Isn’t it remarkable how associations of certain cars and specific events in our lives become etched into our memories? The more impressive the car is, based on your experience of it at the time, the more vividly you remember it. My first experience of an air-cooled 993 Turbo was during the first year after I finished high school. I joined the Porsche Club in the Western Cape, South Africa (without having owned a car of any kind, whatsoever), and I recollect that I turned up at the national event in my parents’ 1977 Volkswagen Kombi.
Fortunately, I shared a passion for air-cooled motors – and, at the very least, the Kombi’s engine position and layout, albeit a fl at four, was reasonably the same as that of the 911’s! The highlight of the entire event for me was a passenger ride in a 993 Turbo, when its owner (who is now a good friend of mine) achieved an indicated top speed of 174mph. Up to that point in my life, I hadn’t travelled in an even moderately fast car, so the performance and speed of the 993 Turbo impressed me beyond my wildest imagination. The memory might be all of 16 years old but back then the car looked devastatingly fast – it certainly felt that fast and, for its day, it was rapid. So I was eager to find out how the car would stack up today, especially in comparison with its more powerful and much more sought-after sibling, the 993 Turbo S.
Porsche’s model range has advanced a lot since those days. With the recent introduction of the 991.2 Turbo, 911s with two turbochargers, replete with safe and secure all-weather ability availed by all-wheel drive are the norm, but their lineage can be traced back to none other than the 993 Turbo. Released in model year 1996 (although a few were produced earlier), it was the fi rst 911 Turbo to feature four-wheel traction. It was well received by the media and buyers, and even when the 996 Turbo arrived, some unofficial in-gear tests showed that the 993 Turbo still rained supreme in some aspects. After all, when the US publication Motor Trend tested the 993 Turbo, they achieved a scarcely believable 0-60mph time of 3.7 seconds and summed up the car as follows: “The bottom line of the new 911 Turbo states, unequivocally, that this is the greatest road-going Porsche ever created.”
Lofty praise indeed. Based on the 3.6-litre engine from the Carrera, the new engine (M64/60) featured twin turbos for the fi rst time. The 993 Turbo also introduced several new technologies to the 911 range. These included electronic boost control, an exhaust monitoring system, a hot-fi lm mass air fl ow sensor and aluminium hollow-spoke wheels – the latter was a fi rst for a production car and reduced the weight at each corner, by 23 per cent at the front and 20 per cent at the rear. Shortly before the 993 Turbo’s production ended in model year 1998, Porsche launched its Turbo S derivative – unlike today where both models are launched at the same time.