Porsche 964 Carrera versus Porsche 993 Carrera
Launched exactly a quarter of a century after the original 901, the Porsche 964 was meant to be “the 911 for the next 25 years”. Printed in the press material at the 964’s unveiling, these were the words of then Porsche AG Chairman, Heinz Branitzki.
As corporate claims go, it was simultaneously extravagant and conservative. Despite numerous small updates (and the continuous upsizing of the flat-six engine), the 911 had, technologically, seen few major changes between its Frankfurt unveiling in 1963 and the 3.2 Carrera’s exodus from the line-up in 1989.
The lack of wholesale development had nearly been the undoing of the 911 – declining sales in the late 1970s led Ernst Fuhrmann to the brink of axing the 911 – so to expect similar endurance from the 964 seemed optimistic at best.
The Zuffenhausen board boldly claimed that 87 per cent of the 964’s componentry was new though, suggesting that, in their eyes, die neue Neunelfer would be able to survive a similarly protracted product cycle.
Like Branitzki’s audacious assertion, the reality of the 964 Carrera was both contemporary and conventional. The 3.6-litre M64/01 engine was Porsche’s first flat six that could be offered unaltered around the world, however, it found itself mated to an upgraded version of the five-speed G50 gearbox seen in the 3.2 Carrera.
Aesthetically, it cut a familiar silhouette (smoothed slightly front and rear with integrated bumpers, a hallmark of Benjamin Dimson’s design) yet, under the metal sat a full-length undertray reducing the drag coefficient to an alltime low.
After 26 years, the torsion bar springs finally bowed out too, replaced by coilover dampers, but the general suspension layout remained the same: a MacPherson strut out front with a semi-trailing arm at the rear.
The automotive dichotomy of the 964 didn’t deter buyers from placing an order for the new 911 however. On average, the 964 Carrera (if C2 and C4 figures are combined) sold nearly as well as its 3.2-litre predecessor – one of the most popular Porsche models of all time.
But, in an ever-changing automotive environment, faced with the impending age of digitisation, Porsche realised that it couldn’t afford to let its iconic sports car stand still again. Just four years after the 964 Carrera’s launch, it found itself replaced by a new generation: the 993.
To read our Porsche 964 Carrera v 993 Carrera head-to-head in full, pick up Total 911 issue 146 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.