Porsche 964, a machine of gods

Porsche 964 Turbo

Porsche 964, the father of the Porsche 993

It was in early 1986 when Benjamin Dimson (a guru of design who has worked for almost all German car manufacturers: Audi, Porsche and nowadays with Mercedes Benz in the US) got the job to evolve the iconic 911 into the next level. He transformed the classic Carrera into something new, which is difficult to explain. According to Wikipedia 85% of the car is new compared to the Carrera 3.2 predecessor, so here comes the story. What we know is they offered for the first time the tiptronic automatic transmission and the all wheel drive as option.

I would like to start with a bit more of data first to put things in context: 62172 cars were built, all of them in Stuttgart, production lasted 5 years (1989-94) meaning 34 cars built per day, they developed 4 different size engines along the production span of the car, they starting with a 3.3L Turbo to then move to a 3.6L and a 3.6L Turbo version to finish with a 3.75L on the RS and RSR, 2 transmissions were available for this magnificent 964, 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic, 3 body styles were offered: coupe, convertible and targa, the car could reach 163 mph on the manual version and 159 on the tiptronic, the acceleration was also better on the manual transmission with a 5.5 seconds to reach 60 mph Vs 6.2 seconds on the tiptronic one. You have to remember as well the engine had a speed limitation of 6700 rpm with a maximum torque at 4800rpm. All these works ended with the most technology advanced air-cooled car produced by Porsche, the 993.

Porsche 964 lhd

But let’s go back to the 964 and enjoy their developments. Not only the cars could have automatic transmission but also from 1990 a RWD version or Carrera 2 was also available (first Porsche 964 were all 4WD) but also power steering and ABS was offered as standard in the car. Don’t forget as well the cool rear spoiler could get deployed when you were speeding over 30 mph. A new (well deserved and desired) climate control for heating and air con was fitted too, bearing in mind the previous model had some archaic method to get the air on the interior from the back of the car to circulate the air this improvement was certainly appreciated. A new set of warning lights was also offered as standard too. In the US, a standard dual airbag and a new design interior was offered from 1990 too.

The body of the car had no much improvements … there is joke doing the rounds about how many designers you need to design an iphone and a 911 as they are all pretty much the same if you just look at the body. But certainly the inside makes all the difference. This 964 had some major improvements particularly on the suspensions; they replaced the previous Carrera 3.2 torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers but also providing the front ones with McPherson struts and the back ones kept the semi-trailing arms.

Regarding the engine, Porsche continued with the usual air-cooled six cylinders, dry-sump lubrication of the 911s, developed the EFI (electronic fuel injection) a bit further. All in aluminium alloy for the engine block and the heads, but as we have mentioned, also providing some Turbo aspirated engines and the quintessential 964 RS with a 3.8L engine.

Porsche 964 RS

Porsche 964 had a few RS variants. The RS model started as a track-oriented car in Europe in 1992. It was a superlightweight RWD with better suspension and transmission and without power steering (only the UK RHD version had power steering). The interior was much improved with air con, cruise control, electric windows and seats, improved radio system with optional racing buckets on the front. Magnesium wheels and a thinner glass on all windows were the improvements on the exterior. With all these changes, the car was around 10% lighter than the regular version. US clients were demanding their RS version and Porsche 964 RS America was developed for the market during 1993 and 1994. A distinctive whale tail spoiler was fitted but to make them lose weight the decided to strip the power steering, cruise control, air con, radio, sun rood and the electric windows, but it was mainly a Carrera 2 (USA version).

RS cars are quite rare and not many of them were built in the US and Europe, but you can still see them for sale in some webs.

Porsche 964 dashboard switched off

Another version of the 964 is the 964 Cup. This car was produced from 1990 to 93 in 2 versions; it was pretty much a racing car pretending to be a regular car. Chassis was lowered to the ground and the second revision was pretty much a 964 RS ready to race … proper and great beast this 964 cup.

Porsche 964 Turbo and other precious rare 964s

The Turbo variant has made Porsche a great brand. All 911s since the 80s have a Turbo version and even though the first 964 Turbo were not as technologically advanced as the later versions, they all are a piece of art on the roads. But here comes a bit of fun for you. At the end of the 964 production in the Stuttgart factory in 1994, Porsche had around 90 Turbo chassis left. What did they do? They were transferred to Porsche Exclusiv and built as the very special Turbo 3.6S model. The Turbo 3.6S was available either with the traditional 964 Turbo 3.6 body, or with the exclusive flachbau 'slant nose' option. The car could produce 380 bph and maximum torque was at 5000 rpm, proper! These are very well collectable cars and difficult to find!

Other rare versions of the 964 included the not very successful racing car used for the first time on the 1993 12 hours of Sebring called Porsche 964 Turbo S LM-GT, which later was developed using 993 technology. Other unusual models will include the turbo cabriolet America Roadster (only 250 of them were made) and the Porsche 969 where 15 of the 16 prototypes were destroyed and the last car is still missing in history.

