I've made comments in the past about preferring the Porsche 996 to the 993. It's true, in many ways I do, and I am not alone. Tiff Needell has been quoted saying similar things; that he doesn't care how the engine is cooled, because the 996 was the model that brought the 911 into the modern era, with its more progressive and controllable chassis. As well as being better to drive, the 996 is also an easier car to live with: the pedals hang, rather than sprout from the floor like a vintage car's, and it has infinitely better ergonomics. To reference another Top Gear presenter - that Clarkson fella - who once made the point that if he filled his mouth and nose with dials and switches, then sneezed, they would be more sensibly laid out than they are in a 911.
However, that doesn't mean I dislike the 993. Far from it. This is not a polarised position and I am certainly not immune to the 993's charms. For a start, it is an effortlessly pretty car and I adore the compactness of all the air-cooled 911s, up to and including the 993. They look so dinky next to the later stuff; to the point that, when you see one next to a 992 it is minuscule, like someone's shrunk it in the wash.
Being air-cooled gives it that distinctive sound as well. Because there's no water jacket absorbing some of the noise, the air-cooled cars have a richer and crisper note, and anything that releases more flat-six harmonics is fine by me. To prove this point, the noise was one of the reasons cited for the cooling change. As well as struggling to make the air-cooled cars meet ever-more stringent emissions regulations, noise regulations were another factor in Porsche's decision to switch.
In doing so, it sealed the 993's classic status almost immediately, because how many purists have uttered the line 'it's the last proper 911, don't ya know'? Yet it almost wasn't. The 964 could've been the last air-cooled 911, because during the 993's development Porsche evaluated sticking a water-cooled V8 in the back of it. Imagine how that would've gone down had it been carried through to production? In the end, the firm stuck with the 3.6-litre flat-six, but with lighter pistons, conrods and crankshaft. These helped it spin smoother and easier than its predecessor and contributed to the 276hp the entry-level Carrera made.
Other than the fundaments, very little was shared with the 964. The 993 had a completely redesigned multi-link alloy rear suspension arrangement bolted to an alloy subframe. The G50 manual gearbox also gained a sixth ratio, and the Tiptronic S auto came with steering wheel-mounted change buttons. The range was expanded to include a glass-roofed Targa, along with the usual Coupé and Convertible bodies. The four-wheel drive versions, which now included the Turbo, had a different setup aping the viscous coupling used in the 959. This saved some weight compared with the 964's multi-diff drivetrain, although there was still a 50kg penalty to bear in relation to the rear-wheel-drive versions.
And that's what Hexagon Classics is offering. Excluding the more exotic and rarer iterations, this Carrera 2 would be my prime pick for its simplicity - plus it's a manual and I just cannot accept the idea of a torque converter auto in a 911, sorry. I also love the colour combination. Polar Silver might be a bit obvious for a German car, but it works for me in the same way that BRG does on a Bentley or Jaguar. It's also the perfect accompaniment to the Provence Blue leather, which I am a massive fan of, too - especially when it appears as factory fresh as this. Then again, this car's covered a relatively low 63,000 miles, so you could expect it to look tidy. And that's a good number, because it's not so low you'd be afraid to add some more.
It doesn't seem that long ago (I'm taking around a decade, but to me that's still the recent past) I was doing some work for a Porsche specialist who had a 993 Turbo S for sale. That was up at £65,000, which, at the time, I thought was a completely ridiculous amount. Ah, if only I'd known... Now Hexagon Classics has a standard 993 Turbo getting on for double that - albeit one that's done just 2,200 miles - and even this Carrera breeches that figure. But hey, that's the crazy world of modern classics right now, especially when it comes old Porsches.
Around £70,000 for a low-mileage 993 C2 in this condition is actually pretty reasonable and, despite my reservations over the 993, I'd be tempted to pay it. If I had the resources at my disposal that is, which I don't. So I'm off to see what 996s are around. Thankfully, they are - for now - still a realistic proposition.
Specification | Porsche 911 Carrera 2 (993)
Engine: 3,600cc, straight-six, naturally aspirated
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 276hp @ 6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 251 @ 5,250rpm
Recorded mileage: 63,000
Year registered: 1995
Price new: £50,000 (approx.)
Yours for: £69,995
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