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27 Mar 2014

Porsche 964 Carrera 4

Porsche 911, Codename: 964 Carrera 4
The Car from the Poster
Text and photos: Reinis Babrovskis

As boys we all had our bedroom walls covered with car posters, dreaming that one day when we grow up, we will own one of them – for some they were supercars like the Lamborghini Diablo, for some they were American muscle like the Ford Mustang, for me it was a red Dodge Viper with obligatory white stripes, followed by a red Honda NSX. I could stare at them for ages, imagining how I would drive one of them someday. For most people, me included, the dream car is still up there on the poster, but for the owner of this car the dream became a reality, and is sitting in the garage. That car on his bedroom is the enduring classic sports car – the  Porsche 911.

On the day of the photo-shoot Northern Ireland’s weather was at its unpredictable best.  Sunny when I left the house, raining five miles down the road, followed by snow upon arrival, so by the time I got out from the car the only thing left the was hailstones. Basically if you have seen the movie “2012" you know exactly what weather I am on about; so instead of cancelling the shoot, we decided to do some detail shots in the garage. As I walked into the garage I noticed an old-skool BMX tucked up in the far corner, so naturally, I asked the owner for the story behind the bike. I was promptly shown a photo of  hundreds and hundreds of BMX bikes that used to sit where the Porsche is sitting right now.

It turns out that he is passionate about all things retro and he used to collect BMX bikes, until one day he actually realized that all these bikes could finally make his poster car dream become a reality. They were all sold, apart from the one in the corner, and a beautiful red 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 took their place.

On the second day of the shoot it was a perfect spring day, so we decided to do what had to be done – drive the car on one of the most beautiful driving roads in Ireland – Antrim Coast Road. After 100+miles of twisty coastal roads, loads of turned heads, some delicious local burgers and chips, and the soundtrack of that 3.6, I must say I am in love…

Many people really do not understand these cars, or classic cars in general – they don’t have all of the modern extras, they don’t go as fast as their modern alternatives, they are not that comfortable, they even cost more than the modern equivalents for flip sake; so why this car then? Because #CLASSIC

You have a key in your hand, not a plastic microchip, you open the heavy metal doors, slam them and listen to that noise, yeah, you know what I mean – the sound of a metal tin dropped on a floor; that is how you know they are properly closed and not by some annoying beeping sound in the dash, you strap yourself in with a seatbelt that is weaker than a dog’s leash, start the car (not always with the first go) and your garage fills with smoke and smell of oil and petrol …There is no radio needed, there is a massive rev counter right in the centre of the dash, there is a gear stick, a steering wheel, pedals, the phenomenal noise coming from the engine and a road that you don’t care where it takes, at that moment you realize… that is what classic cars are all about.

The Neunelfer a.k.a. the Porsche 911 is the flagship model of the world famous German luxury sports car manufacturer and is one of the longest running production cars manufactured in the history – in 2013 the 911 model celebrated its 50th anniversary. More than 800,000 models have been produced and I think I am safe to say that this car will still be around for decades. The two-door high performance grand tourer is built in Stuttgart, Germany and to make sure nobody would forget that, it is proudly etched into one of the most beautiful car badges ever made.

Even though the 911 has been around for 50 years (first one to see the daylight was back in 1963), their design has barely changed. The owner admitted: “I love that their design has remained the same – show any 911 model to a child or grandmother and both of them will know it is a 911”. It is a distinctive and unique design that makes it so beautiful, with the engine located in the rear, powered by 2 or 4 wheels. Originally pioneered by Volkswagen group, the engine up to 1998 in the 911 models, was air-cooled opposed to water, making it the most successful surviving air cooled engine in the history. Throughout the years the 911 has won many motorsport journalist awards and made victories in motorsport, like taking the crown in the world famous Nurburgring series, 24 Hours of Le Mans.

His choice was a stunning red Porsche 964 Carrera 4, manufactured and sold between 1989 and 1994. This particular model was designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986 and even though many people can’t see many changes from the previous model, the car was 85% different from the previous model.
Body work received a facelift from the previous model; the most significant revision was the integrated bumpers and built in fog lights that were done to improve the aerodynamics along with the automated spoiler that rises once you travel above 50mph.  How cool is that – to me that would be a good enough reason to want the car (in terms of awesomeness it is right up there with the pop up lights).

964 models were available in various body shapes - coupe, targa or cabriolet, but the owner never liked the latter two, so a coupe was the choice. It was the first Porsche to offer the tiptronic automatic transmission and four-wheel drive and even though it seems a norm now, don’t forget we are talking eighties here, when you went crazy over such an extra as electric windows.

The biggest upgrade of them all was the engine; previously powered by a 3.2 engine, the 964 came with a brand new naturally aspirated flat 6 M64 engine with a displacement of 3.6 litres. It was still rear-mounted, air cooled engine producing 271hp and 310Nm, reaching the redline at 6,700 RPM. If you would be in a rush, the 964 can do 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds in a manual gearbox and 6.2 with the tiptronic one. If you aren’t scared of death, the car will allow you to reach 163mph. The noise from the engine is so phenomenal that there is no point lying I kept asking the owner, Neil, to relocate the car every 5 minutes in the photo-shoot so I could just hear it being started and revved again.

The 964 suspension received some major upgrades as well, replacing the rear torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers; however, this Porsche has been upgraded to a bit more modern Eibach springs to give a bit meaner stance and be able to go round the corner a bit faster. For the first time the 911 came equipped with the power steering and ABS on all models as standard.

The interior was now equipped with a new automatic climate control system, dual airbags (from 1990 onwards), and finally there were warning lights tied into the main dash to alert the driver with the possible problems, not that you ever got one.

This car is a dream to drive and the owner certainly is not looking to part with it, plans are to keep it immaculate, stare at it for hours and take it for a drive anytime he wants. Living the petrolhead’s dream, that is all…