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Porsche 911 (993) Buyers' Guide

Written by Peter Morgan


Model history/Timeline

The auto industry model year (MY) runs from August 1 to 31 July, so a 1998 model could have been produced between 1 August 1997 and 31 July 1998.

1994 MY: 80% new Type 993 Carrera (rear wheel drive only) launched with 272bhp, 3.6-litre, air cooled, flat-6 engine with 6-speed manual gearbox. Features include multi link rear suspension and British stylist Tony Hatter designed new look. Cabriolet version follows in March.

1995 MY: Carrera 4 (all wheel drive) released. New Carrera option is 4-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. From Feb '95, Carrera RS with 300bhp 3.8-litre engine. 911 Turbo (993) with 408bhp twin turbo 3.6-litre engine. 430bhp 993 GT2 limited edition (57 units, of which 7 in RHD)

1996 MY: 3.6-litre Carreras uprated to 285bhp and featuring Varioram inlet ducting. 911 Targa introduced with panoramic glass sliding roof. Carrera 4S features Carrera engine in Turbo bodyshell (including suspension and brakes) and special trims.

1997 MY: Carrera S has wide body look but without Turbo brakes and suspension. 21 units of the upgraded 450bhp GT2 Evo built.

1998 MY: Carrera and 4 production discontinued. Carrera S, 4S and Turbo (and including new 430bhp Turbo S) continue until mid-1998.


What's it like?

The 993 reinvented the concept and philosophy of the 911. Always an interim model while the 'new generation' Boxster and 996 models were in development, the 993 nonetheless succeeded beyond Porsche's wildest dreams. Success came as a result of its curvaceous good looks, new rear suspension and remarkable build quality (which subsequent 911 types were quite unable to match).

Decades on, the appeal of the 993 is also boosted because it represents the last 911 series to be powered by an air cooled flat-6 - the seemingly bullet proof Mezger Motor (after the design engineer who laid out the original power unit back in 1963).

Unlike a modern sports car, this is a classic that makes you adapt to it. The right hand drive cars have slightly offset pedals and the layout of the switches and stalks appears quite random. But it is a layout you soon learn to accept. To drive a 993 is a relative step back from an over-smoothed 996 or 997 and despite the power steering and brakes, it is a physical car to drive.

You really only note the performance focus when on the move, and then you will discover a lively throttle and an agility that the later cars simply don't have. By any measure this is a thoroughbred sports car.

Enthusiasts will look for a good Coupe, but the electrically operated roof of the Cabriolet is a joy for leisurely touring. Many chase after the Varioram models ('96-'98), but the secret is to keep your search to all the 993s with condition as the most important parameter. A pre-Varioram car might not have the ultimate snap overtaking mid-range thrust of the later model, but in most other ways, there is little difference.

The same largely applies to the choice between a Carrera or Carrera 4. The rear wheel drive car is more agile, but the C4 has it in terms of overall confidence in poor weather.

The Carrera's are fine for everyday use and particularly for long distance tours. The wide bodies have collector appeal and the Turbo's looks, but if you are looking for 993 value, look at the regular cars.

The Turbo is the most accomplished air cooled 911 Turbo of them all. It can be as docile as a Carrera in town and stunningly quick point to point. With the RS, we are moving into a 993 that is at home on track as on the road. This is a weekend 911 and while not as focused as some of the earlier faster 911s, it has taken on a life of its own in the collectible marketplace. The same can be said for the ultra rare, race focused GT2.


Which one should I get?

Driving a 993 is not difficult, but if you are used to a conventional premium saloon, initially you will find it either hard work or even plain uncomfortable. We paint this slightly negative image because the 993 is arguably the last in the line of Porsche's that were designed by engineers for sports car drivers - with little compromise.

Of course, that is the magic of the air cooled 911 and once converted, the 993 is an unmatched driver's car. All the model's have the revolutionary multi link rear suspension, which transformed the handling and, with ever better tyre technology, binned the old theories that the 911 is tail happy.

The regular Carrera or 4 are great cars whether Varioram or not, and this is not a car where appeal is driven by the extent of its factory option list (which is fairly limited).

The popular colours are the conservative dark metallics and silvers, with the solid colours being less sought after. However, we repeat it is condition that is the most important factor for a 993 - colour should be the icing on the cake. In period, black interiors were very popular (because they didn't show the grime so much), but today, a freshly restored Classic Grey takes some beating.

