3.2 Carrera Club Sport, 968 Club Sport, 964 RS

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3.2 Carrera Club Sport, 968 Club Sport, 964 RS

GT Purely Porsche Mag, November 2002

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Porsche 3.2 Carrera Club Sport

Porsche 968 Club Sport

Porsche 964 RS

Head-to-head, pound-for-pound, the Porsche 3.2 Carrera Club Sport, Porsche 968 Club Sport and Porsche 964 RS step into the ring to scrap for the title of best weekend weapon.

Comparison between the Porsche 3.2 Carrera Club Sport, Porsche 968 Club Sport, Porsche 964 RS

Head-to-head, pound-for-pound, the Porsche 3.2 Carrera Club Sport, Porsche 968 Club Sport and Porsche 964 RS step into the ring to scrap for the title of best weekend weapon.

This test isn't about comfort. It's notconcerned with mpg figures or runningcosts. And it's definitely not interestedin practicality.This test is about the stuff of dreams. It'sabout eyeball-widening, grin-inducing, laughtill you weep fun.And nothing else.

Okay, you've squirreled away a few grandand want something that will provide the puredriving experience you've been craving sinceyou first wobbled out on L-plates. But aweekend car has to be an big event. Whenyou take that car out on track or hammer itround back roads, you want it to feel specialand stand out from the crowd. So what's onoffer?

Porsche has a history of making limitededition,stripped-out racers for the road,starting in earnest with the 1972 Porsche 911 2.7RSand stretching up to the awesome Porsche 996 GT3.But for this test, we decided to keep the priceswithin our stratosphere and stick with thethree most popular track day cars Porsche hasto offer.

With a Porsche 911 3.2 Club Sport, Porsche 964 RS and a Porsche 968 Club Sport in tow, we've headed to Croftcircuit to put them through their paces. Exactly how much fun can you have withyour clothes on? Time to find out…

Porsche 911 3.2 CARRERA CLUB SPORT

With the grace and poise of Rudolf Nureyev,the Club Sport pirouetted round to afford us abetter view of the corner we'd just exited.The unsurprised, unnervingly calmexpression of my co-pilot said it all: it wasn't amatter of if; it was merely a question of when. Old Porsche 911's spin – it's what they do when they'renot driven properly. And sometimes evenwhen they are.

If you're looking for a pure track day orweekend car, and all you've driven is ‘soft'modern machinery, don't expect to climb into a Porsche 3.2 Club Sport and go quick.The moment you climb over the lip of thebucket seats and into the stripped-out cabin,you are in an alien environment. Get goingand little changes.

The ride is rock hard, the steering heavy andthe action of the floor- hinged pedals disconcertingly unfamiliar – all making thejob of muscling the Porsche 911 round the twisties abit of an effort. With inexperienced hands andfeet at the controls, the Club Sport is awkward,precarious and unforgiving. But with anexperienced driver at the helm, it comes aliveand gels to become a seriously sharp tool.Feed the power in progressively and bendscan be attacked at astonishing speeds. Withthe apex clipped and the go-pedal nearing thefloor, the CS simply hunkers down, grindingtowards the track's edge as it surges onward.Animated by the taut chassis, the steeringdances, transmitting every nuance of feedbackfrom the tyres to the driver as they key into thetrack. The buzzy, visceral link created betweencar and driver allows all 231bhp to be appliedwith surgical precision. It's not devastatingly fast, but definitely quick enough.

Scrub off speed for the tight right of SunnyIn, and the CS gently squirms under thepressure. Nothing too exciting, just enough tolet you know what's going on. But get roughwith the controls, or disrespect it at all, andthe CS will bite you square in the face. Hard.Get it right though, and it's a fabulouslyrewarding car to drive fast. As owner, MarkBurdon says, the CS is only too willing to patyou on the head if it's driven smoothly.But for the inexperienced, the learning curveinvolved could be equated to standing at thefoothills of Mount Everest and looking up.Patience and effort is required to conquer theClub Sport, but in the end you know it'll beworth it. Once tasted though, the stripped-outracer will have you gagging to take that firststep up the steep slope. But getting thatopportunity is another matter.

