History of the 911
A Porsche 911 has always been my dream car, but Porsches don't come cheap. When I joined the Air Force in 1988, I began putting a small amount of money back each week for a down-payment on a future purchase. When I went to Air Force Officer Training School, I taped a picture of a 911SC inside my briefcase as motivation. By the time I graduated, my little down-payment had grown. Unfortunately, Tammy found my money and we decided to use it for a vacation instead. I continued to put money back, and my down-payment grew again. But when we moved to DC, our children needed new high-school appropriate furniture, so we spent it again. Undaunted, I kept my eye open for a inexpensive, used 911.
|901||1963 - 1964|
|912||1965 - 1969|
|911||1970 - 1974|
|930||1975 - 1988|
|964||1989 - 1994|
|993||1995 - 1998|
|996||1999 - 2004|
|997||2005 - 2011|
|991||2012 - 2019|
|992||2020 - present|
Porsche (pronounced por-SHA) Motor Werks AG has been building the 911 continuously since 1963. In the U.S., we identify a car body type by the generation number. Porsche uses Auftragsnummers or Order Numbers to track major changes in a model series. Even though they are all 911's, Auftragsnummers 912, 930, 964, 993, 996 represent the common body style. the Order Number 964 was given to the generation of Porsche 911's built from 1989 to 1994. (see the sidebar). The 964 represented the "modernization" of the 911 series and incorporated the newest of technology while still retaining the classic sports car "look and feel" of the original 911. Externally, the car had a wider body than the previous generation, with fender flares and lower body aerodynamic panels. The headlights were swept back and the bumpers were blended in to the body work.
The Model 964 came in two configurations: the Carrera-2 and the Carrera-4. The Carrera-2 was a rear-wheel drive model. The Carrera-4 was the first 911 with mechanical all-wheel drive and an electronic traction control system. The wheels normally received a power distribution of 40% power to the front and 60% power to the rear, but with the turn of a rotary switch on the center console, the axles could be locked in for true 4-wheel drive.
A second rotary switch on the console controlled another novelty of the 964: an active rear spoiler built in to the engine deck lid. At rest, the wing was flush with the deck lid, preserving the smooth design of the body. But once the car was moving faster than 30 mph, the wing would deploy to a raised position and retract again below 25 mph. The wing could also be raised manually from that second rotary switch on the center console.
The central console had two rotary dials which offered the driver control of the rear wing and the four-wheel drive system lock
The rear deck wing in the down position
Engine & Performance
The 3.6L Horizontally opposed flat-6
The 964 engine was a 3.6L (220 in3) horizontally opposed flat-6 cylinder, which generated 247 hp. Mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, it was enough power to propel the car from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds. An oddity of the 3.6L engine was that it had two distributors. The two distributors were synchronized with a geared rubber timing belt. I have no idea why it had or needed two distributors. The Model 964 was the last of the air-cooled rear-engine Porsches. The 3.6L powerplant had no radiator, but the term "air-cooled" is a misnomer. Although the engine fan constantly pulled air air across the engine, the majority of cooling was done by the lubrication system. The 964 had an extra-large capacity oil reservoir and an auxiliary oil cooler. The oil cooler was located at the front of the car in the passenger's side front fender well. The oil reservoir was in the right rear wheel well. The engine itself held about 2 quarts of oil, but the entire oil system capacity, including the reservoir and cooler, was a little over 3 gallons (12½ quarts).
Because the oil is so important to an air-cooled engine, three of the seven dash gauges monitored the oil
The dashboard had a cluster of five bezels. The largest and most prominent was the tachometer. It shared space with the turn indicators. To the right was the speedometer-odometer-trip odometer. The speedometer read to 180 mph. To the far right was a clock. Because the oil system was so critical to the life of the engine, there were three gauges dedicated to monitoring the oil. To the left of the tachometer were two bezels housing a fuel gauge, oil level, oil temperature, and oil pressure gauges. The four gauges shared space with a mix of warning lights. The unusual oil-cooling system had an accompanying unusual method of operation. When the vehicle is in motion, the oil is circulating through the engine, cooling the cylinders and lubricating parts. At this time, there is little or no oil in the reservoir; it is all in the engine or the cooler. The Temperature and pressure gauge will read normal, but the oil level gauge will show very low (almost empty). This was very disconcerting to me at first, and I had some not-so-kind thoughts about the seller. Before I could get the car home, I called to ask him about it and he explained the workings of the Porsche oiling system: The pressure is measured in the engine, the level is taken in the rservoir, and the temperature is taken at the cooler. When in motion, the oil level is low because the oil is not in the reservoir where the level is measured. It's in the engine doing its job. Once the car comes to a rest, the oil is returned to the reservoir, so the oil level gauge reads normal, but then the pressure gauge will drop to critical.
