Window Shopper: Porsche 964


Written by David S. Wallens

From the May 2017 issue

Posted in Buyer's Guides

For the first quarter-century of its existence, the Porsche 911 simply evolved with a tweak here and an update there. Then came a gigantic update for 1989. All of that goodness must command a premium, right? Here’s the shocker: These are some of today’s best deals on an air-cooled 911.

Enthusiasts now refer to these 1989–’94 Porsches by their 964 internal chassis code, but technically they had new model designations: The all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4 arrived first in 1989, followed by the two-wheel-drive Carrera 2 the following year.

What was new with these 964s? Almost everything. From the outside, even a casual observer could pick out some of the big changes, like the smooth front and rear bumper covers as well as a rear spoiler that extended and retracted automatically.

The 964 also received new wheels, as Porsche replaced the classic five-spoke Fuchs with modern alloys that sported much less dish. Why the new look? Because behind those wheels lay an entirely new suspension, one that required less offset. After years of relying upon torsion bars front and rear, the 911 followed just about everyone else in the automotive world and moved to coil springs.

The modernizing continued inside. The pedals no longer sprouted from the floor, but hung beneath the dashboard as in most all other modern cars. Driver- and passenger-side airbags plus a full-length center console helped make this 911 feel less like a VW Beetle and more like its contemporaries. The new air conditioning worked better than its predecessors, too.

Then there were the performance upgrades: Anti-lock brakes came standard, while engine displacement grew from 3.2 liters to 3.6, boosting engine output from 214 horsepower to 247. The standard transmission was a five-speed stick, but Carrera 2 customers could also select the Tiptronic automatic.

The 964 ran through the 1994 model year, with the lineup eventually adding coupe, Targa and convertible models. Porsche also released some special performance variants, including 701 copies of their lightweight RS America. A few years ago these were a deal; today, well, budget at least six figures for an okay one.

The rest of the 964 lineup isn’t so dear, though. Hagerty says that $30,000 should buy you a good Carrera 2 coupe–an updated take on a timeless classic.

Shopping Advice

Lou Verdiales owns Aero Dynamics, a Porsche repair shop located in Daytona Beach, Florida. He regularly works on 911 models of all years and types.

Thanks to the one-piece, energy-absorbing bumpers, damage can be hard to spot. Be careful with Northern cars, as corrosion can damage many of the underbody components like fluid lines, suspension parts, etc.

Verify that the ABS, air bags and climate control are operational with functional warning light annunciation. On these systems, some replacement parts are becoming difficult to find.

A common air-conditioning issue is a leaking evaporator. Check heat and defrost systems, too, as the electrical servo control can fail. The auxiliary blower on the upper-left part of the engine compartment should be operational. A failed motor can cause several issues in the HVAC system.

Many of the interior accessories are worth checking: power windows, sunroof, and cabrio top if equipped. Repairs to the convertible top can be expensive, so perform an operational check. Inspect the retractable rear spoiler for both automatic and manual operation.

On all-wheel-drive cars, check the system for normal operation. Parts for these systems are very difficult to find. Perform a road test to confirm the brake and suspension systems, as worn-out components and improper alignment are common issues.

The seals in the chain housing area and the valve cover’s rubber gaskets are problem areas. I recommend draining the oil for inspection of the drain plug magnets. Inspect the cooling fan and housing, too, as these are magnesium and may need replacement because of corrosion and cracks. Verify that the twin-distributor belt is operational and that the ventilation hose upgrade has been performed. Inspect the exhaust system for condition and alterations, as any dents or deformations can be an indication of a rear-end impact.

Use either a Bosch “hammer” tool or a Durametric program with the supplied round adapter as diagnostic aids for these engines.

This story ran in an old issue of Classic Motorsports. Want to make sure you’re reading all the latest stories? Subscribe now.


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Reader comments:

Lugnut Dork
May 25, 2017 9:22 a.m.

I'm such a fan of the 964. I actually prefer it (styling-wise) to the 993. I think I'm one of nine people in the world with that opinion!

Mrs. Lugnut doesn't want to ride in cars without passenger airbags and I want a traditional, removable-roof Targa, so a 964 is my only option. But I can't believe how the cost of these cars has gone up! Five or six years ago, I passed on a nice white '94 C2 Targa because I didn't have the $18k handy to buy it. Now, you can't touch that car for less than $40k!

I love the silver roll hoop on this one.

Vigo UltimaDork
May 25, 2017 7:56 p.m.

Driving a 964 is the main reason i got a 996. Not because i didn't like the 964, but unlike it's owner i didn't happen to get in right before the market exploded. I ended up shopping 996s for the same money he'd spent on the 964.

In reality the 996 is a substantially better car for me, but it lacks a LOT of what made driving the 964 seem so special.

Ricky Spanish
May 26, 2017 11:05 a.m.

Prices on these are bonkers right now because all the stance-tards are snatching them up and ruining them with bags and notched frames.

Slippery SuperDork
May 26, 2017 11:27 a.m.

In reply to Ricky Spanish:


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