Spending A Night In London’s Canary Wharf With A 1991 Porsche 964 Turbo
Photography by George Colbeanu
When dealing with turbocharged, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive sports cars, a frigid winter night in a crowded city isn’t most people’s idea of an ideal driving scenario. Cold tires, hard-to-spot pedestrians, and not a lot of room for mistakes certainly aren’t part of any of my wheelman daydreams, but from a photographer’s perspective the January night I spent exploring London with my friend Tahmid in his 1991 Porsche 964 Turbo was pretty sublime.
When you think of London, it’s probably something along the lines of old architecture, posh coffee shops, the Thames, Oxford Street, and the world’s most well known analog clock. Those things bring us plenty of visitors each day, but as the sun sets the tourist count dwindles, and the city takes on a different feeling altogether. Especially in Canary Wharf, a part of London that’s always felt like something out of a sci-fi movie to me. With straight, wide roads flanked by tall concrete and glass skyscrapers on each side, overlooking the City from miles away, it’s literally and figuratively separate from the postcards.
And it just might be the perfect spot to take this Midnight Blue Metallic monster out for some urban exercise. Without the activity of the workday adding to the soundscape, the recognizable flat-six belts out a solo performance, echoing back on itself, egging itself on. The contrast of brand new architecture and the trappings of modern lifestyle with the soft curves of the 964 makes for easy inspiration as we explore and document.
The photoshoot begins with me meeting Tahmid at the late hours of the evening and him taking me down to the garage where the car spends its idle hours, and although there are some standard commuters in the stacks, I can’t help feeling a bit of secret lair vibes from this subterranean storage. The Turbo is sitting peacefully, but always ready to venture out into the world and shed a bit of rear rubber in the process. As we pull out of the garage onto the street, the car clears its throat and sends scores of pigeons flying from the rooftops. We aren’t about to attach a camera and break a bunch of traffic laws, but I can’t help feeling like we’re about to make our own version of C’était un rendez-vous.
As we head out to the first of a many locations to shoot, I ask Tahmid how this car came into the family’s collection. “My father Kiron and I previously owned a ’97 993 Carrera 2S with the factory turbo body in midnight blue metallic, which we had fully restored,” he explains, continuing, “We then decided to sell the car in the hopes of buying either a 993 or 964 Turbo. The Turbo had always been the dream, the proverbial poster car on the wall. The only catch in finding one was that the color had to be midnight blue metallic. Having sold the 993 last spring, the search was on. Some five months later, an unmodified, original 964 Turbo came up for sale in the right color, so we had to buy it!”
A couple more minutes of driving and chatting in mutual admiration of the car pass by, and we make it out of the slow speed zone, where Tahmid wastes no time in introducing the right pedal to the carpet, lighting up the rear tires and sticking us to the seats. The tach and speedo surge up to the, uh, posted speed limit, in a matter of seconds. Despite some hints of turbo lag in the beginning, each gear change feels like a perfunctory pause, with no change in the actual rate of acceleration. It just seems to go. This was my first experience in a fast Porsche, and an educational one; a fanbase that used to seem a bit cultish to me makes plenty of sense now.
Tahmid tells me that he still can’t believe he’s the one behind the wheel. “I have always dreamed of owning one of these cars, and now I can just sit and look at it in the garage whenever I feel like it—it’s really mine! To think I was actually debating between this and a new 911… Thank God I chose to follow my heart, it’s been worth every penny, and the experiences so far have been nothing short of priceless.” It’s a car he’s loved since he was a kid, and by all accounts it makes him feel like one all over again.
A few locations and many liters of Shell later, I ask Tahmid if he is planning to do anything to the Turbo, or keep it as it is. He has some plans, but nothing that fundamentally alters the genetics. “My first alteration was to source a set of period Speedline wheels for the car,” he tells me, “I found a set in December which didn’t come cheap, but not much does in the world of Porsches I suppose. Currently I am having them refurbished, and then they’ll be wrapped in some sticky Michelins. I decided to stick with the original Speedline bolts and have them refurbished as well, and the wheels look spot on now. After those are fitted soon, the next change will be to upgrade the suspension to Bilstein PSS10, which will allow me to lower the car a smudge and have it sitting perfectly on the new wheels.
“Within the first month I added the lip spoiler at the top of the rear windscreen like most of the 3.6 models. I stumbled across a local guy with one lying around, purchased it off him, and had it resprayed and attached onto the car immediately. I’ve always loved that look. For further in the future plans, I’ll eventually fit a new exhaust. Although the current one is perfectly fine, I would like something that sounds a bit different. I have been pointed towards Brookes race exhausts, but we’ll see. The final thing I will do is detail the car and ceramic coat it fully, and then it’s just a matter of finding the time to enjoy it all!”