Sales were up to 32,640 by the time that milestone 911 was built, then went to a new high of 45,240 units for the 1982-1983 business year. Not surprisingly, the feat was owed to the rear-engine Porsche in general and a popular new version in particular.

Period inflation had rapidly escalated car prices in the late 1970s, and the trend continued into the new decade. Aggravated by the dollar's continuing slide against the D-mark, base price for the U.S. Porsche 911SC coupe jumped $5,000 for 1980. Much of that, however, reflected the addition of standard features that had been options: electric front windows, A/C, leather-rim steering wheel, underdash console, and matte-black exterior trim. The Targa remained about $1,500 upstream.

Some bemoaned the 911's "luxury creep," but Porsche was only giving buyers what they wanted, especially in the United States, and doing otherwise never helped anyone make money.

Among the new "fed regs" in effect for model-year 1980 was a requirement for speedometers to be calibrated no higher than 85 mph, with visual emphasis at the 55-mph mark to remind drivers of the national limit in force since 1974.

This legacy of the first gas crunch was absurd for a car like the Porsche 911. But like the starter interlock rule of 1974, this silliness wouldn't last, and realistic speedometer markings would again be legal after 1984.

The "double-nickel" occasioned an even odder change for 1980: an accelerator placed considerably below the brake, Detroit-style, because the factory thought it would be more comfortable at 55 mph! Throttle travel was unaffected, though, and an adjustment was built in so that with an hour of wrench work the pedals could be properly set for the sort of heel-and-toe shifting favored by enthusiasts.

Road testers had long since called the Porsche 911 flat-six "venerable," but the 1980 SC's 3.0-liter felt quite youthful thanks to a more efficient three-way catalytic converter that allowed higher 9.3:1 compression for better drivability and mileage.

Rated power and torque were unchanged, but there were no peaks, valleys, or flat spots in acceleration, and the car could still be dropped to ridiculously low revs in the upper gears without protest.

As with the V-8-powered 928, Porsche issued a special Weissach Edition 911 coupe during model-year 1980, named for Porsche's then-new development center near Stuttgart. Only 400 were built, all for the American market.

Priced at $32,000, this Porsche 911 was perfect for those who felt the $27,770 standard coupe lacked status, being nothing so much as a Turbo sans blower and wide-body tail. Features included stiffer shocks, power-remote door mirrors, a power antenna, sealed-beam halogen headlamps, leather cockpit trim, wider wheels, and special paint.

Porsche press blurbs said the model represented a 15 percent savings over the cost of those items ordered individually, but the hype was unnecessary; there were never enough cars to go around.

Further SC upgrades appeared for 1981: halogen headlamps and rear seatbelts, plus an anti-rust warranty extended to seven years (a palliative, perhaps, for "sticker shock"). Little else was changed.

The story was much the same for '82, when Porsche added a heated right door mirror, an improved sound system, headlight washers, and leather-covered front seats. Vinyl remained in back -- practical for the toddlers most likely to ride there.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1983 Porsche 911SC Cabriolet

The 911SC Cabriolet was unveiled at the March 1982 Geneva auto show as Porsche's first factory-built convertible since the last open 356Cs of a decade before. Of course, it was also the first true Porsche 911 convertible. The Targa, despite its sunny disposition, was regarded as a coupe or semi-convertible, depending on whom you asked, because of its rollbar superstructure and take-off roof panel. As with the beloved 356s, Porsche's Reutter division built the bodies for the new 911 cabrios.

Porsche 911
Unveiled at Geneva in '82, the Cabriolet was added to the 911SC lineup for '83.

The 911 Cabriolet was part of a nascent ragtop revival that marked a surprising turn for a species that nearly died out in the 1970s. Though never strong sellers even in the best of times, convertibles began losing their old appeal in the late 1960s as buyers embraced the greater practicality, comfort, and security of closed body styles, including pillarless hardtops, sunroof models -- and, of course, the 911 Targa and its imitators.

The U.S. government sounded an apparent death knell in 1973 by proposing rollover-protection standards that might effectively ban full convertibles from the world's richest car market. Standards were enacted, but weren't nearly as tough as the industry feared. Still, the mere threat of legislation was a convenient excuse for most automakers to dump convertibles.

The Detroit Big Three abandoned them entirely after 1976. And why not? Driving top-down on a smoggy day in clogged urban traffic was hardly the romantic picture that had driven convertible sales in the old days.

Nevertheless, a good many people still wanted traditional wind-in-the-air motoring, suggested by continuing interest in a dwindling number of British roadsters and luxury tourers like the Mercedes-Benz SL.

Porsche and other automakers also took note of the convertible-conversion "aftermarket" that had sprouted to fill the gap left by the demise of factory models. After all, there must be something going on when most anyone with a hacksaw and torch could make ready money by decapitating ordinary coupes and even sedans. Something was going on, which is why Porsche and Detroit returned to the convertible market during 1982.

The Porsche 911SC Cabrio got a warm U.S. reception on its 1983-model debut despite a chilling $34,450 sticker. Though its manual soft top might seem needlessly cheap at that price, eschewing power-fold hardware kept curb weight the same as that of the SC coupe and 30 pounds less than the Targa's.

Typical of Porsche, the top had three bows, spring-loaded self-adjusting steel cables, and a concealed steel panel in front to keep things taut and snug at high speed. Porsche said that the design also afforded minimal heat loss in winter (air-conditioning was available for summer) and milder wind noise.

Road & Track was divided on operating ease, but at least the top was compact enough to allow retaining the normal back seats. A conventional fabric boot covered the roof when stowed; an available tonneau snapped in to protect the cockpit when you just couldn't bring yourself to raise the roof. The rear window was plastic, broadly wrapped for good outward vision, and could be zipped out for copious top-up ventilation.

Oddly, Porsche claimed "the aerodynamic lines of the Cabriolet made it possible to match the 140-mph top speed of the 911SC coupe." In truth, the droptop was nowhere near as slippery, topping out at 124 mph in R&T's testing.

Porsche 911
Above is a photo of the Porsche 911 coupe in 1983 SC form.

Though a Cabrio could stay with a coupe up to 60 or so, it fell back as air drag began to assert itself -- and that was with the top up. But it mattered little. Where else could a driver enjoy the combination of open-air pleasure and the Porsche 911's many virtues?

Of course, the Cabriolet had several virtues of its own. For one, it was exceptionally solid for a convertible. Consumer Guide found nary a rattle from body or top -- this in a preproduction prototype, no less. It was a tribute to the literal integrity of the Porsche 911 hull. In fact, the coupe bodyshell was so rigid that little reinforcement was needed to restore torsional stiffness lost from slicing off the roof.

The inherent soundness also testified to Zuffenhausen's painstaking workmanship. (A detachable Targa-type rollbar was optional, but added nothing to rigidity.)

Another nice thing was that the Cabrio could be driven with the top down and windows up without the nasty wind buffeting that plagued so many convertibles. Consumer Guide found this true even at modestly illegal speeds.

But the best thing was that this was an open Porsche 911, with all that implied for excitement and prestige. It also implied that the 911 was being given new emphasis in the scheme of things -- as indeed it was. A major impetus was American-born Peter Schutz, who'd approved the Cabriolet for production shortly after he replaced Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann as company chairman in 1981.

Unlike those who'd long written off the rear-engine Porsche, Schutz felt it should be "back on the front burner," as R&T reported. His reasoning was sound. Despite the sales ups-and-downs of the Porsche 928 and 924 models, the 911 was still good for a steady 9,000 units or so per year and had a vast and loyal following. Under Schutz, the 911 would continue to be upgraded, but more aggressively -- and more often. The Cabriolet was a first step. A new Carrera would be the second.

Porsche 911
The 911SC Cabriolet had a lined and padded soft top for weather protection.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1984 Porsche 911 Carrera

The redesigned 1984 Porsche 911 -- now called Carrera -- looked little different from the superseded Porsche 911SC. Just i.d. script on the engine lid and standard foglights in the front spoiler. But different it was.

Reflecting both the times and Porsche philosophy, the 3.0-liter engine was enlarged to 3164cc (193 cid) by combining the Porsche Turbo's 74.4-mm stroke with the SC's 95-mm bore. With that, the flat-six was now 50 percent larger than it was in the first 911.

Fuel injection was updated to the sophisticated new Bosch Digital Motor Electronics (DME) or "Motronic" system, a computer-controlled multipoint setup with integrated electronic ignition. Together with slightly higher 9.5:1 compression (via reshaped pistons and combustion chambers), SAE net horsepower returned to 200 at 5,900 rpm, a gain of 28 bhp over the last SC.

"More useful," noted Road & Track, "are a 12 lb-ft increase in torque [to 185 at 4800], sharply improved flexibility and no less than a 4-mpg increase in EPA fuel economy." Brakes received thicker rotors (by 3.5 mm), larger vent passages, and proportioning control (a la the Porsche 928) to match the higher potential performance.

That potential was fully realized. "Like every major 911 engine that has gone before, this one produces tangible improvements," R&T enthused. "At lower speeds the Carrera isn't a quantum leap ahead of its predecessor, nor does it need to be. But as momentum gathers, so does steam. With fewer than 400 miles on its odometer, the test car's 6.2 seconds for the 0-60 sprint beat the 1983 car by 0.7 sec; by the quarter-mile mark it had gained 0.9 sec...and was fully 8 mph faster [14.6 at 96 mph]."

A fully run-in Carrera gave Car and Driver even better numbers: 5.3 seconds to 60 mph and 13.9 seconds at 100 mph in the standing quarter-mile. Top speed? A heady 146 mph. Proclaimed tester Larry Griffin: "The growling, thrumming flat-six remains in the forefront of the world's grunt-and-git, instant forward rushers."

"Just as impressive," replied R&T, "is the Carrera's newfound flexibility. With each enlargement the 911 engine has won low-speed torque, but this time it has reached the point where it can be driven 'like other cars.' It tugs lustily on the tires from 1000 rpm in 4th, and even at 40 mph in 5th -- wonder of wonders! -- there's enough acceleration for virtually any traffic situation on level ground."

How odd, then, that Porsche fitted a warning light, located in the tachometer face and hooked to the DME system, that advised when to upshift for best mileage. Of course, no 911 was an econocar, but the Carrera proved surprisingly frugal. Though C/D got just 17 mpg, R&T obtained 24.5 mpg on a gentle highway run and 20.5 overall.

So the Porsche 911 had become better once more, no mean feat for any high-performance car in the mid-Eighties. "Not so long ago," mused C/D's Griffin, "911s were beginning to feel like a bad joke that had run much too long in the telling. Over the past five years, Porsche has turned the tables."

Not that there wasn't room for improvement; poor ventilation and a still-balky shifter topped the list, and ergonomics had become clearly outmoded. Then there was the issue of price, the minimum by now up to a hefty $31,950. Options cost a bundle more: Cruise control added $320, 16-inch tires no less than $1,580, AM/FM/cassette stereo another $600, electric sunroof $940, and the whale tail with deeper front airdam cost $1,325. Porsche even charged $70 for a black headliner and $40 for a closer-set (extended-hub) steering wheel.

Those who missed the 930 could order their Carrera coupes with a new "Turbo Look" option. This had similar sheetmetal, plus the 930's beefier chassis, for a frightening $12,000 extra. If Porsche hadn't bled buyers before, it certainly seemed to be doing so now, and for the first time the public grumbled with discontent.

But press and public alike still seemed willing to grin and bear it. "The Carrera is a car to get down and wrestle with," said Griffin. "In exchange you will come away winded, exhilarated, and probably laughing out loud, sure of why it was that you first came to love the evil weevil, and sure that you still do."

"Evil" was an apt term for the SC/RS, another race-ready Porsche 911 offshoot, of which only 70 were built for Europe in 1984. Price was a hellish $70,000 or so, but that bought an interesting melange of recent semi-competition components: lightweight Turbo-style bodywork, 930 brakes and special 3.0-liter blown engine, chassis bits from the RS/RSR of the early Seventies, and so on.

Porsche sold the SC/RS in 255-bhp street form and as a 280-bhp rally car (inspired by the gruelling Paris-Dakar enduro that Porsche had begun contesting). Both were stark and stunningly fast, with a claimed 5.5 seconds to 60 and 160 mph all out.

But they were also mean devils. Car and Driver correspondent Georg Kacher reported that the "street" SC/RS, on massive Pirelli P7 tires, "understeers mildly toward its ambitious limit; once the borderline is reached, either feathering or standing on the throttle will kick the tail out without a moment's hesitation...[This] unforgiving chassis, the thundering high-torque engine and the total absence of creature comforts make this wunderwagen extremely tiring to drive fast. [Yet] at the end of a day in Porsche's most potent rear-engine weapon, you will surely feel the satisfaction of a job well done."

Porsche 911
This "Turbo Look" front end was available for any Porsche 911, Turbo included.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1988 Porsche 911 Carrera and 930 Turbo

Unlike some automakers, Porsche doesn't take kindly to outsiders tinkering with its design or engineering work -- especially when it comes to the 911, the very soul of the company. Nevertheless, the Porsche 930/911 Turbo ranked as one of the most admired cars on the planet, so it was only natural that "aftermarket" accessory houses would market add-on "styling kits" for turning ordinary 911s into Turbo lookalikes, with whale-tails, bulged fenders and all the rest.

Porsche 911
This 1988 slant-nose 930S was priced at close to $71,000 before options.

There was similar cribbing of the hidden-headlamp "slant nose" devised for the racing 935. Porsche's decision to end those ripoffs had prompted the Turbo Look option. For 1987, the company followed up with a new option, the "Turbo slant-nose modification," stupefyingly priced at nearly $24,000.

Available for any Turbo or the Carrera coupe, the Turbo slant-nose package delivered a new front "clip" comprising the now-familiar Flachbau ("flat profile") nose with flip-up headlamps surmounted by washboard louvers, plus wide 935-type back wheelarches with grilled, forward-facing rectangular air scoops and extended rocker panels reminiscent of running boards. It all came from Zuffenhausen's new Sonderwunsch ("special wish") department, a sort of in-house customizing operation.

Outspoken journalist Brock Yates drove a Slant Nose Turbo Cabriolet for Car and Driver. Its sticker read a breathtaking $106,254, though at least that included a newly optional power top -- available for all 1987 Cabrios -- and $500 in gas-guzzler tax (a recent Washington invention). It was a record price for a recent Porsche, and yet the 911 remained enormously compelling.

"We don't mean to imply that, in Turbo Cabriolet Slant Nose form, the 911 is any more reasonable than it ever was," Yates wrote. "Nor do we deny that it is a very old warhorse -- and yet it never seems to age like a normal car. Annual refinements, visual tricks, and new permutations keep the 911 in a class of one. A hundred-grand window sticker by no means guarantees perfection, but it does assure you of the most potent dose ever of the Porsche essence: fearsome speed and thoroughbred sounds in a back-road dance partner that you will never forget."

For 1988, the Slant Nose Modification was made a separate model called Porsche 930S, again available for all body styles. Otherwise, that model year was fairly quiet for the Porsche 911 line.

A new "Soft Look" leather option arrived, and three-point rear seatbelts replaced lap belts on all models. Carreras moved several items from optional to standard status: headlight washers, heavy-duty windshield cleaning, central locking, and cruise control, which was now electronic instead of pneumatic.

But wait: There was more. The Porsche 911 was technically 25 years old in 1988 (dating from the 1963 Frankfurt premiere), and Porsche celebrated the milestone by building 300 U.S. Carreras with a Silver Anniversary package.

As a commemorative it was quite tame, comprising diamond-blue metallic paint (with matching wheels) and a silver-blue leather interior with Ferry Porsche's facsimile signature writ large on the headrests. At least prices weren't too bad: $45,000 as a coupe, about $47,500 for the Targa version, $52,000 in Cabrio form.

More intriguing was the new Club Sport option for 1988 Carrera coupes. Looking much like the early-Seventies RS/RSR, it turned the normal Porsche 911 into a virtual ready-made racer for production-class events, yet was completely street-legal. The normal Carrera's foglights, air-conditioning, sound insulation, undercoating, power seats, and even the back seats were exchanged for fortified shocks, front and rear spoilers, manual sports seats, and an engine with hollow-stem valves, reprogrammed electronics, and a correspondingly higher rev limit (6,840 rpm). Apparently expecting Club Sports to be used and abused, Porsche didn't offer them with its normal 10-year rust warranty, but it didn't matter.

Despite its "stripper" mien, the CS cost the same $45,895 as a standard Carrera coupe, which may explain why only 50 were sold worldwide. But Porsche was just testing the waters, and there would be similar Club Sport 911s in the future, drawing a small but enthusiastic group of "weekend racer" buyers.

Meantime, a new Porsche fired car lovers' imaginations the way the first 911 Turbo had. Called 959, it was basically a roadgoing rally racer based loosely on the evergeeen 911. Just 230 were built, all in 1987-88.

The 959 was a stunning achievement even by Porsche standards, with levels of performance and technical sophistication that would greatly influence future Porsche 911 developments. The first of those wasn't long in coming. In fact, it appeared only a few months after the last 959s were built, in 1989.

Porshce 911
The Porsche 930S would exit the U.S. Market after 1988.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1989 Porsche 911 Carrera 4

Bowing in late 1988 for the '89 model year, the Porsche Carrera 4 -- "4" for four-wheel drive -- looked like most any recent 911 except for smoother bumpers and side sills. But appearances here deceived more than usual.

As a direct descendant of the awe-inspiring twin-turbo 959, the "C4" was nothing less than the vanguard for what amounted to a second-generation 911 design. Indeed, it was developed as a separate program, Project 964, and was said to be 85 percent new.

