If ever a man and his imag intermingled, it would have to be the iconic memory of actor James Dean. A moody rebel without a cause and fast car addict, he returns to life with explosive power in a recollection of sheer abandon, surly irreverence, a mating of man and machine.
Like an echo of time, Porsche returns an equally idolized cult hero to renewed heights, taut, lean, every movement exuding a sense of controlled abandon while thrilling in the expectation of the ultimate ride that plays out even better than imagined. The year 2005 brings a pair of new Carreras to the long-lived 911 bloodline dating back to mid-century when the auto (and Dean, by then a legend) first reigned as a giant among equals. While instantly identifiable by tight-skinned shape and demeanor, the newest generation Carrera and Carrera S coupes hold tons of changes that push it well into a future of technological dominance -- while never losing that fabled mystique.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, there are two engines for the vehicle at this level. Carrera sports the highly-regarded 3.6-liter, 324-HP six cylinder "boxer" engine, while Carrera S -- a unique model, not a trim upgrade, says Porsche -- gets a larger, more powerful 3.8-liter, 355 HP flat six. Larger wheels, red-painted brake calipers, a slightly wider stance and improved anti-roll characteristics scream authority as Carrera carves along tight S curved roadways with super stick control. Inside, there's a new, six-speed manual trans, Porsche Active Suspension Management, new seating options in a redesigned passenger compartment, and side curtain airbags for the first time. Some subtle comfort changes that can coddle during in-town cruises might surprise hard-driving Porsche traditionalists. But a Sport Chrono Package Plus that records and displays lap times signals the heart of the beast still beats at triple digit speeds.
This Carrera is the first of a number of 911 revisions on an updated foundation code-named "997" by Porsche for development purposes. Soft top and supercar 997 versions are among upcoming additions. Unlike the current $440,000 "fly me to the moon" Carrera GT, this new dual-pack of 997 Carreras bring near supercar credentials within realistic reach in the just-under $70,000 to $80,000 range. As if that's not enough to coax the spirit into driving gear, just imagine an undershirted James Dean as your mythical co-driver.