Porsche 3.2 Carrera ~ 1984-1989
Today, the Carrera 3.2 is the archetypal 1980s Porsche, especially when finished in bright Guards Red paintwork. It is, however, not that different in appearance to the 911SC that preceded it.
Introduced in 1984, the Carrera 3.2 had essentially the same galvanised body as the outgoing SC, albeit with a new front spoiler with integral fog-lamps. The interior was also very similar to that of the SC, with just revised seat fabrics and trims.
The engine, on the other hand, was claimed by Porsche to be 80 per cent new, although still based on the SC's 3.0-litre unit. Capacity rose to 3164cc by way of larger 95mm barrels and a shorter 74.4mm stroke crankshaft. Pistons with raised crowns increased the compression ratio to 10.3:1 on all but North American cars. But the Carrera's main innovation was its Bosch Motronic 2 engine management system. This was the first production 911 to feature an ECU to control the ignition and fuel systems. In addition, the fuel injection was updated to Bosch LE-Jetronic and the induction and exhaust systems were revised.
The upshot of these improvements was that power rose to 231bhp at 5900rpm, with torque hitting 284Nm at 4800rpm. However, Porsche claimed fuel consumption to be 10 per cent better than that of the SC, because of the greater efficiency of the electronically controlled engine.
The 3.2 Carrera also saw the introduction of hydraulic tensioners for the cam-chains. At a stroke these eliminated what had long been a weak point on 911 engines – mechanical chain tensioners. The hydraulic items were fed by the engine's oil system and have since become an essential update for earlier 911s.
Initially, the Carrera 3.2 was offered with the same 915 gearbox as the SC, albeit with revised ratios to give more relaxed cruising (and better economy) in fourth and fifth gears. However, in 1987 the car was treated to the new Getrag G50 gearbox which offered smoother changes and a shorter, more modern-looking, gearlever. You can tell the difference between the 'boxes by the fact that on the G50 reverse is to the left and forwards, whereas on the 915 it's to the right and backwards. At the same time, the clutch changed from cable to hydraulic actuation. Today, these later cars are more sought after than the earlier 915-equipped models.
Also in 1987 the interior received larger air vents and a more efficient heating system, while the reversing lights and fog-lamps were integrated into the rear reflector unit.
The Carrera 3.2 was a popular model and was phased out in 1989. Today, it's gained a reputation for being reliable and relatively affordable to own and run. It's not the most exciting 911 ever, but for many it's an ideal first foray into 911 ownership.