Produced between 1993 and 1998, the 993 was the last of the air-cooled Porsches, making it a favorite amongst hard-core 911 extremists for its similarities to the original late-60s 911. For those five short years, it was only within the final three that Porsche created its Targa variant. In the time leading up to its release, Stuttgart claimed that it would not produce such a model, but as soon as 1995 rolled around, there it was, featuring a convertible body with a retractable glass roof.

The 993 breached the market just as Porsche was beginning its slow recovery from a series of financial troubles wrought by the recession of the late 80s and early 90s. The German automaker desperately needed a hit, and thankfully, the 993 delivered.

For many folks, the 993 represents a final expression of purity in motoring experience, with a dearth of driving aides and electronic supervision provided for those behind the wheel. The horizontally opposed, six-cylinder engine is mounted in the correct place, and even though the suspension was updated, anyone who took a corner with any kind of alacrity was advised to keep his or her foot down. A novice-move like lifting mid-corner was usually something that would end with a pirouette into the surrounding terrain, which is just one reason fans love this vehicle.

Given the “last is best” mentality of buying an historic sports car, the 993 is highly desirable in the used-car market, with the rare Targa model even more so. It’s certainly a favorite amongst Porsche lovers, and well-maintained examples often command a surprisingly high price tag.

As technology continues its relentless march into infinity, with hybrid systems, autonomous-driving, and alternative fuels eventually permeating each and every vehicle niche out there, that price will no doubt continue to rise, lending further credit to the 993 Targa’s claim to automotive sainthood.

Click past the jump to read more about the Porsche 911 Targa (993).

  • 1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993)
  • Year:
    1996- 1998
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    flat-6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    281 @ 6100
  • Torque @ RPM:
    251 @ 5250
  • Displacement:
    3.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.4 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    171 mph
  • 0-100 time:
    12.3 sec.
  • Price:
    50000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Exterior
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1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Exterior
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1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Exterior
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Interestingly, it was an Englishman by the name of Toni Hatter who created the original 993 exterior design. The model features a retractable rear spoiler, and retains the same doors as the previous 964 generation. However, there were several changes implemented, including flared-out rear fenders and twin exhaust pipes. The bumpers are considerably less chunky, and there are many visual cues taken from the Porsche supercar, the 1986 - 1989 959, such as the recessed headlights.

The Targa retains the same chassis and profile as the Cabriolet model, but incorporates a large glass roof section that slides back under the rear window with the touch of a button, revealing a large opening that lends a decidedly “convertible-type” feeling to the whole thing. There are also unique, two-piece 17-inch wheels that further distinguish the Targa from its coupe compatriots.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 89.4 Inches
Track/tread (front) 55.3 Inches
Track/tread (rear) 56.9 Inches
Length 167.1 Inches
Width 68.3 Inches
Height 51.2 Inches
Ground clearance 4.3 Inches

Interior

1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Interior
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1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Interior
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1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Interior
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Backing the 993 Targa’s assertion of 911 authenticity, the interior features much of the same layout as can found on the original model from the late-60s. For example, the instrument panel is composed of a practically identical five-gauge spread, while the pedals are mounted to the floor.

There were a few changes, however, such as new bucket seats, a new steering wheel, and additional luggage space. There’s leather upholstery, and even an extremely slim spot to sit in the back for anyone small enough (or flexible enough) to fit. But the main draw of sitting in a 993 Targa is the banshee scream of that six-cylinder engine mounted behind you, plus all that sun from the open top. And honestly, that’s all the opulence you really need from a car like this.

Drivetrain

1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Drivetrain
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With a chassis built specifically to handle the rigors of motorsport, of course the 993 Targa has the right drivetrain to back it up. In the rear of the car, you’ll find mounted the “M64” boxer engine, notably using just air and oil to stay cool. The 3.6-liter flat six is naturally aspirated, and it’s the same power plant that can be found in the 964 generation. This version, however, uses something called Porsche VarioRam, which is a specialized induction system that varies the length of the inlet ducting. The lower the rpm, the longer the intake length. As rpm rises, the intake length is shortened. The overall result is a fatter and flatter torque curve.

