The Porsche 964 series (1989-1994) benefited from significant engineering innovations to Ferdinand ‘Butzi’ Porsche’s 911, resulting in reputedly the best chassis platform in an air-cooled Porsche. Utilising technologies from their 959-flagship model, the 964 was more powerful than Porsche’s first incarnation, the 356. A new engine, improved suspension and brakes, and a lightweight body resulted in impeccable steering and handling for the time, traits that continue to distinguish Porsche as a marque that effortlessly merges road and race cars.
The Porsche 964 was 87% new and originally available as an all-wheel drive C4, superceding the popular Super Carrera (SC) and following the Carrera 3.2. Established as a new 911, the car helped Porsche recover after a global recession in the late 1980s.
Designed by Benjamin Dimson, the 964 drew on its racing heritage; it combined the 356’s fastback styling with the supercar characteristics of the 1980s Turbo Porsches but shared just 13% of its parts with its predecessors. Translated as ‘race’ in Spanish, carrera was first used by Porsche in the mid-50s to denote the most high- performance models with racing technology, following Hans Hermann’s memorable victory at the Mexicana Carrera Panamerica in 1954, utilising a quad-cam engine.
The Porsche 911 964 was considerably technologically advanced compared to previous models. Aside from the chassis redesign, ABS brakes, coil springs and power steering were introduced. The rear suspension used the previous generation Turbo’s aluminium semi-trailing arm set-up, and a smaller-diameter anti-roll bar fitted. The classic 911 shape was transformed; despite using the same boot lid, wings, doors, and roof, Dimson designed new moulded bumpers with smooth contours and driving lamps inside the bodyline. To improve aerodynamics and engine cooling, the distinctive retractable spoiler was housed in the engine cover and deployed at speed, maintaining the car’s fluid lines. Rain gutters were reduced in size, front and rear windows finished flush to the bodywork and trim was unadorned.
In 1990, all pre-964 models were discontinued, and the two-wheel drive Carrera 2 introduced. Targa and Cabriolet versions followed. There were few visible differences between the Porsche C4 and C2 but were reported by Porsche to have the same performance figures, with a top speed of 162mph and capable of 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds. Both C2 and C4 gained power from the previous generation’s 3.2 litre engine, however it was designed to be quicker than its predecessor. Engine capacity increased to 3.6 litres, with new forged pistons and the compression ratio raised to 11.8:1. As catalytic converters were becoming compulsory, the modified engine ‘M64’ was required to run with or without them. A revised Bosch Motronic ignition and injection system produced 250bhp and 228lb-ft torque.
Alongside the state-of-the-art Tiptronic transmission available on the C2, the 3.2 Carrera’s standard five-speed manual gearbox was developed, featuring stronger ratios to cope with the increased power and torque. The new C4 and C2 featured new brakes, although they were derived from the 928 S4.
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