The Porsche 911 has an iconic shape that doesn't really ever change much. But there are differences between models that people either love or hate, and the 964 iteration draws heated passions on both sides. But it may just be the best, ever.
I can't understand why almost everyone rags on the 964. Somehow, it's regarded as the ugliest iteration of the 911 ever; in some cases, worse than the 996. Now I've made a previous post stating that the 996 is a proper 911 that should be considered if you're looking for one, but now I'm going to explain how the 964 truly is a great, good looking car.
Whenever you see a debate between the 964 and 993, almost always, you'll see everyone choose the 993 and the reasoning is, "It's the last of the air-cooled 911s, therefore it is the best!" or "It looks better". Well, while looks can be subjective, we must look at where this generation came from...
This is the 3.2 Carrera; the last of the "ORIGINAL" 911s. If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain with a quick history lesson:
In 1963, Porsche gave the world the best rear-engined car the world had ever seen. The 911, originally starting out with a 2.0L engine, knicknamed as a "long-hood" for how the hood extends all the way to the front. The first "makeover" for the 911 came in 1974 with the start of the G-Models; sexy impact bumpers galore! Displacement was bumped up to 2.7L, great for engine torque, bad for the fact that they continued to use the 915 transmission until the introduction of the 3.2 Carrera in 1984, which got the bulletproof, Getrag-sourced G50 tranny in 1987(Note, they started using the G50 on the 930 Turbo, but I'm disregarding that right now).
Now we've got the 964...now, lets get to the point of why I think everyone calls the 964 the "ugly duck" of the 911 family:
IT'S THE BUMPERS!
Now this is what annoys me, I don't find them ugly at all! Think of them as an "evolution" of the G-Model's impact bumpers. Everyone complained that the impact bumpers ruined the lines of the 911, what was done with the 964 was clearly an attempt to bring back those lines that everyone desired so much, but with little altercation to the overall design. You can very easily see that the general shape of the bumpers remains true, but much more refined, smoothed out and most of all cleaner.
The integration of the fog lights and turn signals was a great idea to keep everything neat and tidy.
This 911 is what I call, the last of the original 911s, and why? Because not only does it give you the iconic shape of the classic 911, pronounced headlights, roof line, belt line and overall disposition, but it's also one of the last that can give you the real connection to your car, that visceral feeling that only you can drive the car and if you fail, it'll kill you "feeling". Sure it was the first to introduce ABS and power steering and a much improved HVAC compared to it's predecessor, but those systems, compared to the 993, are much more primitive, much more inefficient, and most importantly, LESS REFINED. And that being said, the 911 wasn't all about refinement and comfort, it was about the drive, just the car and the driver out on that perfect road; where the only thing keeping the driver alive and the car on the road, is the driver.
Another benefit of the 964? With it's less complicated design, it is, in fact much cheaper to own compared to the 993, that's not to say that it doesn't have it's own problems, most, if not each 911 generation has it's own special problem; be it the early G-Model's 915 tranny being stressed by the 2.7L engine and of course the magnesium engine case and pulling head studs, the 996 and 997.1 and their notorious IMS/RMS failures, and most generations have some form of oil leak problem(not sure if that holds true on the 991). The 964 is actually pretty bulletproof like the previous 3.2 Carrera, but one thing any Porsche-phile will tell you is to stay away from the 1990 Carrera 4, I'll have to eat some of my own words on this but this is the only time where being primative isn't a good thing, the 993 is superior in it's AWD setup, but if you want the original 911 driving experience, you'd probably take the RWD setup, I know I would, and one day I WILL.
At the end of the day, it truly is your decision and oppinion on what you think of the 964, but I feel the 911's styling reached its pinnacle with the 964, integrating the bumpers and bulging, muscular fenders of the Carrera into a clean package reminiscent of the original 911. Contemporary, yet classic. Of course—it should go without saying—styling evaluations are extremely subjective and personal.
Also, I will say that 993s are fabulous cars, but they are beginning to reveal their own quirks as they age... some of these quirks being fairly significant. As a matter of fact, in the 993 "community," '95s are starting to gain a (unfair, IMO) reputation as being a model year to avoid.
And when you think about it, the design of the 993 and 996 look quite similar; wait... WHAT?!?