Porsche 911
Subtle but noticeable body alterations marked the 1989 Porche Carrera 4.

That it was, starting with a unique floorpan shaped to smooth airflow beneath the car, plus 959-inspired all-round coil springs with integrated tubular shocks (albeit one per wheel). Rear semi-trailing arms and front struts on lower wishbones continued.

A bore-and-stroke job -- to 100 mm/3.94 inches × 76.5 mm/3.01 inches -- took the production 911's normally aspirated air-cooled flat-six from 3.2 to 3.6 liters. Engineers also applied reshaped combustion chambers, revised intake manifolds, twin-plug ignition, and ultra-high 11.3:1 compression.

In American-market trim, the Carrera 4 produced 247 horsepower at 6,100 rpm -- a gain of 34, and less than 40 shy of the vaunted Turbo -- plus 228 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Rolling stock was upsized to suit: 16-inch Bridgestone RE71s, as on the 959. The C4 tires were more modestly sized at 205/55 fore and 225/50 aft but had the higher Z speed rating (good for 150 mph and up).

But, of course, the big attraction was the all-wheel drive that made the Porsche Carrera 4 what one reviewer termed a "people's 959." To be sure, it was drastically simpler than the Porsche 959 system, but that only helped to hold initial retail price to "just" $69,500, a huge saving over the $225,000 it took to buy a 959 -- when you could get one.

Porsche 911
Five-speed manual transmission was mandatory in the Porsche 911 Carrera 4.

The Porsche Carrera 4's all-wheel drive employed center and rear differentials, each with an electrohydraulic multi-plate clutch. Power went forward from the engine to the center differential, then back to the rear wheels via a driveshaft housed within the countershaft of the five-speed manual gearbox; a second shaft sent power to a normal front diff and halfshafts. Both clutches were computer-controlled in response to signals from the four wheel-speed sensors of the first antilock braking system (ABS) ever offered on a "volume" 911, another big C4 attraction.

Though the center diff normally divided torque 31/69 percent front/rear, the computer could vary that through selective use of the clutches whenever the wheel sensors signaled tire slippage (as differences among wheel speeds above a preset threshold). Response time was reported at less than a tenth of a second -- three times faster than the 959 system.

Additional sensors for straight and lateral acceleration allowed the computer to engage the rear differential on lifting the throttle in a corner, thus increasing understeer and hence stability. For safety as well as longevity, both clutches disengaged under braking. A dashboard switch could be flicked to lock the diffs for maximum grip on slippery surfaces below 25 mph; above that speed, the clutches released automatically.

Here was yet another inventive Porsche answer to a customer request -- a more controllable Porsche 911 --and the company was right to term this drive system "intelligent." Further aiding stability were a front suspension modified for zero-scrub radius and new rear suspension mounts designed to vary toe angle with cornering load (like the vaunted "Weissach axle" in the Porche 928).

For straighter high-speed running, the C4's engine grille automatically powered out and up above 50 mph to become a spoiler that increased rear downforce; below 6 mph, it snugged neatly back into the lid. Porsche also claimed the appearance changes gave the C4 a 15 percent lower drag coefficient than previous 911s, plus "zero-lift characteristics at highway speeds."

For all this, some doubted the Porsche Carrera 4's ability. "The new suspension and driveline banish the 911's penchant for tail-out antics," said Car and Driver. "Throw the car into a corner while braking or suddenly lift the throttle at the limit and the Carrera 4 barely rotates; its tail stays solidly planted at all times."

Motor Trend judged real-world cornering "incredible, although the Carrera 4's ultimate...0.84 g is not as high as the Corvette's or even a Pontiac Firebird Formula. What this shows is that lateral-g numbers are just one indication of handling ability. Perhaps a better indication is slalom speed, in which the Carrera 4 [is stellar]."

Though the C4 was no 959 for acceleration, Road & Track clocked a zippy 5.8 seconds to 60 mph and 14.4 seconds at 96.5 mph in the standing quarter-mile -- close to the level of racing Porsche 911s from not too many years before. C/D, as usual, did better: a quick 5.1 seconds to 60 and 13.6 at 102 mph in the quarter.

But the real point was this: "[Porsche has] gained so much balance with the Carrera 4 that we no longer consider its discontinued cousin, the antsy 911 Turbo, a class contender among high-dollar sports cars."

What? The Turbo gone again? Yes, but only from the U.S. market -- the Carrera 4's positive response was a factor -- and only for a few years.

Porsche 911
The "4" in the '89 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 denoted 4-wheel drive.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1989 Porsche 911 Speedster

The late 1980s saw a sharp reversal of Porsche's fortunes caused in no small measure by a sudden drop in U.S. sales. From a 1986 high of over 30,000 cars, Porsche sent over just 9,479 in calendar-year 1989 and 9,139 in 1990. What was happening?

Most everyone agreed the main culprit was a never-ending increase in prices that was making all Porsches too expensive except for the ultra-rich. There was also the waning appeal of the front-engine Porsche 928 and 944, which evidently weren't changing fast enough to suit the market. The advent of a U.S. luxury tax and a sharp recession in late 1989 didn't help, either.

Porsche 911
Only 2,100 Porsche 911 Speedsters were built, of which 800 came to America.

What to do? Well, if a 356 Speedster had helped old Max Hoffman move more Porsches back in the 1950s, perhaps a 911 Speedster would help Porsche U.S. win back customers in the late 1980s.

Actually, Porsche had built such a car back in 1982, a prototype based on the then-new 911 Cabriolet. But "chop shop" converters had quickly stolen the Cabrio's thunder, and Porsche feared the same would happen with a new Speedster, so the company kept mum about the idea until 1987, when Porsche 911 sales began easing.

The reborn Speedster bowed alongside the new Porsche Carrera 4 at the 1988 Frankfurt Show. Predictably, it was an instant hit. Unlike the Spartan prototype, this new-yet-nostalgic Porsche 911 catered to comfort with roll-up windows (instead of side curtains) and a slightly taller, more conventional windshield (for some semblance of top-up head room). Most usual Porsche 911 options were available, but ordering too many would quickly swell the $65,480 base price to nearly $75,000.

Perhaps as a showroom lure, Porsche announced production of only 2,100 units, then delayed building any Speedsters until the summer of 1989. As it turned out, all but 159 wore the Turbo Look package, but every one got the Turbo's beefier chassis and heavy-duty four-piston cross-drilled disc brakes.

Recalling its 356 forebear, the Porsche 911 Speedster used a simpler manual top than the normal Cabriolet, with no thick inner insulation and or interior headliner. The result was a thinner roof that could stow beneath a flip-up fiberglass cover behind a rear package shelf, an arrangement prompted Porsche to forget the normal token back seat of other 911s. The cover's double-hump design didn't please everyone -- least of all Butzi Porsche, still having his say -- and top operation required some fiddling. Otherwise, the Speedster was pure 911.

But because it was designed pre-Carrera 4, it was not a Porsche 911 of the future. In fact, the '89 Speedster would be the last 911 model built at the old Stuttgart factory. Starting with the 964 series, Porsche shifted 911 production to a modern new plant near its Stuttgart headquarters.

Undeniably, the Speedster had "collectible" written all over it, and all 2,100 -- of which just 800 came to-- were quickly snapped up by would-be profiteers. And profit they did, but only for a time. Though asking prices soared above $90,000 within three years, according to Road & Track, Porsche would have another last laugh by offering an improved 911 Speedster five years on. America

Ferry Porsche turned a vigorous 80 on September 19, 1989, and his workers gave him a splendid birthday present in the Panamericana, a Porsche Carrera 4 with chunky, futuristic bodywork rendered in fiberglass and carbon fiber. The name, of course, honored the great Mexican road races of the Fifties, the Carreras Panamericana, where the Type 550 Spyder and 718 RSK had proven themselves so conclusively.

The Panamericana's unique feature was a roofline tapered sharply down from windshield to rear deck as a frame for slim doors and rear-side windows. A canvas cover allowed the entire cockpit to be opened to the sun. It was a striking machine that was destined to remain Dr. Porsche's alone -- a pity, for a production version could have been wondrous -- a "Speedster" that truly would herald the future.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1990 Porsche Carrera 2

The Carrera 4 was an auspicious debut for the 964-series, but most Porsche 911 buyers still wanted good old rear-wheel drive -- and the friendlier price that went with it. Price escalation was definitely hurting Porsche sales by 1990, the inevitable result of relatively high production costs and a still-weaking dollar. Managers were only too aware of the situation and had begun looking for ways to build cars at lower cost without compromising quality or innovation.

Porsche 911
The 964s had classic 911 looks. Here, a '90 C2 cabrio, C2 Targa, and C4 coupe.

But those measures would take time to implement, which implied U.S. sales would fall even further. Sure enough, calendar-1991 volume dropped by more than 50 percent to just 4,388 units, of which the Porsche 911 family accounted for nearly three-fourths. The worldwide picture was just as serious, Zuffenhausen's total production for the period declining from just more than 32,000 units to about 27,500, with Porsche 911s again accounting for the vast majority.

There was nothing to do but work toward greater efficiency while pressing on as best it could. Porsche did precisely that with the expected rear-drive version of the 964-series, which arrived in the U.S. as a 1990 model. Logically badged Carrera 2, it boasted most of the improvements introduced with the all-wheel drive C4, including its 247-bhp 3.6-liter engine. It also came with dual airbags, the result of Porsche's commitment to standardize those passive restraints for all of its U.S. models -- the first company to do so.

As expected, the C2 weighed some 220 pounds less than the C4 and was thus slightly faster to 60 mph. While Porsche modestly claimed respective 0-60 coupe acceleration of 5.5 seconds vs. 5.7, Road & Track managed 5.4 seconds with a C2 in heavier Targa trim, and Car and Driver's coupe needed a mere 4.8.

Those times were achieved with the usual five-speed manual gearbox, but there was something else new for the Carrera 2: Tiptronic, the Porsche 911's first fully automatic transmission. Evolved from the "PDK" gearbox of the championship-winning 962 Group CGT racer (PDK for Porsche Doppelkupplung -- "double clutch"), Tiptronic was a four-speed torque-converter transmission with electronic controls linked to those of the Motronic engine-management system.

Porsche 911
The '90 Carrera 2 was stouter of structure and more forgiving in hard cornering.

What set it apart from ordinary automatics were the sensors it utilized to monitor wheel slip (from the standard ABS system), as well as throttle angle, vehicle speed, engine revs, and longitudinal and lateral acceleration. The gear selector was equally unique: a two-plane affair with a conventional P-R-N-D-3-2-1 quadrant to the left and a separate "M" (manual) gate to the right, accessible from Drive by pushing the lever across a slot. Once in "tip" mode, the driver nudged the stick ahead toward "+" to shift up one gear, as on a motorcycle; moving back toward "-" selected the next lower ratio.

Well, it worked that way most of the time. With all its sensors, Tiptronic might upshift early to maintain stability under power in, say, a slippery corner. In other situations, such as a tight turn taken on light throttle, it might delay a change for the same reason. That was in full-automatic mode, where five "program maps" constantly adjusted shift points to match driving style (from leisurely to sporty, Porsche said). Of course, like other automatics, this one wouldn't select a lower gear if it meant overrevving the engine.

For economy, Tiptronic was programmed to start in second gear -- no sweat with the torquey 3.6 engine -- unless the driver tromped on the gas; it would also "default" to second gear in "tip" mode if the driver forgot to change down on coming to a stop. A pair of indicators in the speedometer face showed which gear was active in either shift mode.

Road & Track found Tiptronic quite efficient in several ways, largely because "Porsche's torque converter locks up above 40 mph and barely unlocks during shifts...This is reflected in [our observed] fuel economy, 17.5 mpg, just a sip more than our 5-speed Carrera's 18.0 mpg. It's also borne out by top speed (159 versus 162 mph). Perhaps the only significant difference is in acceleration (0-60 in 6.9 sec. versus the stickshift's 5.4)."

So was Tiptronic "the best of all worlds? Not to a Porsche purist," concluded R&T. "But to an urban dweller who spends a lot of time in traffic, or to an enthusiast/non-enthusiast couple that prefer to share the car, Porsche's [new] automatic may be just what Dr. Porsche ordered." It was certainly light years ahead of the old Sportomatic.

Porsche 911
European Carrera Cup racing began in 1990 as a special series for C2s only.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1991-1993 Porsche 911 Turbo, America, and Turbo S

Porsche prices may have been ascending to unheard-of heights in the late 1980s and early '90s, but it's fair to say that the cars were giving buyers more for their money.

Porsche 911
The price of the 1991 Carrera 4 coupe in the U.S. had risen above $70,000 to start.

Take the 1991 edition of the fabled Porsche 911 Turbo. Back after another year-long furlough, it mixed old and new by combining the 964 body with the trademark 930 whale tail, ultra-wide back wheelarches, and 3.3-liter engine. Wheels were now 17-inch Speedline alloys spreading seven inches wide up front and nine inches in back.

All wore purpose-designed Z-rated Bridgestone Expedia S-1 tires measuring 205/50 fore and 255/40 aft. As usual, springs, shocks, anti-roll bars, and rear semi-trailing arms were all beefed-up from Carrera specs. Best of all, ABS was finally standard for this super-fast car that needed it more than ever.

The 1991 Porsche Turbo outpowered its '89 predecessor thanks to a 50 percent larger intercooler, a bigger blower with lower-mass turbine wheel, cleaner and smoother intake passages, and a new low-restriction exhaust system with three-way catalytic converter and a separate catalyst for the turbo's bypass valve. All this added 23 horses for a thumping 315 total in U.S. form; torque improved some 14 percent to 332 pound-feet, though it peaked 500 rpm higher, at 4,500.

Even better, given the world's rising environmental consciousness, this Turbo was cleaner at the tailpipe and easier on the ears. A five-speed manual transmission remain mandatory but was beefed up via stouter and wider ring and pinion gears to improve durability with the added power. Also new was an optional limited-slip differential, providing a 20 percent lock with throttle on and up to 100 percent with throttle off.

Final drive was unchanged, but the '91 Turbo had a 0.36 drag coefficient (down from 0.39), reflecting the smoother 964 styling, so official top speed was up 11 mph to 168. Claimed acceleration improved, too, with 0-60 available in 4.8 seconds instead of 5.3. Typically, Road & Track bettered Porsche's numbers with 4.6 seconds to 60 and a 12.9-second quarter-mile. "Suffice to say that the ['91] Turbo...is the quickest factory Porsche we've ever tested."

Alas, the '91 Turbo was also one of the priciest Porsche 911s ever, with a startling U.S. base list of $95,000. Regular models were still escalating as well. A Carrera 2 coupe now started at $60,700, a C4 Cabrio at $80,600. Tiptronic added a steep $2,750 and the usual plethora of options could run up final tabs faster than a Turbo peeling off the line.

Porsche 911
The Porsche Turbo engine returned for 1991 in more potent 964-based models.

All the more curious, then, that an even costlier Carrera 2 Cabrio bowed in the United States for 1992. Porsche called it America. Press releases struggled to paint a link to Max Hoffman's like-named Porsche 356 of 40 years before. And at $87,900 to start, the new America "Roadster," as it was euphemistically labeled, was just as expensive in relative terms.

But this was no "stripper," delivering Turbo-style body, suspension, brakes, and tires, plus all the Carrera's comforts and conveniences -- even a power top. Still, a $15,000 premium over the regular Cabrio struck even Porsche's well-heeled customers as gouging.

Also parked outside the millionaire's club -- at least in Europe -- was a new Turbo S coupe (a.k.a. Turbo S2). Only 80 were built, all in calendar 1992. Where the America convertible was allegedly inspired by the near-stock 911s running in the European "Carrera 2 Cup" series (inaugurated in 1990), the impetus for this more powerful Turbo was the American IMSA Supercar Series, where blown Porsche 911s piloted by Hurley Haywood claimed the championship in 1991 and again in '92.

IMSA mandated that certain critical racing components be offered for the street. The Turbo S was built to satisfy the rule, but ironically the model wasn't street-legal in the United States and thus wasn't exported here.

Frankly, at a towering $180,000 it was none too affordable anywhere. But for those who could see their way, the Turbo S had plenty of will. Appropriate for a car built to be raced, it dispensed with nonessentials to save more than 400 pounds in curb weight. A larger and more efficient intercooler, freer-breathing turbo, and wilder cams produced a modest horsepower increase from 315 to 322 at a higher 6,200 rpm; torque also improved, going from 332 at 4500 to 354 at 4800.

To cope with the extra low-end grunt, Porsche specified wider wheels of 18-inch diameter wrapped with jumbo 235/40 tires fore and 265/35s aft -- Z-rated, of course. Other upgrades included the chassis modifications implied by a claimed 180-mph top speed -- up 12 mph from the standard Turbo -- plus twin oil coolers and a long-distance 24.5-gallon fuel tank.

The '92 Turbo S was something of a handful even for the likes of Paul Frere, the astute Le Mans-winning race driver and engineer turned journalist. As he wrote in Road & Track: "Most of the time, the car corners as if on the proverbial rails...It is, of course, possible to induce power oversteer, but to achieve that, you must be not only very brave, but also very accurate in your anticipation of full turbo boost. Let the boost come in too late, and you fail; let it come in too soon, and you are in trouble. On less than smooth surfaces, driving really fast requires a lot of attention as the combination of very hard suspension and wide, ultralow-profile tires . . . tends to make the car deviate from its course." In short, a Porsche 911 Turbo could still be a raging bull.

