Porsche Index: 964 RS - Our comprehensive assessment of the hottest 964 looks at five-year values, common issues, and buying tips from industry experts. While the 964 generation brought modernity to the Neunefler, the RS was a chance to sample it in a purer form. Sought after then and now, here’s everything you need to know. Written by Chris Randall. Photography by Daniel Pullen.
964 RS ULTIMATE BUYER’S GUIDE FOR 2020
HISTORY AND SPEC
igh-on two decades had passed since the launch of the legendary 2.7RS, but by the early 1990s it was the turn of the 964 to wear those two special letters. Unsurprisingly it was the lure of the race track that sired the new model, the RS being the homologation car for the Carrera Cup series. Naturally this was a far more focused model, one launched at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show and limited to just 2,282 examples, although it’s worth noting that the initial reception was somewhat lukewarm, with the very subtle appearance and minor power increase most likely responsible. Still, the majority of the cars were produced in Sport specification – marketed as Lightweight in the UK – which was aimed at both road and club racing use; aside from the even more hardcore track cars such as the N/GT, the alternative was the more luxurious Touring. This was a rarity, most buyers parting with the requisite £64,000 wanting to benefit fully from the weight-saving regime that Porsche had employed, one that was claimed to reduce weight by ten per cent compared to a Carrera 2.
Beneath a seam-welded body shell the diet included an aluminium luggage compartment lid, thinner glass and a 92-litre plastic fuel tank in place of the standard steel item. Lightweight cars ditched any pretence of interior luxury and made do with the thinnest of carpeting, the likes of manual windows and locking, a lighter wiring harness and no underseal, reducing the corrosion warranty from ten to three years. The result was a car weighing a claimed 1,230kg compared to 1,300kg if you opted for the plusher Touring. This was Porsche doing what it did best, paring back the 911 for those that wanted to experience it in its rawest form.
However, the engine would differ relatively little compared to its C2/C4 siblings, the same 3.6-litre M64/03 unit being employed, but with just a few subtle changes. Power was officially increased to 260hp courtesy of a reprogrammed ECU, although in reality a few more horses were probably released by a more careful approach to component weight and assembly. Drive was sent to the rear wheels via a single-mass flywheel and the Carrera 2’s gearbox – albeit with revised ratios and stronger synchromesh – and a limited-slip differential.
But, given the RS’s track aspirations, it is no surprise that the suspension and brakes benefitted from more wide-ranging alterations. The former gained uni-ball top mountings for the front struts, added bracing and greater use of cast aluminium, and the ride height was lowered by 40mm. And despite the modest increase in power and lighter weight, the brakes were uprated with cross-drilled and ventilated 964 Turbo discs, four-piston calipers all round, and ABS. UK cars also retained hydraulic assistance for the rack-and-pinion steering, left-hand- drive models making do with a manual set-up. Finally, the RS was treated to a set of 17-inch Cup 91 wheels fashioned from magnesium alloy.
THE VALUES STORY
There was a time when an RS was a relatively affordable way to enjoy the thrills of a Rennsport car on track, and plenty of owners did just that. Of course, those days have long since passed, helped by the fact that values peaked at around a quarter of a million pounds, but things have cooled a little over the last year or two. That, of course, is in line with other areas of the 911 market, but if you take the Lightweight – which is what most of the original, and indeed today’s buyers wanted – then you can expect to part with £150,000 to £200,000. That’s the view of Greig Daly from RPM Technik, and it’s one that JZM’s Russ Rosenthal agrees with, adding that while values have certainly settled back over the last couple of years they are now proving to be pretty stable. Mileage and condition clearly play their part in the final price tag, but £175,000 does seem to represent something of a sweet spot when it comes to the 964 RS. The notably rarer and more richly specified Touring demands a higher premium.
THREE YEAR VALUES (£)
CATEGORY 4 CATEGORY 3 CATEGORY 2 CATEGORY 1
NOV '19 143,000 172,000 191,000 220,000
MAY '19 143,000 172,000 191,000 220,000
MAR '18 143,000 172,000 191,000 220,000
OCT '17 143,000 172,000 191,000 220,000
NOV '16 140,000 189,000 208,000 254,000
MAY '16 130,000 159,000 221,000 290,000
The figures are courtesy of the Hagerty Price Guide Data, from Hagerty classic car insurance. Data is for the UK market only and includes auction activity, classic dealer prices plus reports by willing clients insured through the business. The cars are separated according to condition, as follows:
4 Fair A driving car with MOT (if relevant) and on the road. Slightly rough round the edges but not a restoration case.
3 Good Good standard, fresh paint, good mechanicals, mainly original.
2 Excellent Completely original or very well restored. Local club award winner.
1 Concours Very high-quality restoration or total originality. Usually the best one in the country. For more information on price guides and valuations visit hagertyinsursance.co.uk.
Tempting as this car is, the budget required for a good one does introduce some rather interesting alternatives to the picture. Each of our choices sticks with the air-cooled theme, and whether you want a pure driving experience or outright power, they certainly all deliver.
Being the last air-cooled 911 to bear the Rennsport badge undoubtedly adds to this car’s appeal, but it has far more going for it than mere history. Its rawness is truly thrilling, and then there’s the matter of the 3.8-litre motor slung out back; with 300hp, it was also the first flat six to feature VarioRam.
This is a wonderful blend of compact 964 looks and scintillating pace. With 360bhp, the 0-62mph sprint is despatched in just 4.8 seconds, but there’s more than just outright speed on offer. Stunning looks and a lavish specification complete a very alluring package.