With only 198 cars made, and a mere 53 right-hand drive examples imported to Britain,the Porsche 3.2 Carrera Club Sport is a rare, muchsought after piece of exotica. Indeed, onaverage, only five or six examples tend to cropup for sale in a year.

And because they are so rare, cheapexamples don't exist. If they do, it's for a verygood reason. However, being a collectors' car itwould be unusual to find one that hasn't beenlavishly looked after since new.When released into the UK, all Club Sport sexcept one were finished in Grand Prix white,with Guards red wheels and graphics. Othermarkets had a choice of colours, with a morediscreet Club Sport script along the left frontwing. To date, corrosion hasn't been aproblem for owners.

And with the engine built by the factory to‘blueprint' specification, with hollow inletvalves and modified Bosch DME – whichincreased peak revs from 6250 to 6840rpm –mechanical reliability is rarely an issue either.However, be sure to check driveshafts if the carhas done more than 60,000 miles. Similarly,with around 50 kilos of electrical equipmentstripped out, there's simply less to go wrongcompared to a standard Porsche 3.2 Carrera coupe.To make up for everything that was strippedout, the CS did get front and rear spoilers, ashort-throw gear lever, LSD, sports seats, arevised air intake and Bilstein suspension.Although the car has been gutted, and theride errs on the firm side, the Club Sport isn'ta pain on the road, although the heavysteering does make slow manoeuvres hardwork. But once cutting through back roads, asthe car was intended, these are foibles soonforgotten.

Porsche 968 CLUB SPORT

The Germans must have been reading up onChinese philosophy in the early Nineties.Want proof? Go drive a Porsche 968 Club Sport.If you've read The Book of Change – the onethat goes on about Yin and Yang – you'll knowthat life is supposed to be about balance. Andif the Porsche 968 CS could be described in a word,‘balanced' would be it.

How balanced? Mr Spock would be morelikely to get bent out of shape than the Porsche 968. Simply put, the Porsche CS is idiot-proof.So user friendly, so confidence inspiring isthe Porsche 968 CS, that the concept of late brakingcan be rigorously explored with relativeimpunity. And by late, I mean waiting untilyou see God, and then waiting a secondlonger. Squeezing the middle pedal producesstrong, progressive retardation with almost nounsettling weight transfer and so muchfeedback that you can feel exactly where thelimit of adhesion lies as the car leeches itselfto the tarmac.

In fact, so well do the brakes and chassiscombine, you can easily find yourself in theembarrassing situation of slowing too quicklyand having to get on the gas again before youpeel in. This is especially true if the car comeswith the Porsche MO30 sport pack's bigger discs andwith ‘Big Red' calipers, as ours did.But even when overcooked into bends, the Porsche 968 remains a paragon of composure –turning with little protest in circumstances thatwould have a Porsche 911 spinning off the track. Drive a Porsche Club Sport and you will be amazedat what you can get away with. With a shrug ofindifference, it will soak up your best or mostham-fisted efforts and egg you on, daring youto go faster.

But whilst the 968 is huge fun, theexperienced driver may find themselves gettingthe measure of it all to soon. In short, the CSwill spring few surprises, meaning a gooddriver may soon move on to something morechallenging.

But for the novice, the balanced and benign968 is probably the best learning tool short ofa 996 Carrera 4S or Porsche Boxster. And to be honest,although a Porsche 911 of the same era will forever bethe more glamorous, the Porsche 968 will always bequicker and more fun without the spectre of aflat-six lurking over its shoulder.With ‘just' 240bhp on tap, the motor isn'tblindingly fast – indeed every Porsche 968 ownercraves more power. But with its spectacularelasticity, the VarioCam lump is a joy to use.The Porsche Club Sport replaces the instant shove ofa Porsche 911 with a smooth, linear delivery that howlsswiftly through to the jarring rev limiter.Shifting up a cog on the fluid, precise gearboxdrops you back around 5000rpm, and all toosoon you're looking for yet another gear.Which is not to say that the Porsche 968 is abreathlessly frantic drive, it just requiressystematic input from the pilot.

