BUY­ERS’ GUIDE: CAR­RERA 3.2 SU­PER SPORT

Ev­ery­thing you need to know

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

The 930 Turbo’s wide arched body was al­ways go­ing to be too good to re­strict it to just the one model, so it was no sur­prise that Porsche even­tu­ally de­creed it suit­able for a non-turbo model, based on the Car­rera 3.2. Known first as the ‘Turbo Look’ and then ‘Su­per Sport’ is it a case of style over sub­stance?

The shape that Porsche de­vised for the orig­i­nal 911 Turbo was iconic the mo­ment it was un­veiled at the Paris mo­tor show in 1974, in de­fi­ance of the so-called oil cri­sis that was grip­ping the world and threat­en­ing to drive sports cars out of ex­is­tence. Ev­ery as­pect of the “930” model, as it was fac­tory-coded, de­fined power, en­gi­neer­ing and ag­gres­sion: the mas­sively bulging wings, eight-inch wheels, deep front spoiler and “whale-tail” rear wing. The term “su­per­car” had just been re-de­fined, and a model cre­ated that re­mains at the top level of the 911 ar­moury to­day.

The as­ton­ish­ing shape was al­ways go­ing to be too good to be re­stricted to just the flag­ship model, but it took Porsche al­most a decade to ap­ply it to nor­mally as­pi­rated 911s. It came in 1983, a Car­rera 3.3 fea­tur­ing the widened Turbo body and some chas­sis up­grades, but with the stan­dard 911 Car­rera engine; at this point re­ferred to as “Turbo Look”, the “Su­per Sport” name com­ing later.

As with all air-cooled 911s, val­ues of these be­gan head­ing through the roof sev­eral years ago. But when this vari­ant was first launched, there were some who called it a ‘sheep in wolf’s cloth­ing,’ and, with its added weight, dis­missed it as a cyn­i­cal mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise that con­tra­vened Porsche’s en­gi­neer­ing maxim of light­ness and ef­fi­ciency. But from a per­spec­tive of more than 30 years on, how does the Turbo Look/su­per Sport sit in the Zuf­fen­hausen hall of fame, and what should you be look­ing for if con­sid­er­ing pur­chase?

DE­SIGN, EVO­LU­TION

Porsche cal­cu­lated that a suf­fi­cient num­ber of cus­tomers in Europe and the US would like a 911 with the ap­pear­ance of the Turbo, but who were happy with the per­for­mance of the Car­rera 3.2’s 3.2-litre, the flat-six with Bosch L-jetronic fu­elin­jec­tion giv­ing 228bhp at 5900rpm, and 210lb ft torque at 4800rpm (com­pared to the Turbo’s 300bhp/317lb ft). And for some, the fiery sound of the nor­mally as­pi­rated 3.2 engine was more ap­peal­ing than the flat­ter and less in­vig­o­rat­ing tone of the 3.3 tur­bocharged unit.

An ad­di­tional fac­tor was that the 911 Turbo had, for emis­sions rea­sons, been with­drawn from the US market in 1980 (and would re­main off the price list un­til 1986), which not only de­prived cus­tomers there of Porsche’s ul­ti­mate body shape, but gal­vanised in­de­pen­dent tuners into of­fer­ing re-bod­ied Car­reras. Hence un­der the fac­tory’s Son­der­wun­sch (“Spe­cial Wishes”) pro­gramme for spe­cial builds, in Septem­ber 1983, for the 1984 model year, Euro­pean and US buy­ers were of­fered op­tion “M491”, the Turbo body.

Be­sides be­ing 123mm (4.8 inches) broader at the wheel arches, and us­ing the ac­com­pa­ny­ing wider front and rear tracks, it featured the Turbo’s up­rated brak­ing sys­tem, de­rived from the 917 Le Mans race car, and firmed and lower sus­pen­sion. Six­teen-inch di­am­e­ter wheels were fit­ted (as on the Sport mod­els), the fronts seven inches wide and with 205/55 tyres and the eight-inch rears shod with 245/45s.

