Classic Porsche


The G-series was the poster car for a generation of Porsche fans. More specifical­ly, images of the Carrera 3.2 decorated many office and bedroom walls when the model was new. It continues to do so today…


The classic 911 is Porsche’s ultimate — some would say untouchabl­e — icon. We all know this to be true, but there was a time in the late 1970s when our favourite manufactur­er was preparing to discontinu­e the rear-engined legend. With square-edged, front-engined, water-cooled models from the brand’s transaxle family of cars ably proving there was life outside the curvy coupé, many saw the

911 as being, well, long in the tooth. Despite these concerns, however, the three-litre 911 SC had been a huge success. Even though it was down on power when compared to the Carrera 3.0 it replaced, strong sales forced a rethink in Stuttgart. It seemed there was still life in the 911 concept after all.

Arriving for the 1984 model year, the Carrera 3.2 was arguably the purest incarnatio­n of Porsche’s sports car icon. A big step forward from the SC it superseded, the new and improved 911 was still very much an analogue sports car, bereft of driver aids and powered by the traditiona­l air-cooled flat-six. It was, of course, based on the ‘impact bumper’ G-series body introduced a decade earlier, but the Carrera 3.2’s familiar shape and galvanised body panels clothed a substantia­l evolution in the 911 story.

The Carrera 3.2 was immediatel­y available in coupé, Targa and Cabriolet variants. It marked the first time the Carrera script had appeared on a 911 since 1977, but the biggest change was hinted at in the new car’s designatio­n: a 3,164cc flat-six which Porsche claimed was eighty percent new. The higher displaceme­nt was arrived at by using the 95mm bore from the three-litre SC in conjunctio­n with the 3.3-litre 911 Turbo (930) 74.4mm crankshaft stroke, along with a compressio­n ratio of 10.3:1. Bosch L-jetronic fuel injection and Motronic 2 Digital Motor Electronic­s (DME) encouraged smooth engine running and mechanical reliabilit­y, while new inlet and exhaust pipework was also fitted. As a result,

power was up to 231bhp, with 209lb-ft torque delivered at 4,800rpm. This was the most powerful naturally aspirated 911 to date, managing the 0-60mph dash in

6.1 seconds, racking up a top speed of 152mph. The first production 911 to feature an ECU controllin­g ignition and fuel systems, the Carrera 3.2 achieved a sprint to 100mph from rest in just 13.6 seconds. At a stroke, with performanc­e nipping at the heels of the original

930, the ‘regular’ 911 had gone from sports car to junior supercar. Carrera 3.2s destined for North America were more super car than supercar, though. A reduced 9.5:1 compressio­n ratio and a catalytic converter reduced power by 24bhp, resulting in 207bhp (still at 5,900rpm), while the dash to 60mph took 0.2 seconds longer. The sometimes recalcitra­nt 915 five-speed manual transmissi­on, however, was fitted to all Carrera 3.2s after working well in the SC, while brakes were enlarged, with 286mm front and 294mm rear discs bringing the new 911 to a swift halt. Elsewhere, the welldocume­nted cam chain tensioner bugbear was remedied with a new oil-feed system, and a fit-for-purpose finned oil cooler replaced the serpentine lines in the passenger footwell. There was a thermostat­ically controlled cooling fan for Carrera 3.2s built from 1987, but all this extra kit came at the expense of the car’s weight: the Carrera 3.2’s bulk was up 50kg on the 911 SC.


It’s not easy for the layman to tell the difference between the Carrera 3.2 and its Sc-badged predecesso­r, but look closely and the clues are there. The new car wore ‘teledial’ wheels (Fuchs were offered as an optional extra), while an air dam with integrated fog lamps tidied up the front end. Until 1986, a red reflector panel featuring Porsche script filled the gap between the rear lights. Elsewhere, though, it was business as usual. In other words, the classic coupé’s curves were left intact. That is, of course, unless you ticked the ‘Turbo Look’ box when specifying options for your new Carrera

3.2. Officially known as the M491 option and available for an extra DM25,590 through Porsche’s Sonderwuns­ch (Special Wishes) department, the Carrera 3.2 Supersport gained Turbo-aping wide wheel arches, a ‘whale tail’ rear end and a wraparound front spoiler. The 930’s stiffer suspension, superior braking system and wider wheels also migrated to the Supersport. Largely thanks to the non-availabili­ty of the 930 from 1984-1986 due to strict emissions regulation­s, the wide-hipped, big


tailed Supersport was particular­ly popular in the USA, becoming an unmistakab­le 1980s automotive icon. A separate Sport pack (comprising a reduced equipment list) was offered in the UK.


On launch, the Carrera 3.2 coupé was priced at DM68,560, rising to DM71,660 for the Targa. Ironically, as become the norm, less car meant a bigger price tag, with Porsche asking DM75,980 for the fabric-roofed Cabriolet. And as was always the case with Porsche’s creations, evolution and a programme of subtle lifecycle improvemen­ts began without delay. Indeed, only a year after the first Carrera 3.2 appeared, the model gained a shorter gear shift, a radio aerial embedded in the windscreen and slimmer front seats with the option of electrical­ly controlled adjustment. For the 1986 model year, all Carrera 3.2s received a redesigned dashboard with larger air-conditioni­ng vents, while the front seats were lowered by 20mm and boasted increased fore and travel. Central locking became standard equipment, and all cars were fitted with the ‘Turbo Look’ kit (known as ‘Carrera with Sport Equipment’ in the UK). Engine management and fuel map changes for North America brought power up to the 217bhp mark, and body shells were guaranteed against rust perforatio­n for ten years. These changes wowed the car buying public, with 1986 becoming the Carrera 3.2’s most popular sales year, resulting in the assembly of no fewer than 14,584 units.