Coming down the 'box is just as satisfyingas going up. Heel-and-toeing is a simple affairon the well spaced pedals, and a neat stab ofthe throttle will send the engine spinning toafford smooth downshifts every time.With the right gear selected, the light andprecise steering allows the Porsche CS to be tossed intobends with surprising violence on a neutralthrottle. And once past the apex you canhappily mash the accelerator into the floor,letting the car do all the hard work of firingyou out of one bend and on to the next. Withseemingly endless grip on offer, it's noexaggeration to say that with the 968 the grinsjust keep coming.

And because they are reliable, there's no realreason the fun should ever stop. But when youdo buy, check the cam chains and teeth on thecamshaft as both are prone to wear.As with the other pared-down efforts,almost 100kg have been knocked off the Porsche 968 CS. The cosseting, colour-codedsingle-piece Recaros alone accounting for a16.8kg reduction.

With 1923 cars built worldwide, the Porsche Club Sport is almost commonplace compared to the Porsche 911s, but then, for some reason, they're rarelyseen on the roads. If you can't pick up a carwith the Porsche MO30 pack, they can still be sourcedfrom Tech9 (see Tuning panel). And with therear shocks sagging with time, opting for stiffersuspension is always a good idea.

Porsche 911, 964 RS

If the Porsche 911, Porsche 964 RS could be compared to a Class Anarcotic, it would have addicts, not owners.And if that analogy held true, of those 2000-odd addicts around the world, many bynow should have succumbed to an overdose.The Porsche RS is that pure.

So pure in fact, that in all but idealconditions it can quickly become a liability.When it first appeared in 1991, it was deridedfor being almost undriveable off the track. Drive the Porsche 964 today, and it's easy to see wherethe critics were coming from. The Porsche RS is apurebred racer: from the pull-cord doorhandles to the microscopic suspension travel,it screams its bloody-minded intent. Squeeze the throttle at any revs, and theinstant pick-up, aided by the ultra-lightflywheel, is hilarious. But wait for that elusivegap in traffic with the engine spinning above 3500rpm, bury the pedal into the thin carpet,and marvel as the Porsche RS claws itself towards thehorizon with rabid ferocity.

Let the engine howl through to the7000rpm limiter, shift up and the heavy,precise 'box drops you into another sweetlystacked ratio and back into the power. Onsong, the Porsche RS is simply insatiable. It's nosurprise that it could match the Porsche 964 Turbofrom rest to 90mph. And from there, gettingwell into treble figures is frighteningly easy.Once up to speed, the Porsche RS vacuums itself to theroad, giving you a planted, secure feel.However, scrubbing off that speed onanything but perfectly smooth, flat surfacesresults in the Porsche 964 RS weaving across the road like ahunted fox. The brakes are phenomenal; butwith so little suspension travel to soak up allthe resultant forces, the front wheels track andskip over imperfections and will chirp withremarkable ease. On the average road, the Porsche 911requires constant supervision to be kept incheck. Indeed, in the wet, its unruly behaviourhas reportedly seen many a driver aquaplaningoff the road.

When powering through corners the Porsche 964 RS willskitter over bumps and shuffle towards theverge leaving you little option but to ease offthe throttle. It's frightening to think that onBritain's dilapidated B- roads, the Porsche RS woulddance and skip merrily off into the nearesthedge with relatively little provocation. Thenear endless reserves of grip are simplynegated by the surface. It's sad and frustrating, but ordinary roadsdestroy what should be an extraordinarydriving experience.

