Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Porsche 964, part 1

The Porsche 964, spoken simply as "nine-six-four" or "nine-sixty-four," is the company's internal name for the version of the Porsche 911 model sold between 1989 and 1993. It featured significant styling revisions over previous versions of the 911, most prominently the more integrated bumpers (fenders), although it was still obviously a 911. It was the first generation of Carrera to be offered with Porsche's Tiptronic automatic transmission (as an option) as well as the first generation to be offered with all wheel drive.

The first 964s available in 1989 were AWD equipped "Carrera 4" models, Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupe, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional "pop top" Targa roof. Later evolutions of the Targa, starting with the 993 generation, replaced that setup with a complex glass-roof "greenhouse" system. A new naturally-aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, which displaced 3.6 litres and produced 247 bhp (184 kW) @ 6100 rpm.

In 1992, Porsche produced a super-lightweight, rear-wheel-drive only version of the 964 dubbed Carrera RS for the European market. It was based on Porsche's 911 "Carrera Cup" race car and harkened back to the 2.7 and 3.0 RS and RSR models. It featured a revised version of the standard engine, titled M64/03 internally, with an increased power output of 260 bhp (191 kW) and lightweight flywheel coupled to the G50/10 transmission with closer ratios, asymmetrical Limited Slip Differential and steel syncromesh. A track-oriented suspension system with 40 mm lower ride height, stiffer springs, shocks and adjustable stabilizer bars without power steering. A stripped-out interior devoid of power windows or seats, rear seats, air conditioning, cruise control, sound deadening or a stereo system and new racing-bucket front seats were part of the package. The trunk hood was made of aluminum, the chassis was seam welded and sound deadening was deleted. Wheels were made of magnesium and the glass was thinner in the doors and rear window. The Carrera RS is approximately 345 pounds lighter than a USA Carrera 2 model. Also available were a heavier Touring variant (with sound deadening, power seats (if desired), undercarriage protection and power windows) and an N/GT racing variant with a stripped, blank metal interior and a roll cage.

A later ultra-low production version of the RS featuring the Turbo body and a 300 bhp 3.8 litre version of the M64 motor was sold briefly in Europe (Carrera RS 3.8).

The Carrera RS was not sold in the USA because Porsche Cars North America felt the car's aggressive tuning was not suited to the American market. In 1992, 45 USA legal cars that were very similar to the Carrera RS were imported to the USA for a proposed "Porsche Carrera Cup" racing series. This Carrera Cup series was to function as a support race for the USA's CART racing series just as European Carrera Cup supported Formula One racing at the time.

These 45 cars were identical to a Carrera RS other than having airbags (with required electric windows), alarm system, American lighting, American bumpers, aluminum wheels, and standard seats. The cars otherwise had the lightweight seam welded chassis, lightweight interior trim, aluminum hood, lightweight door glass, suspension, brakes, G50/10 transmission and M64/03 engine etc. of the Carrera RS. These cars were approximately 200 pounds lighter than a normal USA Carrera 2 model.

The plan was for Andial, the then equivalent of what is now Porsche Motorsport USA, to convert these cars to full racing specification, however, due to lack of sponsor support for the Carrera Cup series, it was canceled before it began. The 45 cars imported to the USA for this series were then sold, quietly without any advertising so as not to compete with the new RS America, through normal dealer channels. These cars were supplied with a dash plaque which indicated that they were the "Carrera Cup USA Edition".

In order to please devoted American 911 enthusiasts who wanted an RS model, Porsche produced the RS America. The RS America was based on the Carrera 2 and featured the M030 suspension, a partially stripped interior without sound deadening, power steering, power amenities, rear seats or a stereo and had cloth-covered sport seats. The RS America was approx. 160 pounds lighter than a stock Carrera 2 and shipped with the standard 247 hp North American engine.

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