Sedans & Coupes

What Makes the Porsche 993 911 So Desirable?

Its newest models may be fast and capable, but for Porsche fans, the classic models are where it’s at. Especially the air-cooled Porsche 911. So much so, that restomodding the vintage sports car has become a high-profile business. But, although the earliest ones are the most valuable, it’s the last air-cooled model, the Porsche 993 911, that’s arguably held in the highest regard.

Why is the Porsche 993 911 considered to be the best?

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The Porsche 993 911’s prominence isn’t just due to the water-cooled 996’s IMS issues. Rather, it’s because the 996 was water-cooled at all. The 993 was the final evolution of the classic air-cooled Porsche 911 formula. But the praise isn’t just a ‘last of the real ones’ nostalgia. Although later models offer more performance and luxuries, the 993 is arguably the better sports car.

Silver 1997 993 Porsche 911 Carrera driving around a racetrack
1997 993 Porsche 911 Carrera | Porsche

In 1995, the Porsche 993 911 Carrera came with a 3.6-liter air-cooled flat-six, rated at 272 hp and 243 lb-ft, PCA reports. In 1996, it was upgraded to 285 hp and 251 lb-ft. And just like the previous-gen, there were also all-wheel-drive trims available. The Carrera 4S didn’t get any additional power. The Turbo, though, thanks to twin turbochargers, put out 408 hp.

But it’s not the power that draws people in. It’s how the 993 drives and handles. Its suspension was completely overhauled from the previous-gen version, Premier Financial Services reports, curbing the 911’s tendency for snap-oversteer. The AWD system was also upgraded, further improving handling.

The clutch is light, Autotrader reports, the 6-speed shifter precise. The steering is incredible, both in weight and feel. And then there’s the old-school sound of the air-cooled engine.

1997 993 Porsche 911 Carrera interior, with tan seats and black dashboard
1997 993 Porsche 911 Carrera interior | Bring a Trailer

The 993, compared to later 991s, is noticeably smaller and simpler. Which, in this case, is a good thing. There’s nothing to get in the way of experiencing the drive. And yet, Road & Track reports, compared to the 996, it’s actually better-built.

The doors close with a solid *thunk*. And even after more than 20 years, it still feels solid on the road. To quote Petrolicious, “it feels simultaneously mechanical and raw, while also being completely civilized and suitable for longer [sic] drives.”

Porsche 993 911 pricing and availability

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Perhaps the best example of 993 adoration comes from Porsche itself. In 2018, to honor its 70th anniversary, the company created ‘Project Gold,’ a Porsche 993 911 Turbo S restored from an original 993 shell. Only 345 were originally built, Car and Driver reports, with a 9000-mile example going for $395,000 on Bring a Trailer. And despite the fact that Project Gold isn’t street-legal, it sold for $3.1 million at auction, The Drive reports.

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Admittedly, other 1995-1998 Porsche 993 911 models don’t command prices nearly that high. In fact, Hagerty reports the model is undergoing a slight price slump, due to poor auction performance. You can pick up a well-maintained example for as little as $45,000. Though on BaT, the average price is closer to $60,000.

Coupes, due to their increased rigidity, are more expensive than Cabriolets and Targas. Though according to Elferspot, the Coupe models are actually the most plentiful.

Black 1996 Porsche 993 911 Turbo rear view, showing wing air intake and added roll cage
1996 Porsche 993 911 Turbo rear | Bring a Trailer

The Porsche 993 911 Turbo, though, is noticeably more expensive. The 9000-mile example was admittedly something of a fluke. Still, on average, models sell on BaT for about $150,000.

What to look out for

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Although the 993’s simplicity is a boon for driving and reliability, the air-cooled Porsche 911 does have some problem spots. That’s why, as with any used car, it’s recommended you get a pre-purchase inspection before buying one.

Although it did have good rust protection, Revolution Porsche reports the 993 is susceptible to rust around the windshield and windows. The exhaust system can also develop rust, Autocar reports, especially around weld points.

In addition, the Porsche 993 911 does have some unique engine issues. It’s not unusual, Car and Driver reports, for a bit of smoke to come out during start-up. Excessive smoke, though, points to worn valve guides or piston rings. In addition, the 993’s engine normally consumes a fair bit of oil, particularly if driven only short distances. This can cause excessive carbon buildup, clogging the secondary air injectors.

But, if you’re after the classic sports car experience with a few modern touches, few do it better than the Porsche 993 911.

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