Porsche’s popular 911 model range has evolved hugely over the years, but a few iconic models stand out head and shoulders above the rest. In 1973, the Carrera RS 2.7 lifted the bar in the sports car market, but a decade and a half later, it was the turn of the Type 964 Porsche Carrera RS to carry the baton.
From its inception in 1963 up to the end of the G-Series in July 1989, the engineers worked wonders with the 911, packing more and more technology under the skin, while eking out performance from the 6-cylinder boxer engine that few would have dreamed possible. The last of the G-Series cars was manufactured in July 1989, and so the era of 911s with the concertina bumpers was brought to a close. Introduced at various motor shows in 1988, the 911’s 25th anniversary year, the Type 964 took the famous model to a new level of sophistication and capability. Customer deliveries of the 964 started in January 1989 which overlapped with the outgoing G-Series, causing some model duplication in the market.
Leaving aside the 4-WD 959 for the moment because of its high value and exclusivity factor, why the 964 made such an impact in the world of Porsche sports cars is because it introduced the first permanent, affordable AWD configuration in a production 911. Although the Type 964 looked like a facelift of the model it replaced, the outgoing G-Series, it did in fact represent a completely new vehicle under a familiar 911 silhouette. Eighty-five per cent of the components of the 964 were entirely new, as this newcomer offered both 2WD and 4WD options. In 1990, at the British International Motor Show in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom the Porsche Carrera RS Type 964 was launched.
Type 964 Carrera RS model background
Several important features made an appearance on this new model. For instance, the 964 boasted a retractable rear spoiler that extended when the car reached 50mph, and retracted again automatically when the speed dropped to walking pace. Should the driver wish to, the spoiler could be raised or lowered at the push of a button. Aerodynamics on the 964 were much improved over the previous model, with a drag coefficient of just 0.32, and when factored with the car’s frontal area of 1.79m2, the overall drag index was just 0.57. In addition to this sleek body shape, the 964 was fitted with a brand new 3.6-litre engine.
After two years of production, the 964 model range was expanded to include the Carrera RS. Although this model was launched at the British Motor Show in October 1990, deliveries to customers only began in November 1991, making this a 1992 model. The difference in price was quite significant in that the Carrera Coupé could be purchased for DM116,800 (about £39,930) while the RS model would set you back DM145,450 (about £49,725) at August 1991 prices.
The Porsche Carrera RS, or 964 RS as it is more widely known, was a stripped-down version of the standard 964 Carrera, and as a result, at 1220kg, it was 130kg lighter than the standard model. Although the engine output and top speed of the Carrera and the RS were identical, the acceleration figures were quite different with the RS completing the 0-62mph sprint in 5.3 seconds, a good 0.4 seconds quicker than the standard model.
Contributing to this weight reduction was an aluminium bonnet while the side and unheated rear windows were made from thinner-gauge glass. The rust preventative undercoat was left off and even the sound-insulating interior mats were omitted, while the front fog lamps were replaced with simple transparent covers. Chassis stiffness was increased by additional hand welding of some key spot welded joints.
The new 3.6-litre boxer engine, the pistons and cylinders were carefully selected and matched and the engine used rubber mounts in place of hydraulic mounts. As a result of fewer electrical items on the car, a lighter and simpler wiring harness was fitted. The ECU was reconfigured for higher octane fuel, and as a result both maximum output and peak torque were increased: power went from 250bhp to 260bhp, and torque increased from 229lb.ft @ 4800rpm to 240lb.ft @ 4800rpm.
The suspension on the Porsche Carrera RS was lowered by 40mm and made considerably stiffer with race-tuned shock absorbers, although still with some ‘give’ for road use. The front brakes comprised cross-drilled discs with four-piston fixed callipers as used on the 911 Turbo. The rear brakes were taken from the Carrera Cup race car, as were the 17” Cup wheels fabricated from magnesium. Giving an additional nod to its motorsport heritage, the Carrera RS was given a weight-saving pull strap to open the door, a twist knob to lock/unlock the door and window winders instead of electric windows. The exterior mirrors were manually adjustable, the rear seats were omitted altogether, and the car came without airbags.
