This 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS is a non-sunroof coupe that was sold new in Japan and was imported to the U.S. under previous ownership. The selling dealer acquired it in 2022, and it is finished in Rubystone Red over a black interior. Power comes from a 3.6-liter flat-6 mated to a 5-speed manual transaxle and a limited-slip differential, while other equipment includes a seam-welded chassis, 17-inch magnesium Cup wheels, and fixed-back Recaro seats with multi-tone pink-and-purple inserts. This 964 Carrera RS shows 16k kilometers (9,700 miles) and is now offered in North Carolina with Japanese-language factory books, a copy of the build sheet, a clean CARFAX report and a clean Arizona title.
|Vehicle:||1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS|
|Number Produced:||1,913 Basics, 2,179 total|
|Tune Up Cost:||$1,750 with valve adjustment|
|Chassis Number Location:||Stamping on metal crossmember above gas tank, driver’s side A-pillar tag, metal tag on inner passenger’s side front fender (except on Japanese-delivered cars)|
|Engine Number Location:||Right-side upright fan support facing passenger’s side|
|Club Info:||Porsche Club of America|
|Alternatives:||1995 BMW M3 Lightweight, 1992 Honda NSX-R, 1991–94 Ferrari 512 TR|
This car, Lot 91312, sold for $474,999, including buyer’s premium, in a Bring a Trailer online auction on November 21, 2022.
Porsche built an instant classic when it launched its 1973 Carrera RS. The firm constructed 1,525 RS models plus 55 RSRs in three production runs. RS cars were divided into 17 homologation cars, 200 M471 Lightweight versions and 1,308 M472 Touring versions. The first two runs up to about serial number 1070 were the “real McCoy” RSs. Those cars had thinner steel, thin glass, alloy front-suspension crossmembers and alloy frames for the ducktail spoiler. Lightweights additionally had stripped interiors and trim, and no sound deadening or undercoating.
Porsche followed that up with a “race car for the street,” the 1974 RS with 52 units made; it’s a $2m-plus collectible now. Then came the 1984 SC/RS, ditto the race car for the street, built in just 21 units. (About 10 SC/RS cars went professional rallying, although that is a story for another day.) For unsullied examples, prices are also $2m-plus.
The RS returns
After 1973, there were no lightweight road warriors built in sufficient numbers to be available to the everyday buyer. That ended in 1992 with the 964 Carrera RS. The pent-up demand was such that Porsche sold 2,179 cars without North America’s participation. Porsche built the RS in three models: 1,913 Basics (sometimes called Lightweights), 290
N/GTs aimed at BPR Group N and ADAC racing, and 76 Tourings with full interiors and available sunroofs and air conditioning.
Despite appearing similar, the 964 RS was substantially different from a standard 964 (as well as the 964 RS America). For rigidity, the body was completely seam-welded, not spot-welded. Weight was reduced everywhere it was easy to do: no power steering, no airbags, aluminum hood, thin glass, no undercoating, a stripped interior with no insulation, no rear seats, lightweight door panels with pull straps replacing handles, manual mirrors, lightweight carpets and headliner, and lighter manual seats. Even the wiring harness was pared down with no circuits for A/C or a sunroof. The result was a 2,740-pound curb weight.
The M64/03 3.6-liter engine was tuned to 260 horsepower (13 extra) with 240 lb-ft of torque delivered through a 5-speed G50/10 gearbox with shorter gears, a limited-slip differential and a single-mass clutch. Wheels were wider and made from lightweight magnesium versus aluminum for standard 964 wheels. The car was lowered 40 mm and the suspension was uprated to “very stiff,” with larger sway bars, adjustable shocks, and a trunk-mounted torsion bar. The brakes were suitably uprated as well. The 964 RS accelerated 0–62 mph in 5.4 seconds and was good for 162 mph.
Some people read the specs and said, “That’s not so special.” But then they drove the car. The whole was surprisingly better than the sum of the parts. The handling was almost perfect old-school Porsche, and the power-to-weight ratio was more than inspiring, even if nowhere close to the supercars of today.
For over 30 years, “good car guy” Richard Merritt ran the U.S. DOT’s exotic-car-compliance section. He was a co-founder of the Ferrari Club of America, a vintage racer and a collector. When I first visited him in 1982, he had a 250 Testa Rossa, a Dino 206 S, and a DB4GT vintage race car. Dick was hard to fool, but he tried to be fair. Because the 964 RS was built in too high a quantity to be considered rare, he denied it “Show and Display” status. Some 964 RS cars nonetheless made it to America, either as “Box 8” race cars (easy with an
N/GT, tougher with a Basic, impossible with a Touring) or coming across from Canada on a midnight run.
In the early aughts, I asked him to consider a petition to import 964 RSs if we fully complied with DOT and EPA regulations, which you had to get permission to do. After publishing my petition in the Federal Register and waiting the requisite time, permission was granted. A buddy put together an $8,000 kit of parts needed for DOT and EPA compliance, and in the cars came. By 2017, the 964 RS was 25 years old and federal requirements dropped away, allowing greater numbers of cars into the U.S.
In Europe, the near-20-year hiatus between the 1973 RS and the 964 RS generated huge enthusiasm. A lot of 964 RSs were modified, went racing, did track days or generally logged many miles. In Japan, a 964 RS delivered new by distributor Mizwa was almost always just an exotic street car, so these are often found with lower mileage and in better condition than those in Europe.
Low miles, big bucks
Our subject 964 RS was a Japanese delivery car, imported to San Francisco by its Hong Kong-based owner. This past summer, Thomas Schmitz (a fine German dealer of rare Porsches) bought the car to tour California and take to Monterey Car Week. He sold the car to a collector-dealer in Scottsdale, who in turn traded it to the excellent restoration shop and dealer who listed it on Bring a Trailer.
The car was turned out in eye-popping Rubystone paint, the third-most-popular 964 RS standard color behind Mint Green and Maritime Blue. It had low mileage at 15,638 km (9,696 miles). It was expertly detailed and looked terrific. The seller included 37 paint-meter readings that disclosed a repainted hood. Other readings varied from 4.0 mils to 10.0 mils, a wide range by most standards. That led to endless chatter in the comments about paint thickness variations in factory-applied paint on early 964s. In-person viewers thought that the car was largely repainted.
Untimately this paint debate didn’t matter. The car sold at the $469,999 high bid, plus BaT’s maximum $5,000 buyer’s premium. This was nothing short of a stunning result.
Pardon me now — I have to go hug my Maritime Blue example. ♦