Porsche 911
The 1992 Porsche 911 Turbo S was an 80-unit special for Europe only.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1993 Porsche 911 RS America

There was good news and bad news as the Porsche 911 approached its 30th anniversary year. The bad news came mostly from the sales staff and the accountants.

Porsche 911
The 1993 Porsche 911 RS America's fewer frills saved 70 pounds and $10,000.

For starters, deliveries to America were down again: to 4,115 units in calendar '92, then just 3,729 in '93. Worldwide production was still sliding, too, from more than 22,000 for model-year '92 to 15,082 for '93. The Porsche 911 accounted for the vast majority of all these totals. Sad to say, the Targa was no more, dropped after '92 as a money-saving measure after years of losing sales to the Cabriolet.

Saving money was paramount, because Porsche had been losing it by the carload -- $130 million in 1992 alone, a huge sum for a small independent automaker. In fact, Porsche was by now flirting with bankruptcy.

Stern measures were overdue, so there was no little interest surrounding the 1993 appointment of 40-year-old Wendelin Wiedeking as chairman and CEO. As events soon proved, he was the right man at the right time.

Porsche certainly needed a new chief with both brains and courage. As Business Week summarized in June 2000, "the previous 15 years had seen a succession of CEOs who tried and failed to manage both the Porsche business and the fickle Porsche family that owns it. By the time Wiedeking came on the scene, years of poor decision-making had left Porsche adrift." Even so, the decline was not apparent to most outsiders, Porsche customers included.

With a background in materials, machine tools, and production engineering, Wiedeking joined Porsche in 1983, the year he earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering. After serving as project manager for the paint and body shops at the then-new Stuttgart plant, he left in 1988 to work for two German metals firms, then returned to Porsche in 1992 as spokesman for the company's operational Board of Management before being named Board chairman and CEO.

Despite his fondness for Porsche -- or perhaps because of it -- the new Doctor-in-charge prescribed a heavy dose of "tough love." Wasting no time, he cut production, slashed the workforce a hefty 25 percent, and brought in Japanese engineers to teach Porsche about more-efficient production methods.

Wiedeking also euthanized Porsche's fading front-engine 928 and 968 models and brokered a new entry-level car, the Boxster, that would further trim overhead by sharing many parts with a totally redesigned new-generation Porsche 911. And the shakeup had only begun.

Later, to meet surprisingly strong demand, Wiedeking outsourced Boxster production, again to the chagrin of many company veterans. He even let Porsche be kicked off the Frankfurt stock exchange because he didn't like filing quarterly reports that let competitors in on secret plans. Most daring of all, perhaps, was Wiedeking's long-range plan for Porsche to develop a sport-utility vehicle as a hedge against future downturns in sports-car sales.

Though Wiedeking had yet to make his mark in 1992, the year brought some good news for Porsche 911 fans: a new RS America coupe. Reaching U.S. showrooms that April as an early 1993 offering, it bucked the trend of ever-costlier Porsches by listing for $10,000 less than a standard $64,000 Carrera 2. Car and Driver aptly termed it "a frill-less 911, one that sheds 70 pounds of fluff and looks pure and ready for some serious fun."

That "fluff" involved the air conditioning (made optional at $2,940), power steering (not available for any sum), stereo, the token rear seats, even the armrests (replaced by simple pull handles). But buyers did get a whale tail instead of the smaller auto-extending spoiler, plus the inch-wider wheels and tires that cost $1,352 extra on a C2.

Owners also got the best performance yet in a non-turbo 911. C/D's example rushed through the 0-60 sprint in 4.6 seconds and scaled the standing quarter-mile in 13.3 seconds at 105 mph. With that, the magazine labeled the RS a "foolproof way to convert almost anyone into a full-lather Porsche-phile." Road & Track's numbers were only a bit less stunning: 5.3 seconds to 60 and 13.8 at 102.5 mph in the quarter.

Alas, the RS America appealed scarcely more than the 1988 Club Sport, and only some 300 were built in 1993. Although it looked another "instant collectible" 911, R&T concluded that a "mothballed classic is not what the RS America is meant to be. Spirited, even frisky, this 911 is a thoroughbred designed to do one thing really well: run like a Preakness winner."

So full credit is due to Porsche for what it was able to achieve. Despite a growing mound of business problems, Zuffenhausen was still willing to deliver a pur sang GT, even though only a few might want one. Most other automakers wouldn't have bothered.

And what of the Porsche 911's 30th birthday? Though fans the world over staged their own celebrations, Porsche's dire business situation delayed an official observance to late 1993 for Europe and early 1994 for the U.S. But, boy, was it worth the wait.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1995 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera 4

The most sweepingly changed Porsche 911s ever arrived for model-year 1995: rear-drive Carrera and all-wheel-drive Carrera 4, each offered as a coupe and cabriolet. Collectively designated 993-series, they cost a cool $300 million to develop, but the money was well spent on what would turn out to be the last air-cooled cars Porsche would build.

Porsche 911
A smoother nose and tidier bumpers marked the 993-series Porsche 911s in 1995.

Visually, the 993 echoed the late, great Porsche 959 supercar in a more fulsome lower body with wider, reshaped rear fenders. Front fenders were lowered to accommodate Porsche 959-style lay-back headlamps above prominent wrapped turn signal/foglight units and two thin, wide air slots below. Also new were a slimmer, full-width taillight lens; a wider auto-extending rear spoiler; and new 17-inch wheels that nevertheless had a classic Porsche 911 look.

This classicism was appropriate, for the timeless basic shape penned by Butzi Porsche so long before was still clear and intact. So, too, the traditional Porsche 911 cockpit, albeit with new seats, an attractive new four-spoke airbag steering wheel with full-hub horn press (no more little tabs to search for), minor controls redesigned to be handier and more intuitive, and a new ventilation filter to trap pollen and other impurities.

Despite a 3.3-inch gain in overall width, the 993 boasted the same 0.33 drag coefficient as the 964 it replaced. The smoother lower-body contours helped but so did a newly flush windshield, side glass pulled out 7mm to be near-flush, and new, so-called "air relief" vents in the front wheelarches.

Other dimensions changed little, if any. Even curb weight was little changed. In Carrera trim (the "2" was omitted), the 993 was just 23/33 pounds heavier than a manual/Tiptronic 964. Also unseen, but greatly noticed in driving, was a 20 percent increase in torsional stiffness.

Other body improvements included resited center-pivot wipers covering 80 percent of windshield area, beefier door beams to meet Washington's new 1997 standards for side-impact protection, and trunk room that increased 20 percent despite the lower front hood (though there'd been precious little space before).

Chassis revisions were just as extensive. The 3.6-liter engine was treated to a lower-mass valvetrain; hydraulic lifters requiring no periodic lash adjustment; lighter pistons and conrods; a stiffer crankshaft (still with eight main bearings) that eliminated the need for a weighty harmonic damper; a quieter new low-pressure exhaust system with twin catalysts and mufflers; and Bosch's latest Motronic 2.10 engine-management system with a hot-film air-mass sensor (replacing a less precise hot-wire type).

All this lifted horsepower to 270 at 6,100 rpm and peak torque to 243 pound-feet at 5,000. Valve covers, timing-chain cover, and intake manifold were now rendered in plastic-like composites, which didn't add muscle but did save weight and helped reduce noise.

To take advantage of its extra power, the 993 employed a new Porsche-designed six-speed manual transaxle with closer intermediate ratios and dual-cone synchros for first and second gears. Despite the added cog, the six-speed was no heavier and little larger than the old five-speed and was complemented by a lower-effort clutch.

Buyers who favored automatic transmission could order improved Tiptronic S, with shift maps optimized for the retuned engine, plus programming that allowed downshifts to be triggered by braking. Another nifty new touch was the pair of rocker switches in the upper steering-wheel spokes for hands-on gear-changing in "tip" mode. The floor quadrant was unchanged.

Porsche 911
This view of the 993 C4 chassis shows the new twin A-arm rear suspension.

A new rear suspension was the 993's biggest single advance. Largely rendered in lovely aluminum castings, it replaced the feared semi-trailing arms of old with what amounted to double-wishbone geometry. Porsche called the arrangement "LSA," for "Lightweight-Stable-Agile," but it was really like Detroit's familiar "long-/short-arm" setup. Here, a solid A-arm sat below a triangulated two-piece upper member with bushings that gave stabilizing toe-in under braking -- the now-famous "Weissach" effect pioneered by the V-8 928.

Better yet, the whole assembly mounted on a cast-aluminum subframe -- a first for a rear-engine car -- which was rubber isolated to dampen noise and soften ride. The new rear end was also claimed to reduce unsprung weight and be easier to build. Front suspension was much as before, but an inch wider track and increased caster improved stability and on-center steering feel. The steering itself remained power rack-and-pinion, but a quicker ratio cut nearly half a turn lock-to-lock, to 2.47. Turn diameter was also tightened a useful two feet to 38.5.

Porsche seldom adds engine power without increased stopping power, so the 993's four-wheel disc brakes grew about 0.2-inch to nearly a foot in diameter. The rotors were also thicker, newly cross-drilled as standard, and treated to Bosch's latest "ABS 5," a three-channel antilock system with reduced pedal "kickback" and better ability to cope with uneven surfaces.

Speaking of traction, the 993 featured a new wrinkle called ABD -- Automatic Brake Differential. An extension of the ABS system, it used the same wheel-speed sensors and computer-managed hydraulic actuator to apply braking force to restore grip at any wheel at which slip was detected. While manual-shift 993s came with the usual limited-slip rear differential, ABD was optional for Carreras and standard on the Carrera 4.

Porsche 911
The Targa was not offered for the 993-series, but the cabriolet was better than ever.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1995 Porsche 911 Carrera Model Comparison

As in past years, the 993-series Porsche Carrera 4 shared all the improvements of its rear-drive contemporary, but with a few differences. Tiptronic still wasn't available, but buyers did get "titanium-colored" engine-lid script, brake calipers, and shift-knob insert.

More significant, the C4's all-wheel drive was further simplified from the 964 system, replacing electrohydraulic differentials with mechanical components. These comprised a locking rear differential and a center diff with a viscous coupling -- basically a multi-disc clutch running in a silicone goo, not unlike that used in newer sport-utility vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. A driveshaft ran from the center differential to a small front diff with associated halfshafts.

Porsche 911
All non-turbo 993s shared the same new look with a lower nose and wide "hips."

Unlike the previous AWD, the new system diverted power to the front only when signaled by sensors monitoring rpm, temperature, and wheel speed (part of the ABD and ABS electronics), regulated by the rear differential. Thus, if both rear wheels began spinning, as on ice, up to 39 percent of available power was sent forward. In most other conditions the front/rear torque split could vary between 5/95 and 25/75 percent.

The real beauty of the 993's AWD was that it weighed just 111 pounds, which trimmed C4 curb weight by a substantial 165 pounds. The new design also cut frictional losses by a sizable 50 percent. Even so, the new C4 remained a bit thirstier than the rear-drive Carrera and landed in the "guzzler" category, though only by one mpg.

Reviewers had nothing but raves for all the rejuvenated Porsche 911s. Let's start with the rear-driver, piloted for Car and Driver by Briton Peter Robinson. He noted that "no 911 has ever handled as well nor been as easy to drive. But do not think for a moment that this more friendly temperament has compromised driver pleasure...The [steering] wheel still transmits useful messages with typical 911 clarity as it writhes gently in your fingers, so that you feel there's almost no hydraulic help. Yet any artificial messages are eliminated, and so is kickback.

"The result combines razor-sharp turn-in response and sensitivity with staggering high-speed stability and a newfound sense of security. The contrived understeer engineered into the old Carrera 2 and 4 models has been replaced by a new agility...the greater roadholding and reduced understeer requiring far less steering effort...At its limit, the 911's not quite as serene as an Acura NSX, but it is far more predictable than a Ferrari 348" -- high praise considering those cars' pure mid-engine layout.

As for the Carrera 4, Road & Track's Joe Rusz tested it back-to-back with the rear-driver at Southern California's demanding Willow Springs Raceway, and his comments are interesting: "Without a doubt, the Carrera 4 is quicker, getting off the line with a fair amount of wheelspin but without the severe axle judder that seems to dog the Carrera...In fast sweepers the Carrera 4 feels more stable, its excellent awd enabling it to toe the line perfectly. The Carrera 2, on the other hand, gets very nervous and tends to oversteer at the slightest hint of throttle lift-off."

But Rusz found that "in slow, 90-degree corners, the C4...understeers, so much so that power-on exits often found the steering wheel reaching full lock. What's more, throttle liftoff only slightly reduces understeer -- in contrast to the C2 in which a reduction of power brings the tail out slightly and allows the front tires to bite. Why does the Carrera 4 understeer? Because when the front wheels are driven, less of their tires' grip is available for lateral traction. And with the rear tires getting such excellent traction, they propel the car forward, causing the lightly loaded fronts to lose their grip."

Porsche 911
The 993 cabrio offered a "wind blocker" that clipped on to reduce air turbulence.

Whatever their flaws on the track, the new Porsche 911s were brilliant on the road. "[I]t seems Porsche's engineers have finally purged [the] flaws," Robinson declared, "and what's left is the sharpest 911 yet. And the most friendly." Said Rusz: "If I were a Porsche purist who knows how to drive...and who fully understands the meaning of rear-engine weight bias, the Carrera would get my vote. It's lively, responsive, challenging...But if I were the same fella and realized that there's a lot to be said for all-wheel-drive stability and all-weather traction, the new Carrera 4 would get my nod."

So as ever with Porsche 911s, "you pays your money and takes your choice." Only now you didn't pay so much. At just $100 shy of $60,000, the '95 U.S. Carrera coupe cost $5,000 less than its '94 counterpart, and the $65,900 C4 was a whopping $12,000 more affordable. Corresponding Cabriolet prices were $65,900 and $74,200. (Tiptronic S added $3,150 to either rear-drive model.) In convincing fashion, Porsche had made good on its promise of a better 911 for less money.

We're not forgetting acceleration, but gains here were relatively less impressive. R&T's rear-drive coupe matched the factory's 5.2-second 0-60 claim, which was a tick quicker than the departed RS America. The magazine's Carrera 4 clocked 5.7 seconds 0-60, 0.3-second off the official time, though about what you'd expect given a 111-pound weight penalty. Car and Driver got 4.9 seconds with a C4 coupe in the same sprint, which looked a shade optimistic.

As for skidpad cornering, R&T's Carrera 4 turned 0.85g versus 0.90 for C/D's car -- a big gap likely explained by different test sites. Porsche itself claimed "in excess of 1.0g on high-traction surfaces" for all 993s, which seemed a bit boastful in view of the above.

Overall, though, the 993-series was a remarkable advance on the 964 models, especially for being developed during one of the darkest periods in Porsche history.

Porsche 911
The 993 Carreras were the most forgiving 911s ever, yet no less thrilling to drive.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1995 Porsche Carrera RS, Carrera RSR, and GT2

For all its difficulties in the early 1990s, Porsche remained passionately dedicated to racing -- and to devising "race-and-ride" 911s capable of sweeping up trophies at the track, then hauling them home in reasonable comfort. A trio of 993-series models carried on this grand tradition. Though the Carrera RS, Carrera RSR, and 911 GT2 all came and went in 1995, well before the last air-cooled Porsche 911s were built, they were a dramatic climax for one of the great eras in automotive history.

The RS was basically a lightweight Carrera coupe with a big-valve, non-turbo Varioram engine bored out to 3.8 liters, good for some 300 horsepower. The body crouched an inch lower in front and 1.5 inches lower in back, necessitating Turbo-like flared wheelarches. Split-rim 18-inch wheels enclosed larger disc brakes with four-piston calipers and adjustable anti-roll bars appeared at each end.

Predictably, engineers removed weighty power accessories and most sound insulation. They also specified thinner glass, replaced the steel hood with an aluminum replica, ditched the back seat, and fitted lightweight racing-style front buckets. Thus stripped for action, the RS weighed just under 2,800 pounds, about 220 less than a stock six-speed-manual Carrera coupe.

Air conditioning and twin airbags were also deleted, though available as options. The RSR was even more extreme, equipped with a full roll cage, racing-spec front-strut brace, adjustable rear wing, six-point racing harnesses, and a fire extinguisher.

In Britain, the racy new Porsche 911 RS cost nearly $100,000 at the prevailing exchange rate; the race-ready RSR over $107,000. Georg Kacher thought both cars delivered too little for too much. Testing an RS for Britain's CAR magazine, one of his several outlets, he hailed the acceleration -- 0-60 mph in about 4.7 seconds -- pin-sharp turn-in, and arresting-hook braking power, but hated most everything else. "Nerve-wracking" noise and "restless" handling were his biggest beefs.

"Having been trained to deliver on the track, this car has yet to learn how to behave in a real-world environment," said Kacher. "It may be fractionally faster than its siblings in a straight line, but as soon as you throw in a few corners, dips and crests, the loud, noisy RS is fighting a losing battle against the pleasantly inconspicuous, near-perfect Carrera 2." No matter. Only 1,200 brave souls got the chance to buy this RS, a mere 100 owned the RSR.

Porsche built only 150 copies of the GT2, which was rather like an RS crossed with a 993-series Turbo, only with more pressurized power and no all-wheel drive. As the name suggested, it was basically a street version of Porsche's standard-bearer in the FIA's European GT2 racing series, a car that also finished fourth in the 1995 Rolex 24 at Daytona and sixth overall at that year's Sebring 12 Hours. The road car had about as much power as the later Turbo S but weighed just 2,844 pounds, a massive 463 pounds less.

