1996 Porsche 911 Review
Superb high-speed transportation for the spirit.
Sports cars do not lend themselves to the kind of rational evaluation found elsewhere on these pages. Every virtue most car-buyers hold dear--low price, fuel economy, spacious accommodations or minimal maintenance cost--is conspicuously absent from the attribute lists of these high-performance machines.
The fact of the matter is that sports cars are not designed to appeal to consumers. Rather, they are directed at driving enthusiasts, people who choose transportation based on input from their hearts, not minds. The motivations here can seldom be justified, and really don't need to be. Every sports car on the road represents a victory of want over need.
Porsche owners--specifically, Porsche 911 owners--are at the peak of this small but intense class of customers. They are fiercely loyal, usually vocal about their reasons for purchase and are, almost without exception, as much in love with their cars as a car owner can be.
Such partisanship is understandable. Porsche has experimented with a variety of engine layouts and body designs over the years, but at the core of its business the 911 series, first introduced in late 1964, stands alone.
The 911's preeminence is now fact as much as fable. All current Porsches are 911 derivatives, whether entry-level 911 Carrera coupe, Carrera Targa (with its innovative sliding glass roof panel), flip-top Cabriolet, all-wheel drive Carrera 4 or 4S, or overachieving 911 Turbo. Over a 32-year production span, they have been improved in countless ways, to the point where they blend real-world comfort with performance that can only be exploited to the maximum on a race track.
Logically, the 911s have a host of competitors. The Acura NSX, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra Turbo and Nissan 300ZX Turbo are all ultra-high performance machines, and most are less expensive.
But this is not an arena where comparison shopping has much meaning. If you're in the market for one of these cars, your heart will tell you which dealer to visit.
Our test car was the top-of-the-line 911 Turbo, one of the true rocket sleds of sportscardom.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 1996 Porsche 911, click here: 1996 Porsche 911.