A substantia­l change came in 1987 with the introducti­on of the Getrag G50 five-speed gearbox, Borgwarner synchronis­ers and a hydraulic clutch. Much more helpful in letting the driver get on with the job of driving, the revised transmissi­on was one of the Carrera 3.2’s most celebrated refinement­s. In a spot of tidying, Porsche also made changes to the car’s rear lights, moving fog and reverse lamps into the red reflective fill strip. Electric power roof operation became standard functional­ity for Cabriolets, while 911s with catalysts were introduced in Europe. Fifteen-inch Fuchs alloys replaced the standard Teledials (sixteen-inch wheels were still an option) in 1988. More impressive­ly, Porsche added a passenger door mirror free of charge! A year later, door locks were fitted with flashing red diodes designed to repel opportunis­t car thieves, while sixteen-inch wheels became a standard fit. The famous Flachbau ‘slant nose’ body style was also available to order, although only sixty-three Uk-bound cars ever received the treatment.

1989 marked the end of the G-series 911 and the arrival of the 964, but Porsche continued to develop the Carrera 3.2 until the bitter end. The Speedster variant (option M503) borrows its inspiratio­n, name and style


from identicall­y named 356 of the 1950s. Essentiall­y a low-roof version of the Cabriolet, the DM110,000 two-seater featured a cut-down windscreen and a pair of body-coloured polyuretha­ne ‘humps’ behind the front sears covering an unlined, manually-operated hood. Buyers could choose narrow-body or ‘Turbo

Look’ versions, each benefiting from a model-specific front valance. Between January and July 1989, 2,104 Speedsters were built. Only 161 were narrow-bodied, and only 139 were right-hand drive. One of the most visually arresting 911s ever made, the Carrera 3.2 Speedster idea was first floated in 1983. Yes, it took an astonishin­g six years to reach production and, though very much a ‘fair-weather’ 911, Porsche made buyers sign a weather damage waiver before they allowed each car to be sold.


The limited-edition Anniversar­y 911 also came in 1989, a low volume model celebratin­g twenty-five years of the air-cooled classic. As was the case with the Commemorat­ive 911 produced in 1988 (to celebrate the 250,000th 911), changes were only skin deep: Anniversar­y 911s were Silver Metallic or Satin Black Metallic and featured body-coloured Fuchs wheels, front and rear spoilers and a plush leather interior accompanie­d by a commemorat­ive plaque. A total of fifty Anniversar­y 911s are believed to have been sold in the UK, totalling thirty coupés, the remainder being a split of Targa and Cabriolet models. Exclusivit­y had been available from the very beginning, though. Made to celebrate the tenth anniversar­y of the original Carrera RS, the 1984 model year Carrera ST (Senza Turbo) was limited to just ten cars. Solely produced for the Italian market, power was hiked to 255bhp, while Grand Prix White paint was offered with blue or red body graphics and colour-matched Fuchs. An engraved dashboard plaque and a ‘ducktail’ rear spoiler were other special features of this very rare car.

A favourite of the red-braced, champagne-quaffing and Filofax-toting Yuppie, the Carrera 3.2 was one of the most popular 911s when it came to main dealer sales: 74,026 examples were built (35,571 coupés, 18,468 Targas and 19,987 Cabriolets), each representi­ng the ultimate developmen­t of Porsche’s torsion bar suspension concept. With Porsche experienci­ng a barrage of competitio­n from the Far East, however, the 911 needed another shot in the arm. Consequent­ly, a rebirth of the model came with the end of the G-series line and the birth of the 964 in 1989. More usable and more refined, the 964 featured vastly updated body styling and new braking and suspension technology delivering superior performanc­e and handling. Not one to shy away from percentage-based marketing snippets, the manufactur­er claimed the 964 to be eighty-seven percent new. Many saw the newer 911 as a reassuring move away from the reputation of high-powered 911s as ‘widow makers’, but this accusation is a somewhat unfair when it comes to the Carrera 3.2 — only under serious provocatio­n will the model’s rear ‘pendulum effect’ come into play, with surefooted­ness encouraged by an impressive 42/58 percent front/rear balance.

What is deserved is the Carrera 3.2’s standing as a 911 which cemented the Porsche’s reputation for quality of build and reliabilit­y. Today, the model offers lucky owners performanc­e and panache with few drawbacks, but prices are starting to rise accordingl­y. If you want the best in naturally aspirated 911 from the 1980s, then you’d better act fast, else you might just find yourself staring at the poster on your bedroom wall for far longer than you imagined.

 ??  ?? Above A Guards Red Carrera 3.2 is the quintessen­tial 1980s poster Porsche
Above A Guards Red Carrera 3.2 is the quintessen­tial 1980s poster Porsche
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 ??  ?? Below Considered by many to be the last 911 remaining true to Butzi Porsche’s original concept, the Carrera 3.2 is a hugely rewarding sports car
Below Considered by many to be the last 911 remaining true to Butzi Porsche’s original concept, the Carrera 3.2 is a hugely rewarding sports car
 ??  ?? Above The last 911 before the arrival of the 964 in 1989, the Carrera 3.2 is regarded by many as the sweet spot of in the classic 911 line-up
Above The last 911 before the arrival of the 964 in 1989, the Carrera 3.2 is regarded by many as the sweet spot of in the classic 911 line-up
 ??  ?? Below Another example of a 911 produced in high numbers, the Carrera 3.2 is easy to come by, but you’ll need to be careful when buying — ensure the example catching your eye is solid
Below Another example of a 911 produced in high numbers, the Carrera 3.2 is easy to come by, but you’ll need to be careful when buying — ensure the example catching your eye is solid

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