The peripatetic Herr Kacher, reporting for Automobile, credited this svelteness to engineers "ripping out every convenience item they could find and by fitting thinner windows, aluminum doors, an aluminum hood, and a pair of desperately uncomfortable plastic bucket seats." Well, that and the hardware eliminated by using rear drive.

Visually, the GT2 was pure race car: ultra-wide bolt-on fender flares snugged closely to ultra-wide tires, a front lip spoiler with upturned ends, and an equally unique biplane spoiler with "shark" fins and functional forward outboard air ducts. The wing, in fact, resembled nothing so much as a jet fighter sans fuselage.

Alas, performance was a bit less than the looks implied. Kacher's Automobile report quoted the factory's claimed 4.4 seconds to 62 mph (100 km/h) -- call it 4.2 to 60, still a good 0.4 second behind the 400-horsepower stock Turbo tested by Road & Track.

On the other hand, top speed was "a breathtaking 183 mph," and the "arsenal of go-faster ingredients fails to destroy the ride, but it does push the door open to a new plateau of roadholding." Kacher observed, "On well-groomed blacktop, the GT2 achieves insane cornering speeds that make you wonder why the silly yellow safety belt isn't a full-blown five-point racing shoulder harness."

But as with the Carrera RS, Kacher was disappointed in this sports-racing Porsche, not least because of its towering $198,500 price. "Taking the GT2 to the limit requires skill, stamina and seriously fast reaction times, because this car does what it does without lengthy preludes or warnings. Be prepared for wheelspin in third gear, for serious understeer under braking, and for all kinds of directional instability -- especially when lifting off the throttle at midcorner. It's about the wildest ride Porsche makes. Maybe it's a good thing [so few of these cars are built]. There's a limited number of people who can take this much excitement."

Maybe, yet the very existence of such extreme cars only testified anew to the amazing adaptability of the Porsche 911 concept, not to mention the skill of Porsche engineers.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1996 Porsche 911 Turbo

As a much better Porsche 911 and a much better value, the 993 accelerated Porsche's nascent sales recovery. Despite the end of Porsche 928 and 968 production, worldwide volume in the company's 1994-1995 business year was 18,079 cars, a far cry from the 12,463 of bottom-out 1992-1993.

Sales in North America also improved, inching up for calendar '95 to 6,078 (including Canada). Things were even better in '96, when total production hit 32,390 units and North American calendar-year sales jumped nearly 24 percent to 7,524. Porsche had finally turned the corner. In fact, though no one could know it at the time, the company was starting a sales climb that would continue every year for more than a decade.

Porsche 911
The mighty Porsche 911 Turbo returned in late 1995 as a new 993-series model.

Porsche wasted no time updating other Porsche 911 models to 993 specs, starting in spectacular fashion with a much-improved Turbo. Bowing in mid-1995 as an early '96 entry, it marked two firsts for the most iconic 911: all-wheel drive -- basically the new lighter-weight Carrera 4 setup -- and two small turbochargers instead of a single larger one. The latter aimed to improve both power and tractability, and that it did.

Despite the usual "decompression," here to 8.0:1 versus 11.3 normally aspirated, the revised 3.6-liter engine delivered a rollicking 400 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 400 pound-feet of torque across a broad band peaking at 4,500 revs. The result was the fastest mainline Porsche 911 ever.

Road & Track clocked 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, the standing quarter-mile in 12.5 at 112.5 mph. "Porsche's 400-bhp world-beater picks up where the 959 left off," declared R&T's road-test headline. Other motor-noters also strained for superlatives to describe a new Porsche 911 Turbo. "A Stunner," proclaimed AutoWeek. "A new dimension in time-warp travel," declared Automobile.

Though the 1996 Porsche Turbo naturally inherited much from the 993-series Carrera 4, it was no less thoroughly fettled than previous versions. The hallmark wide-body styling returned, but the fixed rear wing was now more platypus than whale tail.

And though the rear fenders bulged 2.3 inches wider than on other 993s, the front fenders were exactly the same. So, too, the trunklid, roof, doors and windows. But the windshield was slightly larger, and a new lower front fascia presented three large air slots serving the brakes, engine oil cooler, and A/C evaporator.

Engineers strove to optimize aerodynamics and minimize weight with the latest Porsche Turbo. The former goal explained the regular-width front fenders, while the latter was helped by the simplified AWD. Also trimming heft were new 18-inch aluminum wheels with hollow spokes, a Porsche-patented design that saved a total 24 pounds in nasty unsprung weight.

Rim widths were eight inches fore and 10 aft. Respective tires were P225/40s and P285/30s, all Z-rated Pirelli P Zero. Brakes were naturally upgraded -- what else from Porsche? -- going to vented and cross-drilled discs measuring an inch wider and a massive 12.7 inches in diameter, adorned by trendy red-painted calipers.

The new twin-turbo installation was quite different from the hallowed Porsche 959's dual sequential puffers, which produced disappointing turbo lag. As described by Paul Frere, R&T's man in Europe, each bank of three cylinders had its own small-diameter, low-inertia KKK turbo located quite close to the heads.

After spinning the turbines, exhaust gases passed through a large intercooler on each side, then merged to feed the cylinders. Each turbo had a wastegate that limited maximum boost to 11.6 psi. Turbo efficiency was unusually good, Frere observed, because the engine bay was always mildly pressurized by the engine cooling fan.

Frere also noted a number of premium upgrades for the Turbo version of Porsche's latest M64 engine. Cylinders, for example, were forged for strength under pressure rather than cast, and their cooling fins were machined to optimize airflow. Cylinder heads, pistons and conrods were all reinforced, as usual with force-fed engines, and the valve rockers added tiny hydraulic valve lifters for easier adjustment. Even the cooling fan wasn't overlooked, geared to run 15 percent faster than in other Porsche 911s.

No less care was lavished on the rest of the powertrain. Like the C4, the Porsche Turbo came only with a six-speed manual transmission, but the four intermediate gears got shorter ratios to enhance acceleration, while sixth got "longer" (numerically lower) gearing for quieter, more economical high-speed cruising. Because the front differential left no room for the usual vacuum booster, the Turbo employed hydraulic brakes with a compact electric pump providing pressure at 2,300-2,600 psi. The system also served the clutch, thereby reducing driver fatigue in the everyday grind.

Porsche 911
The Turbo's "whale tail" spoiler was more prominent than ever on the '96 model.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1996 Porsche 911 Turbo Performance

Commuting is the last thing most people would do with a Porsche 911 Turbo, yet the 993 iteration happily tolerated that, unlike its high-strung forebears. And for all the extra power, Road & Track's Paul Frere found this Turbo "a much better balanced car, not only in terms of handling, but also in its overall demeanor.

Each of its features is perfectly matched to the others, and even before the loud pedal is depressed, one is impressed with the much better ride. Gone is the teeth-shaking progress of the old [Turbo, while handling] is much smoother and [more] progressive...And on bumpy roads, the bumps are better absorbed, the car is more stable and fewer corrections are required."

Porsche 911
It was hard to miss the 993-series Turbo even in a more subtle shade than yellow.

Of course, the new all-wheel drive made a huge difference. R&T's Doug Kott later enthused that it worked "[s]eamlessly, fantastically, producing the sort of tenacious roadholding simply unheard of with previous 911 Turbos." Backing that up, Kott recorded a stellar 0.92g skidpad romp and an excellent 65.2 mph in the slalom test.

"The new Turbo still behaves very much like a rear-drive car -- the front wheels, fed a maximum of 15 percent of the engine's total torque, work as a safety net, helping to pull the chassis back to its intended line until a combination of lateral loading and throttle overexuberance blows the tail loose. In most situations, the balance is nearly neutral, with sheer grip and unflappable composure being the overriding sensations. Never before has 400 horsepower been more easily or efficiently channeled to the ground."

Even so, Georg Kacher, Automobile's European correspondent, found that "although the grip is tenacious, it is not unlimited." On undulating roads "the lack of spring travel and the tires' tendency to tramline can have as profound effect on directional stability as three large whiskeys. Curvy, poorly surfaced highways should also be treated with respect."

Despite the expected ABS and Porsche's Automatic Brake Differential traction control, "[a]t superhuman velocities the 911 Turbo's front end will pitch hard in its fight against the expansion joints, the steering wheel will drum and tug, and the rear end will sidestep fractionally when you back off or tighten the line. But unlike lesser cars, the Porsche will pull through."

On better pavement, it pulled like a Saturn V rocket. "Speed is a drug," Kacher allowed, "and the new 911 Turbo has what it takes to turn aficionados into addicts. Flooring the loud pedal instantly makes you king of the road, and thanks to the intelligent four-wheel-drive hardware, it hardly matters if the asphalt is wet or covered with snow.

Progress is anything from brisk to lightning fast, and as long as the road surface is reasonably even, corners are an adrenaline-producing bonus. The g-forces grab your soft parts and make them splash from one side of the body to the other." A Star Trek-type inertial dampener might have helped, but Porsche hadn't gotten around to one yet.

No car is perfect, of course, but the 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo came awfully close. It was certainly state-of-the-art for its time, and some critics even judged it superior to the instant-legend Porsche 959.

Yet thanks to engineering that enhanced capability while reducing build costs, Porsche could deliver this thrilling machine to U.S. customers for $4,000 less than the previous '94 Turbo: $105,000 (excluding luxury tax, freight and options) -- a bargain, all things considered.

Porsche 911
The '96 Porsche 911 Turbo offered 400 horsepower via twin blowers.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1996 Porsche 911 Carrera C4S and 911 Targa

Porsche quickly followed the 993-series Turbo with a pair of more-affordable new models, the Carrera 4S coupe and a completely reformed Targa. Both reached showrooms in early 1996.

The 4S was basically a Carrera 4 coupe with wide-body Turbo styling minus the whale tail. It also made do with heavier solid-spoke wheels, though they resembled the Turbo's, plus the stock C4 suspension, though a firmer sport setup was available.

It was déjà vu all over again, but unlike the "Turbo Look" options of old, the Carrera 4S was sensibly priced, starting at the same $73,000 as the Carrera cabrio. On the other hand, it was almost identical with the standard C4 coupe in performance.

The '96 Targa was something completely different: no longer a semi-convertible with a detachable roof panel but a rakish coupe with a giant power glass sunroof. The semi-convertible term was still apt, though, because the new design employed a "roof module," supplied by Webasto Systems, that was screwed and glued onto the cabrio bodyshell.

At a glance, the Targa looked much like any Porsche 911 coupe but had differently shaped roof rails, rear side windows, and backlight, plus telltale part-lines at the windshield header and C-pillar bases where the cap connected to the cabrio body. In all, the conversion was visually subtle and undoubtedly cost-effective.

The roof itself was a bit Rube Goldberg, comprising a small flip-up vent at the windshield header, a larger sliding panel, and three motors to operate the pair plus an interior sunshade. Pushing a button on the console opened the vent. Pushing it again sent the main panel rearward to nest inside the rear window at full stretch, leaving a 26 X 37-inch opening over the front seats.

Of course, the glass could be stopped at any point in either direction of travel. A second switch worked the sunshade, which was rigged to retract automatically if you opened the roof with the shade deployed.

Despite all the extra glass, the Targa weighed just 60 pounds more than a Carrera coupe with the smaller steel sunroof. The conversion also added 0.6-inch to height but didn't spoil aerodynamics. It even added a smidge of headroom, as the roof cap was slightly thinner in section than the normal coupe roof.

It was clever, this new Targa, but not without flaws. First, the roof glass was tinted a bilious blue, making for an aquarium-like cabin ambience, and aft visibility in full-open mode was murky even by day; you were, after all, looking through the roof panel and the back window. And though most testers found the glass-top nearly as rigid and tight as a steel-roof Porsche 911 -- thanks to the stiffer cabrio base -- a few mentioned the odd creak and groan of glass against rubber seals, especially on rough surfaces.

Nevertheless, Car and Driver's John Phillips thought "[d]riving roofless in this car is fresh-air nirvana...At speeds up to 50 mph, buffeting is negligible...Above 60 mph, the wind definitely begins to muss your locks, but it won't pull them out by the roots, as often happens in true convertibles."

It might seem odd that Porsche would go to so much trouble when the "true convertible" Cabriolet accounted for more than half of U.S. Porsche 911 sales. But "a difference to sell" was the name of the game, and Porsche Cars North America limited new Targa deliveries to about 500 a year.

That was sensible, given the $7,000 surcharge over the regular Carrera coupe and a $1,400 premium over the Cabrio. At least the extra money bought one other distinction: unique 17-inch pressure-cast wheels ringed with 24 Allen-type screwheads -- ersatz, of course, and a pain to clean.

Though the 400-horsepower Turbo grabbed most of Porsche's '96 headlines, other 911s boasted new power-boosters of their own. Road & Track's Joe Rusz listed "new cylinder heads with 1-mm-larger intake and exhaust valves, reprofiled camshafts with 4 degrees longer duration, and Varioram, a resonance-tuned-induction system largely responsible for that increase in power and torque." Those increases weren't huge -- 12 horsepower, for a total of 282, and seven extra pound-feet, for 250 in all -- but hardly anyone complains when Porsche turns up the wick.

As Rusz described it, "Varioram features six individual runners (one per cylinder) with variable-length intake pipes, two induction plenums (one per side), two throttle bodies (upper and lower) and a crossover tube with actuating flap. What happens, in a nutshell, is that Varioram functions as a single-stage system up to 5000 rpm and a two-stage system above 5000 when the second (lower) throttle plate opens and sleeves inside each intake runner retract, allowing air to flow into the secondary intake plenums. At 5800 rpm, the flap in the crossover tube opens, further increasing the cross-section of the resonance system. What you get is a broader torque curve, especially at high rpm...What you feel is a lot of oomph, especially in the upper rev ranges where the previous powerplant got a bit winded."

For all that, Rusz admitted the stronger engine didn't much improve non-turbo performance -- just a couple of tenths in acceleration, three mph in top speed (to 171 mph for the base Carrera coupe). What he didn't admit was that two-stage and resonance induction were not new ideas, and that Varioram was a bit complicated. But these engine changes were stepping stones to a planned wasserboxer 911, a historic departure for Porsche, but necessary to meet tighter anticipated emissions standards.

Porsche 911
Though not a big seller for years, the Targa body style returned as a 993 model.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1997-1998 Porsche 911 and 911 Turbo S

Porsche passed a historic milestone in July 1996 with production of its one-millionth car but had little time to celebrate. The company was busily preparing for the European launch of its important new entry-level model, the mid-engine two-seat Boxster convertible, followed in 1998 by the first clean-sheet 911 since the original.

Americans, as usual, would endure a year's delay in each case, which only whetted buyer appetites, encouraged by a stream of breathless preview reports from "buff" magazine European correspondents.

Porsche 911
The 4S coupe returned as 1998's only all-wheel-drive non-turbo Carrera.

Yet the delayed gratification had no affect on sales in Porsche's most important market. Indeed, despite an unchanged line of little-changed cars, North American sales almost doubled in calendar '97 to 13,731 units, the highest 12-month tally in nine years. Helped by the Boxster, Porsche did even better in 1998 with 18,189 sales.

Global business kept heading up, too. After hitting 20,242 units in the 1995-1996 business year, worldwide production leaped to 32,390 in 1996-1997, then to 38,007 in 1997-1998. With that, plus strong demand for the Boxster and boffo notices for the new Porsche 911s in Europe, no one could doubt that Porsche's future was again both assured and bright.

The 1997 and 1998 North American models ended the fairly short run of the 993-series and the very long run of air-cooled Porsches. Traditionalists mourned both even as Porsche observed its 50th birthday in 1998, but what better place than the half-century mark for a legendary automaker to begin a dynamic new era?

Typical of "run-out" cars, the last North American 993s had little new to offer. The only change for '97 was the addition of high-intensity Litronic headlamps as a first-time option; even base prices stood pat. The Porsche Turbo then went MIA, suggesting something big was afoot.

Otherwise, the '98 lineup was more of the same, except that the Carrera coupe was ousted for a Turbo-style wide-body version called Carrera S. Its many special trim bits prompted lots of kidding from Car and Driver, but poseurs everywhere delighted at the base price: nearly $10,000 lighter than for the lookalike C4S (still at $73,000 base).

Finally, just when it seemed the air-cooled era might pass quietly, Porsche issued a fitting finale in a new Turbo S coupe. Announced in mid-1997, it was both a farewell tribute and a 50th anniversary present from Zuffenhausen.

Upgrades over the "normal" Turbo were extensive. Start with an engine muscled up to 424 horsepower, an extra oil cooler to keep it on call, and a four-pipe exhaust system to help it breathe deeply. The transmission and clutch were suitably beefed up. Ride height dropped 0.6-inch for better "aero" and tighter cornering, while a thicker front-strut crossbrace enhanced both handling and rigidity.

Extra air ducts appeared in the front bumper and rear fenders, while the tail grew a heroically sized "biplane" spoiler. Unique trim touches abounded: yellow-painted brake calipers, aluminum and carbonfiber cabin accents, and Turbo S logos almost everywhere you looked.

With all this, the Turbo S was even more extroverted than the hard-to-miss standard issue, and limited-edition cachet made it a fast sellout despite a stiff $150,000 entry fee. That price and the low planned production meant no seat time for most road-testers, but Britain's Autocar wheedled a drive.

Despite a few scary close encounters with hedgerows in rainy weather, the magazine pronounced the Turbo S "the ultimate 911." There was special praise for the powerful brakes -- "There are less effective brick walls" -- and, of course, the always prodigious grip. But the foul weather precluded track tests, so Autocar could only parrot Porsche's own performance figures. And those numbers suggest the S was little, if any faster than the 400-horsepower Turbo.