For the next five years un­til the nextgen­er­a­tion, 964-model 911 ar­rived, the fat­ter Car­rera 3.2, weigh­ing an ex­tra 50kg, re­ceived the same up­dates as the reg­u­lar model. For 1986 equip­ment was up­graded and there were mi­nor tweaks to the fas­cia in­clud­ing larger air vents. But a more sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment came one year later, in Septem­ber 1986, for the 1987 sea­son, the “G50” gearbox was fit­ted, the Ge­trag-built unit re­plac­ing Porsche’s “915” unit, and ac­com­pa­nied by a larger,

hy­drauli­cally- rather than ca­ble-op­er­ated clutch, its larger cas­ing ne­ces­si­tat­ing changed rear sus­pen­sion mount­ing points; a G50 is iden­ti­fied by the re­verse po­si­tion, to the left and next to first.

A year later, for the 1988 model year the wide-bod­ied car was given its own of­fi­cial ti­tle, ap­pear­ing on the price list as the “911 Car­rera with Su­per Sport Equip­ment”, a model that should not be con­fused with the nar­row-bod­ied 911 Car­rera Sport, or the “911 Turbo with Sport Equip­ment”, which was the “Flat­nose” Turbo. A spe­cific model, it was of­fered in coupe, Targa and Cabri­o­let forms. How­ever, “Su­per Sport” was never a badge on a car, merely word­ing in brochures. An es­ti­mate by Porsche Club Great Bri­tain puts the to­tal num­ber of Turbo look and Su­per Sport 911s de­liv­ered world­wide at 1580.

It’s in­ter­est­ing to look at how Porsche priced the var­i­ous mod­els as the end of pro­duc­tion neared. In April 1988, for ex­am­ple, a be­fore-op­tions 911 Car­rera Coupe (or Targa) Sport was £38,900, and buy­ing the Su­per Sport model en­tailed rais­ing £49,240, over £10,000 more. But if you wanted the “real thing”, the 911 Turbo was “only” £7440 ex­tra.

DRIV­ING THE 911 CAR­RERA SU­PER SPORT

Un­less you are steeped in Car­rera 3.2s, the wide-bod­ied car feels lit­tle dif­fer­ent to the stan­dard car. The Turbo chas­sis up­grades might be no­tice­able on a fully re­freshed car, but oth­er­wise would prob­a­bly not, while the ex­tra mass of the body doesn’t af­fect per­for­mance in a sig­nif­i­cant way. Plus, the in­te­rior is stan­dard Car­rera 3.2 un­less the car was op­tioned up sig­nif­i­cantly.

How­ever if, like Robin Mckenzie of Bed­ford­shire-based clas­sic Porsche spe­cial­ist Auto Um­bau, you do know your air-cooled Porsches in­ti­mately, you might dis­agree. ‘They look great, but with 50kg ex­tra weight they don’t feel so good to drive,’ he in­sists.

So you have the well known Porsche Car­rera 3.2, with its howl­ing engine, the gearshift that needs care­ful move­ments (es­pe­cially the pre-1986 G50 gearbox), and the unas­sisted, su­per-pre­cise steer­ing. The han­dling is prob­a­bly best de­scribed as “mid-ca­reer” 911: not the way­ward, tail­happy orig­i­nal, but still a car that de­mands a care­ful right foot, es­pe­cially in the wet.

The cabin re­tains most of the early 911 lay­out, with the much loved, but not en­tirely vis­i­ble to the driver, row of in­stru­ments, and the tricky to reg­u­late heat­ing sys­tem that works off the ex­haust heat-ex­chang­ers. This era of 911 is the favourite for many 911 fans, who re­gard it as be­ing bet­ter to drive than the early cars, but purer in char­ac­ter and ap­pear­ance than the fi­nal two air­cooled gen­er­a­tions, the 964 and 993.

