Because when you really dig deep into the mix, homologating a car to qualify for race entries comes with a hefty none-sensible investment, especially when the brands decide to only make 20 cars.
We’re talking millions of dollars here, and thousands of hours, just to meet regulations. So when I heard the story of how the 964 Turbo S2 came to life, I suddenly acquired a vast amount of appreciation and respect for a car that I otherwise didn’t care too much about.
And luckily for me, my friend G just happened to own one of the 18 cars sent to the U.S. by Porsche.
IMSA Bridgestone Supercar Championship
In 1991, the International Motor Sports Association introduced the Bridgestone Supercar Championship as a support race during the GT series, which grew to attracting both amateur and pro drivers to the series.
The series shared the same ethos found within the Showroom Stock class, meaning the cars were essentially upper end cars offered to the public at dealers, with the primary rule revolving around running RE-71 tires at full tread when wet, and shaved to a semi-race depth when dry. Homologation regulation requirements were that manufacturers had to deliver a minimum of 200 road going cars to the U.S. market, which also had to include 20 ‘race versions’ as well.
For Porsche, tricky homologation requirements had become a norm within its racing realms, but at the same time, they knew there would be no way to incorporate the new Type M30/69 3.3L turbo-charged based race engine whilst still meeting EPA requirements to export the cars to the U.S.
This almost killed the decision to race in the series all together, but with drivers Hans Stuck and Alwin Springer lobbying Porsche to get creative so that they could compete, Porsche came up with a rather interesting game plan, which shared a similar dealer tactic that BMW participated in with the E36 M3 LTW CSL mentioned in my previous article.
While the initial racecars were developed in Germany then sent to the U.S. for race preparations, the S2 Turbo was actually exported to (later owned) Porsche tuner shop ANDIAL as fully optioned 964 Turbo models.
This would allow Porsche to export the 20 cars without having to make any drastic changes to meet EPA and DOT regulations. With that constraint taken care of, ANDIAL would then option the cars with the homologated “power kit”, and send them off to chosen dealerships for sale with a $10,000 price tag markup. 18 ended up in U.S. showroom floors, and 2 ended up in Canada.
From IMSA’s perspective, this effort was bordering the thin line of ‘cheating’, but since none of this was mentioned in the rule book, Porsche would pervade with its success in meeting homologation requirements, ultimately landing a 3-year consecutive manufacture winning streak between 1991 and 1993.
The efforts of Stuck and Springer proved successful.
The Drive That Changed My Mind
Earlier, I noted that if I hadn’t known about the story behind the premise of the car, I probably wouldn’t have cared too much about it. That’s primarily because I’ve never found myself to be too fond of the 964.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s got a beautiful design just as all other 911s do, but personally I would rather own a more robust 993, or more likely an early longhood narrow body car. That was until I had my first drive in it…
Heading back to G’s pad, we swapped cars for a bit so I could get a little better taste on what the hype was about. After all, the car was claimed to be much faster than a standard 964 Turbo, having an upgraded K27 turbo, larger intercooler, upgraded cams, and ported/polished head. All of which brought power along the region of 322bhp.
Initially, it felt pretty standard. It was civil, quiet, and comfortable. And I thought, “I could probably daily drive this without any sort of major concern?” But then G sped off, so I obviously had to try and keep up (that’s a story in it’s own), and this was where things suddenly took a drastic turn.
There was an inadequate amount of boost lag when putting the pedal to the floor in 3rd, almost unbearable actually, so I downshifted into 2nd and immediately found myself sunk to the driver’s seat. “What the hell was that?!” I said to my girlfriend sitting next to me, with a huge smile on my face. Perplexed, I continued on chasing after G, making attempts to catch up, and the S2 really started to shine.
Having driven G’s 993 Turbo a while back and a few other older 911s, it genuinely felt appropriate for the era. Understeer was minimal, power was there if kept within boost range, and grip in the rear was confidence inducing.
Overall, the 964 Turbo S2 left its marking in my heart. This car is the sole reason why I’ve changed my entire perspective around the 964 chassis as a whole. It’s obvious that the other variants of the 964 probably wont live up to this sort of driving experience, regardless though, they derive from the same standard pedigree.
Even if they are a little more tamed, I’m certain they’re just as profound to drive, and now I’ve added another car to my wishlist for when I win the lottery.