Tech Tips: 1984-’89 Porsche 911 Carrera

Photos courtesy Porsche

David S. Wallens, our editorial director, has been living with a 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera for several years. His ownership experience provides the backdrop for a project car series. These 1984-’89 Carreras marry that cool, old-school vibe with just enough modern touches. Prices have been on the rise lately, too.

These cars feature galvanized bodies. While they can corrode if neglected, rust generally isn’t a major problem. Here’s a way to enjoy an old-school Porsche without constantly worrying about rust.

Coupes command higher prices than Targas and Cabriolets. Porsche made a lot of bright-red 911s, so today the unusual colors also bring in more money. 

Depending on the fashions of the day, many 911s have been either updated or backdated. Right now, there’s a growing trend to backdate the Carrera by adding a long hood, installing matching front fenders, and replacing the body-colored bumpers with the chrome ones. Like the 911SC that preceded it, the Carrera came with nicely flared fenders. When backdated with the long hood, suddenly an ’80s-era Carrera resembles the famed 1973 Porsche 911RS–or perhaps another special model offered back in the day. 

Where the ’70s and early-’80s Porsche 911 came with Bosch CIS injection, the Carrera received Bosch Motronic injection. It’s a more precise system that manages both fuel delivery and ignition timing. The system has proved to be reliable, and replacement parts are still available.

The 1984-’86 Carrera came with the 915 gearbox, while the G50 appeared for the 1987 model year. The 915 box provides a nice, old-school feel. The G50 shifts more smoothly, but some say it neuters the car a bit. It’s also heavier than the 915. At the end of the day, though, the G50 cars collect a premium of a grand or so.

Sloppy shifter? Replace the bushings. Depending on the transmission type, you’re looking at about $25 or $35 for the entire set.

Cylinder head studs can break, and replacing them involves removing the heads. Other than that, these 3.2-liter bottom ends can deliver decades of service. (By the way, the ARP cylinder head studs are beautiful.)

The oil tank’s drain plug uses a giant sealing ring, and you’re not going to find one locally. Whenever you’re ordering parts, add a few to your tab. They’re about a quarter each.

Sometimes replacement parts can cost less than expected. The seals for the rear turn signals are still available–and for about $15 each. 

The OE tie rods feature a rubber damper that only numbs steering feel. The 911 Turbo, however, didn’t get these dampers; as a result, it features crisper steering. Updating a 1969-’89 Porsche 911 to these Turbo tie rods costs less than $200 total.

If you want to install Koni shock absorbers, you’ll need the front strut housings from a car originally so equipped from the factory. 

The Carrera came from the factory with wider wheels in the back. Don’t fret, though. Last time we checked, Tire Rack showed more than 40 different models that work with the staggered 16-inch setup.

Since the 911 is a unique animal, Porsche has worked with several tire companies to develop rubber that’s properly tuned for the chassis’ rearward weight balance. These tires will carry an N-specification number–N1 or N2, for example. There’s extra engineering in those tires, but in some cases the price difference is minimal.

The plastic interior door handles are known to eventually break. The replacements are only about $15 each, but Rennline offers aluminum ones in black or silver for $75 per pair. 

For a while there, the Bosch distributor caps were on back order. They’re now available, but we still keep a spare handy. Likewise, keep a spare DME relay and a spare fuel pump relay in the glove box. They don’t fail often, but they can be hard to find in the field.

You don’t buy an air-cooled 911 for the cold a/c, but the aftermarket offers updates and modern solutions. 

To replace the clutch, you have to drop the engine. In fact, many major repairs require engine removal. Fortunately, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Electricity for the headlights is routed through the high-beam stalk, causing a common failure. A new stalk assembly runs about $125. For about $45, JWest Engineering offers an easy-to-install relay kit that reroutes the power. 

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View comments on the CMS forums
russde New Reader
9/12/19 12:31 p.m.

That first picture! THAT'S what I envision when I hear 'Porsche'

930TR6 New Reader
9/13/19 8:29 a.m.

Long time owner here.  Currently drive an 86 930.


two comments on above tips.


1.  First mod a new owner should do is the headlight relay mod, which you can do with two Bosch relays for less than $10.  This saves the hi/low switch, which is getting pricey.  (But a stuck hi/low switch can usually be repaired by using a small flat file on the contacts.)


2. Shifter bushings.  They are made of plastic, and the center bore gets oval shaped over time.  Pelican sells brass ones for the rear shifter u joint.  Recommended.


if you are going to drive these cars in hot weather, consider a fan for the oil cooler, either thermostatic or manual.  The cars do fine at highway speeds when it’s really hot out, but if you get stuck unexpectedly in traffic, the oil temp will rise and you cannot do anything about it.  Having had 4 911s (two turbos) I just leave the car at home if outside temps > 90F.

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