Six things you need to know about the 964 Porsche 911
The story of one of the most beloved Porsche 911 sportscars
When the 911 (type 964) appeared at the end of the 1980s, it introduced advanced driving and aerodynamic technology that paved the way for all future models. Today it’s one of the most sought after of all 911 models
The type 964 iteration of the 911 first went on sale in 1989. A host of engineering changes and new technology maintained the process of positive evolution that has been the hallmark of every Porsche 911 before and since. While initially die-hard 911 fans took some convincing of the changes that were made, today the 964 is highly prized as a brilliant example of a 911 – one that combines classic looks with contemporary modern technology. We explain why.1 Is the 964 the rarest Porsche 911 model? Between 1974 and 1989, over 196,000 examples of the previous 911 model – the G series – were made. But during the production run of the 964 (which occurred between 1988 and 1994) just 63,762 cars rolled off the production line, making the 964 the rarest generation of 911 ever made. The reasons for this are several, but among the factors are that Porsche was a smaller company back in the 1990s compared to what it is today, while the 964 also emerged at a time of global recession. What can never be doubted, however, is the importance of the technical advancements at the heart of the new model.
1998 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Coupe (type 964)
The first type 964 displayed a number of aesthetic changes on the outside, but there were particularly significant developments under the surface
2 Was the 964 the first 911 with all-wheel drive?Until the arrival of the 964 in 1989, every 911 before had been rear-wheel drive. In fact, just about every Porsche made had been rear-wheel drive, with the exception of the limited-run 959. Not only was the 964 the first 911 to send power to the front wheels as well as the rears, it did so right from release. The very first 964 model to be launched was the Carrera 4, which featured a complex all-wheel drive system that gave an all-new, all-weather capability to the range. All-wheel drive technology has been a feature of the 911 range ever since.
The rear spoiler of a Porsche 911 (type 964) Speedster
The 964, like this Speedster, sported a rear spoiler that raised electronically at 80km/h
3 How did Porsche improve aerodynamics on the 964 911?One of the tasks of the designers of the 964 was to improve the aerodynamics of the new car without radically redesigning the familiar flowing lines of the 911. An early form of active aero formed part of the solution. The ducktail rear wing of the outgoing 911 model – the G series – was replaced by an electronically-operated spoiler that rose at 80km/h and helped to eliminate rear lift. The front bumpers were mounted flush and a pan was installed under the nose to remove turbulence, with the result that the drag coefficient of the 964 Carrera was a dramatic improvement on that of its G series predecessor.
Blue 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera (type 964) on the highway
The introduction of new aerodynamic improvements aided the keen performance of the 964 across its range
4 What innovations were introduced in the 964 Porsche 911?Changes to the 911 range had been very minimal in the run up to the development of the 964, but the new car was 85 per cent different to the G series model that preceded it. In addition to all-wheel drive, it introduced such driving safety systems as anti-lock brakes and power steering as well as the introduction of the Tiptronic automatic gearbox. Today, the ability of the 964 to combine more modern features with the classic look of the 911 has made it a highly desirable classic Porsche.
The interior of a Porsche 911 (type 964)
Today, the Porsche 964 is one of the most sought-after of all classic 911 models
5 What are the different versions of the 964 Porsche 911?Although it had a relatively short production run, the 964 was made available to customers in a wider selection of versions than had ever been seen before in the Porsche 911. As well as the original Carrera 4 coupe, Porsche built Targa and Cabriolet versions with all-wheel drive, and did the same with the Carrera 2 rear-wheel drive model. A special Turbo-look model went on sale in 1992 in the form of the Carrera 2 Cabriolet, which used the body, chassis, braking system and wheels from the Turbo 3.3.
Rear of yellow Porsche 911 Turbo (type 964) Leichtbau
The 964 may be the rarest 911 by quantity but there was a huge range of versions made available, like this 911 Turbo Leichtbau model
The first 964 Porsche 911 Turbo model – which was sold in the 1991 and 1992 model years – used a 3.3-litre engine with 320PS, but in 1993 Porsche switched it to a 3.6-litre engine with 360PS. The Turbo was sold mostly as a coupe, although there was a limited Cabriolet production run as well. Turbo variants included the Turbo S Leichtbau (or ‘lightweight’) and the ‘flatnose’ Turbo S Flachbau, with its distinctive slanted front end.Then there are the track-oriented RS models. An RS based on the Carrera 2 was released in limited numbers from 1991 in several different specifications, with extra power, weight reductions and lowered suspension. Some were equipped with bucket seats and a thinner carpet (often referred to as the RS Lightweight model), and others were essentially road-going track cars based on the Carrera 2 Cup racing car with roll cages and racing seats. At the other end of the scale was the RS Touring, with luxuries like air conditioning and a sunroof. Oh, and then there was the very rare wide-body 964 RS 3.8 model, too. And all this before we touch on the special edition models, which included a 30-strong run of 911 Jubilee models made to celebrate 30 years of the 911, the RS America (made for the US market) and the 911 Speedster, based on the Carrera 2 Cabriolet. There were just 930 examples of the latter made, plus a further 15 vehicles produced with a wide Turbo-look body.
Porsche 911 Turbo (type 964) from the movie Bad Boys
This black 964 Turbo belonged to film director Michael Bay and featured in the hit 1995 movie, Bad Boys
6 What 964 is the famous Porsche 911 in the movie Bad Boys?Porsche cars have featured in many movies over the decades but one of the best known is its appearance in the 1995 Hollywood blockbuster Bad Boys. Directed by action movie legend Michael Bay, the film saw a climactic final chase involving Detective Mike Lowrey (played by Will Smith) behind the wheel of a black-on-black 1994 911 Turbo 3.6 (type 964). In real life, the car actually belonged to Bay himself, who sold it for $60,000 after the movie was completed. Since then, it’s had a number of owners and been shown at several concours events. This very special 911 Turbo was last sold at auction in 2022 for a huge $1.3m.7 Why was the 964 important in Porsche motorsport history?Today, single-make motorsport series are very common around the world, but in the late 1980s that wasn’t the case. The 964 proved to be a real game changer with its development as a Carrera Cup racing car. By taking 50 production cars, stripping them down and adding safety equipment and performance upgrades, Porsche had a ready-to-go race car for the keen enthusiast. It fed these cars into national racing series in both Germany and France that proved so popular that in 1993 a global Supercup competition was launched, running as support races to Formula 1 events. The Carrera Cup continues to thrive today, with more than a dozen competitions in countries and regions such as Germany, USA, Great Britain and Scandinavia.
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