Harm Lagaay came back to Porsche in 1989. When he came back the first thing, he saw was the new Porsche 964. The appearance of it was very similar to the ones before, and Harm Lagaay felt that the design language is too old and the technology offered in the Porsche 964 wasn’t innovative or cutting edge enough.
The Porsche 959 became an instant hit with its beautiful gracious looks and superb performance. He observed the Porsche 959 prototypes and the design language behind them.
Tony Lapine, the chief of the design department was still recovering from the heart attack he had, and Harm Lagaay as his successor was even more shocked when he realized that Tony Lapine had not even considered developing a successor to the Porsche 993.
Tony Lapine retired in 1989 after his long recovery stating that he wasn’t physically fit enough to work in the factory. He then went on to become a teacher at Vienna University. Sometimes later, using his knowledge of fluid dynamics, he had an aluminum-hulled yacht built, which he and one of his sons sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.
Harm Lagaay and his team members began work on the next iteration of the Porsche 911 series. It must have new looks while retaining the classical elegance looks and the clean design the original Porsche 911 had.
He then assigned Stephen Murkett with a new project, to create a new car for Ferry Porsche’s eightieth birthday in 1989. This is how Panamericana came to birth.
Porsche Panamericana was designed by Harm Lagaay along with Stephen Murkett. Ulrich Bez was the technical director of the project. Their objective was to preview some design features and elements that would be on the next-generation Porsche 993 series.
Since it needed a proper name, they settled on Panamericana, a reference to the Carrera Panamericana race where the Porsche had several class wins and most famously the Porsche 550 Spyder winning the Small Sports Car category in 1953.
Harm Lagaay designed it with limited production in mind, but the growing financial crisis at Porsche meant that this isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
It was built on the chassis of a Porsche 964 Carrera 4 Cabriolet and bodywork was done using plastic and carbon fiber to keep it lightweight as possible.
The wide wheel covers were to provide enough room for various sizes of rims and tires, so if the need arises it could be transformed into an off-road car.
Various roof configurations were also possible with the car and the removable waterproof fabric top could be removed by a zipper.
Porsche Panamericana was actually a mix of Targa, convertible, coupe, and off-roader body styles. Despite the non-streamlined wheels, the aerodynamic drag coefficient was only 0.30.
Ferry Porsche was surprised with the appearance of the car when it was presented to him. The public reception was mixed due to its extraordinary looks. The radical design elements such as the non-streamlined wide wheel covers were heavily criticized as not being suitable for a sports car.
Porsche Panamericana never made it to the production but its styling, new design elements, and features penned out by Harm Laagay and Tony Hatter clearly had an influence on the next generation of Porsche 911.
Based on the designs of Harm Lagaay and Tony Hatter, Ulrich Bez started to work on the new car. Peter Falk, Porsche Racing department head, also joined the project as a development engineer.
Peter Falk analyzed the Porsche 964 and listed down what’s wrong with it and how things should change to make the Porsche 993 more nimble and agile.
Ulrich Bez had previously noted down the main goals of the project. The new Porsche 993 should be lighter, perform better, and lesser emissions than the Porsche 964. Peter Falk added some new goals here and there as his new to-do list.
Ulrich Bez wanted his new sedan, the Porsche 989 to have rear-wheel steering. This required a complex but ultra-lightweight subframe to support the transaxle rear gearbox, suspension, and steering gear.
This rear-wheel steering system was then incorporated into the Porsche 993 prototype along with a new alloy rear-axle assembly for the Porsche 911 engine’s transaxle, thus improving the handling of the car and reduced weight as well, but also cut the production cost significantly. This complicated process was carried out by Bernd Kahnau and George Wahl. They also replaced the Porsche 964’s heavy electro-mechanical front-drive system with a new viscous coupling at the new front differential. This setup also resulted in improved handling, weight loss of 110 pounds, and better ride quality.
Porsche’s executives were paying more attention to the Porsche 989 sedan project and Ulrich Bez was spending much of his time on the Porsche Formula One efforts.
This allows Bernd Kahnau and George Wahl to change this the way they saw it fits. They were aware of what would happen to them if they failed to impress the Porsche authority board, and due to that reason, they did everything they could to make it the best Porsche 911 incarnation up to date.
Wendelin Wiedeking has become the CEO of the company in 1993. Before his return, he used to be the former chief of manufacturing at Porsche but left the company because of his displeasure with the manufacturing inefficiencies and the internal political struggle.
He streamlined the Zuffenhausen factory production line tremendously. This process reduced on-floor assembly parts inventories from twenty-eight-day supplies to enough for the next thirty minutes. This resulted in massive cost-cutting.
Porsche 993 was introduced as a 1994 model year coupe at first, soon to be followed by the cabriolet variant in April. American being the largest market of Porsche, received the 1995-year models in September 1994.
7865 Porsche 993 coupes and 7074 Porsche 993 cabriolets were produced in 1994. The base price was $5000 less than the equivalent Porsche 964 models due to the smart manufacturing methods and cost-cutting methodologies. These sales gave Porsche considerable profits as well.
By 1995, Porsche had unveiled the all-wheel-drive Porsche 993 Carrera 4 models, and also the all-wheel-drive Porsche 993 Turbo. Both these cars utilized the all-wheel-drive system developed for Porsche 959.
This all-wheel-drive system significantly improved the performance of the Porsche 993 Carrera 4 and the 408hp Porsche 993 Turbo cars. Their success allowed Porsche to develop new variants like the Porsche 993 RS, Porsche 993 GT2, and the well-received Porsche 993 Targa.
In 1996, Porsche engineers introduced the VarioRam technology-based induction on normally aspirated Carrera models, resulting in a power boost of 295hp from 272hp.
Porsche 993 Carrera 4 S and 2 S featured wide-body configuration to house wider tires. This resulted in better grip and better handling of the car.
Porsche 993 was the last car to be built under Ulrich Bez, then technical director of Porsche.