Even rarer than the 964 RS, there’s no doubt that stepping back a generation presents the opportunity to experience that same weight-saving ethos. The pared-back interior and modest level of mechanical improvement mirror the RS, and it’s worth noting that you could enjoy it for notably less money.
The 993’s combination of classic looks and everyday usability is still a huge draw, but should you want to experience this generation with sledgehammer performance then look no further. Thanks to a twin-turbocharged 408hp, it is blisteringly quick by any measure.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
We’ve experienced the RS on a number of occasions, and even when compared to later iterations of the breed we’ve come away hugely impressed by its abilities. It may not be quite as polished as its successors, but the rawness remains a key part of its appeal, and as a result it is very engaging. Accompanied by a great noise – the lack of sound-deadening really cranks up the aural drama – the razor-sharp throttle response means you can make use of every part of the 260bhp, and the 964’s lack of mass really tells. While it lacks the ballistic pace of later iterations, the steering is beautifully weighted and communicative, though it’s matched to damping that is notably stiff – some say too stiff for road use, which is the 964 RS's main sticking point.
BELOW Interior really sets the 964 RS apart visually from its Carrera siblings. Colour-coded Recaro Pole Positions are a notable feature.
Given how popular – and capable – the RS was for circuit use, it’s that aspect that should be at the forefront of any checks. The threat of contact with Armco barriers was ever present, so pay careful attention to the body shell: incorrect panel gaps, paint mismatches and signs of welded repairs are obvious worries, and it would be wise to check for any damage beneath. Scrutinise the depths of the luggage compartment and engine bay for any creased metalwork, and remember that body parts unique to the RS aren’t cheap: a rear bumper is around £1,300, while £2,100 is needed to replace the aluminium luggage compartment lid.
Cherished examples shouldn’t be suffering from corrosion, but scrutinise the wings and screen surrounds to be certain. There is the issue of fakes, though. It isn’t especially difficult to create a replica that looks okay from a distance, so while visual checks for RS-specific components such as bumpers, wheels and thinner glass is a starting point, be prepared to dig much deeper into the history and provenance. At the very least check the VIN number, which should have ‘N’ and ‘9’ as the 10th and 13th characters respectively. Buying from a reputable specialist should negate these concerns, but get the car checked if you’ve any doubts.
Engine-wise, it’s the usual 964 concerns such as oil leaks and broken or corroded cylinder head studs, and a rebuild is likely to set you back in the region of £15k. And don’t assume a very low mileage car avoids problems – they could easily have been hard track miles. As for the rest of the mechanicals an unimpeachable maintenance history will put your mind at rest, but look for any issues with the brakes or suspension caused by lack of use.
A major overhaul of either isn’t cheap – a air of front dampers or a new brake caliper are both almost £1,000 – and it can lead to ABS faults that don’t illuminate a warning light, so you’ll want to be certain it actually works on the road. Lastly, the magnesium wheels are no longer available new, so check that the correct ones are fitted – some owners fit alternatives to protect the originals, so be sure they are included in the sale – and watch for or quality refurbishment.
You won’t be surprised to discover that this particular element has less relevance for a model as focused as this one. It boils down to a choice between Touring and Lightweight, although with the latter by far the most prevalent and desirable you may have to search hard for one endowed with greater creature comforts. Perhaps the only real area of choice is colour, with Porsche offering a limited palette including favourites such as Guards red, Grand Prix white, silver and black. All of those suit the compact lines of the RS, but RPM Technik’s Greig Daly does say that it’s worth considering the alternative hues of Amethyst, Rubystone or Maritime blue – it’s a matter of personal preference.
ABOVE M64 engine only had a 10hp boost on paper, but the reality was a more crisp, urgent delivery of power.
ABOVE Gearbox was taken from 964 C2/C4, albeit with revised ratios.
INVESTMENT POTENTIAL & OWNERSHIP EXPERIENCE
The current uncertainty in the market makes it very hard to predict where values might head over the next couple of years, but look longer term and Greig Daly is convinced that they are only heading upwards. That shouldn’t really come as any surprise, the purity of a car like this one becoming increasingly desirable as the Neunelfer becomes ever more complex. It’s a view echoed by Russ Rosenthal, who sees the 964 RS as a solid future investment. He also adds another interesting point, highlighting the potential of the American market that was realised by the ability to import cars more than 25 years old. Originally denied the RS in its European form – they were offered the less-focused 964 America instead – the appeal to US buyers is another reason why values were kept buoyant. As for ownership, it really shouldn’t prove too onerous as long as you buy a superb example to begin with, and maintain it. Of course, the question is whether its value precludes an owner from ever experiencing its immense talents on the track. Not doing so would be a shame, if somewhat inevitable, but if you can avoid the temptation then we can’t see anyone ever tiring of this car’s talents on the road…
“The purity of a car like this one the most emphatic of answers. becomes increasingly desirable”
It’s a cliché, but this RS really does feel like more than the sum of its parts. Yes, the brake and suspension revisions add another layer of engagement to the driving experience, but those areas aside you’re really only looking at a small power increase and the removal of equipment. Yet the reality is that it seems to represent the very essence of Porsche’s lightweight philosophy, albeit one re-imagined for the 1990s. Following the 2.7 RS was never going to be easy, but in being simple, focused and hugely entertaining, this iteration of the 964 was a winning recipe. This generation may have marked the 911’s first tentative steps into modernity, but for anyone worried that Porsche had forgotten its Rennsport roots, this was the most emphatic of answers.
THANKS The example in our pictures is for sale at JZM. For more information call +44 (0) 1923 269788 or visit jzmporsche.com