The Porsche File Porsche-o-phile

First impressions - 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo

We have been giving a lot of thought to our Porsche ownership experience of late and came up with an observation - 'Original Porsches Are Us'. While our 2003 Carrera 4S is a sensational looking beast with all of the Cargraphic options, with the safety of 4WD and the convenience of the Tiptronic transmission. But it's 'after market-ness' takes away some of the purity of the Porsche experience and frankly we don't need the auto anymore. So does anybody wish to buy a great C4S?

The question was then what to replace it with? Something original (un-molested in industry speak), something that maintains some value over time, something with that timeless 911 visage, something that is comfortable for both driver and passenger and something that has more than a modicum of performance. You can see where this is going, can't you. Yes, the title of this blog entry gave it away! To paraphrase a popular consumer product marketing slogan - 'Come to where the Porsche flavour is, come to Turbo country'.

So on May 26 I picked up our 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo with 52,000 documented kilometres on the clock. Some 118 examples of the 993 Turbo arrived in the country overall and this is an original Hamilton's Melbourne delivery, one of only 14 Turbos delivered in Australia in 1997. Metallic black (schwarz) over slate grey, with leather sports seats, and stainless steel exhaust tips, door sills in steel with model insignia, grey/silver rimmed instruments and carbon fibre gear lever / hand brake accents were added as factory options.

Apart from the very brief test drive, I had never driven a 993 series 911 before. Impressions? After the 996, getting back into a 993 is like stepping back in time, mostly in a good way. It is a physically smaller vehicle in all dimensions and all the better for it. You tend to sit very upright behind a non-adjustable steering wheel. But visibility is outstanding all round and especially out of the huge near vertical windscreen which appears a lot closer to you than in a 996. The quality of materials used on the interior has an air of bespoke quality and an indestructible feel quite different to the more modern 996/7. The dials and instrumentation are almost jewel-like and I have found myself sitting stationary in the car just staring at the dials.......... I may also have been staring trying to find some ancillary switch gear as the ergonomics of the cabin layout perhaps don't match the quality of the components. Some might call it character..... The optional sports seats are outrageously comfortable.

The more compact dimensions are obvious externally as well. It just looks smaller and more tightly drawn. The view from the rear is quite stunning. Overall, it is just a classically timeless shape IMHO.

After some 350 kilometres or so of city and country driving my initial impressions are extremely positive. It does feel a generation older to drive than the C4S or the GT3. The steering and brakes especially feel a little less progressive and heavier with less linear power assistance. For road feel and directionality however, the steering / chassis combination is superb. Allied with the suspension, the car points and tracks magnificently (no tram lining despite the wide rubber) and with the 4WD grip it is a very, very potent touring car. The car does 'crash' over some surface irregularities, feeling a bit agricultural at times to be honest, but it never deviates from the chosen line. The clutch is feather light, thanks to hydraulic assistance of some kind, and the gear change is slightly long, just a tad rubbery but light with a very well defined gate / pattern which makes gear changing painless and enjoyable. After 75 minutes of stop / start traffic neither the car, nor I, were ruffled. Apart from being off set and a bit cramped in the foot well, I have found no issues with the floor-hinged pedals.

While some of the above doesn't sound overly glowing, the overall feeling behind the wheel is one of purity of purpose. And that purpose is principally driven (pardon the pun) by the engine. So quiet, so unstressed but so effortless and seamless in it's power delivery. And the quicker you go, the more the car 'comes' to you. The steering lightens a touch, the brakes feel meatier when retarding from greater speed, the chassis remains totally unfussed and you just go. And go, and go. Now, I am sure that the 996/7 Turbos would do the same thing, certainly quicker, more clinically and more safely with additional driver aids, more airbags etc, but they wouldn't match the sense of theatre and occasion that the 993 series delivers in bucket loads. A real drivers touring car.

Is there anything not to like? Well, the immobiliser is a bit fussy and takes some getting used to, the black paint won't like our dusty country lane environment much, the large non-adjustable, airbag-equipped steering wheel is hardly a thing of beauty, the windscreen wipers action and 'at rest' position don't do the driver any favours, the HVAC system is from the last century (but the demister is outstanding), use the available performance and the fuel consumption is devastating (doh!), and the life of the rear tyres might be scarily short (doh +1!). Nothing too serious then!

The car was purchased from Rob Raymer of RSR Garage in Richmond. His attitude and professionalism from initial contact, through pre-purchase inspection to final delivery made the purchase of an expensive, high performance vehicle both a comforting and enjoyable experience. We would strongly recommend Rob for your next used Porsche purchase!

Ah, with much classic 911 Turbo motoring ahead of us, it is indeed a fortunate life.