The Porsche 964 Carrera was the first real production 911 to be offered with 4 wheel drive. The transmission dates back to 1982 when Porsche made 4 wheel drive ‘rally raid’ cars for events like the Paris Dakar.
Typical of Porsche they continued development of the system with the 959 supercar of 1984 and finally offered 4 wheel drive on the production 964 Carrera 4 coupe for 1989.
I have driven 100’s of both 964 C2 and C4 and often have been able to drive them ‘back to back’ on the road.
What I notice is this; Driven normally on the road its hard to tell the difference between a C2 and C4, coming out of tight bends you can feel the steering on the C4 weight up as some torque is sent to the front axle, plus if you compare between cars the brakes have a different feel (the C4 runs a high pressure system). For most drivers, for ordinary driving I bet few could tell a C2 from a C4.
It gets more interesting when you push on a bit. The C2 has a slightly more agile feel to the steering, it seems a little more sensitive and initial turn in to a corner is sharper. The C4 has by comparison slightly less sensitivity (due no doubt to the extra weight in the front) and as the speed increases so you notice that the C4 picks up a little more ‘push or understeer’ at the initial turn in.
With the C4 this ‘push’ will continue through the corner but does not get significantly worse. It feels very secure. Ultimately its a car that the less expert driver might find easier to handle at very high speeds.
The C2 meanwhile turns in more precisely and can be balanced on the throttle through the corner. Its nice. And ultimately, on a dry track is quicker.
But wet conditions massively favour the C4 – be a little patient about turning it into a corner and then get on the gas and the car feels so stable, much less of a balancing act than a C2. Easier to drive in total.
Although the C4 carries more weight it isn’t noticeable in pure acceleration, top speed or economy terms.
To sum up I think that for most drivers, wanting a good Porsche for sensible road use, or occasional track use – take either car. Take the best 964 you can find and it will be a pleasure. If your thing is serious track days, or light competition use its the C2 you need. If you are using throughout the winter, the C4 will feel more secure in the worst conditions.
Maintenance and prices. Some say the C4 costs significantly more to service than a C2 – but I don’t think that tells the whole story. Sure 4 electric windows have more potential for going wrong than 2 – but they don’t go wrong often.
In all the time I have been selling 964 I couldn’t honestly say that the C4’s have caused any more trouble or expense than the C2’s. The C2 and C4 share most running gear, so brakes, tyres, motor service should be the same.
The C4 transmission does not have any reputation for weakness, there is nothing to worry about. Its only the transmission and the high pressure brake system that’s different and routine maintenance is much the same. If you do have a problem on a C4 transmission, its more likely to be in a sensor or hydraulic system and that’s when the owner of a C4 will need a shop with a ‘Bosche hammer’ diagnostic tool. That’s it.
Here in the UK with mild winters there is no real difference between the values of 964 C2 or C4. Tiptronic is only available on C2 and doesn’t command any higher price. Prices are now more influenced by condition. For most of us, buy the best 964 that you can find irrespective of 2 or 4 wheel drive. My Porsche 964 buyers guide will help.
The picture is of two similarly modified Porsche 964, the red a C2 running H&S suspension and Carrera RS settings, the white a similar set up. These were an interesting comparison.