I think Ayrton Senna drove a Porsche 911 as private transport at one point whilst he was with us.
I wanted to do the same.
Don’t get me wrong – my driving – is to ‘the great man’ what the Isle of Man is to world rugby!
Heading for my retirement, however, after nearly 26 years at Porsche Centre Hatfield, as well as working with Porsche in Hertfordshire and North London, I knew I wanted a 911 for “therapeutic reasons” when I retired.
The question was – which one?
The Porsche 993 was the one for me!
I found one with the help of one of the guys, Tony, at the Porsche Centre in Hatfield. He knew of a car which had sat around for a bit, but he thought it was a good car.
Del Smith and Gary Barnes, our two top technicians (who were incidentally recognised by Porsche Cars Great Britain as the two top guys nationally over many years) checked the car over mechanically for me, road tested it and gave me a detailed list of their opinion on all the mechanical factors of the car. Both were delighted how well the car felt and performed on the road, recommending it mechanically as an extremely good example.
Afterwards, I arranged for our then Approved Porsche Repairers, “Fastlane Paint and Body” in St. Albans to have a look at it for me.
They checked the car over, prior to my buying it, to ensure that it was original and had not been involved in any nasty accidents.
The boys gave it a clean bill of health, and they were as enthusiastic as I was about the basic condition of the car.
They subsequently set about refurbishing the bodywork, and I must say the end product was like all their work – first-rate, and as close as you could get to the original finish on the car. Fantastic!
Indeed, we had the car on display at Porsche Centre Hatfield for quite a while prior to my retirement and it received many complimentary remarks.
What was my thinking behind this purchase, and why did I go for a 993?
(993 stands for the factory code for this particular 911 model, which they produced between 1994 and 1997).
Well, it was the last 911 produced for production with an air-cooled engine (similar to the original car), so I always felt that from a purist’s point of view the, “the mould had been broken” from that model onwards with the advent of water-cooled engines and Japanese-inspired production methodology.
I also remember from the original factory launch, when we drove the cars in the Highlands of Scotland – the fantastic engagement that the car gave the driver.
It’s predecessor, the 964, had been launched in a 4-wheel drive guise to begin with, and without doubt, the driving of these early cars coloured my judgment on 964’s. While that car itself was technically extremely innovative compared with what had come before it, I think the 4-wheel drive balance on these early cars did not do a lot for driver involvement.
The 993, however, has character in spades. The flexibility of the engine was a marvel in its day – what other super car of its day could also go around a roundabout in 4th gear at 15 mph and pull away without hesitation?
(…not that I’m recommending this as best practice!)
The car also had some “modern” features which appealed to me. For instance, it was equipped with power steering, ABS, ground effect, and more.
I know the previous model, the 964 had these features as well, but from a UK perspective, the model was introduced during the late 80’s, and the recession in the early 90’s. Most of those new cars sat around in compounds for years before they were sold, resulting in all sorts of issues caused by the lack of use and static storage. This was caused as a direct result of Porsche’s then “loose” customer ordering system. More on this another time.
Furthermore, when the 993 was being developed, the factory for the first time spoke to their 911 database and asked them what they wanted to see in the next 911 model.
Unsurprisingly, they found that their average age at that time was closer to 50 that 30 so they wanted a less severe ride (- suffering from bad backs and all that.) Hence the clever multi-link rear suspension set up, which eats up the bumps and gives much less road noise ( you can even hear the radio – honest!)
Also, coming out of a recession, customers said they wanted lower servicing costs, so with the 993 the tappets need no annual adjustments this making servicing costs a little less than its predecessor.
They also wanted some curves back as the 964 was felt to be a bit flat sided and dull looking.
And boy does the 993 look good.
Easily the most beautiful of all 911’s in my humble opinion, with beautifully curved wheel arches front and rear which set the pulse going.
Not too wide, not too long, therefore easy to park and manoeuvre.
The performance is more than adequate to stimulate my current cardio vascular region. Indeed, recently I had the opportunity to stretch its legs and I can confirm being amazed at how stable and safe the car felt reaching the mid 100’s!
The ground effect squashes the car down onto the road and you can feel the car get heavier the faster you go.
It reminded me of what I used to tell customers who were new to the brand – that you will really appreciate a Porsche at speed.
Many “high performance” cars get nervous at high speed. A Porsche gets comfortable – because it’s properly engineered for the job.
This driver, however, who at times thinks he is still that young, fit, rugby player who could take on anyone or anything – was a jabbering, weak at the knees, toilet-seeking pensioner after the run.
But I know what it can do now and am happy to enjoy the car for what it was, and still is.
The Porsche 993, a wonderful super car which anyone can easily drive, day in – day out – even me!