As for production, we don't have an official figure, but we do know the U.K. was allotted just 33 cars, the U.S. only 168, so the likely total was no more than 500. Comedian and Porschephile Jerry Seinfeld managed to get one, but many other wealthy swells must have been disappointed.

Porsche 911
A special nose with large air intake was unique to 993-series Turbos like this '97.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1999 Porsche 911 Carrera Origins

The arrival of the 1999 Porsche Carrera was telegraphed in a late 1993 interview with journalist Georg Kacher in which Dr. Ferry Porsche confirmed what everyone suspected: a brand-new Porsche 911 was on the way. "We once believed that it would be a good idea to replace the 911 with the 928," he recalled. "But to do that would have been a dreadful mistake...It is possible to modify, hone, and improve [the 911], but we must never alter its character and its unmistakable visual appeal."

Though he had long since ceased running Porsche day to day, Ferry was sanguine about the company's future, especially its chances of remaining independent even as other specialist automakers were being gobbled up by giants: "Back in the mid-Eighties, at the height of our success, we let excessive windfall profits obscure the true earnings. Instead of investing in fresh products and more efficient production techniques, we hoped the golden years would continue forever. But they didn't, and we had to learn how to play this game the hard way...Believe me -- this company will prosper again even without outside support, and we will owe the lion's share of that comeback to a car that is as unique today as it was thirty years ago."

Porsche 911
The 996-series Porsche Carreras had a sleek shape that was still clearly 911.

That car would be the 996-series, the first fully redesigned Porsche 911 in 34 years. About all it shared with previous models was the rear-engine format, a general shape, and an ignition switch to the left of the steering wheel.

Introduced to Europe in late 1997 and launched in America for model-year 1999, the 996 was a revolution. Together with the new low-priced Boxster that preceded it to market, the 996 would help secure Porsche's future and take the company to new heights.

Sadly, Dr. Porsche barely lived to see that future unfold. He passed away at age 88 in 1998, ironically the 50th-anniversary year for the modern Porsche company that he more than anyone had built.

The 996 was not the car it might have been, and therein lies a tale. The story begins in the late 1980s, when fast-withering sales and profits prompted a daring idea. This was the Type 989, a sporty four-door sedan with Porsche 911-like styling and a new-design V-8 engine sitting in front.

Porsche's top executives at the time, Chairman Arno Bohn and research-and-development chief Ulrich Bez, thought the roomier, four-seat 989 would generate far more sales than sports cars ever would, enough to make Porsche prosperous for keeps. To maximize investment, the sedan platform would be modified to serve a new Porsche 911, but with the V-8 moved to the rear.

It seemed a good plan, but other executives felt that a sedan, however sporting, would be as controversial as the Porsche 928 had been. Their opinion prevailed, and the program was dropped in 1991, progressing as far as a lone prototype. Bohn was dropped along with it. So was Bez, who went off to Daewoo in South Korea, then to Britain to resuscitate another ailing sports-car maker, Aston Martin.

Though the 989 was left stillborn, the experience prompted a Plan B that everyone could endorse. It called for two new sports cars, each with its own personality and market assignment, but sharing as many components as possible to keep development costs in check. From this emerged the eventual 996-series Porsche 911 and the Boxster (a.k.a. Type 986), a two-seat mid-engine roadster to replace the front four-cylinder 968 as the entry-level Porsche.

Both were designed more or less together. Though Porsche was always coy about costs, the two-for-one approach must have saved loads of money at a time when cash reserves were running low. And to its credit, Porsche never denied pinching pennies in this way.

Nor did it need to, because both new models were splendid. The Boxster, perhaps because it came out first, was widely hailed as the savior of the company, a prophecy fast fulfilled by strong early sales demand. The 996 got a warm welcome, too, yet some felt it was "less 911" than its forebears, irrevocably comprised by the cost-minded crossbreeding with Boxster.

Such carping ceased once the inevitable Turbo version appeared, backed up by a new GT2 and the racing-inspired GT3. Together, this ultra-performance trio erased any remaining doubts about the 996's claim to greatness.

Porsche 911
This C4 was a true rear-engine car, despite its similarities to the Boxster up front.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1999-2001 Porsche 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera 4 Design

With the 996-series, as Car and Driver put it, "The wizards of Weissach press the 911's reset button." They had to. Despite its remarkable success in evolving the Porsche 911 over 34 eventful years, Porsche knew by the early 1990s that the original basic design could not go on into the 21st century. The rules were against it. Upcoming limits on exhaust emissions, the tightest yet, demanded an engine cooled by water, not air. So did new regulations for "drive-by" noise levels.

Porsche 911
Soft-top Porsche 911 Carrera cabriolets like this one went on sale in early 1999.

Safety standards would be much tougher, too, necessitating a new architecture with more built-in "crush space" to protect occupants in front, rear, and even side impacts. As if all this weren't daunting enough, customers were asking for even more performance as well as more cabin space and creature comforts, all without compromising the Porsche 911's distinctive appearance and driving feel.

It was a very tall order, yet Porsche managed to reconcile these conflicting needs in a thoroughly modern way that was still unmistakably 911. As Autocar's Peter Robinson summed up: "At the end of one momentous day, I stood staring at 911s old and new, and understood [that the 996-series] was superior in virtually every way...a brilliant replacement capable of playing sports car and grand tourer at a level matched only by the [Ferrari 550 Maranello] -- and that car is more than twice the price."

The 996 was birthed under the leadership of product development head Horst Marchart, veteran design director Harm Lagaay, and new CEO Wendelin Wiedeking. Thanks to co-development, a remarkable 42 percent of its components were shared with the Boxster: the entire front "clip," a basic new water-cooled flat-six, dashboard, seat frames, automatic climate control system, and much more.

This, plus the more-efficient, lower-cost production methods recently adopted, allowed base prices to be virtually unchanged from the last air-cooled 993s. The 996 thus arrived in the United States for model-year 1999 with Carrera and Carrera 4 coupes and Cabriolets ranging from $65,030 to $79,920 with manual transmission; Tiptronic automatic added $3,420.

Though too many cars are billed as "all-new," the 996 truly was. For starters, it updated the classic Porsche 911 look with cleaner, more-flowing lower body lines and a larger windshield tilted back from 60 degrees to a more-rakish 55. Door vent windows, roof drip rails, and similar Sixties design relics were banished. A "faster" coupe roofline sloped down from a gentle peak above the front seats before again tapering inward at the rear. The back window was larger, too, as were the side windows, and all glass was now flush with the body.

Cabrios also got more glass, including small rear-quarter windows -- a first for Porsche 911 convertibles. These moved as part of a new-design top that echoed the coupe's roofline when raised. In another first, the top lowered via a compact Z-fold mechanism into a well behind the cockpit; a metal cover concealed it except at the forward end, where a hard outer surface was deliberately left exposed.

It was a literal neat design and a far cry from the bulky on-body top stacks of previous 911 Cabrios. Operation, of course, was fully automatic and took just 20 seconds up or down. No less convenient, the top could be operated with the key from the driver's door lock or, on European models, from the keyfob for the remote locking system.

The soft top's rear window was plastic, which Consumer Guide thought "inexcusable at this price level," but U.S.-bound Cabrios came with a detachable aluminum roof that weighed only 65 pounds and included a heated glass backlight.

All models wore trimmer, higher-set sterns with a deeper bumper and reshaped wraparound taillamps. Carrera engine lids housed a movable vent/spoiler, as before. In all, the 996 styling package represented a subtle yet striking change.

It also artfully belied a rather striking size increase. Though height was unchanged at 51.8 inches (for coupes), the 996 stood 7.3 inches longer and 1.2 inches wider than the 993 (at 174.5 and 69.5, respectively) on a wheelbase stretched 3.2 inches (to 92.6). These gains translated directly to the cabin, which added seven inches of total legroom, five cubic feet in front-seat volume, and 2.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats (the 993 had none). Coupled with a slightly larger front trunk, total cargo volume went from 10.5 to 11.7 cubic feet.

Despite the upsizing, Porsche said 996s weighed more than 100 pounds less than comparable 993s. Cabrios scaled just 165 pounds more than comparable coupes. C4s were 121 pounds heavier than their rear-drive counterparts. Reflecting the smoother styling, both body styles claimed a slicker drag coefficient of 0.30, down from 0.33.

Porsche 911
"Y2K" Carreras like this cabriolet were visually unchanged from the '99 editions.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1999-2001 Porsche 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera 4 Changes

In line with Porsche's cost-saving agenda, the 996-series used essentially a bigger, stronger version of the Boxster's new horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. Designated M96, this all-aluminum design marked a first for production Porsche powerplants with full liquid cooling and four valves per cylinder, the latter operated by chain from twin overhead camshafts.

For the new Porsche 911s, the 2.5-liter (151-cubic-inch) Boxster engine was bored and stroked from 3.4 x 2.8 inches (85.5 x 72 mm) to 3.78 x 3.07 (96.0 x 78.0 mm), yielding total capacity of 3.4 liters (207 cid). Other upgrades included a forged crankshaft and connecting rods to replace cast components, plus Porsche's Varioram three-stage intake system. The latter was simplified from its 993 application by switching from sliding to fixed intake tubes.

Porsche 911
The new Porsche 911's engine was basically the Boxster unit upsized to 3.4 liters.

Large or small, the M96 featured VarioCam, the Porsche-patented variable-valve-timing system first seen on the four-cylinder 968 models. In brief, VarioCam used a sliding piston at the timing chain to alter intake-valve closing and overlap as signaled by a Bosch Motronic M 5.2 engine management computer.

Other shared features included liner-less cylinder walls impregnated with silicon by the new Lokasil process and what Porsche termed "integrated dry sump" lubrication, with the oil reservoir neatly contained within the engine block.

Though smaller than the 993-series' M64 air-cooled six, the wasserboxer was more potent. Horsepower went from 282 at 6,300 rpm to 296 at 6,800, while torque rose from 250 pound-feet at 5,250 rpm to 258 at 4,600. The redline went up, too, from 6,700 to 7,300 rpm, so the M96 was zingier at the top end as well as torquier at lower revs.

And thanks to water cooling, VarioCam, Varioram, and more precise multipoint fuel injection, it rated 10 percent better EPA fuel economy than its predecessor while producing fewer emissions and less noise. A revised exhaust system for year-2000 models liberated an extra four horsepower for an even 300 total, though torque was unaffected.

Matching the new Porsche Carrera engine were two new transmissions, each with an extra cog: a standard six-speed manual, supplied by Getrag, and a five-speed Tiptronic S automatic, from ZF. The latter was newly available for Carrera 4s because Porsche made room for it by moving the power-apportioning viscous coupling from the rear (at the nose of the transmission) to near the front differential. This also slightly improved front/rear weight distribution, from 38/62 percent to 40/60.

Because the 996 bodyshells were so much more rigid than the 993's -- by no less than 45 percent in torsion and a 50 percent in bending -- Porsche could eliminate the torque tube around the driveshaft to the front, saving nine pounds. Engineers were not just cost-conscious with the 996, but weight-watchers, too.

A stiffer platform enables the suspension to work better, and the 996 had a better suspension to take advantage of it. This retained all-round coil springs and modified front MacPherson-strut geometry, but the rear employed a new five-link arrangement, described by Car and Driver as comprising "1 lateral link, 1 trailing link, 2 diagonal links and 1 toe-control link per side." That sounds complex, but it amounted to an evolution of the 993's long/short-arm geometry, again with strut/damper units and provision for stabilizing rear-wheel toe-in during hard cornering.

Further enhancing stability, the rear suspension subframe was now integral with the structure, not separate on rubber mounts, though a discrete front subframe continued. As ever, most suspension components were rendered in weight-saving aluminum.

Predictably for Porsche, the new Carreras boasted larger vented and cross-drilled antilock disc brakes with diameters of 12.5 inches fore, 11.8 aft. These were clamped by new four-piston calipers that created less drag and cost less to make.

The bigger brakes necessitated inch-larger wheels, so the standard alloys were now 7 x 17s fore and 9 x 17s aft; 18s in the same widths were optional. Tires were Z-rated, again in staggered sizes. Standard rubber was 205/50 front, 255/40 rear. The optional 18-inch boots were 225/40 and 265/35, respectively.

Porsche also revised and repositioned the rack-and-pinion steering for better feel, less kickback, and a nearly four-foot tighter turning radius.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1999-2001 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera 4 Features and Performance

Porsche had been steadily reducing the 911's infamous tail-wag tendency, and the 996-series was designed to have virtually none. But just to be sure, engineers devised a new electronic helper, the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system.

Standard on Carrera 4s and optional for rear-drive Carreras after 1999, it was much like the stability systems already offered for various BMWs, Cadillacs, Mercedes, even the Chevrolet Corvette, so Porsche was playing catch-up here. But PSM had one big advantage. To the delight of hard-core drivers, it was set to intervene only at relatively high cornering loads and in a much more gentle fashion.

Porsche 911
There were gadgets aplenty in the 996 Carreras, including the PSM system.

Like rival systems, PSM was integrated with the electronics for the antilock brakes and Porsche's Automatic Brake Differential traction control. A computer monitored sensor data on wheel speed, steering angle, yaw (rotation rate), gear position, and movement of the brake, clutch, and gas pedals. If the computer sensed excessive understeer or oversteer, it automatically braked, respectively, the inner rear wheel or outer front wheel to restore control without scrubbing off too much speed, though PSM could also reduce engine power in extreme situations.

Speaking of which, Porsche cautioned that PSM could not defy the laws of physics even with all-wheel drive, but engineers did provide an "off" switch to allow exploring the dynamic envelope for those brave and/or talented enough to do so.

Even then, PSM would switch back on if the brakes were applied, a provision doubtless decreed by Porsche's lawyers. Incidentally, PSM included a helpful new innovation called "E-gas," a "drive-by-wire" throttle operated by a tiny electric motor, controlled by the engine computer, instead of a mechanical linkage.

The accelerator pedal itself still pivoted at the floor, organ-style, but the brake and clutch pedals were now suspended from above. It was another first for a Porsche 911. So, too, a standard telescopic steering wheel and door-mounted side-impact airbags. Cabrios added mechanically operated rollover bars that popped up from behind the rear headrests when onboard sensors detected an impending tip.

All 996s came with a digital speed readout in the tachometer (still front and center in a five-dial gauge cluster, with an analog speedo to its left), plus automatic climate control with air filter, part-leather upholstery, power backrest recliners, heated power door mirrors, heated windshield washer jets, and keyless-entry power door locks with engine immobilizer and alarm.

Options were as plentiful as ever: full-leather upholstery, full-power front seats, heated front seats, burled maple cabin accents, a rear-window wiper for coupes, a wind blocker for Cabrios. New on the extras list were a parking assistance system, which sounded a warning of obstacles when backing up, and a tough-to-fathom GPS navigation system with dashboard screen and integrated vehicle info display.

Though all this was very plush and gadgety for the purposeful Posche 911, it was what buyers wanted in an age when fast driving on unclogged roads was becoming a rare pleasure.

But enough background, you say. What about performance? Well, the 996 had plenty of it in any form. Here's a summary of selected 1999-2001 test results by Car and Driver (C/D) and Road & Track (R&T), plus Porsche's own numbers (P):

Model (source) 0-60 mph (sec)
0-1/4 mile
(sec @ mph)
Top speed (mph)
Lateral accel (g)
MPG
C2 cpe, man. (P) 5.2 -- 174 -- 17
C2 cpe, auto. (P) 6.0 -- 171 -- 16
C2 cpe, man. (C/D) 4.6 13.2 @107
174 -- 18.0
C2 cpe, man. (R&T) 4.6 13.2 @ 106
-- 0.91 20.0
C2 cab, man. (P) 5.4 -- 174 -- 17
C2 cab, auto. (P) 6.0 -- 171 -- 16
C2 cab, man. (C/D) 4.9 13.5 @ 104
165 0.86 18
C2 cab, man. (R&T) 4.8 13.4 @ 105
-- 0.91 20.0
C4 cpe, man. (P) 5.2 -- 174 -- 17
C4 cpe, auto. (P) 6.0 -- 171 -- 16
C4 cpe, man. (R&T) -- -- -- 0.96 --
C4 cab, man. (P) 5.4 -- 174 -- 17
C4 cab, auto. (P) 6.2 -- 174 -- 16
C4 cab, man. (R&T) 5.6 14.0 @ 102
-- 0.94 15.2

Several things are apparent here. First, Porsche's performance claims were still conservative. Second, there wasn't much to choose between coupe and cabrio or rear-drive Carrera versus AWD C4 (no surprise given the relatively small differences in weight).

Tiptronic did slow things versus manual transmission, but that's true for most torque-converter automatics, and Tiptronic buyers were happy to trade a little thrust for two-pedal convenience, especially in the urban grind. Last but not least, 996s were reasonablly frugal with fuel despite their high-performance potential.

Porsche 911
A satellite-linked navigation system was a new year-2000 Carrera option.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

1999-2001 Porsche 911 GT3

Icons reinvented usually stir controversy, and so it was with the 996-series in its first two model years. Though most everyone respected its ability, the new rear-engine Porsche was, for many, not a "proper" Porsche 911. Too quiet, they said. Too civilized. Too safe. Heck, anyone can drive it. You can hardly hang the tail out anymore, so where's the challenge? Where's the bragging rights?

