993 Carrera RS
Any 993 Carrera RS is rare; this one is unique, as it comes with a log book showing it was used by Porsche for development purposes, including being driven by a certain Mr Röhrl…
Everyone loves a Porsche with a full service history. We like to see lots of stamps in the service book, old MoT certificates, invoices for work carried out, the bill for that stainless exhaust and new clutch. It makes us feel good and proves that the car has been cared for throughout its life. Porsche provenance is important and adds to the value of your car, and that big binder is your car’s life story, I even used to keep the expired tax discs from my 930 Turbo.
But imagine if you had a record so complete, so accurate, that for the first years of its life, you were able to say exactly who drove it, where they went, why they drove it, how much fuel they put in it and how many miles they drove. This 993 Carrera RS has just that.
The 993RS is not exactly a common 911 model on UK roads at the best of times, with just 48 right-hand-drive cars built, but this particular example has as its first owner Porsche AG, Stuttgart. Built and registered in November 1994 – a good six months or so before the 993RS was unveiled to the public and before customer cars were made available to buy – this is chassis number 90009 in the 993RS series, a right-hand drive, C16 UK-specification car, but registered to Porsche in Germany. There are lots of questions posed by this 911 that we’ll be discussing shortly, but the immediate thing that springs to mind is: ‘Why take a right-hand-drive car for German factory use?’ In the absence of any definitive reason, it may simply be because that’s what was available when a development car was needed. Factory development drivers have no hang-ups about which side of the car they sit, so what’s the big deal? Odd, but quite possibly true.
Today, this RS is owned by Chris Whittle, owner of several notable 911s and a man with a memory for engine model codes, chassis model options and Porsche specifications I’d be proud to have inside my head in the best tradition of hardcore Porsche enthusiasts. So how did Chris come to own this 911? “In 2008 I was at a trackday at the Silverstone Classic Event in my 964RS and I certainly wasn’t in the market for a car. My 964 just happened to be alongside another car in the pit lane. Over a chat with the owner about Porsches generally and how collectable some cars were becoming, he casually mentioned that he had a 993RS for sale.”
Chris is one of those Porsche owners who believe in driving his cars, both on road and track. While he doesn’t abuse them, he accepts the fact that they will collect scuffs and the odd stonechip. The conversation moved on to how they both agreed that cars like the 964RS and 993RS were rising in value and how that caused concern to some. “We both held the same viewpoint, that the cars should be driven and used,” Chris remembers. This RS had been used regularly on track, by this time acquiring a bolt-in rollcage and having covered more than 80,000 miles.
“While I wasn’t really wanting to buy another Porsche at that point, there was no doubt it was intriguing. When we started to look at the history and documentation, my interest grew and, much as I tried to reason with myself that late 2008 was really not a good time to be spending a significant sum of money, I was bitten.” The 993’s owner had turned down offers on the car from dealers, saying he really wanted the car to go to someone who wouldn’t just speculate briefly and sell it on, but who would continue to use it as Porsche intended. An independent inspection by JZ Machtech confirmed that the car had all its original panels and that, while it had been repainted at some point, not brilliantly, Chris was happy that no horrors were lurking. A few minor mechanical jobs were rectified, funds changed hands and he bought the RS.
Once home, Chris began changing a few aspects of the Porsche. At some point in its UK life, the suspension had been changed to a rather extreme track-based setup of KW Variant Threes coupled to what Chris describes as an ‘entertaining’ set of spring rates, so his first job was to replace it all with the standard 993RS suspension and have the car aligned. The rollcage remains fitted but the original Speedline alloys were refurbished and set aside and replaced for daily road and track driving with a really nice-looking set of American Fiske split-rims cleverly designed to bolt from the inside to give a smooth look to the rim. The centre caps remain removed – that’s just something that Chris likes. Currently, the car is sitting on a set of track-based Michelin Pilots that Chris says suit the car very well.
Quite how this 911 came to be sold by Porsche is a very good question. Fred Hampton, of Porsche Club Great Britain, is the man responsible for liberating it from the factory and bringing it to the UK. He’s promised Chris a full account one day of his story, but is a little vague in how he managed it. Over a cuppa, Chris and I discuss this hypothetically.
Don’t forget, at that time, Porsche wasn’t exactly flush with cash. It was still a relatively small manufacturer with limited funds and the Boxster and Cayenne riches were yet to begin flowing. So a car that perhaps the company would normally keep, or even dismantle altogether as some manufacturers do routinely, was actually a valuable source of funds. So our guess was that a call made to the right man, in the right department, just at the right moment, managed to secure ownership. What is even more unclear and quite remarkable, is how a certain small softback notebook managed to make the journey through the factory gates with the car. On its cover the car’s VIN is neatly handwritten, together with a model name of ‘300 S’. Inside are some remarkable notes. Handwritten in neat columns are details of every journey this car made in its time with Porsche. It’s an internal Porsche document of some value and not the sort of thing to be left casually lying around in the glovebox.
