“Direct descendants of Porsche’s RS/RSR warriors, these wide-bodied, normally aspirated 911s are in a league of their own”
– Paul A. Cadrobbi from Panorama, Racing Pedigree: M491 Carreras
Big Is Beautiful
Let me start by reiterating that I love all 911s. I can sit and admire the understated beauty of an early 911T, the undeniably cool duck tail of a 73 911RS or the sleek lines and timeless design of the 78 SC. But if you ask me (or likely anyone that grew up dreaming of 911s) to draw the prototypical Porsche, there is a very good chance you are going to get a massive rear end, aggressively wide fenders filled with asphalt hugging tires and a whale tail to top it off. This gorgeous 1974 IROC Carrera RSR for example:
Image credit – Alex Anderson
Porsche had huge success in the 70s and 80s racing with the ultra wide 934s and 935s. I’m guessing the design of the wide-body 911 was born from necessity rather than from some designers creative mind. They needed really wide tires and an innovative suspension to keep their rear-engine race cars going around the track at ludicrous speeds without killing the drivers. Wide tires with the 911 design means wide fenders. They needed a spolier and a place for a large intercooler and the whale tail was just the thing. Practical German engineering at it’s finest.
Image credit – Conceptcarz
In Comes The 930 Turbo
In 1974 Porsche unleashed their first production turbocharged 911 on an unsuspecting public, a new legend was born. One look at the 930 and you can see the direct influence of the race cars that inspired it. Ultra wide tires under flared fenders, the massive whale tail and of course that fire breathing turbocharged power-plant. The engine started out as a 3.0L 260 hp turbo, growing over the years to end at 3.3L and 300+ hp. In 1989, the last year for production of the 930, the 4-speed transmission was replaced with the 5-speed G50 transmission. As a result, the 1989 930 is one of the most desirable Porsches today in terms of collectability and appreciation. The 930 was known for many things. It was a true drivers car with incredible acceleration. It was beautifully aggressive to look at. It was also famous for the unpredictable turbo lag coupled with unforgiving handling. Take your foot off the gas at the wrong time in a corner and you were in serious trouble. A great driver could hope to control but never fully tame the car and a lazy driver was likely to wrap themselves around a tree.
Image credit – Gearheads and Monkeywrenches
Finally, We Get To The Turbo Look 3.2 Carrera M491
In 1980 due to US emission regulations the 930 was pulled from the North American market and it didn’t return until 1986. This left a huge hole for any driver in North America that wanted the aggressive looks and increased performance of the Turbo. The aftermarket tuners jumped on this and started turning the 3.2 Carreras into turbo-look cars. The quality of the body work ranged from frighteningly bad bondo jobs to conversions so good they were almost indistinguishable from factory produced 930s. But even with the good ones it was hard and very expensive to go deeper than wide fenders and spaced wheels and tires. The 930s had a very different suspension setup to take full advantage of the wide-body, bigger brakes, bigger wheels, etc. and to replicate this was a massive undertaking. But people did it to varying degrees of success.
Porsche woke up to the fact that they were losing money to the tuner market and in 1984 they began offering the M491 option on the 3.2 Carrera. It remained an option on the 3.2 from 84 to 89. The 87-89 models also have the G50 transmission just like the standard Carreras. Finally, direct from the Porsche factory, you could order your normally aspirated Carrera with just about everything the Turbo had, minus the actual turbo of course. This wasn’t just a Carrera with stretched fenders. It included:
- The wide-body
- The turbo whale tail
- The turbo wrap-around chin spoiler
- The turbo suspension
- The turbo brakes with 285 mm cross-drilled discs and four-piston aluminum calipers
- The wheels and tires
- A slight weight increase but a noticeable handling improvement over the standard Carrera
The M491 option didn’t come cheap. This wasn’t like deciding whether or not to splurge on the electric seats or the sport steering wheel. Prices for the M491 option ranged from $10K to $15K extra depending on the year. The high cost kept orders and production numbers low, making these genuine M491 equipped models very special, very rare and increasingly a good investment.
How Many Were Imported Into the North America
This is a hotly debated topic but the one thing that most people agree on is that the numbers are low. The Turbo Look Registry site seems to have the most comprehensive data:
Total imported between 1984 and 1989: 1852
Coupes: 1984-354, 1985-213, 1986-76, 1987-62, 1988-37, 1989-15
Targas: 1984-0, 1985-65, 1986-58, 1987-45, 1988-32, 1989-15
Cabriolets: 1984-1, 1985-113, 1986-226, 1987-305, 1988-171, 1989-65
Sites like the Turbo Registry are also trying to determine how many of these cars are still on the road. The M491 Carreras were highly desirable as track cars given the Turbo handling paired up with the bulletproof 3.2 engine and they were somewhat overlooked until recently as collectables. This means that the number of great condition, low mileage examples are low and likely to increase in value if kept in original condition. I’ll see if I have the discipline to do that or not.
I did not have the discipline to keep the car. While I loved the way it looked, I wanted something more modern and it was sold to a car collector in California – https://www.911mania.com/87-m491-wide-body-turbo-look-911-cabriolet-for-sale/
53 thoughts on “Turbo Look Carreras”
Have tried to find out from the registry how many M491’s they have accounted for?