There's an automotive joke that asks, "What's the difference in a BMW and a cactus?" Well, forgive my language, but the answer is: "The prick is on the outside of a cactus." Well, BMW drivers may be pricks, but Porsche salesmen are big piles of feces. When I finally started to seriously shop for a Porsche, I stopped at several local dealers in the metro DC area. I wanted to find a inexpensive, older but reliable used Porsche. Knowing Porsche owners are typically meticulous with their cars, I was looking for one ten to 15 years old. The Dealers did not carry anything older than three years. I asked the salesmen if they would notify me if they received an older-model trade-in. Most flat-out were not interested in helping me and walked away. The only one who even gave me any consideration showed me a wrecked and un-driveable older model Turbo. They were asking over $50,000 for it. Another dealer had me write my contact information down, but I saw him throw it in the trash as I left the dealership.
The car as advertised on eBay
I finally found a used 911, reasonably priced, on . It was located in Central Virginia, so I took a drive out to look at it. The air conditioning was not working, but the body had no rust and everything else worked. The owner took me on a ride down a country road that scared me to death. I wanted it. I had to leave it behind temporarily while I arranged financing. $20,000 later, I was driving it home.
My Porsche in front of Glenmore Mansion in Jefferson City
Receiving the "People's Choice" Award at a local car show.
Me and my son participating in a Porsche Club "Poker Run"
I enjoyed the Porsche more than any other car I have owned. It was FUN. I registered with the Porsche Owner's Club and drove several road events with my children. We got to put the top down and cruise to places we would not have normally visited. In DC, we had an impressive line up of 20 or so 911's traveling South through Manassas when we passed a sister club of Ferrari's headed North. The Porsche's flat 6 loved high RPMs. It could go from 0 to 70 mph with only one gear change. I loved leaving the "Fast and Furious" set looking like they were parked at the traffic light. I was fast and they were furious. One time, while traveling through New Market, Tennessee, a fellow in a modified Hyundai pulled next to me. He had a wing and one of these "bumblebee" mufflers. He rolled down his window and yelled across at me, "Is that car fast?" I responded, "You tell me." and dropped it into second gear. With my foot to the floor, he was just a speck in my mirror in just a second or two. Eventually, he caught up with me and gave me a "thumbs up".
The car HANDLED LIKE A DREAM. The Porsche handling was rock solid even up to 105 mph (the fastest I have ever driven. I could burn down a winding road at 60 mph, hitting 90 on a long straight. My goal was to thrill my passenger to the point of fear. It worked. One such soul said,"I'm sorry, but I think my butt-cheeks tore the leather upholstery off your seat."
Many rode once, few rode twice.
I entered my 964 in several local car shows and won several awards.
My Porsche 964 was BEAUTIFUL. Everyone knew it was a Porsche 911, they didn't have to ask. I discovered from the VIN coding that my 964 was originally silver. It had been repainted metallic gold at some point, probably when it had a new roof put on. I entered it in two car shows and won a prize in each. I never pulled in to the garage without s smile on my face.
Where Is It Today?
The Porsche was not without problems. One time on the interstate, the clutch dropped to the floor leaving me unable to shift gears. I tried to shift to neutral, but couldn't. I pulled off in high gear and killed the engine. Unable to start the engine in high gear, I debated who I could call. Then as suddenly as it quit, it worked again and I was able to get home. It never repeated that episode. What did repeat was a constant, incurable battery drain. I put several batteries in and eventually installed a cut-off switch to save the battery when parked. While working on the cooling fans, I broke an air conditioning line and let all the freon escape. The odometer and speedometer quit and I replaced it with a used one. One side of the cloth top frame failed to unlock when lowering the roof and the B pillar snapped. I took it off and had it welded back together, but I never got the frame back together correctly. Meanwhile the cable on the roof motor broke. The final end came when I had surgery to remove an aneurysm in 2015. It left me semi-paralyzed in the left leg and I could no longer press the clutch in. I sold the car to a man from Northern Virginia who never even saw it.