WHAT YOU’LL PAY

Given that clas­sic val­ues vary so much ac­cord­ing to con­di­tion, it is dif­fi­cult to com­pare prices of Su­per Sports with or­di­nary Car­rera 3.2s. But what is clear is that ask­ing prices will be higher, even if not ev­ery­one re­gards it as a su­pe­rior model. ‘Peo­ple will try to sell them for more than a stan­dard car,’ says Robin Mckenzie, ‘I’d put the value some­where be­tween a Car­rera 3.2 and a Turbo.’ A high pro­por­tion of the Su­per Sports for sale when we checked were Tar­gas and Cabri­o­lets, the coupe hardly seen.

The market for air-cooled 911s be­ing white hot (al­though in the last few months it may have cooled to merely red hot), the least a Su­per Sport will be of­fered for is £60,000. How­ever, the prin­ci­pal price band is £80,000 to £100,000, which se­cures a 30,000 miles or less ex­am­ple, Hexagon Clas­sic in Lon­don of­fer­ing two such cars, a white Targa and a red Cabri­o­let, each at £99,995. One Cabri­o­let seller wanted £145,000 for a 9900-mile, 1989 Cabri­o­let in black. Be­ing a rare model (al­though we did see 10 for sale on one clas­sic car web­site alone) means that most if not all

have been cos­seted dra­mat­i­cally re­duces the chance of find­ing a cheap, scruffy ex­am­ple; “cheap” in air-cooled 911 terms mean­ing in the £40,000s.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ENGINE

The engine is the stan­dard 3.2-litre flat-six, so is very re­li­able, al­though it does have fail­ings, some easy to fix, oth­ers not. ‘The ob­vi­ous sign of a poorly engine is it smok­ing un­der load, which means the engine is burn­ing oil, and at the min­i­mum a top-end engine re­build is needed,” says Auto Um­bau’s Robin Mckenzie. ‘And one prob­lem that you are un­likely to be able to di­ag­nose is a bro­ken cylin­der-head stud. This can only be found with the rocker cov­ers re­moved.’

If the engine fails to start, it’s likely that the ref­er­ence and speed sen­sors have failed. ‘These suf­fer from brit­tle leads and crushed sen­sors, usu­ally by cor­ro­sion from the alu­minium bracket, which it­self can break and no longer hold the sen­sors in the right po­si­tion to be able to sense the fly­wheel,’ Robin ex­plains. Mass air-flow sen­sors and idle con­trol valves are also known to fail, re­sult­ing in rough run­ning.

EX­HAUST, HEAT EX­CHANG­ERS

The stan­dard ex­haust sys­tem is long last­ing but, as it is not stain­less steel, it will even­tu­ally cor­rode. Wa­ter col­lects in the back box and rusts through just be­low the tail pipe.

The stan­dard Porsche heat ex­chang­ers are prone to rust­ing and can al­low oil fumes into the cabin. ‘These should be re­placed with stain­less steel ones – fit­ting the stan­dard mild steel types is a waste of time, un­less the car is be­ing sold shortly,’ Robin ad­vises. And re­place­ment is no DIY job, he warns: ‘Re­mov­ing them with­out break­ing the studs can only be done by heat­ing up the re­tain­ing nut un­til cherry red, and they can take up to five hours to free up, es­pe­cially when the heat ex­changer flanges are seized into the engine.’

TRANS­MIS­SION

The ear­lier, 915 gear­boxes suf­fer from a worn and badly set up shift link­age, and this, Robin says, causes peo­ple to force the gear­stick when chang­ing gear. ‘The 915 has a longer throw than the G50 ’box, but a well set up 915 is a plea­sure to drive, though needs a lit­tle bit of time for the oil to warm up. It’s com­mon for the first and sec­ond syn­chro­mesh rings to wear, and the dog teeth to be bro­ken off.’