Just as with the Porsche Carrera RS of 1973, the 964 Carrera RS was offered in three versions, all road legal. The first was a base option that offered no luxury at all, the second, a touring model, came with limited extras and the third was the N-GT (near-production GT). The Carrera RS used a precise, direct-acting sports steering system but without any power assistance.
Despite the standard 964 Carrera 2 and the Carrera RS having the same top speed, this is an electronically governed specification, with both models topping out at 161mph (260km/h). However, the 0-62mph sprint was a different matter and where the standard model could accomplish this in 5.7 seconds, the Carrera RS took just 5.3 seconds to reach 62mph from standstill. This sprint test is of course performed over a relatively short distance and in a straight line, but over the lap of a race track, this would soon mount up to a significant difference.
Our feature car
First registered in December 1992, this LHD Guards Red 964 Porsche Carrera RS was finished with Spanish specification. In a little more than two years it had racked up 56,000km and so the car was obviously used extensively. In early 1995, the car was fitted with a RUF EKS ‘electric foot’ (Elektronisches Kupplungssystem = electronic clutch system) which was developed in partnership with Fichtel & Sachs. The EKS provided all the advantages of being able to enjoy the sportiness of shifting gears but without the clutch pedal. At the same time, additional work was carried out on the suspension and brakes.
Another 10,000km was covered at which stage the owner commissioned work to be done on the engine, building it up to 3.8-litres and fitted Schrick cams. A hotfilm induction modification was installed (hotfilm removes the flap type airflow meter for a platinum wire mass air flow meter) and a catalytic bypass and powerpipe were also fitted.
The engine has now been returned to its original 3.6-litre configuration and the RUF EKS clutch system has been removed, and the car now features the original 5-speed gearbox. Although the engine has been returned to its original 3.6-litre capacity, power output is estimated to be around 300bhp, which is significantly higher than standard.
On a test run in the countryside, the car pulled impressively up towards the red line, it sounded absolutely on song, which was confirmed by the exhaust note feeding back into the cabin. There was no hesitation at all as the car climbed up through the rev band, and not a rattle or a squeak was heard throughout the journey. Road holding through tight corners was mightily impressive and the steering was pin sharp. In summary, this Guards Red Porsche Carrera RS was everything one would expect of a high-performance model from Porsche, and none of its 25-years or 123,000km mileage showed any signs of ageing or neglect.
The 1992 964 Carrera RS is one of the last of the high-performance compact 911s offered by Porsche, as the standard 993 model that followed was 83mm wider than our feature car here. The tight lines, sleek and aerodynamic shape of the 964 Carrera RS set it apart from its competition in the market, making it a truly desirable high-performance, and yet practical road car. It has lost none of its appeal, in fact if anything, this model has matured into a very attractive proposition indeed!
|Engine layout & type||6-cylinder horizontally opposed (M64/03)|
|Bore x stroke||100 x 76.4mm|
|Output||260bhp @ 6100rpm|
|Torque||24lb ft @ 4800rpm|
|Valves||OHC, 2-valves per cylinder|
|Carburation||Bosch DME with sequential injection|
|Drive||Two-wheel drive, rear|
|Front suspension||Individually suspended light-alloy lower wishbones, McPherson struts with coil springs, dual-tube gas-filled shock absorbers, anti-roll bar|
|Rear suspension||Individually suspended on tilted shafts, McPherson struts with coil springs, dual-tube gas-filled shock absorbers, anti-roll bar|
|Front brakes||Ventilated and drilled discs: 322 x 32mm, black 4-piston fixed aluminium callipers|
|Rear brakes||Ventilated and drilled discs: 299 x 24mm, black 4-piston fixed aluminium callipers|
|Front||7.5J x 17; 205/50 ZR 17|
|Rear||9J x 17; 255/40 ZR 17|
|Top speed||161mph (260km/h)|
|Total (LHD & RHD)||2282|
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Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale