993 Cup… on the road
Porsche’s Cup cars were built for the track and to conquer races. We head to South Africa to experience a prime example on the road!
Created to tear up race tracks, now this competition 993 calls the highway home
“Yes, it is road registered,” says the owner of this 1995 993 Cup in a surprisingly nonchalant way. “I always take it on a trailer to the track for race meetings, as a fellow competitor’s car might need a trailer after the event, and that allows me to drive the 993 back home.” The owner is one of the most knowledgeable Porsche enthusiasts in South Africa. He even helped Porsche with the management of the race team in the 1986 Le Mans event.
But back to the 993. After the photography is done outside Johannesburg I am still trying to get used to seeing this Cup car on the road – what a sight it is!
After helping the photographer take pictures of the car around the city suburbs, it’s time to jump behind the wheel. First there are the cross members of the roll cage to negotiate, and once you have pushed your legs into the footwell – complete with original wooden board fixed to the floor – and lowered yourself into the full Recaro race seat, you know you are in a very special 993. I pull the Sabelt straps across my shoulders, then the two over my legs and finally the one between my legs with the buckle that clips all of them together. Now I feel connected to this car in a way which no road car can offer.
As expected, everything falls to hand, especially the gear lever and the steering wheel. The pedals are a little off-set to the right, but I get used to it quickly. In front of me are the smooth lines of the luggage lid and fenders. Once the rattling sound from the drivetrain enters the cabin you are never in doubt that you are currently driving a full-on race car on the road, even at walking pace.
The gearshift has the same direct shift of other 993 gearboxes, meaning it is easy to get to grips. I take it relatively easy for the first mile or two, which leads me to appreciate how surprisingly tractable this engine is.
Speaking of the M64/70 engine, being an engineer and having decades of experience building 911 engines (both for road and race), the owner has also done his magic on this car.
“I’ve done a lot to this 993 but, for the sake of the purists, I’ve kept everything so that it can be returned to factory specification if needed. I’ve manufactured a unique front spoiler that feeds more air to the brakes and provides additional downforce. A carbon-fibre designed rear wing has been fitted to the rear, while I’ve also fitted a passenger seat in the cabin.
“It is still 3.8-litres in size, but I’ve fitted more aggressive camshafts and I’ve done a lot of research on inlet manifolds. Instead of the standard single throttle body there are six throttle bodies with trumpets and ram-air tubes. The result is that the car is now running close to 400bhp,” he says. Let’s not forget that is significantly more than a standard 993 RSR produces, at 325bhp.
Opening the engine lid, the upgrades to the engine are immediately visible, with the custom intake system and two huge air filters. Meanwhile, the position of the flat six is another reminder how low to the ground these engines are, especially compared to the more standard V-shaped engines from competitors of the time.
The current owner bought the car second-hand back in 1995, when it was less than a year old.“there were a number a reasons I wanted this car – one being the improved five-link suspension and another the six-speed transmission. I’ve had a 700bhp 930 Turbo, and it was great for quarter miles and topspeed runs, but it wasn’t suited for track work. And yes, I adore the body shape. When new, the only way to purchase one of these cars in Europe was if you were going to race it for the season, or if you were a Porsche dealer. I watched the races to make sure I bought a second-hand car that wasn’t in an accident.”
The owner admits that he subsequently had an accident with the car on the track, but found a new, identical body to repair the car. This body actually already had adjustable Öhlins suspension parts fitted, which he decided to keep.
In his garage he has the original Speedline Cup alloy wheels, as he has three-piece forged and milled BBS rims currently fitted. The reason for this is that he has fitted wider tyres on the car for improved results on the track. These BBS wheels still look perfectly suited to this car, though.
Even though the car – chassis number WPOZZZ99ZSS398065, one of around 50 produced that year – has only 25,400km (15,800 miles) on the odometer, it has seen a lot of action over the past 23 years. Not only has it been raced, used on track days and of course on the road, but it has also done
a sizeable road trip, which is barely believable for an uncompromising race car like this.
Its owner explains: “We called the event the
‘Lap of the South’. We started with timed laps at the old Wesbank circuit, then we hit Kyalami Grand Prix circuit in Midrand. Then we drove to Durban to Toyota’s test track, before heading south to East London to do laps at the track. We drove further west and did laps at Aldo Scribante Circuit outside Port Elizabeth, followed by a drive to Cape Town and laps at Killarney International Raceway. This was a total of over 1,500 miles… and my wife came with!”
It is clear this car is no stranger to the public road. Even through traffic the car feels almost as easy to drive as any other 993, but there is not a moment that you are not aware of the rawness and racing heritage of these cars.
For starters you can hear the drivetrain rumbling and clattering behind you as well as every little bit of road debris being thrown into the wheel arches or the car’s underbelly.
Look in the mirror and a small part of your view is dissected by the cross members of the roll cage. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As the traffic clears, I flex my right foot, letting the engine run to around 5,000rpm before I change gear. There is a sense of inertia that no road-going 993 can replicate. I keep the throttle pinned and the rev needle zings around to the clock to 6,800rpm – maximum engine speed is 6,900rpm – and I feel how the lightweight car, it weighing just 1,100 kilograms, has little effect on the engine’s performance. The engine pushes you down the road with a level of lightness, eagerness and linearity that only a race
car can provide. With such performance on tap, there isn’t a moment to relax or switch off. Given it is not turbocharged and doesn’t have the level of torque that you would get from a 993 GT2 or Turbo, there is a pureness in its delivery that some 911 enthusiasts will tell you only a naturally aspirated engine can provide. It is wonderful.
Then there’s the steering feel. As well as providing copious amounts of feedback, the steering wheel feels alive in your hands. Owing to the race car suspension set-up and the camber of the front wheels, the wheel follows the contours of the road unlike any road car I’ve driven. The result is that you start to focus more on exactly where on the road, or in your lane, you need to place the car to minimise the effect the road will have on the steering system – an element which will obviously not be needed once you are on the track. Needless to say, it makes you focus even more on how the car is behaving and what the car is telling you through your hands and body.
Every time I turn the wheel the car dives into the corner and sticks to the road like a proper race car. I can barely believe it. The owner reveals he did soften the suspension ever so slightly, as it was too stiff for the road and would sometimes move off-line when it hit a small bump in the middle of a corner. The result is that the ride is much more supple than I expected, although there remains an underlying solidity and firmness to the suspension and the car as a whole which you’ll only find in a race car. The limited-slip differential further contributes to transmitting the torque of the rear wheels to the tarmac as efficiently as possible. It just glues to the surface!
What also impresses me is that the drivetrain is not too loud – to the level that you feel like you need to wear earplugs – another reason this car is fun and possible to drive on the road. Having driven a number of 911 race cars, I can confirm that this is not always the case.
Just for the fun of it, we head to a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-through to order some French fries. At the pay and collection station the staff can’t help but laugh at this very unlikely, low-to-the-ground sports car being driven through a lane where customers are usually driving hatchbacks, SUVS and pick-ups.
As the morning progresses, we head for the final location in a nearby multistorey car park. Now, for the first time, I can really appreciate the strong, flat six engine sound as it reverberates between the concrete walls.
Again I notice how otherworldly the 993 looks driving among sedans, crossovers and pick-ups. At the same time it looks so unique, and those smooth lines and rounded, wide arches remind me why I have loved and appreciated the 993 since my teenage years – its race derivatives even more.
After a varied morning with this car, climbing in and out, sitting in traffic, driving it hard when the opportunity presented itself, I realise again how exceptional these cars are, not only the 993, but Porsche’s race cars as a whole.
Having already experienced a 993 GT2 Clubsport, RS, Turbo, Turbo S and the rare RSR, I can safely say this car ranks as one of the best 993s. It also makes me realise that I wish Porsche could design and develop its most focused road cars (RSS or a car like the Carrera T) to an even more uncompromising level. I’m not referring to power and grip as much, but being lightweight and even closer to the race cars than the road cars currently on offer.
This owner only has two Porsche in his garage, which might seem odd… but even if I only had a 993 Cup in the garage, I’d still be quite content.
“There is a pureness in its delivery that some 911 enthusiasts will tell you only a naturally aspirated engine can provide”
RIGHT Getting in and out regularly may be an issue – and there’s no room for shopping – but the Cup still makes for a hilarious road toy
RIGHT Wilhelm gets to grips with this one-time race car, albeit with a very different view out the windscreen