So detailed is this small book that we’re able to say with confidence that the RS’s working life with Porsche began at 18.00 hours on 20 December 1994, when it was fuelled by Herr Schmierer. A closer read of those first few entries shows that Schmierer actually had quite a jolly time over Christmas that year, returning the car on 10 January 1995 with 740 miles registered. I guess that’s running-in mileage.
The following pages are neatly written with notes on mileages, dates out, litres of fuel added, places and even road numbers driven and dates back in, together with a variety of project serial numbers added in a column ‘cost centres’ that show that the car was clearly being used for development of some kind.
The names of the drivers read like a who’s who of 993 series development with journeys signed out by people such as 993 designer Tony Hatter, driving to England for a trip of 1,437 miles in June 1995. Test and development drivers such as Rysbergen, Hans Herrmann and other suspension, engine and chassis development drivers all logged accurately where and when they drove the car.
Head of design at the time, Harm Lagaay – the man responsible for projects as wide-ranging as the 924 and Boxster as well as working alongside Hatter on the 993 – drove the car on two occasions, as did a certain Stephen Murkett, who went on to be the Cayenne design manager. Other notable entries include 993 project chief Herr Kahnan, Pjiefer, the head of PSM development and a single entry of just 22 miles with simply the surname of ‘Röhrl’. In October 1995, significant mileage of 1,927 is simply entered as ‘Presse GB’. Destination locations entered range from England as mentioned, plus a whole range of road numbers. ‘A8’ and ‘A5’ feature regularly, perhaps favourite stretches of Tarmac, and a single entry simply saying ‘Zandvoort’. The final journey entry is a short evening blast of just 46 miles on 18 March 1996 at 18.30 in the evening.
It’s a truly fascinating document and I spend time reading slowly through the handwritten entries which are like an old aircraft’s logbook, telling the story of all the roads over which the chassis has delivered feedback to the drivers’ palms, all the different sets of hands and feet that have heel-toed their way around Europe.
What this car was used for is unknown, Chris is making enquiries to Porsche about the myriad of project codes detailed in that amazing little book, some of which are carried over into etched codes on the car’s glass and other areas, but inspection of some other paperwork leads us to make an educated guess. Apart from its UK journeys with Tony Hatter and for some UK press activity, the names of all of the drivers are engineers associated with Porsche engine, suspension and chassis development of that period.
Other documents that raise more questions than answers, include one documenting an engine change. Just before the car was sold, its original engine was removed at just 14,867 miles and a brand-new engine, a VarioRam 3.8 993RS unit, was fitted; the letter from Porsche declaring that the engine fitted was bench run for a 5,000km break-in before fitting. It’s a fair assumption to say that the only reason you’d want to remove a tough, bulletproof, Metzger-blocked 993RS engine at such a low mileage would be so that the public didn’t get their hands on it. Whatever engine had been fitted originally, no one else was going to be driving it. But to go to the trouble of then bench running an engine for 5,000km before fitting is also remarkable and, in my view, it’s unlikely that they went to that trouble simply with the sale of the car in mind.
Far more likely that Porsche had a secondary purpose planned for the car before the offer to buy it came sliding in through a side entrance. So was this car an engine development unit for some other project? Or is this the Porsche used to perfect and fine-tune the settings of the 993RS suspension and finalise the specification of the 3.8RS VarioRam engine? Whether Chris can answer all of these questions will depend upon Porsche’s willingness to open up the old files and share the information. More than ever now, Porsche takes a great pride in its heritage, so it’s quite likely that Chris will learn in time.
Photographs complete and we’ve run out of things to speculate upon, but it seems a shame not to go for a spin for some motion shots. I’ve not ridden in a 993 Carrera RS before and with the tight differential shuddering as we pull out of Chris’s place, that sharp exhaust note tells us it’s definitely a Metzger-blocked RS. But for me, the most surprising thing is the suppleness of the ride. Just a month earlier, I’d driven the 964RS and, while I loved the engine and the chassis on smooth roads, the car clearly didn’t like Yorkshire B-road bumpiness. This car displays none of that, soaking up ripples and bumps with great suppleness. This, coupled with the strong engine, means you’d be hard-pressed to call it a car with 80,000 miles and 16 years behind it. Indeed, that bench-run 3.8 engine is as sweet as a nut, feeling as though it wants to spin far higher than its 7,000rpm redline.
If you’re one of the lucky few people who has a 993RS parked in the garage, the chances are that Chris’s car is the one you have to thank for the way yours drives the way it does. As far as we know, chassis 90009 spent its early years working away, talking to the Porsche test drivers so that your 993RS is as good as it is. Or was it used for something else entirely that we’re not yet privy to? One day Chris hopes to find out.
This was taken from issue 78, for all Total 911 back issues visit www.imagineshop.co.uk/