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A Tribute to the Last Air-Cooled 911:
The Porsche 993

April 5, 2012 by Matt

Porsche 911 993 Red Non Turbo

I’ve already written a bit about the 993 Turbo, but I think it’s time to shine a spotlight on the whole generation.

The last hurrah before the completely redesigned 996 took over in 1999, the ’93-’98 iteration of the classic Porsche 911, better known by its internal model code 993, was the final evolution of a basic platform that had served the Stuttgart automaker since the mid-’60s.

Porsche 911 993 993TT Red Turbo Interior Inside Console Dash Dashboard Seats

Equipped with a 3.6l version of Porsche’s legendary flat six M46 engine delivering 285 hp, the 993’s relatively low weight of around 3,100 lbs allowed it to scoot to 60 mph in the low 5 second range. The rear suspension was completely redesigned, incorporating a multilink system to give the car much more predictable handling behavior (especially when it came to lift-off oversteer) compared to its 911 predecessors. And the styling was smoothed and rounded, while still retaining the traditional 911 proportions and styling details.

Porsche 911 993 Silver Non Turbo

Design-wise, it’s the little things about the 993 that captivate me. The classic 911 profile is present, that shape that shouldn’t look right, yet you can’t turn away from. The visual peak of the car is the top of the windshield, as opposed to the top of the roof in the 996 on, an element that defines the vintage 911. The front windows incorporate an extra pane, an anachronistic detail shared by no other car in the mid-’90s. And there’s something about the way the windshield wiper pivots are located in such proximity that just gets me. I can’t explain it. It’s perfect.

Porsche 911 993 Non Turbo M64 Engine Motor Boxer Flat Six 6

Of course Porsche can slap the “911” nameplate on whatever they want, but as far as I’m concerned, the 993’s successor, the 996, really deserved a separate model number—it was that different from its predecessor. Gone were the classic sewing machine thrum of the air-cooled engine, the distinctive profile and even the jewel-like styling details. In their place, the 996 substituted a more conventional water-cooled mill, a bloated jellybean shape that vaguely resembled the traditional 911 look but was completely devoid of sex appeal, and acres of corporate plastic from the instrument cluster to the engine bay. Slightly faster the 996 may have been, but in the minds of most enthusiasts, including this one, the loss of character over the 993 was a heavy price to pay for the extra capability. No, given the choice, I’ll gladly “put up with” the 993’s vintage quirkiness, even if that means, in the end, I’m driving the slower car.

Filed under: Porsche


  1. Mike B. says:

    Once again, I agree with you Matt. I am not really a Porsche guy but I love the 993, and yes its successor was boring and cheap looking by comparison.

    • Matt says:

      I remember being really surprised when the 996 came out, thinking “They’re really going to build that?” I mean, the thing shared the whole headlight assembly from the lesser Boxster. The complaints from 911 veterans just write themselves at that point…

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