Porsche 964 Engine Tech specs on the different models

Porsche 964 Carrera 2 and 4

Engine design: Air/oil-cooled, horizontally opposed, dry-sump lubrication, rear-mounted
Engine displacement: 3,600 cc (220 cu in)
Cylinders: Six
Bore and stroke: 100 x 76.4 mm (3.94 x 3.01 in)
Compression ratio: 11.3 : 1
Fuel/ignition: Electronic fuel injection, DME controller, with twin-spark with knock regulation
Crankshaft: Forged, seven main bearings
Block and heads: aluminium alloy
Valve Train: Single Overhead cam (Sohc)- one per bank, double chain drive
Power: 184 kW/247 hp (SAE net)/250 PS (DIN) at 6,100 rpm
Torque: 310 Nm/228 lb·ft at 4,800 rpm
Engine speed limitation: 6,700 rpm

Porsche 964 RS

Engine Design: Air-cooled or oil-cooled, horizontally opposed (flat), dry-sump lubrication, rear-mounted engine
Displacement: 3,600 cc (220 cu in)
Cylinders: Six
Bore and Stroke: 3.94 x 3.01 in (100.0 x 76.4 mm)
Compression ratio: 11.3 : 1
Fuel/Ignition: Electronic fuel injection, DME controller, twin-spark with knock regulation
Crankshaft: Forged, 8 main bearings
Block and heads: aluminium alloy
Valve Train: Overhead cam, one per bank, double chain drive
Power: 191 kW/260 hp (SAE net) at 6,100 rpm
Torque: 312 Nm/230 lb·ft at 4,800 rpm

Porsche 964 Cup 1990–1991    

Engine:    3,600cc, six cylinder, boxer engine
Power:     195 kW (265 PS) at 6100/min
Torque:    310 Nm at 4800/min
Weight:    1120 kg    

Porsche 964 Cup 1992–1993

Engine:   3,600cc, six cylinder, boxer engine
Power:    202 kW (275 PS) at 6100/min
Torque:   314 Nm at 4800/min
Weight:   1120 kg

Porsche 964 Turbo 3.3

Bore and stroke: 97 x 74.4 mm (3.82 x 2.93 in)
Displacement: 3,299 cc
Compression ratio: 7.0:1
Power: 320 PS (235 kW; 316 hp) @ 5750 rpm
Torque: 450 ·m (332 lb·ft) @ 4500 rpm

Porsche 964 Turbo 3.3 S

Bore and stroke: 97 x 74.4 mm (3.82 x 2.93 in)
Displacement 3,299 cc
Compression Ratio 7.0:1
Power: 381 PS (280 kW; 376 hp) @ 5750 rpm
Torque: 508 Nm (375 lb·ft) @5000 rpm / 490 N·m (361 lb·ft) @ 4800 rpm

Porsche 964 Turbo 3.6

Bore and stroke: 100 x 76.4 mm (3.94 x 3.01 in)
Displacement 3,600 cc
Compression Ratio 7.5:1
Power: 360 PS (265 kW; 355 hp) @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 520 Nm (384 lb·ft) @ 4200 rpm

Porsche 964 Turbo 3.6S

Bore and stroke: 100 x 76.4 mm (3.94 x 3.01 in)
Displacement 3,600 cc
Compression Ratio 7.5:1
Power: 385 PS (283 kW; 380 hp) @ 5750 rpm
Torque: 520 Nm (384 lb·ft) @ 5000 rpm ZF Clutch type limited slip
20% lock under acceleration 100% lock under deceleration

porsche 964 turbo advert

Rarest and most exclusive Porsche 964 models

Porsche 964RS 3.8 America GS (Unique, just one made)

Built by Porsche exclusively, the America GS 3.8 Hardtop Roadster was built a few years after Dr. Porsche's 80th birthday present, the Panamericana. With that extra time, Herr Lagaay (H. Lagaay, retired Chief Stylist of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG) was able to devise a different exterior color, multi-color hand silk-screened primary leather, accent secondary leather, colored seat belts and zipper for the America GS — which he thought would be more successful than the Panamericana. Hence, while both cars have a type of green on the exterior, they are quite different and the interiors are also quite individual. A quick overview of the technical specs:

  • 400 hp and 900kg. Same power to weight ratio as a Carrera GT.
  • RWD
  • Tiptronic Transmission – Blueprinted, Polished, Reinforced And Dynamometer Tested Race Version. High Performance Software For Tiptronic Transmission Including:
    • Specially Programmed For Use With 3.8 Liter Engine
    • Permits Driver To Hold Transmission In Gear In "Tip" Mode
    • Transmission Will Not Override Driver
    • Higher Performance In Automatic Mode
    • Transmission "Learning" More Rapid In Automatic Mode

Porsche 964 Turbo Cabriolet (8 built)

Based on Carrera 2 Cabriolet Turbo-Look Chassis ( 964650/964651 ) six TURBO cabriolets were originated after the work holidays in Summer 1993 on the basis of the Z-Order "18581" in WERK I, probaply at special customers wish.
Engine and gear of 964 TURBO 3.3 and  TURBO 3.6 found use. Three cars were made in legal driver's implementation (RHD) - two for Great Britain ( UK ) and one for Australia, as well as three other lefthanddrive (LHD) for the German market. However, the first car for Germany is officially listed by Porsche with engine of the regular Carrera 2 cabriolet Turbo-Look and could not be found up to now in reality.