Buy a cabrio if you want open topped driving, but be ready for a murky cabin with the roof up, a fragile plastic window and restricted rear view with the roof down.

The majority of Carreras have manual gearboxes. The Tiptronic is an easy two pedal driver, but the torque converter does take a slight edge off the performance.


What are the running costs?

The key to acceptable running costs with a 993 comes down to the maintenance history. It is one (good) thing to have fluids like the engine oil and brake fluid changed at the prescribed intervals, but quite another if the car hasn't received proper maintenance to cope with wear and tear.

Like many older models, the 993 thrives on being driven and there have been several cars that have gone to 200K miles before any major engine work has become necessary. But cars that are stored or do very low mileages usually develop fluid leaks and can develop damaging corrosion in the suspension and engine ancillaries.

Tyres tend not to wear out on cherished cars that do little mileage, but perishing and ageing can occur. Consequently expect to be changing tyres (£750 + VAT) every 10 years or so and a similar interval for little used brakes (£1-1.2K +VAT). Clutches last a long time (perhaps 70K miles typically), while a replacement might cost £750-1K + VAT). While they all have a problem with it, cars with aircon will need perhaps £750-1K + VAT to get this working.

Other stored car issues include faulty switches (£varies), fixing oil leaks from lower cam covers(£20 + VAT each but perhaps £500 + VAT labour), replacing the double distributors and leads (£500 + VAT) and replacing a broken driver's door check strap (about £5-600 + VAT). The latter is often welded cheaply, but this is a short term fix that usually breaks again.

The front lower control arm bushes wear out at between 70-100K miles. These can be rebushed, but replacement arms cost £375 +VAT each. Similarly shock absorbers are well past their best after 15 years and a replacement set might cost £1K + VAT. All costs given are a guide only, dated 2016.


What should I look for?

A good 993 can often be identified by not having any creaks or rattles when driving (meaning it hasn't been dismantled). There shouldn't be signs of visible corrosion, particularly around the front and rear screen rims, rear bumper supports and damage caused by stone chipping. These can all be resolved, but can work out expensive sometimes. The doors should close without effort and open without the crack of a broken check strap. The most obvious sign of damage repair will be uneven panel gaps, particularly the bonnet and doors. Nevertheless, assessing repair status and quality is an expert job (and can affect the value significantly).

The flat-6 has a strong reputation and doesn't normally suffer from earlier issues such as broken cylinder head studs, defective flywheels or major oil leaks. It has become a routine fix to have to change out the lower cam cover gaskets however, as these shrink over time and allow moderate oil leakage.

As discussed earlier, stored and little used cars show a unique list of issues and while a relatively low mileage may be attractive, it's important to make sure everything works and that mechanically, the car is VOSA (MoT) test ready.

Whether you choose a Coupé or a Cabriolet is down to personal preference, but Cabriolets tend to be less well cared for than the closed cars. Cabriolet roofs need careful assessment as the mechanism can go out of adjustment (besides the roof material degrading and the window fogging or splitting).

The Targa has special appeal, but it's very important to make sure the roof mechanism works faultlessly before buying. Repair can be expensive. Check behind the door seals at the roof rail attachments to the windscreen for hidden rust.

The appeal of the Tiptronic is effortless two pedal driving, but while the transmission has been reliable, a noisy torque converter can spell trouble. The S models offer the wide body look, although many forget that the Carrera S doesn't have the Turbo's brakes and suspension like the 4S. The S was a cheaper car when new. These cars should be absolutely original, with no aftermarket bodykits.

The 993 has no shortage of faster models. The 993 Turbo has become the air cooled Turbo everybody wants, but selection requires great care as there are many cheaply restored examples about. The GT2 and RS models are rare specials that will appeal to collectors only. Authenticity and originality are vital for highest value and technical assessment requires an in depth understanding of both models.

Always try to drive the car before you buy. These are high performance cars and the ride, handling and performance may not suit you for various reasons.

If you don't have the experience to check the car out yourself, get a pre-purchase inspection expert to look at the car. They will advise on all aspects of the car's condition, what needs replacing now and in the short term and whether the car is valued correctly.


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