Britain's Autocar summed up the debate this way: "[T]he 911 is more grand tourer than sports car now. And that can be regarded in two distinctly different ways: as a positive step forwards that will stand the model in fine stead...or as a crying shame that one of the most characterful and evocative cars of our time has all but disappeared. In reality, of course, it is both. Porsche tried to replace the 911 with a GT car in the '70s [the 928]. Now it has succeeded. Perhaps it should have changed the name, after all."

Porsche 911
The 2000 coupe has the elegance of the original 911 design.

On the other hand, consider this take from Frank Markus, writing for Car and Driver: "In the final analysis, most enthusiasts will agree that having a new 911...is better than having no 911 at all. And even if the new car is a less tactile grand tourer, can we really argue against a bigger, more comfortable, but similarly priced GT that outperforms its purebred sports-car forebear in every objective contest? Not really. The 911 is dead. Long live the 911!"

It was all rather like the way people react to a cast change in a long-running TV show. Some can accept a new actor in a role, some can't. A one-time Porsche engineer and contributing writer for AutoWeek might have had that in mind when asked to evaluate the 996: "No doubt the old 911 hands will decry it as less of a car than whatever flavor 911 they fell in love with. But this is one fine car. To me it looks like the logical evolution of the 911, owing nothing to any other car."

Porsche carefully listened to all the comments while happily counting receipts from higher sales. It hoped North American deliveries would break the magic 20,000 barrier in calendar 1999, and they did, rising by some 20 percent to 21,915. The new Boxster was a big factor, but so were the new 911s.

The tally was 23,698 in calendar 2000 and 24,143 in '01, despite the tragedy of September 11th. Global volume also kept rising, reaching nearly 49,000 units for fiscal 1999-2000, then jumping to 55,782 in 2000-2001.

And Porsche had an answer for those who thought the 911 had gone soft: the GT3. A spiritual descendant of the sports-racing Carrera 2.7 RS, the rear-drive GT3 was built for the like-named class in the LeMans 24-Hour race, which it won in 1999 while finishing an impressive 13th overall.

This was also Porsche's latest "customer" race car, with a lightweight Club Sport version available for weekend racers and contestants in the International Porsche Cup series. Class eligibility rules specified a minimum 500 be built, but Porsche ended up making 1,856 GT3s between June 1999 and December 2000.

The GT3 used a special 3.6-liter engine based on that of Porsche's 1998 LeMans-winning GT1 racer -- water-cooled, like the production M96 unit, but with the same cylinder dimensions as the old air-cooled M64 engine. With a high 11.7:1 compression ratio, horsepower was 355 at 7,200 rpm; torque 273 pound-feet at 5,000.

An adjustable biplane spoiler and perimeter aero skirting provided visual distinction from ordinary 996s. So did a 1.2-inch-lower ride height, reflecting a beefed-up suspension with adjustable antiroll bars. Brakes were stout 13-inch discs with four-piston calipers, enclosed by 10-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with fat Pirelli P Zero Asimetrico tires (225/40 front, 285/30 rear).

Unlike the recent 993-based RS and GT2, the roadgoing GT3 was not so stark as to be tiring on the road. Even air conditioning was available, for free, though you had to ask for it.

Unfortunately, only the race-ready Club Sport came to America -- and not many of those -- because the dropped suspension made the bumpers too low by U.S. requirements. But those who drove the GT3 in Europe were dazzled by its acceleration -- 0-60 mph in a tick over four seconds, 0-100 in just 10.2 -- and predictably raceworthy handling.

"Turn-in is brisk, faster than the 911's," said Peter Robinson in Car and Driver. "The steering is instantly responsive and alive. The levels of adhesion are enough to suck out fillings. The tires bite, the GT3 turns. At sane speeds, it's benignly neutral." Which meant that under the right conditions you could again power-slide a Porsche 911 without too much effort.

So enthusiasts could rest easy. The 911 hadn't lost its old fun factor, after all. Even better, Porsche would answer pleas from U.S. hotshoes with a completely street-legal "Mark II" GT3 for 2004.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2001-2005 Porsche 911 Turbo

If the GT3 reincarnated the classic Carrera 2.7 RS, the fifth-generation Porsche 911 Turbo, announced for 2001, channeled the historic 959. It was, as Automotive News reported, "the nearest Porsche has come to mass-marketing the package and performance heralded by the 959" -- polished by 13 subsequent years of technical innovation.

The heart of the 996 Turbo was its water-cooled, 24-valve 3.6-liter engine. Designated G96, it was developed from the 1999-2000 GT3 unit but differed in construction. Instead of two blocks with Nikasil-coated cylinders bolting to a two-piece crankcase, the G96 had Lokasil-treated blocks integral with the crankcase halves.

Porsche 911
The 996 Turbo featured a 24-valve 3.6-liter engine. Here's a 2002 Turbo coupe.

Another distinction was Porsche's VarioCam Plus, which varied not only intake-valve timing but also lift. Like Honda's similar VTEC system, this new two-stage VarioCam improved both low-end torque and high-end power.

Twin turbochargers returned, but their intercoolers now nestled low in the rear fenders, behind the wheels, ingesting through a trio of 959-type slots. The engine gulped air through a vertical duct high on each rear fender. Up front was a modestly enlongated nose with two large outboard intakes for cooling the brakes and a wide central opening for the engine radiator and a separate oil cooler.

Despite all the ductwork, plus compression bumped from 8.0 to 9.4:1, the 996 Turbo was only a bit more muscular than the 993 model it replaced. Horsepower climbed by 15 to 415 at 6,000 rpm, while torque swelled by 13 pound-feet to 413. However, that torque spread over a broader range of 2,700-4,600 rpm.

Boost pressure was raised to 9.4 psi, with bursts of up to 11.4 psi available when allowed by the Bosch Motoronic ME 7.8 engine computer. Also notable, the G96 engine was "greener," rating U.S. Low-Emission-Vehicle status at a time when many lesser cars did not.

Predictably, the 996 Turbo inherited the latest C4's all-wheel drive with Porsche Stability Management, so this was the first Porsche 911 Turbo available with automatic transmission, a suitable fortified five-speed Tiptronic S. The standard six-speed manual returned with revised intermediate ratios to suit the torquier engine. Final gearing was unchanged.

Tire sizes and hollow-spoke wheels carried over, but brakes were upgraded to GT3 size, and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes -- rotors made of a ceramic/carbon-
fiber compound -- were available straight from the mid-engine Carrera GT supercar.

The PCCB option wasn't cheap -- $8,150 in the U.S. -- but the brakes weighed half as much as the normal iron binders, removing a useful 11 pounds at each corner. Just as important, they were impervious to corrosion, heat, and moisture. Porsche claimed the PCCB would last the life of the car, or around 190,000 miles.

Porsche 911
A Turbo cabriolet entered the game in 2004, the first open-air Turbo since 1989.

Suspension changes were Turbo-traditional: stiffer springs and shocks, thicker antiroll bars, a wider rear track (by 1.3 inches), and greater overall width (by 2.6 inches, mostly at the rear). Significantly, though, suspension tuning was now biased a bit more toward comfort.

Aerodynamic work produced a new two-piece spoiler whose upper section rose automatically above 75 mph. This produced a slight amount of rear downforce, a plus for high-speed stability, but combined with the wider body and all the air intakes for a 0.31 drag coefficient, a tad less slippery than a Carrera but slicker than the prior Turbo.

The 2001 Turbo also sported new front lamp clusters resembling the letter "Q" turned on its side. This answered criticisms about the Carrera's "runny egg" design -- and that Boxsters used it, too. Other Porsche 911s would make this change for '02, as well as offer high/low-beam xenon headlamps, which were standard for the Turbo.

For all the comparisons with the landmark Porsche 959, the 996 Turbo disappointed many enthusiasts. There was no doubting its performance. Road & Track's manual model scorched 0-60 mph in just four seconds (Porsche claimed 4.2), 0-100 in only 9.2 seconds, and the standing quarter-mile in 12.4 at 115.6 mph. The magazine also recorded a stellar 0.96g of skidpad grip and around 16 mpg in, er, exuberant driving.

Car and Driver's Tiptronic Turbo was almost as hot: 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, 0-100 in 10.0, 12.6 seconds at 112 mph in the quarter-mile, 0.93g on the skidpad. Yet somehow, it was all too easy, too tame. Some R&T staffers thought the Turbo had lost "that combination of hard edges, eccentricity, lightness and Teutonic simplicity of trim beloved by Porsche nuts." C/D agreed, declaring the 996 Turbo "so easy to drive that my mom could handle it." And the price, while reasonable for such staggering performance, was still pretty formidable: initially $111,000 in U.S. trim before taxes and options.

Though Porsche wasn't about to lower prices, it did try to restore Turbo enthusiasm, starting with the X50 option for 2002. Modifications to the turbos, intercoolers, engine electronics, and exhaust amped up horsepower to 450 at 5,700 rpm and torque to 457 pound-feet at 3,500-4,500. Transmissions were strengthened to match. Alas, the package didn't improve performance to a major degree.

A Cabriolet arrived for 2004, the first open-air Turbo since 1989, and Porsche built a few 30th Anniversary Turbo coupes with the X50 upgrades and special trim. The X50 option vanished the following year, but the '05 Turbo coupe and Cabrio got an S suffix, denoting 444 horses (and unchanged torque). With that and few other interim changes, the 996 Turbo then stepped aside for a more promising 2007 replacement based on the new 997-series 911.

Make no mistake: the 996 Turbo was an awesome car. But it was now overshadowed by a turbo 911 that enthusiasts could respect and acclaim -- the 2002 GT2.

Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 Turbo coupe and cabriolet got an S suffix in 2005.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2002-2004 Porsche 911 GT2

After a seven-year absence, the turbocharged GT2 coupe returned to the Porsche 911 lineup, premiering at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show as an early 2002 model. AutoWeek aptly described it as a cross between the 996-series Turbo and the recently departed GT3, but it was really the Turbo's "evil twin."

No all-wheel drive or Porsche Stability Management to keep you out of trouble. No rear seats, power front seats, power sunroof, or movable spoiler to add weight. Even the spare tire was ditched, replaced by a hopeless "repair kit" (a can of sealant and a puny air pump). Less sound insulation, too.

But as project manager Hartmut Kristen told Car and Driver: "The entire philosophy of this [GT2] is different from the Turbo's. It's for the driver who wants to be able to take his car to its absolute limits on his own."

Porsche 911
The GT2's twin-turbo G96 engine packed a serious punch. Here's a 2002 model.

That was evident from the specifications. Start with horsepower: up 41 to 456 at 5,700 rpm, making this the most potent production Porsche ever. Torque swelled to a 457-pound-foot wallop at 3,500-4,500 rpm, up 42 pound-feet. Credit a massaged twin-turbo G96 engine with recalibrated electronics and a boost bump from 12.1 psi to 14.3.

Helping the cause was a new high-flying rear wing with additional air ducts for the engine, plus larger front intakes for the front-mounted engine radiator and oil/water intercooler. Automatic transmission? Nein. Just a fortified version of the Turbo's six-speed manual, driving the rear wheels via a special "asymmetric" limited-slip differential.

The new GT2 weighed a whopping 220 pounds less than a 996 Turbo coupe, thanks in part to lightweight Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes as standard (with antilock control, of course). Suspension was uprated with racing springs that dropped ride height -- and thus center of gravity -- by 0.78-inch, and various adjustments (antiroll bars included) allow chassis tailoring for different venues. Wheels remained hollow-spoke alloys, but grew a half-inch wider in front and an inch broader in back. Respective tires sizes were 235/40R18 and 315/30R18.

Mindful of the GT2's higher top-speed potential, Porsche took special care with aerodynamics. This involved a longer, specifically shaped nose with a central "air relief" slot above. Air channeled from the fascia intakes through the front radiators, then through the slot and up over the hood, creating positive downforce while reducing underbody airflow by 60 percent versus the Turbo.

The strut-mounted rear spoiler was tuned to balance the front downforce, and its distinctive drooping wingtips allegedly enhanced stability, too. The wing could be tilted by one to six degrees, another fine-tuning provision for weekend racers.

Not surprisingly, the 996 GT2 was a mind-bending experience. Even jaded road-testers fumbled for words. "Without even half trying, said Motor Trend, it "devours available space. Surrounding traffic appears to be going backward. And that's just leaning into the beginnings of boost."

MT reported 0-60 mph at just 3.77 seconds, 0-100 at 8.91, and a standing quarter-mile of 12.09 seconds at nearly 120 mph. Road & Track got even better numbers, respectively clocking 3.6, 8.9, and 11.9 at 120.6 mph. AutoWeek confessed that "the feel of going that fast is so unlike any other street car...that the brain has to recalibrate everything."

But it wasn't all about straightline speed. "Grip is prodigious," Car and Driver found, "but even so, it's gratifyingly easy for the engine to overpower the tires if and when the driver desires, something that's not true of the Turbo." R&T, after skidpadding to an impressive 1.02g, declared the GT2 was "for only the most serious Porsche enthusiasts. This car is fast. This car is edgy. It's not practical, and it's not trying to be." Price was certainly serious at $179,900 to start. Then again, this was the latest "ultimate 911."

But only until 2004, when Porsche upped the "fear factor" by extracting another 21 SAE net horsepower, bringing the count to 477. Torque was unchanged, but there were minor tweaks to the suspension and brakes, plus restyled wheels (unchanged in size) and a few new trim bits.

Base price was more fearful at $191,700, though essentials like manual air conditioning, power windows, and keyless entry were still included. But Porsche was only picking a few last nits here, as the GT2 would again depart after 2004, awaiting rebirth as part of the new 997-series 911 family.

Production for the 996-series GT2 was 400 to 500 per year, with about 40 percent earmarked for the United States. Needless to say, each one will be a gilt-edged collector's item for just about forever.

But 911 fans are not easily satisfied, and a good many still longed for the greater driving "purity" of the late 993-series GT3. Well, how about a new and improved edition? Porsche would have one for 2004. First, though, it made some significant changes and additions among mainstream 911s.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2002-2004 Porsche 911 Carrera, Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, and Targa

Porsche was really soaring by the early 21st century, setting new global sales records almost every year: 55,782 units for 2000-2001; 73,284 in 2002-2003; 81,531 for 2003-2004. Sales in the vital North American market kept pace, rising from 23,698 in calendar 2000 to 33,289 in 2004.

Though the new-in-'02 Cayenne sport-utility played a big part in this success, so did timely updates for the Boxster and mainstream Porsche 911s. In fact, the rear-engine 996 got a thorough revamping for 2002, just three years after its U.S. debut.

Porsche 911
The 911 Carrera 4 cabriolet and C2 coupe were part of the makeover for 2002.

That was a big change after decades of slow model evolution, but that no longer worked, as shown by Porsche's near-death experience in the early 1990s. A brutally competitive market put a premium on "new," and Porsche was forced to learn to keep its wares fresh without breaking the bank. That it did, and more. In fact, it was now the world's most profitable automaker.

That 2002 makeover applied to non-turbo Porsche 911s, which that year comprised the Carrera coupe and Cabriolet, Carrera 4 Cabrio, a revived Carrera 4S coupe (replacing the C4 coupe) and a new-design Targa. The big news for all was an M96 engine stroked by 4.8mm to 3.6 liters and boasting Porsche's VarioCam Plus variable-valve-timing-and-lift system.

Helped by a lower-restriction exhaust, horsepower rose to 320 at 6,800 rpm, up 20 from the previous 3.4 engine. Torque improved by 15 pound-feet to 273 at 4,500. Despite the added displacement and power, U.S. EPA-rated fuel economy was unchanged on C4s and up slightly for rear-drive Carreras.

Performance was a little better across the line. Porsche said rear-drivers did 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds with manual transmission and 5.2 with Tiptronic; C4s needed only 0.1 to 0.2 of a second more.

For better crash protection and a more solid driving feel, Porsche strengthened the side sills, roof rails, and floorpans to increase structural rigidity by up to 25 percent in coupes and 10 percent in cabrios.

Outside, Turbo/GT2-style headlamps graced a subtly reshaped nose that trimmed aerodynamic lift by a claimed 25 percent. A revised front fascia increased radiator airflow by 15 percent. The tail was also subtly recontoured to reduce lift at that end by 40 percent; a higher decklid and new bumper did the trick. The rear haunches were slightly wider, but the base drag coefficient was unchanged at 0.30. Chassis updates were limited to retuned shock absorbers and lighter 18-inch optional wheels measuring an inch wider (now eight inches fore, 10 aft).

Answering persistent criticisms, interiors received higher-grade plastics and fabrics, a locking dashboard glovebox where none had existed, and proper cupholders that popped out from the dash instead of clipping onto the outboard air vents. Minor controls were tidied up, and the optional onboard computer was now standard. Cabrios finally exchanged their plastic rear window for a heated glass pane, and bi-xenon headlamps were a new Carrera option.

Reaching U.S. dealers in February 2002, the new 996 C4S coupe mirrored its 993 predecessor as essentially "a 911 Turbo without the turbos," as AutoWeek put it. Apart from the engine, the main differences were a movable spoiler (as on other Carreras), no air ducts in the rear fenders, and a model-specific red filler between the taillamps.

Otherwise, the C4S had most everything the Porsche Turbo did, but saved you a whopping $34,800, priced from $80,200 instead of $115,000. That put the "Un-Turbo," as Road & Track termed it, about midway on a price ladder stretching from $67,900 for the basic rear-drive coupe to $179,900 for the all-conquering GT2.

Porsche 911
The 911 C4S was basically the Turbo without the turbos. Here's 2003 model.

