Buyers’ Guide: Porsche 993 Turbo and Turbo S. Last of the air-cooled 911 Turbos. End of a turbo era. The 993 was the last of the air-cooled 911s, which makes the 993 Turbo the last of the air-cooled Turbo 911s. It’s also the most sophisticated of the air-cooled cars, too, mixing twin turbos with a permanent four-wheel drive system. Typically of the 911 Turbo it mixed performance and practicality for the ultimate Super 911.
BUYERS’ GUIDE: PORSCHE 993 TURBO
It’s ironic that while the 911 993, launched in late 1993, is lauded by many enthusiasts as the last “real”, uncompromised 911 generation, the turbocharged version was also the first truly high tech 911 Turbo. It was the first model with twin turbos, and the first to come as standard with the added traction of four-wheel-drive.
The Turbo arrived two years into the 993’s life, by which time Zuffenhausen had decided that the future lay in extending the appeal of its cars beyond the traditional Porsche enthusiast, reaching out to the likes of BMW and Mercedes drivers; the water-cooled Boxster and 996 were poised for launch. The car was announced in early 1995, seen in the metal at the Geneva motor show in March, and on sale shortly after.
Even by the high standards of air-cooled 911s, the 993 Turbo has become an auction room superstar, along with other GT models of the 1990s such as the RS and GT2, fetching huge prices; for example RM Sotheby’s sold a 1998 example with 24,400 miles from a private collection for £313,600 in September 2016.
It’s now 20 years since the last 993 Turbo was made, and although most will now be cosseted in garages and collections, there are still problems to look out for when buying. Here we guide you through them.
Like its predecessor, the Turbo used a wide-bodied shell and its curvaceous rear wing was fixed in position, rather than automatically lifting and lowering depending on road speed, as does the Carrera’s. The 993 Turbo not surprisingly pushed out the envelope of Porsche power: with a KKK turbocharger and intercooler for each cylinder bank, lightened pistons and crankshaft, and a revised Bosch Motronic system the 3.6-litre, two-valve engine gave 408bhp and 398lb ft of torque at 4500rpm, up 13 and four per cent respectively over the later 964 Turbo.
Like the normal 993, the Turbo used a six-speed manual gearbox, and the torquesplit of the four-wheel drive transmission is, naturally, rear biased. Handsome 18-inch alloy wheels wore 225/40 tyres at the front and at the time almost rubber-band-thin aspect ratio 285/30s at the rear. There was more than enough space between the five spokes to see the oversized drilled brake discs and big red calipers.
The UK price back in 1995 was an eye watering £92,000, over £30,000 more than a Carrera 4, and by the end of production it was listed at £98,000 – actually more than the 996 Turbo would be when launched. But at least the standard UK spec was pretty much all you needed: metallic paint, air-conditioning, leather (cloth was a no-cost option), and comprehensive interior equipment.
But Porsche could probably have charged what it liked for the car, given the strength of demand. It continued in production for a year after the 996 arrived, total output standing at around 8000 by 1998 (the obvious reason for it being so sought after was the lack of a 996 Turbo, which arrived for the 2000 model year).
Most would agree that the 993 Turbo is a truly gorgeous looker. With its bulging arches, side skirts and spoilers it’s even more of an eyeful than the handsome standard 993, but at the same time it remains elegant, and even quite subtle compared to the full-on style of the 964 and 930 Turbos.
And in the usual Porsche Turbo style of the time, there’s very little inside to remind you that the car you were about to drive off in had around half as much power and torque again as the normally aspirated 993. The seats looked the same, as did the fascia. There’s a boost gauge built into the rev counter, but it’s a rather feeble digital affair, almost as it Porsche didn’t want you to notice it.
Porsche made the X50 power upgrade available, its recalibrated ECU increasing power to 424bhp. In 1998, as a swansong 993 model, the 911 Turbo S was introduced, costing just under £30,000 more and built in small numbers. The engine was retuned for 443bhp at 6000rpm and 431lb ft torque at 4500rpm, while a double spoiler adorned the tail, the front spoiler had extra air vents, and the brake calipers were painted yellow.
DRIVING THE 993 TURBO
If you’re expecting fireworks when the ignition key is twisted, disappointment may result. The engine bursts into life enthusiastically but settles down to a normal 911 tickover. The clutch is light, the gearshift easy, and so far it’s like any other 993.
Hence the Turbo is completely untemperamental to drive in traffic. Indeed, when cruising around on half throttle it doesn’t feel much like a turbocharged car. But when the throttle is floored the fireworks begin. At around 2000rpm boost begins to register on the gauge, and almost instantly a flood of torque arrives, which doesn’t tail off until 6000rpm.
The Turbo’s engine lacks the fiery feel of the normal Carrera, but it’s certainly quick. At the time Porsche claimed a zero to 60mph of 4.5sec, and the four-wheel-drive traction plays its part. High revs are needed to prevent the engine bogging under the near unbreakable grip of the tyres, but judged correctly the Turbo will shoot straight off the line with no time lost through wheelspin.
