The redesigned 1984 Porsche 911 -- now called Carrera -- looked little different from the superseded Porsche 911SC.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."
This "Turbo Look" front end was available for any Porsche 911, Turbo included.
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