Sunday Column: Ram Kanadia’s – The Final Chapter

Perfectly polished, flawless design and oh so comfortable, the leather felt and looked new; amazing when considering its environment.  It’s not very often that an independent specialist can afford to keep a quiet and tidy waiting room fitted with a few large leather sofas, so completely removed from the intense atmosphere of the garage floor, but only a pane of glass separates me from it all. The neighbouring wall reveals another part of the workshop, peering through the window I notice a line of covered Porsches, quietly and innocently sitting there; living quite a lavish lifestyle in a heated room away from the harsh winter conditions that now surround us.

“They look like new don’t they?” A voice behind me says. “They are almost gagging for it…“ I could not argue with that, for owners of these cars to buy cars in excess of £40,000 in order for them to sit in somebody else’s garage for much of the year – not driven, just polished; blasphemy! It was wrong for me just to ignore them and move on – a quick phone call to the owner and Stephen recommended that we get one out just before it hibernates for the rest of the winter months.

It felt like Christmas: unwrapping the blood red cover to reveal the Metallic Black paintwork. It may, in Porsche terms, only have been an entry-level model but it looked fantastic. When starting it up, it roared into life, a wolf in sheep’s clothing I thought. This particular car had spent extensive time in the workshop for a full recondition of the engine and the quite obvious modifications to the exhaust; RSR Mufflers and ‘Test Pipes’ meant that car sounded quite raunchy.

A raunchy set of RSR Mufflers made the flat-6 that little bit sweeter

The 993 which was Porsches internal name for the then latest incarnation of the 911, first appeared in 1993, replacing the 964 which also seems to be a bit of a dark horse, production finally ended in 1998 when it was replaced by a water-cooled 996 911. The car in front of me is one of the last cars to roll off the factory floor, a 1998 MY Carrera 4 with factory RS extras. It is now considered one of the last great Porsches, but I tend to disagree (mainly because of the two other cars that were sitting in my garage).

Without letting that get in the way, we took the car out; for the first time in over 3 months, the car sees some natural light. After a few minutes it settles down to a constant idle, but still bursting with enthusiasm for its drive. Just driving up the road the changes which were made to the 993 over the 964 can be felt. Primarily, the 993 was the first Porsche to use an “alloy multi-arm rear suspension to an all-alloy subframe”. The same fundamentals were still being used in the 996 which was said to move the game on dramatically. It required the widening of the rear wheel arches, which added to the overall stance and impact but helped greatly with the 993’s stability through the corners. The car is so much more precise, you can point it much easier compared to that of a 964.

The last of the Air Cooled Porsches….

One big difference which makes itself felt is the four wheel drive system; it’s not an option box I would have ticked, personally I feel that the standard Carrera 2 is a much more composed and pure driving experience.  Despite being further improved by adopting the system based on the layout from its 959 supercar which replaced the centre differential with a viscous coupling unit, the car still suffered from huge understeer, but this can be said for the majority of Porsche 911 models. Around the twisty bits in slightly icy weather, the 4WD system can be a huge aid at some points – the car does like to kick its rear end, which is understandable when realising the huge weight over the rear. The simplified layout over the 964 system resulted in a lesser weight; which would not normally be hugely felt in a normal saloon, but in something so light and frugal it certainly felt a lot better.

 A raw driving experience without the need for added complexities

It would be wrong to spend so much time obsessing about this cars all-wheel drive system – in fact, the car has so many other attributes: that exhaust for example, it is in ‘Clarkson English’ quite Epic. No modern Porsche, sounds like an old-skool Air-cooled Porsche, it is of no surprise then that the 993 is considered one of the last great Porsches. You will often find that the Air-cooled (or bearded chaps) fanatics consider the 993 the final chapter in the Porsche book. It is in a sense the ultimate evolution of the air-cooled engine, the last raw, compact, direct and pure Porsche ever.

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