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Porsche 911 History

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:

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  • 2007 Porsche 911
  • 1999-2006 Porsche 911
  • 1995-1998 Porsche 911