Seven things you need to know about the Porsche 911 (type 993)
The story of the last ever air-cooled 911
Front view of Porsche 911 (type 993) driving on track
The type 993 was the last hurrah for the air-cooled era of the 911 – but also a big leap forward for the legendary sportscar
Some 30 years after the 993 was first unveiled, it’s today best known for being the last Porsche 911 to feature an air-cooled engine. But there are plenty more reasons why it’s such a landmark car for Porsche. Far from being the end of an era, it represented a big leap forward in technology for the 911, as well as a substantial evolution of its trademark looks. Let’s delve into the history of the 993 to look back at revolutionary car for its time.
Engine compartment of a red Porsche 911 Turbo (type 993)
The type 993 was the very last Porsche 911 to use an air-cooled engine
1 What is the air-cooled engine of the type 993?Mention the type 993 to the casual Porsche aficionado and it’s likely that air cooling will be one of the first things they will mention. The engine of every 911 had been air-cooled since it was first unveiled in 1963 – and the 993 was the culmination of that technology. The next generation of 911 (the type 996) was water-cooled, as every 911 has been since.At its launch in 1993, the naturally aspirated, 3.0-litre flat-six of the 993 developed 272PS, but that was soon boosted to 285PS in 1995, with the added option of a 300PS variant. That same year, the 911 Turbo was introduced, with a bi-turbo system for the 3.6-litre engine that raised the output up to 408PS. Meanwhile, the 911 GT2 packed a very substantial 450PS.
The interior of a Porsche 911 Turbo (type 993)
The innovative chassis of the type 993 meant fun and confident driving when at the wheel
2 What’s interesting about the chassis of the Porsche 993?The 993 was the first 911 with a chassis designed around the LSA concept, which stood for Light, Stable and Agile. The new aluminium chassis married lightweight materials with a complex, motorsport-derived, multi-link suspension set-up. It featured a particularly flexible fifth link that helped evolve the ‘Weissach effect’, which was found in the engineering of the Porsche 928. In the days before active rear-wheel steering, this helped manage both longitudinal and lateral forces to stabilise the car’s handling and reduce lift-off oversteer.The final chassis design of the 993 was such that the suspension compression was dramatically lowered during both acceleration and cornering to make the handling more composed, and the use of aluminium dampers helped lower weight to improve the agility. Overall, the new chassis allowed for quicker, safer lane changes even at high speed, and road noise and vibrations were also reduced. It’s also worth noting that the design also laid the groundwork for the chassis fundamentals that have continued through to every Porsche 911 to this day.
A silver Porsche 911 Carrera (type 993)
Only the roofline, glass and doors from the previous 911 – the type 964 – were kept on the type 993
3 What’s interesting about the exterior design of the Porsche 993?The shape of the 911 has gradually evolved over the decades, but the type 993 had a relatively dramatic visual overhaul. The roof, glass and doors from the type 964 were retained, but just about everything else was changed. The design was heavily influenced by the Porsche 959 (at the front) and the 928 (over the wheel arches), but lowered the front end compared to the 964 and widened the body at each end to create what Porsche fans now know as the ‘Coke bottle’ shape when viewed from above, with it tapering towards the rear. The front wings were wider and flatter, the rear light cluster sat higher and the luggage compartment lid was shorter.
Cutaway sketch of a blue Porsche 911 Carrera (type 993)
The type 993 was engineered in Germany and designed by Englishman Tony Hatter, working under Dutch styling chief Harm Lagaay
4 Who designed the Porsche 993?The design team behind the type 993 came under the direction of the Dutchman Harm Lagaay, the chief of design and styling, with the Englishman Tony Hatter as its design manager. At the time of the development of the type 993, Hatter had been with Porsche since 1986 and had worked on the type 964, while Lagaay had first joined Porsche back in 1971 and had moved back to the company in 1989 after a period at other manufacturers.
Rear view of Porsche 911 Turbo (type 993) driving on track
The power behind the 911 Turbo (type 993) was a 3.6-litre bi-turbo engine that produced 408PS
5 What engine was in the Porsche 911 Turbo (type 993)?The first Porsche sportscar to feature two turbochargers was the iconic but limited run Porsche 959, which went on sale in 1986. For the type 993 Turbo model of 1995, engineers went back to that idea and refined it for mass production. Rather than using a single turbocharger like previous 911 Turbo sportscars, the 993 used two small chargers, one on each cylinder bank of the 3.6-litre engine. Not only did this technology allow for more power than ever before, it also smoothed the delivery to make it more manageable. Previous Turbo models gave you a sudden hit of power when the turbo came on, but the bi-turbo set-up delivered power in a more linear fashion and from lower revs. This helped reduce turbo lag and gave the driver extra control. Bi-turbo tech has continued to evolve and still features in the current type 992 Porsche 911 Turbo and 911 Turbo S (as of June 2023).
The rear of a red Porsche 911 Turbo (type 993)
Despite its huge power, the exhaust emissions of the 911 Turbo (type 993) were remarkably low
6 How did the 993 Turbo achieve low emissions?Despite the huge power behind the type 993 Turbo, its bi-turbo technology was so efficient that the 3.6-litre engine had the lowest exhaust emissions of all series production engines at the time. This was down to lots of cutting-edge technology, including the first series production use of the OBD II on-board diagnostics system. This used multiple Lambda sensors to monitor everything from the exhaust system to fuel tank ventilation and then feeding the information into the complex engine management system. The technology was needed in order to comply with strict emissions rules in the US, but even Porsche experts at the time were surprised by just how efficient the engine turned out.
Woman sitting in a silver Porsche 911 Targa (type 993)
The 993 Targa had a retractable glass roof instead of a fabric soft-top
7 Did the Porsche 993 Targa have a roof bar?The Targa model of the type 993 emerged in 1995 – and it was a radical departure from what had gone before. It had a large, sliding glass roof rather than the removable fabric canopy which featured in previous Targa models. This meant that the signature Targa rollover bar was no longer needed for the first time since its introduction in the 1960s. Instead, the tinted, heat-insulating glass was encased within a longitudinal safety structure and could be retracted behind the rear window at the touch of a button. This meant the driver could enjoy the openness of a convertible even with the roof in place. It also allowed the Targa to keep the signature coupé roofline of the 911. The roof bar would eventually reappear on the 911 (type 991) in 2011 and remains a feature of the current (as of June 2023) 911 (type 992).
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