The Porsche 964 Buying Guide – Classic looks allied with contemporary performance
The Porsche 964 brought with it a number of important updates that took the 911 formula to new heights, underrated for years it is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
The Porsche 911 was 25-years old by the time the 964 came along and during that period the majority of the changes to the basic design had been of the incremental variety. The 964 injected a much-needed tech boost to help stave off the competition, much was made of the fact that over 80 percent of the car was totally new compared to its predecessor but underneath the new body panels it still retained much of what had made the ‘60s original such a desirable sports car.
The biggest change was the move to a coil spring rear suspension design, reducing the car’s tail happy tendencies. ABS braking was another 911 first as was all-wheel-drive and that cool electronically-controlled rear spoiler. The Carrera 4 coupe arrived first, showcasing a version of the all-wheel-drive system that was first used in the 959 supercar. The Carrera 2 followed soon after along with a cabriolet and Targa body style. Turbos and RS models also joined the standard models with the most powerful 381bhp Turbo S capable of a serious 180mph.
Despite being produced for just four years, over 63,000 of all variants were built, the most common being the Carrera 2 and 4 coupes. As a reminder of a less digital motoring age, the 964 offers a nostalgic step back in time but with a level of performance that is still very much up to modern standards.
Porsche 964 Engine and gearbox
The 3.6-litre flat-six is a strong engine that gives its best when used and serviced regularly. Watch out for oil leaks as they can stem from a simple cam cover leak to something that may require a full engine rebuild, if you are unsure it is best to have a specialist inspect the car.
The Tiptronic gearbox was first introduced on the 964 and is a robust unit that has few issues, however, if the torque converter is noisy you may be in for a big bill around the corner. Manuals had dual mass flywheels until 1991 and this can make it expensive to repair if it plays up.
Porsche 964 Suspension and Brakes
Lower control arm bushes and shocks will need replacing at least every 70,000-miles, the brakes are strong and stand up well to abuse but cracked or warped discs generally indicate that the car has led a hard life. The brake pedal should feel hard, if it takes very low or slowly sinks down then there could be an issue with the system.
Porsche 964 Bodywork and interior
911 bodyshells had been fully galvanised since the mid ‘70s, but the average 964 is now 30 years old so corrosion can occur, especially from a leaking convertible or targa roof as well as poorly repaired accident damage. There are also some areas that are more prone to rust than others, these include the front and rear windscreen surrounds, rear arches and wings as well as behind the front bumper. If the bodyshell is too far gone it may be financially unviable to restore the car unless you are getting a massive discount.
The interior is well-built although most cars will be showing wear on the front seat side bolsters, door handles and gear knob. Leather was optional and a retrim can make a big difference to a tatty looking interior. Check that all the switches and buttons work, blown fuses and damaged wiring can cause a number of issues.
Model History Of The Porsche 964
1989: Type 964 Carrera 4 launched. 250bhp 3.6-litre Flat-six and six-speed gearbox standard fitment, as is all-wheel-drive
1990: Carrera 2, Targa and Cabriolet body styles added to range. Four-speed Tiptronic gearbox becomes optional
1991: 320bhp 3.3-litre 964 Turbo introduced
1992: 260bhp Carrera RS introduced in Sport and Touring trims. Carrera 2 offered with Turbo wide-body look
1993: Uprated 360bhp 3.6-litre Turbo offered alongside 381bhp Turbo S. Rare 911 Speedster introduced. 300bhp Carrera RS 3.8 becomes available and C4 30 Jahre edition built to celebrate 30 years of 911s (911 examples made)
1994: All Type 964 911 production ends making way for 993 replacement
Which Porsche 964 To Buy
The Porsche 964 ushered in the final era of the air-cooled 911, it introduced ABS, power-steering, all-wheel-drive and coil spring rear suspension to the mix and became a strong seller despite a short production run.
A manual Carrera 2 coupe takes some beating and this variant, as well as the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 coupe, were the most popular models back in the day. A post-1992 model with the uprated gearbox and higher-quality interior would be a great investment. We would avoid the Tiptronic ‘box unless you specifically want a self-shifter. The convertibles sold well too but you may struggle to find a decent Targa. It is worth keeping in mind that values for these models were low for years which means that servicing and maintenance records can be patchy, walk away if a car looks to have been neglected. Turbo models, whether the earlier 3.3 or updated 3.6 are still indecently quick and command a healthy premium over the standard models. Limited-edition models like the Speedster are the priciest of the lot and are viewed more as an investment than something to be driven.
If you intend to drive your car and want the most intense and engaging experience from your 964 then it has to be the Carrera RS 3.8, the lightweight track-honed special is arguably the best of the bunch although its very focused nature may limit its appeal. As will the stratospheric pricing. The 964 may have spent much of its time in the shadow of its replacement, the 993, but it offers a similarly engaging classic 911 driving experience at a more attainable price point.
Porsche 964 Specifications
3.6-litre flat-six – Carrera 2
Top speed: 163mph
Text John Tallodi Photos Newspress
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