I don’t know how many are still around, only the numbers on how many they originally made and brought to North America. I just came back from a big Porsche car show in Redmond WA and I didn’t see another one there 🙂
Hi I’m Eric I have a 1984 M491 Cab for sale I’m asking $57,500 you can email me at EricRuimy@gmail.com
I have a 1986 Targa with the Turbo Look M491 option. I have seen a few of them in the Orange County region of So. Cal.
A fun car
I started looking for a Targa TL but as you know they are even more rare. My car being a convertible keeps me off the track which in the long run is probably a good thing. Now I just need to find room in the garage for a track prepped 911 and my collection would be complete. Or at least more complete 🙂
I have an 86 targa M491 pristine condition, track ready, contact me if you are interested
I have a friend that may be interested. What is the color? Thank you
I love that this page is still bringing M491 buyers/sellers together! I sold mine a long time ago but still love them!
Is it by any chance for sale? I am looking to buy one.
Thibault, Good morning. No the car is not for sale. I purchased it 3 years ago and have put a bit of money into it to make it right. It had not been well cared for in the past. To me it is a very cool looking car, and always gets noticed. Must be the red paint. A very fun car that has been on some great trips in California. Driving PCH up to Big Sur was great. Good luck in your quest. Scott
You still in the market for a Porsche ? Selling a rare 1989 M491 in posh condition. Let me know 805 455 6357
Thanks for the inquiry No not for sale. Still enjoying the drive. Scott
I’m not in the market but would be interested in specs and price.
have one for sale 1988 24000 orginal miles cv 1988 turbo look
My name is Eric and I just bought a Targa M491 red and black, bought it for 58,500 only 63k miles.
I actually have a 1988 Black on Black Cab, Turbo a Look for Sale! 68,300 miles…
Please feel free to contact me for more info & pictures.
You really need to come to Cal. and drive Coast Highway. What an experience Scott
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I live in Orange County, in HB see the Ocean everyday it is amazing..
Me too. Very nice to cruise south on PCH
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I have an 1987 M491 Cabriolet with 71k miles. Save for the R134a AC conversion, the car is 100% original. I have the Porsche COA, all books, records, tools, etc… No accidents, zero paintwork, as you know, very rare. Great article! The car is for sale BTW.
JW please email all the information on your Turbo Look very interested firstname.lastname@example.org
JW if car is still available I would be interested in learning more about it. email@example.com
vdm9@optonline. n e t
please send me details
Please email all info on your Turbo Look very interested
John R., you should try that drive in a Guards Red M491 cabriolet.
Drove the red Targa down to Laguna and back this am. As always a great drive except the construction in NB. Enjoy
Hello JW. Is your car still for sale?
Please contact me if you are considering a sale of your 491 – private party.
Hello my name is AJ and I stumbled upon this site doing research on 491 package for a vehicle that we have for sale. It is an 85 coupe in gaurds red / black with under 21,000 miles that we are asking $90,000. I can send photos of the vehicle the original MSRP and recent services that were performed on the vehicle. If interested please contact me either via email or phone (818) 212-1314.
I am looking for a M491 coupe to purchase. PCA member and not a dealer or flipper.
I have a 1988 coupe M491 with 60k, all original except wheels, have stock ones as well, and exhaust. Just starting to do some research and possibly consider selling the car. I have had for 20 years and bought from the original owner as he had a ballon payment et due and no source of funds.
Dean I’d be interested in the M491 if you decide to sell. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dean, I’m very interested. Still available? Matt – 14168904988.
Hi Dean, just touching base to see if you still have your M491 and it is still for sale. Would be interested in speaking with you…. Thanks
Who has an original M491 with low milages for sale ?
Well I have one. 13k miles guards red sport seats. Private party. It has been in my heated garage for 20 years. It has German air in the tires.
ktmjasper yahoo com
Eric I have an 86 M491 Targa too. Red with black interior. I live in Huntington Beach. We should meet for breakfast sometime. I’m retired and cruise PCH . Enjoy the ride Scott
We have a low mile M491 for Sale. You can contact me @ 818-212-1314 or email email@example.com
Did the M491 cars have a “Turbo” badge on the rear? Or did it say something else like “Carrera” or “911?” Any help would be appreciated, thanks!
Did the M491 cars have a “Turbo” badge on the rear?
No, at least mine did not. All true M491 optioned cars that I have seen just said Carrera on the back. The looks would obviously fool anyone but as soon as you stepped on the gas the truth would be painfully evident 🙂
I have a stolen revered complete shell 1988 911 cabriolet factory turbo look salvage title m491 with the gauges in it at 23,000 miles and harness. The drive train is gone.
i have a very close replica of m491 targa. Ex owner has stripped a 1971 targa and replaced everything with a m491 targa.
The M491 option Porsches had No insignia on the back according to the research I read. Scott
Like Jeff, my M491 has “Carrera” on back/engine hood. It is an ’87 coupe.
Joy to drive and always a real head-turner.
I’ve owned two. A 1986, ex-Gerhard Blunstrupp, Iris Blue and 1988 triple black. Both great cars.
I bought my white Porsche 911 Targa Turbolook 1987 in Florida many years ago and have it now in Santiago Chile. I’m a small collector.
I’m sadly having to sell my 87 venitian blue m491. You’re all welcome to check it out. It’s on vertexautosales.com
Does the 1984 M491 Cab exist today?
It’s indicated that they only made one (1).
Yes, my m491 cab is t’he 1984
The car stay now on Barcelona(catalonia) but is swiss
I actually have the only USA (1) original
1984 M491 Cab w/57k miles
Love to see pics of yours
Let talk more on your 84