Of course, the all-wheel drive and added features made the C4S a bit heavier and thus slower than a base Carrera coupe. But as project engineer Georg Wahl told AutoWeek, "We have given up an almost imperceptible tick in acceleration...in favor of more grip and better brakes." That and the friendlier price were hard to argue with, so Porsche probably had no trouble moving the planned yearly production of some 5,000 units.

Arriving with the C4S, the 996 Targa coupe was slated for just 2,500 worldwide sales per year. But that was deliberate, as only 10 percent of Porsche 911 buyers had opted for "the world's most expensive sunroof," as Car and Driver quipped.

This new Targa differed from the 993 version in being a modified coupe, not a re-roofed Cabrio, which produced a slightly cleaner-looking superstructure. And the rear window now lifted like a hatch, a first for the Porsche 911. The roof itself was much the same in concept and operation, but was supplied as a module for installation from below -- by robots, no less -- to protect the various rubber seals. Rear drive was again mandatory.

Initial U.S. base price was $75,200, $7,400 less than the Carrera cabrio. Though a bit weighty and arguably less involving than other Porsche 911s, the reborn Targa, as C/D noted, was "the easiest way of having a near-cabrio experience while retaining full coupe convenience and security."

The expanded Carrera lineup continued for two more years with no further changes of note save one: a 40th Anniversary 2004 Carrera coupe marking four decades of Porsche 911s. Only 1,963 were built, recalling the model's introductory year.

All had Carrera GT silver paint and coordinating leather interior with a commemorative console plaque. Functional features included a tuned 345-horsepower engine, limited-slip differential, PSM stability system, firmed-up suspension, specific 18-inch wheels, and a Turbo-style nose with auto-leveling bi-xenon headlamps. Though all this gilding cost $89,800, a stiff $21,200 premium over the base Carrera coupe, Porsche, as usual, had no problem moving the metal.

Porsche 911
The Targa was more than $7,000 less than the Carrera cabrio. This one is a 2003.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2004 Porsche 911 GT3

The 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 was a "one-year wonder" in the best sense. Picking up where the 1999-2000 model left off, it was a grand farewell for the 996-series and a defiant final riposte to its critics.

Porsche aptly termed this GT3 "a pure sports car for the Porsche purist." AutoWeek simply called it "the ultimate driver's 911." Road & Track concurred: "In this latest iteration, the 996 platform finally gets to show its full potential. Quicker, stiffer, and graced with an intoxicating new powerplant, the [2004] GT3 illustrates that Porsche still knows how to build a true driver's machine." And this one was completely street-legal even in the highly regulated U.S.A.

Porsche 911
The 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 was completely street-legal -- even in the U.S.

The concept was still race-car-for-the-road -- the lightest, revviest, most unsullied of rear-drive non-turbo Carreras. But the 2004 GT3 was no mere rehash, being based on the beefy new C4S structure.

Omitting nonessentials shaved a whopping 318 pounds to achieve a 3,043-pound curb weight despite the usual all-steel construction. Porsche also attacked the 3.6-liter G96 engine to trim reciprocating weight as much as possible -- from conrods, pistons, piston pins, valves, and valve lifters. The valvetrain work alone saved 4.8 pounds. Another 4.4 were shed by removing the crankshaft vibration dampener, which was deemed superfluous.

Other changes included a new two-stage resonance intake system, low-restriction exhaust, a reprogrammed engine computer, revised cam profiles, recalibrated Variocam valve timing, and uprated dry-sump oiling system. With all this, the new Porsche GT3 in U.S. tune claimed 380 horsepower at 7,400 rpm, 285 pound-feet of torque at 5,000, and an 8,200-rpm redline, the highest of any 996 model.

Six-speed manual transmission remained mandatory but received shorter (numerically higher) fifth- and sixth-gear ratios to enhance acceleration. Additionally, the top four gears switched from brass to steel synchronizers for increased durability. Porsche's "asymmetric" limited-slip differential was standard. As in its other applications, this allowed up to 40 percent wheelspin on takeoff, up to 60 percent thereafter.

Suspension was basically twin-turbo GT2, but rubber strut-top bearings were replaced by steel balls to reduce deflection under high cornering loads, thus increasing precision. Adjustable camber, ride height, and antiroll bars catered to different "driving styles" -- and weekend racing venues.

Brakes were even larger than the vaunted Porsche Turbo's, with steel rotors of 13.8-inch diameter fore and 13-inch aft clamped by six-piston calipers. Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes were optional. Front wheels and tires were also per GT2, but the rear tires were slightly slimmer 295/30ZR18s.

Bodywork was customized with a specific nose and side skirts, plus a new, taller fixed spoiler with three-position adjustment. Unseen but appreciated were little "spoilers" within the wheelarches for directing air to the brakes.

Also for aerodynamics -- and shared with all other 996 models -- was a three-piece bellypan made of composite materials, running from the front axle to the engine. The two-place interior (no back seat here) featured lightweight leather-covered front buckets, as well as power windows, air conditioning, and even an in-dash CD player.

Porsche planned to build 3,000 "Mark II" GT3s through mid-2004. Some 750 came to America, where base price was just $100 short of $100,000. The same money bought a competition-oriented Clubsport version with cloth seats, six-point racing harnesses, fire extinguisher, battery cutoff switch, and a bolt-in roll cage that stiffened the car by 20 percent.

A lot more money bought a GT3 RS weighing 50 pounds less, thanks use of carbon fiber for the hood, engine lid, rear wing, and door-mirror housings. Engine outputs were unchanged, as was the 190-mph top speed, but Porsche said low-end acceleration was a tick faster. Production here was some 300 units. All were finished in white with bright-red wheels and bold GT3 RS lettering on red lower-body striping.

The Porsche GT3 was emphatic proof of how less can be more. Take 0-60 acceleration. Porsche modestly claimed 4.3 seconds for the "consumer" version, but AutoWeek posted 4.18, and Car and Driver clocked 3.8 in a preliminary test. Even more impressive, the Porsche GT3 was just fractionally slower than the much more powerful, but heavier, Turbo and GT2. Road & Track reported 0-100 mph at just 9.5 seconds and a standing quarter-mile of 12.4 at 113.8 mph. The magazine also got 0.92g on the skidpad, a bit down on GT2 lateral acceleration.

Even so, most every road test praised the Porsche GT3 as the most controllable, fun-to-drive 911 in many moons. R&T described it as "frenetically rushing you from one corner to the next. [The GT3] still possesses the 996 platform's stable nature, but thanks to its stiffer, more responsive chassis tuning, everything feels more direct. Any changes in throttle inputs have an immediate effect on chassis dynamics. Roll out of the gas slightly in mid-corner and the front tucks in while the tail lightens up. Roll back on and rear grip returns. Like its racing brethren, the GT3 can be braked hard and deep into turns, repositioned with a little throttle modulation, then happily drifted out at exit."

Car and Driver judged the ride too rocky except on the smoothest pavement, but it, too, loved the sharp, athletic handling -- and the engine sound. "Its deep-throated wail is the most enthralling and mesmerizing soundtrack we've heard since 1998."

It was a glorious last hurrah for the most popular 911 series ever. The 996 may have been controversial and not universally loved, but it served Porsche and its customers exceptionally well.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2005-2007 Porsche 911 Carrera Overview

Life seems to move faster than ever now. It certainly does for Porsche. Take the newest Porsche 911 generation, the 997. It's been on the market only three model years, going on four, yet has already spawned 13 different versions: 10 Carreras (2005-2007), Turbo coupe and GT3 (2007), and a Turbo Cabriolet (for 2008). And we know a new GT2 is coming. By contrast, the 996-series took eight years to reach 13 models.

Why so many variations so quickly? In a word, money. As AutoWeek noted in March 2005: "Porsche execs will tell you this Balkanization of the 911 line is one reason profits have risen for 11 consecutive years since the doldrums of the early 1990s." Note, too, that in just the six years to July 2005, Porsche Cars North America increased sales a whopping 70 percent. That's an average annual gain of 11.7 percent. No other automaker currently comes close to such numbers, so it seems Zuffenhausen is doing something right.

Porsche 911
This 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera coupe housed a lighter 3.4-liter M96 engine.

Porsche certainly did most things right with the new 997-series. With typical passion and precision, the automaker went through every millimeter of the already-good 996 and ended up changing 80 percent of it. The result was a meaner yet "greener" Porsche 911 with looks and handling that recalled the air-cooled "happy days." The 997 was exactly what many Porschephiles had hoped for and "regular" folks wanted it, too -- more than ever, in fact. No wonder business was so good.

The 997-series was developed under project manager August Achleitner. Styling was a valedictory effort for long-time company design chief Harm Lagaay, assisted by Grant Larson, his soon-to-be successor and chief designer of the winsome Boxster. The new line launched in late 2004 with Carrera and Carrera S coupes. Equivalent Cabriolets followed a few months later. A quartet of all-wheel drive Carrera 4s doubled the model count for 2006. A pair of new-generation Targas arrived for 2007.

All non-S Carreras reprised the 3.4-liter M96 engine with twin overhead camshafts, 24 valves, and VarioCam valve-timing, but horsepower climbed by 10 to 325 at 6,800 rpm. Torque was again 273 pound-feet at 4,250 rpm. The extra horses mainly came from freer-flow intake and exhaust systems, but Porsche also trimmed reciprocating mass for improved "revvability." And the entire engine was lighter by 4.4 pounds, helped by exchanging the oil dipstick for an in-sump oil-level sensor.

S-models got their own 3.8-liter engine, the first time since 1977 that Carreras offered a choice of displacements. Stroke was shared with the 3.6 (3.26 inches/82.8mm), but the 3.8 had a bigger bore (3.90 inches/99mm versus 3.78/96mm) and higher compression (11.8:1 versus 11.3) to churn out 355 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 295 pound-feet at 4,600.

There were several other differences: a special lightweight intake manifold, reprofiled camshaft, repositioned fuel injectors, a Helmholtz resonator near the throttle body for a "throatier" sound, uprated water pump and oil cooler, and an aluminum vibration damper added at the pulley end of the crankshaft. For all this, the 3.8 was no heavier than the 3.6.

Transmissions were tweaked to handle the added power. The standard six-speed manual got a new thinwall aluminum case, plus beefier internals that included steel synchro rings (replacing brass). Gear ratios were shortened (raised numerically) by about five percent.

A repositioned shift lever with lower-friction cable linkage made for shorter throws and lighter effort. The optional five-speed Tiptonic S automatic was reprogrammed to "match revs" for smoother downshifts in hard driving, just as a keen driver might "blip" the engine when changing down with manual transmission. In addition, automatic upshifts were now prohibited even at redline with the lever in "Tip" mode. Adopted for durability were longer-life transmission fluid, higher-capacity fluid pump, and a larger oil/water heat exchanger.

With stylized engine compartments now in vogue, Carrera engines were newly dressed with black-plastic covers in a tided-up bay. S-model covers bore a snooty "3.8" badge, but an easier way to distinguish S from non-S was to count the exhaust pipes: two oval tips on Carreras, a round quartet on S-models. Either way, the exhaust system now included "two-stage cascade" catalytic converters designed to promote faster warmup and reduced cold-start emissions.

Porsche 911
The exhaust system in the 4S was made to warm up faster. Here's a 2006 cabrio.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2005-2007 Porsche 911 Carrera Changes

The Porsche 997-series draped a shapely new skin over the 996 unibody; only the coupe's roof panel carried over. As a result -- and to the undoubted relief of 911 fans -- dimensions were little changed. Wheelbase, for example, was still 92.5 inches, and overall length was actually a tad trimmer at 175.6.

The most visible alteration was a near 1.5-inch gain in overall width to 71.2 inches. This reflected a "wide-track" rethink of the 996 suspension that pushed contact patches 1.2-1.3 inches further apart, matched by wider subframes. Geometry was basically the same -- coil springs all-round, modified MacPherson struts on lower control arms in front, five-element multilink rear -- but most components were new, stronger and lighter. Engineers also specified hydraulic suspension mounts in front, new foam-type mounts at the back (replacing steel or rubber), and repositioned antiroll-bar pivots.

Porsche 911
The 997 Carreras were almost 1.5 inches wider than 996s. Here's a 2005 S coupe.

S-models sat 0.3-inch lower than other Carreras (at 51.2 inches) thanks to standard Porsche Active Suspension Management. Optional for base models at $1,990, PASM was something new for a Porsche 911, but not a new idea.

Computer-controlled "active" shock absorbers had been around for years, and the Porsche Cayenne SUV bowed in 2001-2002 with its own PASM. If nothing else, the chip-managed shocks expanded the sports car's dynamic repertoire.

The Porsche 911's PASM used two accelerometers -- one at the right front shock, the other at the left rear -- to register body motions as real-time data for an electronic control unit. The ECU, in turn, regulated oil level in each shock absorber (via a bypass valve), thus varying firmness to suit speed and road surface. A dashboard button selected normal and sport modes, each calibrated across five operating variables. Normal favored ride comfort, while sport approximated the firmer damping of the previous sport suspension option. You could also activate sport just by accelerating or cornering faster.

Porsche bragged that PASM cut five seconds a lap in testing at the demanding Nürburgring circuit, but not everyone liked it. AutoWeek groused that sport mode made the car "too stiff -- at times even skittish -- over bumps, and the normal mode isn't quite sporty enough...Note to Porsche: Add a third PASM setting between normal and sport."

There was less dispute about the 997's new variable-ratio steering rack that "speeded up" response when the wheel was turned past 30 degrees from dead-straight. And most every tester appreciated that the wheel itself now adjusted for angle as well as reach.

Road wheels weren't overlooked. Carreras now came on 18-inch five-spoke light-alloy rims spreading eight inches wide fore, 10 aft, and mounting Z-rated tires respectively sized at 235/40 and 265/40. S-models had standard 19-inchers measuring eight and 11 inches wide; shoe sizes were 235/35ZR and 295/30ZR, respectively.

Porsche never forgets brakes, so Carreras got a more powerful hydraulic booster. S-models did, too, but they were also treated to larger 13-inch rotors all-round, with reinforced four-piston calipers and larger pads. For the ultimate in stopping power, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) were a first-time option for "mainstream" 911s, still tagged at a hefty $8,150.

Other brake-system changes benefited the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) antiskid control that was newly standard for all Carreras. The larger, faster-acting booster was supplemented by a "pre-charging" pump that pressurized the brakes on sudden throttle liftoff, positioning the pads lightly against the rotors, ready to clamp. The idea was to shorten response time and thus stopping distances.

Also, the ABS software added an "emergency brake assist" function that furnished full hydraulic boost on strong, sharp pedal applications, even if the pedal wasn't fully depressed. And instead of switching off automatically when braking, PSM would now remain active unless antilock control was triggered on at least one front wheel. This allowed for gentle "trail braking" in corners, which Porsche said provided "the enthusiast driver more dynamic freedom."

It was all for the sake of a safer, quicker, more enjoyable Porsche 911, still the holy grail even after 40 years. Abetting the quest for the 997 was a structural shoring-up that included a stouter crossmember at the cowl, steel reinforcing plates in the door frames, plus improved welding and bonding techniques. These measures combined to increase torsional rigidity by eight percent over the 996 and bending resistance by an amazing 60 percent, according to Wolfgang Durheimer, the new executive vice president for research and development.

Despite their tougher bones, rear-drive 997s were only some 55 pounds heavier than equivalent 996s. Carrera 4 and 4S models weighed a modest 110 pounds more, while the four Cabriolets -- base, S, C4, and C4S -- suffered a reasonable 187-pound penalty versus counterpart coupes. Speaking of C4s, their all-wheel drive was essentially unchanged.

Porsche 911
The 997 Carrera 4s, like this '96, weighed 110 pounds more than equivalent 996s.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2005-2007 Porsche 911 Carrera Design and Features

Designers used the 997's wider stance to restore some visual muscle to Porsche 911 styling. Many critics approved, as the new look borrowed cues from the last of the fondly remembered air-cooled models, the 993-series. The nose, for example, was more raked and rounded than the 996's, while the front fenders were higher and more prominent in classic Porsche 911 style.

Glass-covered oval nacelles cradled simple round headlamps -- no more "runny egg" clusters -- while directionals and foglights moved to slim horizontal housings in the bumper below. The bumper itself contained a wide central air slot and two outboard intakes with central divider bar. Add in a reshaped front trunklid, newly rendered in aluminum, and you could almost see a 993 if you squinted.

Porsche 911
All new Carreras came with a data display screen. Pictured is an '06 Carrera dash.

But the big change was along the flanks, where the waistline was pulled in, the rocker panels were reshaped, and the fenders bulged for the wider-set wheels. Moreover, the rear-fender shape suggested powerful haunches that made the car look like it was ready to spring forward -- which, of course, it was.

Taillamps were more angular and wrapped further around to meet an upswept join line (horizontal on 996s) between body and rear bumper. The engine lid was redesigned with four slats instead of seven, a change said to improve cooling effectiveness. As before, its integrated spoiler automatically deployed at 75 mph and retracted below 50, but a new override switch allowed raising the panel at other speeds.

Despite its wider body, the 997 was more slippery than the 996, the drag coefficient trimmed from 0.30 to an excellent 0.28 on Carreras and 0.29 on S-models. Contributing were new low-drag twin-arm door mirrors; a longer, smoother bellypan; ram-air flaps in the front fascia for improved radiator cooling; and little spoilers beneath the front end to direct air efficiently past the wheels.

Inside, most everything was redesigned and/or upgraded: steering wheel, seats, instrument cluster (larger, more legible dials spread further apart), audio and climate systems, even the cupholders, which now moseyed out from behind a slim door above the glovebox.

