My colleague was not there for the 911R though. Tom is a classic Porsche fundi and for him it was all about one of the most famous Porsche models of all time, the 964 Turbo. Not just any 964 Turbo either. This was a 1990 model from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. It was a big moment when the odometer clocked over from 10,999km to 11,000km. We felt we needed to hold some sort of roadside ceremony to mark the occasion.
What Tom knew, though, was that unlike the 911R, the 964 was going to be comfortable — and he was right. I climbed into it easily, although I admit that I did so with the same reverence Ferris Bueller showed getting into the Ferrari 250 GT California in the movie. Once in that barely used seat, it was clear that the level of comfort was going to be vastly different to that of the 911R, but then so is the car.
For early versions of the 964, the 3.3l engine was carried over from the 930 Turbo, so the car we were driving developed 240kW and 450Nm of torque. That latter figure is most interesting because it is only 10Nm less than the 911R’s but the 964 pushes all that torque to the rear wheels without any electronic systems at all. No traction control, no electronic stability control, nada.
So you will understand that in the interests of not being that guy, I may have been a little more respectful of the 964 than I was of the 911R, but it was a big moment for a petrolhead.
What was amazing was the level of ride comfort that Tom had alluded to. Of the two cars, it was the 964 that I would gladly have driven out of the museum in Stuttgart, down through Europe, and then on through Africa back to Johannesburg. I was confident that the trip could be done without the need to visit a chiropractor on arrival.
The steering had a little bit of play to it and was certainly not as pinpoint sharp as that in the 911R but it was incredible for a car that is 27 years old. The pedals had no play, especially the clutch, which operated the instant you started to depress it to change. The cabin of course was immaculate, but it was also very quiet, allowing only the sound from that 3.3 turbo to intrude, an intrusion which was most welcome.
Unlike the 911R, the 964 liked to wind up its power, to let you build up the revs and build up your confidence before unleashing all its power at around 5,750r/min. The grip was superb even without all those electronic nanny systems we have today. It was pure mechanical and physical grip, providing you with feedback on everything you do. Yes, the 964 can bite but, as I say, I was not going to find out at what point.
My drive in the 964 was cut short by the need to jump in the back of the photographer’s Renault for a phone conversation with a South African minister, but I had experienced the 964 Turbo, the legend. It was a short-lived moment, but a lifetime memory.