Guest contributor: Carby Tuckwell on his 964 Carrera 2
Anyone who had a poster of a 930 on the wall as a kid will know the feeling— waiting for the planets to align so you can finally scratch the 911 itch. Buying a 911, no matter how practical they are, is a commitment. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
For me, it was a few years ago that I finally ‘got air’. After a few false starts looking at big-figured 993s, the emergence of the 964 RS as the new darling of the cognoscenti re-focused my sights to include the oft-maligned 964. To begin with, I didn’t warm to the in-between shape – part classic 911, part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – but in white I could imagine it had just had the race numbers peeled off. More importantly, they were cheaper and just within my reach.
After reading tomes about what to look for in a good car, I was very aware of the overstated Achilles’ Heel(s) of the 964: the gasketless heads, the self-destructing dual mass flywheel, and the ozone-producing dizzies. In most cases, these had been remedied long ago, and in the end, the pre-purchase checklist was no more arduous than a 993’s. There are a lot of scruffy 64s around— that’s a fact, and I suspect that over the next five years, the dogs will fade away and the good cars will have hit the bottom of their depreciation curve. Having said that, if you find one leaking from the crankcase seam, I would walk away (unless you have a budget equal to the value of the car to restore its health), as the throughbolts have a 10c O-ring washer that can cause leaks when it perishes, meaning plenty of 3.6 cars have their guts split open prematurely (geriatric GT3s will suffer the same fate one day, as they share a crankcase).
So after watching the market for months, I found the perfect spec car, in the right colour as well as Australian-delivered (a big plus down here as many UK and HK imports are rust-ridden).
I was a 911 virgin so the learning curve was steep. The foibles of maintaining and driving these rare beasts became apparent quickly. I had planned modifications to take it closer to RS spec, but in reality the car was already well-prepared— the previous owners had installed a lightweight (RS) flywheel and made the necessary adjustments to the electronics to prevent it from stalling at every set of lights. The ubiquitous G-Pipe had been fitted for a nice growl and the cat had been removed, risky business in Australia in post-1989 cars (due to astronomical EPA fines).
There is nothing like the way a 964 piles on speed. Big lungs, that soundtrack, and the tiny size (compared to today’s cars) make it an addictive exercise and an exercise these engines like plenty of. They need lots of wide open throttle; otherwise, they can cake up with carbon around the valves if they are subjected to a life tootling around town at 4000 rpm. Sometime you have to be cruel to be kind.
The daily physics lesson on my favourite third gear sweeper never bit me so badly that I ended up facing where I’d been, but the undeniable lump swinging out back was an ever-present potential party stopped. I drove a 997 Carrera S recently and was amazed how far the 911 chassis has come since the 964. The 64 was a mountain to conquer, a puzzle to solve— you felt obliged to stroke the tiger gently before you buried the slipper and jumped on its back. That intoxicating (borderline overpowered) chassis was so much more entertaining than the always-on-tap oversteer of the 997.
The brakes are as strong as they come; I had planned to replace the rear 2-pots with the 4-pots from a Carrera 4 and adjust the bias slightly (as the car did feel like it was standing on its nose a bit under hard braking), but with the car seeing little track time it would have been overkill. No one does standard stoppers like Zuffenhausen.
The lines of the 64 really grew on me over the years, and the more I learned the more I appreciated the beautifully-executed design evolution from the 3.2. Although they are now the most expensive spare part in the known universe, my favourite line on the car was the shark fin panel along the kicker.
After a few years of great fun, I’ve moved it on for practicality and the need to haul a young family around; a zingy Renault Clio Sport RS200 will keep me occupied until the right 993 bubbles up. Ultimately, as close siblings as the 964 and 993 are, the 64 really belongs in the garage as a trim weekend warrior— the small improvements in the 93 make it a more liveable daily/GT than the ‘get me a cage’ 64.
For now, though, the daily chainsaw wrapped in cotton wool sonatas are a memory. Lucky I recorded the engine note as a ringtone for posterity.
Words and images: Carby Tuckwell