The 993’s interior was the last of the traditional style 911, with its classic instrument display, flawed ergonomics, and some quite cheap looking trim. It was dated even in 1995, but that’s one reason people love it.
WHAT YOU’LL PAY
The 993 was the first air-cooled 911 to appreciate in value, seen as the last and best of the air-cooled models, although with 911 prices shooting up recently, all other pre-996 911 Carreras achieve upwards of £40,000 if decent. But for a Turbo, you’ll have to at least double that budget because there’s not much around for less than £100,000; most are advertised as “price on application”.
But if you have the cash, you have a choice of cars for sale. London premium classics dealer Hexagon was offering four 993 Turbo coupes, from a black 1996 car with 23,650 miles at £159,995 to a burgundy example with just 2200 miles, and also the power pack option, at £189,995. 4Star Classics in Hampshire was asking £169,000 for a white 1997 car with 18,600 miles.
Porsche Centres also had stock, and, perhaps surprisingly, not the most expensive cars. Porsche Centre Nottingham was advertising a black, two-owner Turbo with 59,000 miles for £109,999, Hatfield a silver car with 59,000 miles for £129,900, and Cardiff a red one with 41,350 miles at £145,990.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
According to Robin McKenzie of Bedfordshire Porsche specialist Auto Umbau, the engine is bulletproof, thanks in part to its hydraulic tappets, but the turbos can leak due to the wrong type of oil being used. ‘There is a non-return valve in the turbo filter which stops the oil back-filling from the engine oil supply, he explains. ‘I have read on forums about people having expensive, unnecessary turbo rebuilds from garages that have fitted the standard 993 oil filter instead of the turbo type.’
Oil leaks can occur from gaskets when they’re old, and rubber pipes can perish or deform if they have been taken off and not put back on properly. ‘Check for spark plug changes in the service history, as this is an expensive job,’ Robin advises.
O2 sensors (which monitor how much unburned oxygen is in the exhaust) can fail and cause the engine to run rough and lumpy, while exhaust heat shields fail and cause rattles. Temperature senders often fail and the oil gauge shows the highest temperature.
There are rarely transmission issues other than oil seals leaking and CV boots perishing. ‘I’ve not heard of a 993 Turbo ’box needing a rebuild, but then they rarely come in for major works,’ says Robin. Clutch pedals can stick down or feel sticky due to the dust cover breaking up and dirt getting on the cylinder rod.
SUSPENSION AND STEERING
Bushes on the suspension, which was beefed up over the standard 993, can perish, but in the chassis department leaking steering racks are probably the main failure, Robin reckons. ‘Make sure you have standard 993 Turbo suspension, and get the tracking done properly – this will take several hours if all goes well,’ he tells us.
Inspect the calipers as, on all “big reds”, peeling lacquer is a problem. ‘Poor cleaning of the caliper can increase fuel consumption as the pads lift and bind, and sometimes fitting the shims is forgotten about, which causes a clunk to be heard under braking,’ Robin says. Warped and/or corroded discs will reduce braking efficiency and can vibrate the steering wheel under braking.
The Turbo’s wheels are hollow spoke, so check the correct rims are fitted. ‘This is easy, as as the rear of the spokes are smooth,’ Robin reveals. Check wheels for refurbishment and kerb damage, a kerbed wheel quite likely to produce vibration through the steering wheel.
There should not be any serious rust on the outer bodywork, but it’s a good idea to apply a paint thickness meter (a magnet can be used instead) to check if there’s filler about. A poorly fitted replacement front windscreen stores up trouble: ‘This can start rust under the window seal, which only comes to light years afterwards,’ Robin warns, ‘and grit behind the rubber seals at the bottom of the rear window can also cause corrosion. But this is easy to see, as is rust on the top of the catch plate where the rear window meets the door.’
Expect the door window frames to corrode, rendering them unsightly, and there may be some rust at the edges of the lower wheel arches, where stones and gravel are thrown up by the tyres. ‘It is normal for windscreens to creek, and only Pilkington make the front windscreens, as the original source is no longer available,’ Robin tells us. Headlight lenses get stone chipped, but are easy to replace.
There are a few niggles: ‘Switches can fail, causing the interior boot light to stay on, which flattens the battery,’ Robin says, ‘and window relays can fail, meaning the switches are constantly live, which also drains the battery. Poorly wired stereos do the same if the permanent and ignition feed have been crossed over.’
Speedometers/odometers are now at the problematic age, so again check that the mileage is clocking up when you take a test drive.
The driver’s seat side bolsters are where most of the wear will be showing. ‘Check all the things people touch for wear, to estimate whether the mileage is genuine,’ Robin suggests. The boot carpet is no longer available in grey, so make sure this is in good condition. Steering wheels smooth off and look and feel worn out, while instrument dials fade due to sunlight.
