964 & Turbo (1989-94): The First Modern 911
The 964 introduced coil-spring suspension, ABS, power steering, all-wheel drive, an automatic transmission, and more to the 911 lineup.
In the late 1980s, Porsche, flush with recent profits, decided the time was right to overhaul the 911. While the car was still beloved by enthusiasts, it was getting long in the tooth, with its torsion-bar suspension, floor-hinged pedals, and non-power-assisted steering. Thus, the 964, billed by Porsche as 85-percent new, featured coil-spring suspension, hanging brake and clutch pedals, and power steering — along with anti-lock brakes, a rear spoiler that automatically rose at 50 mph and underbody cladding to improve aerodynamics, standard driver and passenger airbags for all U.S.-bound cars, optional all-wheel-drive, and an optional automatic transmission (available only on the Carrera 2). The 911 had finally joined the modern age.
Porsche management didn’t want to completely reinvent the company’s flagship, however, and so dictated that the 964 must still look like its predecessors — specifically, any design changes had to take place below the headlights, leaving the classic fenders and greenhouse intact. The resulting face-lift featured noticeably smoother bumpers, but their somewhat tacked-on flavor was not particularly well-received by traditionalists (who, it must be said, didn’t like the more refined driving experience, either). But the new 911 was lauded by the automotive press and buyers alike, and more than 62,000 were built before production ended in 1994.
For today’s buyer, the 964 offers a compelling combination of classic and modern 911 elements. On the one hand, the car’s mostly old-school look and air-cooled flat-six engine — enlarged to 3.6 liters and producing 250 hp at 6,100 rpm — speak to Porsches past. On the other, the 964’s updated mechanicals make the new model far more refined to drive than its predecessors. And with prices starting below $20,000, the 964 is accessible to a wide array of 911 enthusiasts.
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