“Those of us who are active in autocross or DEs use those drives as sighting runs for future spirited drives,” he says. As we careen down the road, such caution seems especially prudent when the front Yokohamas encounter a patch of sand and a moment of understeer ensues. Back on track, the conversation continues.
Verlaque moved from the UK to San Diego in 1987. He brought his passion for Porsches with him, having acquired a Carrera 3.0 in 1984. By 1996, still Porsche-less, he bought a 911 Carrera 3.2, joined the PCA, and became active in the club. He has served as region President in 1999, Tours Chair for four years, Autocross Chair for one year, and Chief Driving Instructor for four years. Schwab’s words echo, “If driving is for fun, this is your car…”
“I was driving to a friend’s house, and I saw a garage door closing. In the garage was a bright yellow 911,” begins Verlaque about his initial interest in the RS America. He recognized 964 bumpers, but the car had a fixed tail. His interest was piqued. “I went and rang the doorbell, and this fellow came to the door. He asked gruffly, ‘So, what do you do? You go around asking people what’s in their garage?’” Verlaque laughs. Eventually, the gentleman relented, and allowed the…er…interloper to see the car. Nine months later, in March of 1999, the keys exchanged hands, “after a lot of tussling back and forth.”
Verlaque’s fascination with the car grew and, in early 2001, he started a website to reach out to other RS America owners. Today, rsamerica.net serves as a knowledge base about the car and an online registry.
“My primary goal is to share information with people who are interested, and to get visibility for the car,” he says. “There are some haters out there, people who rubbish the car and say, ‘Oh, it’s just a stripped C2 to save money, just because Porsche couldn’t sell cars, and it’s not really worth anything.” Verlaque considers the 964 RS America to be a “love it or hate it Porsche.” And while that’s a bit extreme, it is true that the car has always polarized some Porsche aficionados.
“It’s nothing more than a marketing exercise, a poseur Porsche not deserving of the ‘RS’ moniker,” and “Why would anyone pay more for less?” were among the unfortunate refrains I heard during my years as an RSA owner.
To the latter, it’s worth noting that the price of a new RS America during its production run was precisely $10,000 less (!) than a base 964 Carrera 2 — and the price of the RSA included the aforementioned performance equipment. Can you imagine one of today’s special-edition Porsches being sold for less than its higher volume counterparts? Impossible!
It has only been in the secondary market that the price of these special-edition 964s have been bid comparatively upward, now commanding a premium of $10,000 or more over a base Carrera 2. It seems this is likely because of the RSA’s relative scarcity. To the former, the thought that paring 80–90 pounds of extraneous weight from a 911 and outfitting it with a sports suspension relegates it to “poseur” status is…well…incomprehensible. As for “RS” worthiness? Well, Porsche’s naming conventions remain a slippery issue even today; there’s really no sense tackling that now.
Nearing the end of the Couser Canyon run, I find myself wishing for a bit more stiffness in the yellow RS America’s suspension on this fairly smooth road. Verlaque left the PSS10s at 1 and 3 (front/ rear) after Thursday’s bumpiness, and he agrees. Still, I suspect it’s better than the as-delivered M030 suspension would have been here. I’ve driven stock 964-era Turbos and struggled with excessive squishiness and poor roll coupling, the back end always being an extra tick out of sync with the front.
Verlaque is objective in his assessment of the RSA’s out-of-the-box performance. “I have no illusions about a stock RSA being a track car. If you want to make an RS America into a track car, you have to make the exact same modifications to it as you would make to a C2,” he says, alluding to the suspension work and the addition of other competition components. “Rather,” he concludes, “I like to think of this car as a street 911 with a track attitude.” It’s an explanation that’s hard to argue with.