The 993 was the first of the crushingly effective 911 Turbos, with its more usable engine and four-wheel-drive transmission. However, if you want thrills and noise, go for the 911 Carrera whose normally aspirated engine is more fun. If you don’t own one, you’ve missed the boat because values have now topped six-figures, but as the last of the air-cooled 911 Turbos, the blown 993 certainly does not lack cachet, which will be reason enough for collectors to continue to drive values skywards.
SPOTTED FOR SALE
1995 911 Turbo coupe, left-hand-drive, purple metallic, white interior, special order trim and instruments, 45,000km (28,125 miles), £160,000, Bruges, Belgium
1995/M911 Turbo coupe, right-hand-drive, dark red, black leather, 65,000 miles, £129,950, Staffordshire avantgardeclassics.co.uk
1997/P 911 Turbo coupe, right-hand-drive, black, black leather, 59,100 miles, £109,999 Porsche Centre Nottingham
The turbos can leak if the wrong grade of engine oil has been used
Check for oil leaks from all gaskets, as air-cooled Porsche engines are known to leak
A failed O2 sensor can make the engine run badly
The rubber boots on the transmission’s constant velocity joints can perish and leak oil
Steering racks commonly leak oil
Lacquer can peel from the brake calipers, leaving them unsightly
Corrosion attacks under the front and rear screens, and the door frames
Failed interior electrical switches can stay live and flatten the battery
Look at the side bolsters on the driver’s seat on the door-side, as entry/exit wears them
Auto Umbau Porsche A Bedfordshire classic Porsche specialist for a number of years, and steeped in air-cooled 911s. Offers sales and servicing/repairs, and our technical consultant for this Buyers’ Guide classicporsche repairs.co.uk
Euro Car Parts Carries a wide range of competitively priced independent parts eurocarparts.com
Right: Engine is pretty tough and capable of big miles. Below: Interior is a good indicator as to how well a 993 Turbo has been looked after.
In terms of supply and demand, there is no huge shortage of 993 Turbos on the market and prices range from between £110,000 to around £190,000, with exceptional, ultra-low mileage cars at £300,000+.
Only the fixed rear wing distinguishes the 993 Turbo from a 993 C4S. Later models of the Turbo S featured scoops in the rear wings. The ‘Turbo twist’ 18in wheels would also see service on the 996.
The 993 Turbo followed a familiar wide-bodied path. Extra kudos for this example in rarely specced, but in demand, Riviera Blue.
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
‘That Porsche’s 911 Turbo is one of the quickest cars we have driven is beyond doubt. It would take a highly skilled driver at the wheel of a McLaren F1 to put distance between it from A to B. But this does not mean it is one of the best cars we’ve driven, or even one of the best 911s. You admire the Turbo for what it is capable of, respect it deeply for its astonishing abilities. But none of us lusts to own one like we do a basic Carrera. Which says it all.’ Autocar, 911 Turbo road test, 31st May, 1995 ‘In the world of internal combustion power plays, essentially no production car sold in America can out-muscle the ’1996 Porsche 911 Turbo in flat-out acceleration. With a staggering 400 horsepower pumping from the loins of its twin-turbocharged, twin-intercooled, 3.6-litre SOHC flat-six, with all-wheel drive and 18-inch rubber to claw the ground, with a close-ratio six-speed gearbox to stir your soul, and with high-down-force bodywork of scoops, slats, grilles and appendages, the most brutal street Porsche ever produced is also the ultimate roadside predator.’
Car and Driver, 911 Turbo road test, June 1995…
WHAT YOU’LL PAY
£80,000–£100,000: 993 Turbos with six-figure-mileage, but very rare at this price
£100,000–£150,00Most cars are priced in this bracket, expect 50,000–80,000miles and a full history
£150,000–£200,000 The very best examples, immaculate, full Porsche history and under 40,000miles
SPECIFICATIONS 993-model 911 Turbo/Turbo S
Engine: 3600cc air-cooled flat-six
Max power: 408bhp at 5750rpm/443bhp at 6000rpm
Max torque: 398lb ft at 4500rpm/431lb ft at 4500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual. Permanent four-wheel drive, rear-biased torque-split
Brakes: Vented discs front and rear
Wheels (front, rear): 8Jx18-inch, 10J x 18-inch
Tyres (front, rear): 225/40 ZR18, 285/30 ZR18
Max speed: 180mph/180mph-plus
Production years 1995–1998/1998
Number built approximately 8000
Technical data from Porsche, performance figures from Autocar
Maintenance costs (including labour and VAT)
Minor service £345
Major service £510
Replacement front brake discs and pads £1200
Replace the manual transmission clutch £3000
Replace an O2 sensor £265
Replace a leaking steering rack £1000
Four premium brand tyres (225/40 ZR18, 285/30 ZR18) £980
Servicing and parts prices from Auto Umbau