But take the Porsche 964 RS to the track or find somegood roads, and its gossamer sensitivity makesperfect sense. In the right environment, thechassis's once distracting twitchiness istransformed into pure, undiluted feedback.The tenacious grip robbed by the Queen'sHighways is reinstated and there for the driverto explore. And with scalpel-like steering, theonly limiting factor on the precision andspeed at which corners are dispatched isability. Like the Porsche 3.2 Club Sport, the Porsche 964'sheavy steering loads up beautifully throughbends; but unlike the old Porsche 911, the Porsche RS is moreadjustable and user friendly. But then, that'swhat comes with evolution.It's ironical, but in a test that doesn'tconcern itself with practicality, the fun ofdriving the Porsche RS is restricted by its lack of saidelement.

Yes, it's noisy. No, there aren't any creaturecomforts. But that's the point. All these thingsyou can live with. And if the utter minimalismof the pull-strap handles and coffee grindergrate of the limited-slip differential don't raisethe slightest smile, then you have no businesseven considering the Porsche 964 RS.

But expected impracticalities aside, the Porsche 964 RS'spoor on-road manners really do let it down. Ifthe car is to be used for track days and nothingelse, then yes, it would be entirely worth yourwhile. In which case the only real option to gofor is left-hand drive models. With powersteering and contorted off-set driving position,right-hookers won't provide that pure Porsche RS experience. In fact, the Germans don't evenconsider right-hand drive models to be‘proper' Porsche 964 RS'.

But if you are looking for the purest of thepure track cars, with around 2000 cars kickingaround, you may not have to wait years.

AND THE WINNER IS…

If only picking a winner was that easy.Although these three cars are the most popularweekend weapons Porsche has ever produced,they all have very different qualities to offer. Infact, it's a perfect case of horses for courses.The Porsche 3.2 Club Sport is fabulous on the track.You could spend months, if not years, learninghow to drive the old Porsche 911. And once mastered,or in the hands of an already competentdriver, the rewards would be ethereal.However, if it's instant gratification youwant, there can be little to beat the Porsche 968 ClubSport with its get-in-and-go driveability.Shunned by the rear-engine snobbery, the Porsche 968 could be the best kept secret in the Porschestable.

As for the Porsche 964 RS, although it is a better carthan the others, its awesome on trackperformance just does not translate on to theroad. The joy of its involving, exhilaratingtrack manners is turned into utter frustrationby its inability to tackle everyday roads. That

frustration is compounded with theknowledge that the average family salooncould probably slice down country roads fasterthan a £30,000 sports car.

It would be easy to sit on the fence andproclaim them all to be winners in their ownright; however, if the money was mine to spend,it would have to be the Porsche 968 Club Sport – it'sjust such a complete car and so much fun. Butask me again in a year or so when I'm a betterdriver, and I may just change my mind. .

Tuning Porsche 911 3.2 CARRERA CLUB SPORT

Because the Porsche 3.2 engine was built to blueprintspecification, it should be sound if it's been lookedafter. But before you think about tuning, makesure that it's healthy and delivering close to itsclaimed 231bhp.

The next step is a Motec ECU, which will boostpower to around 265bhp and torque to 240lb/ftby de-restricting fuel flow. A Motec unit can befitted by 930 Motorsport from £4112.

930 Motorsport also offers the more conservativeoption of a chip and SSI conversion exhaust at £2350, which will produce 250bhp and 226lb/ft.You can also replace the original Bilstein springsand dampers with today's alternative.

As with all track-orientated Porsches, it's worthlooking at the following: Porterfield brake pads,£105 front, £95 rear. Braided brakes hoses, £60 perset. Full Geometry setup: £150Contact – 930 Motorsport: 01925 242342

Tuning Porsche 964 RS

As with the Porsche 3.2 Club Sport, the Porsche 964 RS responds well to the Motec ECU conversion. With a freer fuel flow,you can expect power increases from 310-320bhp with around 291lb/ft of torque. Motec units can besourced from 930 Motorsport for around £4112.