This final iteration of the air-cooled Porsche motor comes with a maximum 281 horsepower at 6,100 rpm, and 251 pound-feet of torque at 5,250 rpm. Putting those German horses onto the tarmac is one of Porsche’s first production six-speed manual transmissions. The Targa also came with an optional four-speed “Tiptronic” automatic. The result is a 0-to-60 time of 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 171 mph. Not bad for a 20-year-old car.

To handle the extra power, Porsche added beefier brakes, as well as updated the suspension with a new alloy, multi-link setup in the rear, which was a carryover from development on a four-door model that never made it to production. This helped to reduce the tendency for the 911 to spin from mid-corner throttle lift, but it also had the happy side-effect of lowering interior noise and improving the ride.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type naturally aspirated petrol
Cylinders Flat 6
Capacity 3600 cc
Bore × Stroke 3.94 × 3.01 in
Maximum output 281 HP @ 6,100 RPM
Maximum torque 251 LB-FT @ 5,250 RPM
0 to 60 mph 5.4 seconds
0-100 mph 12.3 seconds
Top speed 275 km/h (171 mph)

Prices

1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) Exterior
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Picking up a 993 Targa of your own can be a tricky endeavor, but expect to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $45,000 to $75,000, depending on condition. I want to emphasize the “depending on condition” part of that sentence, as the most pristine examples have been known to fetch quite a large premium. Even the lower-end of the spectrum is far from cheap, considering this is a two-decade-old sports car we’re talking about, and odds are the good ones will only get pricier over time (that is, if they are well maintained).

Competition

Honda/Acura NSX

1991 - 2005 Acura NSX
- image 5916
Honda NSX

In terms of philosophy, the NSX is a totally different animal from the 993 Targa. Where the Porsche is mechanical and simplified, the Honda piles on the technology. Originally offered in 1990, the first-generation NSX came with a 3.0-liter, mid-mounted, V-6 engine putting down 270 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque at the rear wheels. The body is an aluminum monocoque, which saves a tremendous amount of weight. Also included were titanium connecting rods, an 8,000-rpm redline, front and rear double-wishbone suspension, and Honda’s VTEC variable timing and lift system. What’s more, a slew of famous race car drivers participated in its development, including Satoru Nakajima, Bobby Rahal, and Formula 1 legend, Ayrton Senna.

Simply put, the NSX was a spaceship for its time, a Japanese exotic crafted to take out Ferraris. Now, as the next generation carries on that tradition, interest in the first generation is bound to increase. While not quite as expensive as the Porsche, this beast from the land of the rising sun is just as desirable to the right crowd.

Lotus Esprit

1995 Lotus Esprit S4S
- image 170722
s4s

Originally built in the mid-70s, the Esprit slowly evolved into a bit of on outlier from Colin Chapman’s philosophy of “simplify, then add lightness.” However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic car. By 1996, when the fifth generation was already in full swing, the Esprit was offered with a mid-mounted, 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 with 350 horsepower, blessing the vehicle with a run to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 175 mph. This made it, by all accounts and purposes, a bona fide supercar. Interestingly, output was actually downgraded from an original 500 horsepower due to gearbox reliability issues.

Production was halted in 2004, and rumors swirled that a new generation might be in development, but don’t hold your breath. With the huge array of new, high-tech sports cars recently unveiled or scheduled for release in the near future, Lotus should probably just focus on fun, smaller sports cars. For the time being, anyone looking for a throwback to 90s-era high-performance, the Esprit makes for a solid choice.

Conclusion

1996 - 1998 Porsche 911 Targa (993) High Resolution Exterior
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The 993 Targa is a special car in more than one way. Not only is it representative of the kind of 911s that made the moniker what it is today, it’s also that rare combination of sporty intent and fun, with an air-cooled, race-bred engine in the rear, a performance-oriented chassis and suspension, and a sliding glass roof to let in all that atmosphere and air cool the passengers.

Modern vehicles may be able to smother the 993 Targa in ride quality, technology, and even performance, but that’s half the point- the 993 is stripped down and simple, a machine for drivers who know how to hit an apex without 12 different electronic acronyms chatting away in the background. The ability to enjoy all that involvement with a sliding roof is just a cherry on the German chocolate sundae.

  • Leave it
    • * Quite expensive for a twenty year-old car
    • * A bit slow by modern standards
    • * Not friendly to the novice
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