The airbag count rose to six: two in the dashboard, one in each outboard front-seat bolster, and a new one in each upper door panel. The last were sized to provide both head and torso protection in lieu of the increasingly ubiquitous roof-mounted curtain side airbags, which gave Cabriolets a safety plus among high-end convertibles.

All models came with Porsche Communication Management, the trip- and vehicle-data display whose central-mount dashboard screen also served an available navigation system, itself updated from a CD to a DVD database. S-models added a multifunction steering wheel with thumb controls for audio, navigation, and available telephone functions.

Seats? Take your pick. The standard front buckets included power backrest recliners and a new "pump handle" manual height adjuster (an idea cribbed from Volkswagen). You could also have 12-way power adjustment, including variable lumbar support via four internal air bladders. Sport seats with firmer padding and larger side bolsters were available, as were full-power "adaptive" versions with lateral bolster adjustment.

But the really trick option was a new Sport Chrono Plus Package. This added a digital/analog stopwatch and lap counter in a little dashtop pod, controlled by a steering-column stalk; data could be called up on the dashboard screen, just like a Formula 1 pit crew might do.

More important was the button for selecting more aggressive, performance-oriented control maps for the engine computer, ABS, and stability systems and, where equipped, active suspension and Tiptonic automatic transmission. Porsche had long known that some Porsche 911 owners would occasionally want to drive at "10/10ths" but without sacrificing everyday comfort and usability. Now these conflicting needs were reconciled, courtesy of digi-tech.

Cabriolets sported a redesigned top with a weight-saving magnesium frame that stowed lower in the car, thus dropping the center of gravity. A reshaped rear deck softened the previous "humped" look, and rear side windows now operated independently of the top. A lift-off hardtop was no longer standard, though still available; Porsche said most 996 buyers hadn't used it much.

Because the convertible was engineered alongside the coupe, structural reinforcing was modest: a boron rod in the windshield header, additional door-frame bracing, and double-thick side-sill stampings. As a result, the Cab's bare body-in-white was only 15.4 pounds heavier than the coupe shell.

The Targa coupe, arriving for 2007, carried over its predecessor's basic "big sunroof" design and rear hatch window, but now came only with the Carrera 4's all-wheel drive, a first for this body style. Model names were thus Targa 4 and Targa 4S. Both accentuated their side windows with an eye-catching strip of polished anodized aluminum arcing from A-pillar to C-post.

Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 Targa arrived in 2007 with all-wheel drive.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2005-2007 Porsche 911 Carrera Road Test

Press reaction to the 997 Carreras was enthusiastic. The old Porsche 911 soul was back. "Few cars offer drivers such an invigorating or involving experience," Britain's Autocar asserted, "and those that do usually have six-figure prices or prove unusable every day. Forty-one years on, the 911 remains the yardstick by which all other [sports cars] are measured."

Porsche 911
Most critics agreed: The new Carreras offered an invigorating driving experience.

Car and Driver's Csaba Csere concurred: "Drive the 997 over undulating pavement and its steering works in your hands more than the 996's ever did. Similarly, the 997's shifter feels more tightly coupled to the innards of the gearbox. And when pressed into a corner, the car responds more immediately to subtle adjustments of the throttle. In other words, the 997 is more of a driver's car than the 996 was -- and that's saying something."

Road & Track matched a Carrera S coupe against a perennial Porsche 911 rival, the Chevrolet Corvette, itself redesigned for 2005 as the "C6" generation. Test results proved quite close. The Porsche won the 0-60 mph sprint at 4.4 seconds versus 4.5 for the V-8 Chevy but trailed in the 0-100 heat (10.7 seconds to 10.1). Quarter-mile acceleration was a wash, the Carrera doing 12.8 seconds at 110.2 mph against 12.9 at 112.3 mph. The Corvette also pipped the Porsche in lateral acceleration with 0.95g versus 0.94. Still, these were terrific numbers for "off-the-rack" sports cars.

Predictably, though, these two were "miles apart" in subjective evaluations. R&T found the Corvette "the easier car to get in and drive fast immediately. The only place it will really bite you is exiting a high-speed corner with too much throttle...The 911, on the other hand, doesn't take kindly to abrupt transitions -- especially panic throttle-drop -- and needs power-on to stabilize the rear through high-speed turns. But when driven properly, the 911 can do magical things and the driver is so much more a part of the experience...[E]very driver input is met by immediate response. The brake pedal is utterly firm, the steering hides nothing, and each throttle blip rockets the tachometer needle upward. And though the Corvette is only 0.3-inch longer and 1.4 inches wider, it feels a lot bigger than the 911 on back roads."

Summing up, R&T said the "Carrera S is almost $35,000 more (as tested) than the Corvette; that's why it didn't win this test, although...it did win both the performance and subjective categories. [And] it delivers one of the purest driving experiences in the world. In other words, it's still a 911. And we love it as much as ever."

It's interesting to note Porsche's 0-60 numbers for 997 Carreras with manual transmission. The base coupe took a claimed 4.8 seconds, the S 4.6. Respective rear-drive Cabrio quotes were 5.0 and 4.7, while Carrera 4 coupes were listed at 4.9 and 4.6 seconds. The Targa 4 was billed as needing 5.1 seconds, the Targa 4S 4.7. The optional Tiptonic automatic added about 0.3-sec to any of these.

So once again, Porsche had raised 911 performance while keeping all models to a tight range despite weight and aerodynamic differences. Quite a feat, when you think about it.

Of course, there was a price for all the 997's much-praised goodness. The four-model 2005 U.S. line didn't provoke much sticker shock, ranging from $69,300 for the base Carrera coupe to $88,900 for the S cabrio. But prices jumped by $2,000 to $2,300 for '06, when the $97,100 Carrera 4 Cabrio was the costliest offering. The Targa came in for 2007 starting at $85,700 for the 3.6 version and $95,900 for the 3.8-liter S.

But if the cars seemed pricey, buyers doubtless felt they got their money's worth -- and more. Besides, there was still nothing else quite like the Porsche 911, which was worth a lot in itself.

Porsche 911
This 2007 Carrera coupe might be pricey, but after all, it is a Porsche 911!

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911
­

2007-2008 Porsche 911 Turbo

The time: Late spring 2006. The place: The fast, winding roads near Porsche's home in Stuttgart, Germany, for the world media preview of the new 997-series Turbo. The weather: intermittent snow -- prompting Porsche to fit winter tires before letting the scribblers loose. And yet that hardly made a difference.

As AutoWeek reported: "The power comes on fast and smooth, with great gobs of torque found wherever you ask for it...a seemingly endless supply of tire-twisting propulsion. And all of it can be had with barely a hint of turbo lag. [The car loves] putting down that power with the steering wheel cocked. The more challenging the turn, the more eager the Turbo feels tackling it: powering in on entry, braking late, the body hunkering down while all four wheels grip and grip...And all on snow tires, no less."

Porsche 911
Take the 996-series Turbo and turn it up notch. The result? The 997-series Turbo.

This new Turbo was basically the previous model taken up one very big notch. The 3.6-liter engine returned but with a thumping 480 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, up 60 from the 996 version. Torque checked it at 460 pound-feet, up 45 -- and was available from just 1,950 rpm all the way to 5,000, versus the prior spread of 2,700-4,600 revs. Ordering the optional Sport Chrono Package allowed 10-second bursts up to 505 pound-feet via an "overboost" function that increased pressure from the normal 14.5 psi to 18.4.

Much of the added muscle came from new twin puffers with variable turbine geometry (VTG). This refers to a compressor wheel with vanes (fins) adjustable for pitch (angle), not fixed. As the throttle opens and the turbo spins faster, the vanes spread apart to increase exhaust-gas flow and thus power; as revs fall, the vanes move inward to reduce the inertia that causes low-speed turbo "throttle lag." The result is a "twofer:" the power of a large turbo with the responsiveness of a small one.

Variable-vane turbochargers had been used on various diesel engines over the years, and Chrysler briefly offered one on a gas engine in the late 1980s. But gas engines demand that variable-vane turbos withstand literal white-hot internal temperatures of some 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Accordingly, Porsche turned to Borg Warner Turbo Systems for aerospace-grade metallurgy, determined the proper exhaust system structure and flow, spent 20,000 hours in dynamometer testing, then road-tested nearly 750,000 miles. As ever, Porsche was willing to work extra hard for extra speed.

There were lots more high-performance exotica: liquid cooling for the turbos, a second oil cooler, a Variocam system tweaked for greater valve lift, sodium-filled exhaust valves with high-rate springs, a specific lightweight high-flow intake system, and uprated exhaust.

Chassis changes were no less extensive. Tracks were widened by 0.71-inch fore and 0.79-inch aft, spreading overall body width to 72.9 inches, and suspension components were lightened, subframes included.

Specially calibrated PASM shock absorbers were standard, as was Porsche Stability Management with the brake assist and preload features mentioned earlier. The all-disc antilock brakes themselves featured huge 13.8-inch rotors, six-piston calipers in front and four pots in the rear, plus twin servos (replacing a single unit) to provide more stopping power with no extra pedal effort. Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes remained an option but were made of stronger materials and gained internal cooling ducts.

Wheels were now 19-inch light alloys, an inch larger than before, wearing 235/35ZR tires fore and 305/30ZRs aft. Last but not least, the Turbo's all-wheel drive got an electronically controlled multiplate clutch -- part of the Porsche Traction Management system -- that could rebalance power between axles in just 100 milliseconds.

Speaking of power transmission, the six-speed manual gearbox returned from the 996 Turbo with beefier construction, new ratios for all forward gears save first, and high-tech carbon-coated gears for slicker, more precise shifting. The five-speed Tiptronic S automatic got a tighter torque converter and more computing power.

The latter included two new driver aids: a "Fast-Off" function that nixed upshifts on abrupt throttle lift, even if the pedal wasn't fully released, and a "Fast-Back" feature that triggered automatic downshifts if the brakes were applied within 1.5 seconds of throttle liftoff.

Enthusiasts gasped when Porsche claimed the new Turbo was quicker with automatic -- 3.4 seconds 0-60 mph versus 3.7 with manual -- but it was true. Road & Track actually clocked a mere 3.3 seconds with Tiptronic. It was all due to a faster-acting "slushbox" calibrated for broader, thicker engine torque.

"Power-braking the Tiptronic loads the turbo and builds boost before the car leaves the line," R&T explained. "To build boost in the manual car would require excessive slipping of the clutch. This delay in building boost gives the advantage to the torque-converter-equipped Tiptronic." Who'd have thought?

Amazingly, the 997 Turbo ended up 11 pounds lighter than its predecessor, helped by doors rendered in aluminum instead of steel. The result was a sterling weight-to-power ratio of just 7.28. Styling blended familiar Turbo cues with new elements such as low-riding front foglights, outboard air intakes fronted by LED turn signals, big oval exhaust tips slotted within the rear bumper, and -- believe it or not -- a smaller, lower, two-piece rear wing.

And so the 911 Turbo just kept on getting better: more power, more ability, more magic. Alas, it also kept getting costlier, arriving in the U.S. at an eye-popping $122,900. A shame so few people could afford that when most anyone could drive this high-performance masterpiece easily and safely.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

2007-2008 Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche strives to exceed itself with each new model, and so it was with the 997-series GT3. Announced in February 2006 alongside the 997 Turbo, it was the purist's Porsche made even more the expert's driving tool, thanks to dollops of new technology and more good old-fashioned horsepower.

Porsche 911
The new Porsche 911 GT3 offers unbeatable horsepower -- 415 at 7,600 rpm.

Like its 996 forebear, the 997 GT3 was basically a lightweight rear-drive Carrera coupe with no back seat; a special high-winding engine; unique aerodynamic styling; track-focused chassis tuning; and Turbo-size wheels, tires, and, brakes.

A normally aspirated 3.6-liter engine returned with new and lighter pistons, piston pins, crankshaft, and titanium conrods, plus a larger throttle body, higher-lift Variocam valve actuation, a new three-stage resonance intake system, and a lower-restriction exhaust system that also emitted fewer nasty pollutants.

As a result, horsepower climbed from 380 to 415 at 7,600 rpm -- an impressive 115.3 horsepower per liter -- and torque improved from 285 to 300 pound-feet at 5,500 rpm. The previous GT3 had the highest 911 redline, but the new one's was even loftier at 8,400 rpm.

As before, you could have any transmission as long as it was six-speed manual. This, too, was uprated, gaining shorter intermediate ratios to match the new engine's power profile, plus a "shift up" display in the tachometer for exploiting the expanded rev range to the fullest. Porsche's asymmetric limited-slip differential remained standard.

The suspension retained existing geometry and adjustable front/rear antiroll bars, but all components were massaged and the rear track widened by 0.2 inch versus the previous GT3. In addition, PASM "active" shock absorbers were newly standard, albeit with racing-firm calibrations.

In another first, the GT3 gained standard traction control that amounted to stability (yaw) control in all but name. It also featured the new variable-ratio steering found on other 997s.

Construction was an interesting mix of Carrera outer sheetmetal and Carrera 4 inner structure, the latter chosen because it had room for a larger, "long distance" fuel tank. The C4 skeleton also improved GT3 structural stiffness by eight percent in torsion and 40 percent in bending.

To Porsche's embarrassment, however, curb weight was up some 30 pounds despite aluminum doors and trunklid, plus a new plastic engine lid, though the total was hardly pudgy at 3,075 pounds.

Recalling the last twin-turbo GT2, the new GT3 wore a similar -- and equally functional -- air-relief slot in the nose. Below was a unique front bumper with a wide central intake flanked by small "shark gills." The last were repeated in a specific rear bumper that cradled two centrally mounted exhaust pipes.

A fixed rear wing on Z-shape struts returned but was redesigned to enhance both aesthetics and aerodynamics. Drag coefficient was unchanged at 0.29, but careful shaping of body surfaces resulted in less lift and slightly more high-speed downforce front and rear.

Cockpit decor aimed at the "sophisticated sportsman" with suede-like Alcantara trim for the sports seats, steering wheel, shift knob, and handbrake lever, plus exclusive yellow gauge pointers and titanium-color tachometer background. Full leather trim was available, as were racy carbon-fiber interior accents.

The 997 GT3 started at $106,000 in the United States. Similar money netted a new RS version, basically the same car with a different rear window and other detail changes that trimmed 44 pounds from curb weight (to 3,031).

Despite its new amenities and technology, the 997 GT3 was just as much the "race-and-ride" sports car as previous models. If anything, it seemed happier hammering on a track, if only because it could get bouncy on less-than-smooth roads.

Still, Road & Track thought bump compliance "feels better across the board. And unlike the 996 GT3, which tends to dart around on even surfaces, the new car is more sure-footed and less twitchy at speed. It's more composed in general, and less susceptible to highway tramlining despite rolling on 19-inch wheels and low-profile ultra-high-performance tires."

Car and Driver correspondent Juergen Zoellter disliked the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires developed exclusively for the GT3. "These grip rabidly in the dry, but have the traction of a bar of soap when it rains," he warned. "In the dry, however, PASM has made a big difference to the car's usability...[I]t's softer and more comfortable in the standard setting, more akin to the Carrera S than the old GT3."

Select sport mode, said R&T, and the car "gets better the harder it's worked...Really commit to loading the chassis from turn-in to apex, and corner-exit understeer disappears, replaced by excellent grip from both ends of the car. Get on it too hard and the [traction control] seamlessly steps in to tame the tail."

Acceleration? Do the math: same weight as an everyday 997 Carrera and lots more power -- the most of any normally aspirated 911 to date. Porsche said the standard model could do 0-60 mph 4.1 seconds, the RS in four flat, both figures entirely. No wonder Road & Track said the new GT3 was "as fast as [a] 996 Turbo, a more involving driving experience than the new 997 Turbo, and...less expensive than either. [It] isn't for everyone, but for the serious driver looking for a pure, race-bred ride, this is his machine."

The 997 GT3 may be the most focused and exciting roadgoing 911 so far, but Porsche is far from finished with its legendary rear-engine sports car.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911

The Future of Porsche 911

It's been happening for more than 40 years, yet we marvel every time. Just when we think the 911 can't get any better, Porsche manages to make it faster, safer, more nimble, more user-friendly, and yes, more exciting. And all within a design concept that skeptics had written off decades ago.

Happily, the Porsche 911 looks set to roll on for a good many more years. As ever, Porsche has the will and ways to keep it fresh and relevant, as indeed it must. The 911 not only remains a key part of Porsche's business, it's the heart and soul of the company, perhaps now more than ever.

Porsche 911
Future 911s will likely have the same fresh style of the past 40 years.

The Porsche 911 has evolved in ways that were unimaginable back in the 1960s, so it's hard to predict what it could be like in 10 or 20 years. But if past is prologue
here -- and we don't doubt that it is -- tomorrow's 911s should be spectacular in ways we can't imagine today.

For now, we can look forward to a new 997-based version of the Turbo's "evil twin," the amazing rear-drive GT2. Based on spy photos of virtually undisguised late-stage prototypes testing in early 2007, the new model will resemble a cross between a Turbo and the new GT3.

But with horsepower being rumored at 525 up to 580, this could well be the new king of the supercars. Sources expect the GT2 to be unveiled at the fall 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show as a 2008 model. U.S. deliveries should begin by mid-2008.

Forty years is a pretty long time, and the world has changed enormously since the Porsche 911 came on the scene. But how satisfying that this car not only survives but seems to grow younger with each passing year? If only we all were so lucky.

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

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:

  • Porsche new cars
  • Porsche used cars
  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911