Costing between £1500 and £2000, a mass flow kit will increase air flow and boost power to 290bhp,but can produce fuelling problems.

To soften the Porsche RS for the road, 930 Motorsport can re-valve the stock Bilsteins for £500 per pair.Contact – 930 Motorsport: 01925 242342

Tuning Porsche 968 CLUB SPORT

There isn't much that can be done with the Porsche 968Club Sport, especially if you're looking at dramaticpower gains. Because few examples will make thefactory-claimed 240bhp, the first step up thetuning ladder is blueprinting, which Tech9 says willensure 252bhp.

Cargraphic does a sports exhaust systemcomplete with K&N filter and re-mapped BoschDME unit that will be swapped with your ownunit. For £2412, you can expect 20-30bhp gainsdepending on your engine; the system is R-ClassGT regulation approved and suitable for track days.TechArt makes a back box for the Porsche 968 CS thatoffers around 8bhp for £963. It also offerslowering springs that work with the originaldampers for £458.

Tech9 can supply the full Porsche MO30 kit, includingBilstein dampers, stiffer springs, 40 per centTorsen limited-slip differential, drilled discs andanti-roll bars, from stock, for £2162.Contact – Tech9: 0151 425 5911

SPECIFICATION – 911 3.2 CARRERA CLUB SPORT 1987-89

ENGINE Power-unit: air-cooled flat-six Capacity: 3164cc Valves: Two per cylinder Max Power: 231bhp @ 5900rpm Max Torque: 209lb/ft @4800rpm Weight: 1172kg Transmission: Five-speed manual

SUSPENSION Front: Bilstein dampers, independent MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, anti-roll bar Rear: Bilstein dampers, independent, semi-trailing arms, torsion bars

BRAKES Front: 304mm ventilated discs Rear: 309mm ventilated discs

WHEELS Front & rear: 6Jx16” (fr) & 7Jx16” (r)

TYRES Front: 2205/55 VR16 Rear: 225/50 ZR16

PERFORMANCE Max Speed: 151mph 0-60mph: 5.2 seconds HOW MUCH? Now: £22,000-£38,000

SPECIFICATION – 968 CLUB SPORT 1993-95

ENGINE Power-unit: Water-cooled in-line four Capacity: 2990cc Valves: Four per cylinder Max Power: 240bhp @ 6200rpm Max Torque: 225lb/ft @ 4100rpm Weight: 1320kg (kerb weight) Power to weight: 182bhp/ton Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

SUSPENSIONFront: Independent MacPherson struts, lowerwishbones, anti-roll barRear: Independent, semi-trailing arms, torsion bars

BRAKES Front : 304mm ventilated discs, four-pot calipers,

ABS Rear: 299mm ventilated discs, ABS

WHEELS Front & rear: 7.5Jx17” (fr) & 9Jx17” (r)

TYRES Front & rear: 205/45 ZR17 (fr) & 225/40 ZR17 (r)

PERFORMANCE Max Speed: 160mph 0-60mph: 6.3 seconds

HOW MUCH? Now: £10,000-£23,000

SPECIFICATION – 964 RS 1991-93

ENGINE Power-unit: Air-cooled flat-six Capacity: 3600cc Valves: Two per cylinder Max Power: 260hp @ 6100rpm Max Torque: 232lb/ft @ 4800rpm Weight: 1195kg Transmission: Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

SUSPENSION Front: Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, Bilstein telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar Rear: Independent, semi-trailing arms, coil springs, Bilstein telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar

BRAKES Front : 322mm ventilated discs, four-pot calipers, ABS Rear: 299mm ventilated discs, four-pot calipers

WHEELS Front & rear: 7.5Jx17” (fr) & 9Jx17” (r)

TYRES Front & rear: 205/50 ZR17 (fr) & 225/40 ZR17 (r)

PERFORMANCE Max Speed: 161mph 0-60mph: 4.9 seconds HOW MUCH? Now: £25,000-£40,000



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