Friends reunited: 964 Turbo 3.3 retro road test

Winter time in Yorkshire, a cold day with a piercing blue, cloudless sky and a biting wind. The low sun makes the shadows under the overhanging trees deep black and impenetrable. Driving into the glare makes those shadows deeper than ever. The scary sudden blackness, combined with the inevitable damp patches, can sap a driver’s confidence as vision is lost for a few fractions of a second, eyes struggling to adjust regardless of
the position of the sun visor or shades. Perhaps not the best of days to be re-acquainted with the Porsche 964 Turbo.

We don’t see too many Porsche 964s on the roads these days. Sadly, the escalating prices mean many have been retired to a life of suspended animation beneath a fitted cover, battery saver blinking away like a life support machine. 964 Turbos are even less common, with just over 3,600 of the 3.3-litre cars built worldwide. So the opportunity to be re-acquainted with a car I last drove when it was cutting-edge performance is something I won’t turn down, even if we won’t be getting much heat into the tyres.

The last time I was behind the wheel of a 964 Turbo was actually back in the day when it was for sale brand new in the UK. I had a reasonable amount of experience in cars, but not so much in Porsches at that time. That car was Rubystone in colour: incredibly sought after today, but back then, not so much. That’s a whole different story for another time, but I can still vividly recall my quickening pulse as I walked over to it, doing my hardest to look nonchalant. I had the usual battle with the demisting system, for those familiar with it, before driving away to find a quiet piece of road. The memories of transition from off-boost lethargy to full-blown whistling velocity are even more vivid than that paint scheme. Now, more than two decades later, will the performance still be as striking, or is it a memory I’m about to have tainted by the passage of time?

This car is considerably more muted in hue, Marine Blue looking truly conservative, but the deep shine has stood the test of time. This colour was probably a lot closer to the option that most Porsche owners will have selected in 1991. Ordered new in right-hand drive by a UK Army officer serving in Germany, and delivered to his local Porsche Zentrum, it has some useful options, such as a factory sunroof and limited slip differential, something you would have expected to be standard. The 964 Turbo body looks just as curvaceous as ever – in my view it’s the pinnacle of the classic 911 silhouette, before the Darwinian advancement of the more aerodynamic designs, beginning with the 993, that changed the unique profile forever.

The rear wheel arches have a curvaceous quality that you never tire of admiring from any angle. A rather curious original factory option choice of no Turbo badging really doesn’t hide what this car is. Time to be reacquainted. Back in 1993, the 964 Turbo was one of the first Porsches I ever drove, so the impact on my senses was especially vivid. Many thousands of 911 miles later, I’m wondering…

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