Porsche 964 Speedster Turbo-Look (15 built)

In contrast to the 911 Speedster from the model year 1989, the 964 Speedster was offered and produced in year 1993 only with the narrow body shape. On repeatedly occurring customer requests for Turbo-Look Speedsters - the optical signs of the wide car body in combination with the lowered windscreen and the fiberglass cover many fans had found - Porsche reacted with the possibility of a reconstruction of the individually ordered Speedster in the Exclusive department.
A construction description of 964 Speedster Turbo-Look was fixed in the department "Porsche Exclusive". Up to 15 unique pieces with the wide car body - the option M491 = Turbo-Look (wide body) that was already created for the Anniversary Model 30 Years 911 and the C4 Wide body. However, in the internal data sheets for the Turbo-Look Speedster the option M491 was never noted and listed, still it was possible to consider the M491 as a Speedster Turbo-Look. For this exclusive set up an extra 25.875 DM (Deutsche Marks) were charged to the customer including sales taxes. In sum (164.059 DM) in comparison to the 964 Carrera 2 Cabriolet Turbo-Look (America Roadster) which was offered from 175.395 DM base price; This Turbo-Look, we think was still a "bargain".

Porsche 964 Turbo S Flachbau - Flatnose (78 built)

The last time a Flachbau sold, it commanded just over one million dollars in case you care for one of them, get your wallet ready. Forget the all-wheel-drive 993 Turbo; short of the Hen’s Teeth 993 GT2, the 964 3.6 S is one of the most hardcore and special 911 variants to emerge from Stuttgart in the 1990s. The Flachbau was a 911 cut from a different cloth. The 964 Turbo 3.6 S provided the base for the 964 Flachbau. To create this striking 911, Porsche smoothed the front-end of the 3.6 S down to a wedge shape reminiscent of both the Porsche 959 and the 928. Power remained the 380 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, with the special X88 engine code, routed to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.
Interested buyers spent an additional $60,000 on top of the $99,000 price tag back in 1994, of which $20,000 was required up front before the buyers even saw the car in person. Just 76 of these Flachbau 964s ever left the factory.

rare porsche 964 Turbo S Flachbau

Porsche 964 Turbo S Leichtbau - Light body (86 built)

In May of 1992 Porsche announced that it was planning to produce a very special limited edition of its current 964 Turbo that was to be christened the 911 'Turbo S Leichtbau' (Light build). They expected to build 25-50 units (later upped to 80), they would be sold through Porsche Centres at a price not exceeding 300,000 DM, and the car was to be built in the fiscal year ending July 1992. The new project was to be a lightweight, road-legal, Turbo that would feature an increased engine output, together with enhanced handling and subtle styling differences.
A prototype was built using a 1992 3.3 ltr Turbo chassis and the “1992 Turbo S Leichtbau” came into being but, ironically, production did not start until July 1992 meaning that they were all built in the 1993 Model Year. The car was a development of the Turbo S2 and the target was to increase engine output by around 40bhp, however, that was comfortably exceeded and, in the end, an additional 61 horses were found bringing net power up to 381 bhp.   Porsche explained: "With different camshafts, precision-machined intake ducts, slightly higher charge pressure and an optimised ignition and fuel injection system, this six-cylinder engine was capable of producing 381 bhp. To deliver all that power to the road surface safely, the car was lowered by 40 millimetres and the running gear was given firmer settings."  However, the main quest was to find a significant weight reduction, and in this, they were very successful reducing the overall weight by 180 kg. This was achieved by doing without under body protection, sound-proofing, air conditioning, power steering and rear seats. Further savings came from thin glass, aluminium doors, a carbon fibre luggage compartment and even thinner carpets. 
The actual build numbers for this model have been misquoted over time with official Porsche records concluding 80 Leichtbaus were built initially. In fact, there were an additional 6 vehicles. The 81st car was added on as part of the recorded end of production run on November 20, 1992. The 82nd - 86th cars lack definitive production information in the Porsche official records for their final production and delivery dates. 

Pictures on this article provided by autoevolution.com, Philip Raby, Autoevolution, Hexagon Classics and our own.

Less known stories, Racing History
02/06/2018 - 11:38
Less known stories, Racing History
01/22/2018 - 11:58
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