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Tuesday 21st February 2012


PH BLOG: PORSCHE 964 RS

Fear and self-loathing in equal measure as the editor nearly cocks up a dream 911 RS drive


It's yet another undeserved perk of this incredible job that the carefully deployed 'golly, you know I've never driven a <insert name of dream car here>' can, if you're lucky, result in the offer of a steer of just that. Well, it worked for Harris in the case of the Sport Quattro.

And in thanking 964 RS owner Julian Perry for his kind contributions to the Carpool story we ran on his car I played just that joker. To which he, rashly, answered 'well, you should have a go with mine then.' An offer he may have regretted after seeing his beloved Porsche pirouetting past the paddock at Bedford Autodrome in a cloud of spray and expletives from yours truly.

Just another old Porsche, move along...
Just another old Porsche, move along...
Plea for fresh rain/worn 888s mitigation and the full story is to follow but yes, the 964 RS would be an easy top five in my all time 'wants' and, almost certainly, top billing (this week) in my fantasy 911 league. What, not everybody has one of those?

I know, declaring 911 fanboy allegiances isn't exactly hold-the-front page stuff. But all the stuff I love about them can be found in the RS.

In 2012, 260hp (officially) is hot-hatch stuff, but if ever a car summed up the 'it's about more than just the numbers', the RS is it. I love the unadorned looks, the fact that it's just another old 911 to the uninitiated . Much as I love my modern GT3s, RSes and 4.0s, they all look a bit chintzy compared with this. And by heck does it go.

I always take a while to dial into 911s, perversely another reason I like them so much. You can never just jump in and give them full beans, even the new ones. There's always something to make you think, be it the pedal spacing, the gearbox, the throttle response or whatever. The RS had all of them and, after sitting beside Julian for a couple of sessions and enjoying the fruits of his 15-year familiarisation process with his RS, I was more than a bit intimidated. It's always nice to see an owner pushing their car hard but, by gum, even on fat 888s the RS is a lively beast and Julian was pretty busy at the wheel.

No pressure then.

Hold on tight and don't blink
Hold on tight and don't blink
Julian's car is a left-hooker and doesn't have power steering, so felt immediately physical to drive. As you'll have seen and read from his Carpool, his car has been tweaked over the years, most obviously with the addition of some 18-inch BBS wheels. Behind them are KW dampers set up by Porsche race gods Manthey and on Bedford's flat surface they brilliantly complement standard RS features like the stiffer engine mounts and more rigid shell. A quick run on the rough B-roads surrounding Bedford revealed quite how stiffly sprung it is, but on track the damping is beautifully optimised, with surprisingly delicate body control even during violent, full-bore direction changes in the chicanes. Lovely stuff.

With that much rubber on the ground - 888s at that - I didn't expect the RS to have such a lively rear axle, but even with the relatively modest power I was heartened to find how easy and predictable it was under power. Turn-in was wickedly strong too, the RS really chomping hard into Bedford's surface.

Operate with due consideration
Operate with due consideration
Physical stuff though. It's pocket-sized by modern standards, but the RS isn't flickable like a Lotus and needs properly manhandling. Julian commented that I was braking too early and too timidly, blipping down through the gears rather than standing it on its nose and block shifting as he was. Fair enough, but to get that right took commitment and confidence in finding the slot first time, and timing the blip and clutch release just so. I tried a couple of times, but the consequences of getting it wrong - missing a gear, over-revving, mis-timing the clutch and grabbing the back wheels on turn in - didn't appeal either.

But that's what I loved about it. I was having to really, really concentrate. And those few times a sequence of corners, shifts and mini-drifts all came together will stay with me a long time.

And then it rained, I had my moment on the worn 888s and Julian really started having fun. A video below to that effect that, sadly, doesn't show much of the track due to the camera angle but demonstrates quite how lively the RS is and how good it sounds.

I couldn't afford one when they were at their cheapest and I definitely can't afford one now. But, reality be damned, it's still top billing on my 911 wishlist.

Dan


 

 

Author: Dan Trent