Calling the last of the single-turbo 911s a thug might be a trifle harsh, but even the relatively refined 964 was a challenging car to manage for anyone but the less than the truly talented. Its adoption of the Weissach Axle, a device pioneered in the 928, softened its edges somewhat, but it wasn’t until the combination of that predictable rear suspension setup with four driven wheels and two turbos that the 911 became the all-weather supercar that it is today.
The First Step Towards Stability
Before the 993 brought additional tech, the foundation for a friendlier 911 was laid with the Weissach Axle in the 964. This pivoting link, helped by a radially elasticated bushing in the outer mounting, became what is now known as the Weissach Axle. This helped to reverse the semi-trailing arms proclivity to toe out under lateral loads—the foible largely responsible for the car’s intimidating reputation. Too much toe out at higher speeds, worsened by dramatic weight transfer and engine braking, would pitch the 930 into an abrupt slide. While this characteristic is controllable in the hands of experienced drivers, the general public couldn’t be expected to handle such a nervous machine.
So, with reduced lift-off oversteer, the 964 Turbo became a more predictable sports car. However, to make it a true all-weather supercar it required two bits of tech which appeared in the 993 variant: twin-turbocharging and four-wheel drive.
Softer Lines, Softer Edges
Unlike the complicated sequential system found in the 959, the 993 Turbo’s twin-turbocharging system operated two KKK K16 turbines in parallel. Compact, symmetrical, and capable of generating tremendous boost pressure, they were perfect for the application. The 3.6-liter engine provided enough displacement to spool these snails quite quickly; at just 2,500 rpm, the motor produced 331 lb-ft of torque. That figure swelled to a maximum of 398 lb-ft at its 6,800-rpm redline.
That and its 402 horsepower were easily harnessed by the four-wheel drive, meaning this sleek beauty reached outrageous speeds in an effortless fashion. After an assertive launch, the 993 Turbo reached 60 in 4.5 seconds and continued onto its top speed of 170 miles per hour. Certainly no slouch, even with a more luxurious character. The former fire-breather had been refined into something capable, civilized, and reassuring.
Never before had a car harnessed such performance in such a quiet, unassuming way. Though this generation retained the air-cooled arrangement, it set the stage for the modern 911 Turbos: cars which provide surreal levels of performance without fuss or worry.