1999 Porsche Cabriolet Carrera C4 (2PCP)


Hey Joe:

I was almost afraid to welcome the newest edition of Porsche’s 911. As I slid into the slightly more generous cockpit I felt only slightly lost. Some of you will notice a change in the dash immediately, and a general improvement in ergonomics, but I have spent some time in the marvelous Boxster and sitting there I had visions of it instead. Nonetheless I’ve wanted a 911 ever since they hit the streets 33 years ago.

Well Mr. Cobb:

I’m sure many have a passion and desire to own the Porsche image, and I’m always amazed by how awed folks are by this car. It’s just another hunk of metal, right? You tested the Coupe and I tested the Cabriolet. The Cab is wayyy Cooler, because sports cars should be convertible. I restored a 1955 Speedster some years ago and although this car has come a long way they’ve done it while retaining that classic Porsche look and feel.


The911 have always been air-cooled and out back. Alas Porsche has finally reached a plateau in the development of the opposed air-cooled six, but its still out back! Noise, emissions, and fuel economy issues became nearly insurmountable. This liquid cooled, vario timed four-cam, four-valve, flat six is quieter, more efficient, and more powerful. In the end, aren’t all high performance sports cars measured by their engines?

This Porsche is first to incorporate the new stability system PSM (Porsche Stability Management), but we know it really means Porsche Saves Mavilia. But this can be good for any driver myself included, but its not quite right yet.

Porsche’s Vario-Cam (variable cam timing) helps make this engine extremely flexible and more powerful than its predecessors. When you drop the clutch and stand on it, the engine pulls hard to the rev-limiter without hesitation and the power just tapers off as the tach approaches the redline. WOW.

Exciting says it all for me and you’re right that the stability feature will do a lot for those of us who only think we are race drivers.

However we’ll still get in trouble by driving too fast. In fact I did manage to spin out at Willow Springs racetrack in an all wheel drive model while getting a lesson from your fellow race driver David Murry. Now I know why you guys don’t like to ride on a track with guys like me. I was doing great right up till I went into turn number three way too fast. Before I could say “Oh #@*t”, and David could reach over and grab the wheel we’d done a 360 in the middle of the track.

Everything you said about the engine must be true because it is so impressively strong when you mash down on the throttle.

Features & Design:

German car makers have a pension for silly

radios and this Porsche is no exception. Also as I searched for the keyhole for the ignition, I was disappointed to find it still on the left side of the steering column.

The standard seats are still OK, but lack in overall lateral restraint. This hasn’t changed over the years and the optional sport seats are too much.We agree totally on the non-user friendly radios etc., and we also agree on the ignition key location. They moved the gas filler to the passenger side and leave the ignition on the left. What sense does that make? Hello Porsche. Put the gas filler back on the driver side and the ignition key on the right side of the steering column.

Seating is comfortable, but getting in and out is tiresome especially for older dudes who coincidentally are the folks with enough shekels to buy one. I suggest Porsche take a look at the seat adjustments in the Corvette. Just push a button or two and the seat hugs you for any occasion. Rather, nearly every “driving” occasion.

Performance & Handling:

The steering still has that razor sharp feel that only a couple of manufacturers can approach, and I still give the nod to the Porsche as the worlds best. Just the right amount of power assist without any loss in feel.

Porsche’s all wheel drive system is beyond reproach, and it gives you all the thrills of a two-wheel drive car until rear wheel speed exceeds the front wheel speed.

PSM computer works quickly by translating the car’s motion and grip levels and will apply brake or throttle as needed to keep you going in the same general direction.

To me there is no finer feeling than entering a corner with too much speed, and still get through. Done right the car will rotate on entry, but as you catch it with steering, mashing the throttle will bring the front tires on line and yank you out of the corner. No fuss no muss, just another day at the office. Incredible!Price, I love speed and love the feeling you get from the Porsche that is like being on “Rails”. I also can relate to your explanation of how it all works but execution is another thing altogether. It’s like playing golf. I know what to do but have trouble making it happen. I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time so remembering everything is impossible. To do what you suggest sounds easier than it is to actually do.

The manual transmission shifter is great and you know where you are most of the time, but if you don’t want to be real busy in around town driving I don’t suggest the 6-speed.

Overall, this is a car even the average driver will appreciate the engineering that helps them “enjoy the ride”..


It’s always hard to look at the price of a car and base a purchase on that because today I am numb from what an auto costs. It seems like all bidding starts at $20,000! With this in mind you start to appreciate all that Porsche puts into one of their cars for the money. If you can blow dry your hair at home, the coupe that I drove will leave a cool $4000 in your jeans over the Cab!A guy I used to work with had a favorite saying that “the only thing that money won’t buy is poverty”. At a base retail price of $74,460, the 911 Cabriolet is sure to open your purse wide. Is it worth it? Well, if the price tag doesn’t scare you this is a high performance car you can drive to work every day. I wouldn’t say that for the Dodge Viper, Ferrari or even the Corvette for that matter.

Good News:

Even though the edge has been removed, the 911 has been improved in every way.

You can turn off the PSM system.It’s a driver, handles great, fun to drive and will make you younger than you are, helpful speed indicator, and exceptional convertible top design.

Bad News:

Console and radio overly complicated, seats could be better, Boxster nose.Pricey, makes you want to drive much too fast, hard to get in and out of, instruments not user-friendly, key and gas filler on the wrong sides. Silent turn indicator.Make no mistake that my memories of a 911 have been compromised. This water cooled 911 is not the same tightly focused car of yesterday, yet I am a total convert. I secretly hope that Porsche will fix the nose to give the 911 back its own visual identity.

Now Porsche, exactly where is the C-4 with turbo?

Green FlagIf money is no object the styling and engineering is among the best available in the world.

Quality doesn’t get any better at any price. Definitely worth the price of admission.

Green Flag

The competition: 

Acura NSX $84,000 – $88,000, Aston Martin DB7 $130,000 – $148,000, Chevrolet Corvette $38,320 – $45,320, Dodge Viper $67,225 – $69,725, Ferrari F355 $121,495 – $140,885, Lotus Esprit $84,125, Mitsubishi 3000GT $25,450 – $44,600, Toyota Supra $31,078 – $40,508.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG.


MSRP range $65,030 -79,920

Legend: checkered flag.gif (289 bytes)Checkered Flag =Winner in every catagory; Green Flag=If you like it, go for it; White Flag=One lap to go, too early to tell; Yellow Flag=Caution, go get a hot dog while they clean up the mess.

Your comments are welcomed. You can e-mail joe@atthewheel.com

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