Robin says the 915 will cer­tainly be cheaper to re­build than the G50, which has fewer me­chan­i­cal is­sues, but adds: ‘The G50 gear stick knobs were leather cov­ered and will be pretty grotty by now.’

SUS­PEN­SION, STEER­ING

This is very re­li­able, with leak­ing shock ab­sorbers usu­ally the only prob­lem – un­less you bash a kerb. The sus­pen­sion’s ro­bust­ness can cre­ate a prob­lem, though. Robin Mckenzie says, ‘As a con­se­quence the sus­pen­sion geom­e­try is of­ten ne­glected, and the ad­justers seize, es­pe­cially on the rear.’

The plas­tic bush in the steer­ing col­umn wears out, and re­plac­ing this en­tails re­mov­ing the gauges and the fresh air in­let box. ‘So if the steer­ing wheel is wob­bly, ex­pect a big bill,’ Robin warns.

BRAKES ANDWHEELS

The brake calipers suf­fer from brake dust build­ing up un­der the shims, which in turn stops the brake pad from “float­ing”. Check that the Fuchs wheels are in good con­di­tion. ‘Many will have been in­cor­rectly re­fur­bished, which is a shame, es­pe­cially if they have been lac­quered, as these will quickly cor­rode un­der the lac­quer and re­quire re­fur­bish­ing again,’ Robin re­veals.

BODY­WORK

The wider wheel arches of this model have made no dif­fer­ence to cor­ro­sion is­sues, the main ar­eas to ex­am­ine be­ing the bot­tom of the wind­screen, the tops of the front wings where they meet the scut­tle panel, around the head­lights and at the petrol filler flap on the front wing. ‘Open the doors and look at the bot­tom of the catch plate and sill,’ Robin also ad­vises. ‘Bub­bling around the

door catch and engine lid re­lease han­dle means the catch plates, and more than likely the bot­toms of the rear wings and the rear ends of the sills, will need re­plac­ing.’ He reck­ons rec­ti­fy­ing body­work on this car is £10,000’s worth.

ELECTRICS

The electrics, as Porsche in­stalled them, are mostly trou­ble free, Robin hav­ing only no­ticed quite mi­nor things. Dirt builds up on the back­ing plate of the rear light clus­ters, which then rust and al­low wa­ter into the in­ter­nals, but he says this also hap­pens when peo­ple over-tighten the lenses and crack them.

How­ever, he pays no trib­ute to alarm fit­ters. ‘They are un­likely to have done a re­li­able job,’ he com­plains. ‘We com­monly find poor sol­der­ing and mod­ules screwed into pan­els where they have caused dam­age to the body­work. LEDS have been drilled into dash­boards, and some­times we find a num­ber of holes from dif­fer­ent alarms fit­ted over the years.’

PARTS AVAIL­ABIL­ITY

Parts avail­abil­ity, at least of me­chan­i­cal items, is good. ‘Porsche is one of the few com­pa­nies that are very sup­port­ive of their older cars,’ Robin says. ‘Soft fur­nish­ings are gen­er­ally not sup­ported by Porsche, but there are very good, knowl­edge­able af­ter­mar­ket sup­pli­ers who can pro­vide most ma­te­ri­als needed, but you have a real ad­van­tage if your in­te­rior is black.’

The Car­rera 3.2 Su­per Sport bulges in all the right places, but lacks the turbo engine to go with the Turbo looks

Defin­ing rear wing dom­i­nates the Su­per Sport for that Athena poster car look

Ex­pect a Su­per Sport to han­dle and go in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to a Car­rera 3.2. That is to say, ex­cit­ing and raw!

Right: Engine is fa­mil­iar 3.2 flat-six as found in the Car­rera 3.2, giv­ing 230bhp. Be­low: In­te­rior is also iden­ti­cal to Car­rera 3.2, al­though might be bet­ter specced, op­tions wise, in Su­per Sport form

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