A few days ago the QOTD asked us which vehicle we most lusted after when we were 25 years old. Lo and behold, yesterday I saw an example of my answer in another instance of the famed CC effect.
Usually the CC effect can be explained relatively easy by just realizing that a given car is brought to the mind’s forefront and thus consciously noticed going forward, but I was a little more surprised than normal when I saw this Porsche in a parking lot after buying one of my kids some new shoes.
After all, the RS America was only produced for a bit longer than one year, it was only sold in the United States, there were only 701 built in total, and perhaps most importantly, the value of these (along with most air-cooled Porsche’s) has increased quite a bit in the last few years so that many owners don’t drive them very often and when they do, usually not in any kind of adverse weather conditions.
So how is it different than a regular 1990-1994 Porsche 964 (964 being the internal designation for a normally aspirated 911 in those years)? Porsche created it specifically for the US market in a bid to harken back to the older “RS” series of 911’s that were purpose built for racing.
Also Porsche wanted to make up for the fact that they made a new RS version of the 964 for the rest of the world in 1992, examples of which are held in very high regard worldwide but were not available in the States.
RS stands for Renn Sport (Racing Sport) and generally denotes removal of unnecessary equipment, i.e. adding lightness to borrow a phrase from another racer, and also generally increased performance as was the case with the older RS’s as well as the 1992 RS that we didn’t get.
Standard equipment included fabric covered sport seats, lightened door panels with a simple cloth pull strap to close the door, no rear seats (in 1993 models), no power steering, manual mirrors, and no standard A/C, radio, or sunroof. Power windows were still included as removing them (and increasing engine performance like in other RS’s for that matter) would have required new type approval in our market, an expense Porsche was unwilling to consider.
The A/C, radio, sunroof were three of the four total options available, the last being a limited-slip differential. Normally Porsche’s have an almost unlimited options list and it is not too difficult to double the price of the base car with a heap of options but not this one.
As a bonus, the base price was about US$10,000 LOWER than an equivalent standard 964 C2 which frankly made this a relative bargain. These days Porsche will happily charge more for less equipment (and people happily pay it). Total weight savings was only around 77 pounds though which doesn’t seem like much of a savings from the standard 3031 pounds.
The original intent was to make it a one-year only model (1993) but enough customers ordered them that the factory ended up producing them through August of 1994 with the result that the last 84 of them are officially 1994 models, which is the car I answered Paul’s QOTD with.
Interestingly the car I had in mind that I remember fondly was also white like this one, unfortunately I did not think to look inside this one to look for the rear seat which would have denoted it as a 1994. Along with white, one could also order red or black or two metallics, those being dark blue and silver at an additional cost or one could pay even more and ask for any color imaginable, an option of which at least some owners took advantage.
As regards the engine, they were all powered the same as any other 964, that being a flat-six aircooled engine producing 247hp and 228 lb-ft of torque through a 5-speed gearbox. However all RSA’s received the large fixed whaletail spoiler as opposed to the electric spoiler that automatically raises or lowers depending on speed.
They also received 17″ alloys as well as the “M030” suspension – in Porsche-speak “M030” means European specification as opposed to the (usually softer or detuned) standard US-market versions. The suspension clearly looks lower than the standard C2 on this one, I believe the drop is around an inch for the M030 suspension.
In any case, I was watching for these all through the 90’s and 00’s and realized they never dipped much below $40k while a regular C2 and even C4’s were often available for $20k. Just in the last few years values of regular C2’s and C4’s that are not pristine are easily in the $40k range (this is for manual transmission coupes; Targas, Cabriolets and automatics hurt the value quite a bit) and some pristine RS America’s are asking into the low six figures.
Our featured car has at least the sunroof option, I have no idea about the other options, but it seems to be regularly used based on the condition and the local independent Porsche mechanic license plate frame although I have not seen this car before (and I would have noticed this one notwithstanding any CC effect).
I am not sure if the little oil slick is from this car as I’ve noticed over the years that many people pull through the parking spaces in this particular lot to park “head out” so it could be from someone else but air-cooled Porsche’s are often associated with some form of oil leakage…In any case it was a bright and very welcome sight on an otherwise dreary day. And yes, I found I still lust for one of these.
Nice little beauty surrounded in a sea of trucks and SUV’s. Always wanted a 911, should of done it a few years ago before prices started to skyrocket. Need to some day at least get to drive one.
Did anybody else play Need for speed: Porsche unleashed? I spent hours on my PC playing that game to acquire a fine collection of Porsche cars and “working” for the company as a factory driver. One can always dream.
Ha ha! A blast from the past! I played that game until I “beat” it, but that was over 15 years ago. I gave up playing video games soon after that because they made my brain feel like mush, and I used my newfound extra time to work on cars, read books, and spend too much time on the internet. One step forward, you know.
Nice find in the wild, for such an unusual model. I’d totally forgotten all about this variant.
It’s not the first time that Porsche used ‘America’ in a model name. The 1952 America Roadster was the precursor to the legendary Speedster. It had a taller windshield, and cut-down doors. Very rare too; only 16 were built. Alloy body; removable windshield, and the brand new Super 1500 engine. It would do 118mph with 70 hp.
Haven’t seen that before. Looks like a cross between a Speedster and an XK150. I prefer the looks of Speedster and the XK150.
Nice find Jim.
Road tested on Motor Week,all on Utube.
Even Porsche drivers need to by shoes from time to time.
Yesterday I was at a Porsche Club of America autocross held on the runways of the old Moore Army Airfield (aka “Devens”) in Ayer, MA. The two PCA regions that use Devens have about 14 events between them during the season. When I add in the other car club events (every weekend April 1 through November 1), I don’t lack for opportunity to see Porsches (and many other interesting cars) being driven at their limits.
Yesterday there were about 50 Porsches of various flavors (911, 914, 944, 968, Boxster, Cayman) spanning about the same number of years. There were no 928s and no RSAs at this event, but I have seen them at others. My favorites are the air-cooled cars because to me they sound like the 356 my dad had when I was a child — maximum purposeful mechanical clatter. Isn’t that what Porsches are supposed to sound like? I suspect that’s one reason why they have appreciated in value. Regardless, I heard lots of good flat-four and flat-six music while looking after the cones at the end of a long, fast slalom.
This 964 RS America is a rare find indeed! I found one for sale when I was looking for a classic air-cooled 911 in 2007-08, and it of course was far more expensive than I would consider spending, but it was major food for thought nonetheless. I sometimes regret selling the 1990 964 Targa that I owned from 2008-11, but selling it when I did avoided what would have been a major expense at some point to fix the 964 oil leaks that would have been necessary to get approval to drive it on the track at PCA track days, and it freed both capital and garage space for the FJ40 Land Cruiser that I found for sale locally and bought shortly afterward.
Acquiring another air-cooled 911 always interests me, but if I were to do it again I would look for a “beater” 911 Carrera with a worked-over engine, which I could take straight to the track without worrying about either oil leaks or keeping it original and looking good in the interest of resale/collectability.
I was aware of these, and knew they had A/C delete, but didn’t realize there was power steering on 911’s, at least before the 993, to delete. I’ve only driven one 911, perhaps mid- or late’80’s, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t have or need PS.
I was passed by one out on NB I-65 in the middle of nowhere in Indiana the other night, clearly en route to Chicago, with an older (but not old) couple in it. It was good to see it out in the wild.