The Porsche 996 is likely one of the most controversial modern-day 911 models because it represented a huge shift in the 911 timeline. It was the first model to introduce a water-cooled engine which was met with a lot of criticism as many people still believe that older air-cooled 911 models are peak 911 engines.
The 996 also represented a radical shift in design, especially due to the so-called “egg-plant” headlights which are still a sore sight for many 911 enthusiasts. However, no one can deny that the 996 also represented a huge leap in performance which means that it was the most powerful and most capable 911 from the moment it came out.
The 996 was in production between 1997 and 2006 when it was later replaced by the 997 which seems to still be the preferred choice for most collectors. This means that there are many deals that can be had with the 996, but some 996 model years are better than others. The best 996 model year is likely the 2004 GT3.
We also need to mention the 1999 996 and the 2003 996 Turbo model as these three are likely the ones that will remain collectible for a long time. Either way, be sure to do a pre-purchase inspection as that is likely going to determine if the model you are looking at is a good purchase or not.
2004 Porsche 996
We listed the 2004 Porsche 996 because the 996 GT3 that came out in 2004 is one of, if not the most collectible version of the 996 in general. These come with much better engines which are a lot more reliable than previous versions and it seems like these are slowly, but steadily creeping up in value.
The reason why people deem the 2004 GT3 to be the best 996 is that it represented a facelifted version of the GT3 which both looks and feels way better to drive than previous 996 models. The performance is also really decent as the car produces 381hp which many people believe is the sweet spot for the 996 as it enables you to explore the limits of the car.
Most 2004 GT3 owners are not really willing on letting them go because they know that the 2004 GT3 is better than most 996 models. These are a safe buy as the values of these are likely going to be on the rise. Later GT3 models carry a larger price tag but aren’t really any different than the 2004 model.
1999 Porsche 996
If you want a Porsche 996 that isn’t going to kill the bank while also offering you everything you want from a 911, the 1999 996 is the way to go. Sure, some might say that the 1999 model isn’t really a 996 worthy of a recommendation, but the price difference between the 1999 and some later models is so substantial that it does not make all that much sense.
1999 was the year when the first GT3 was introduced and the world was graced with the fairly iconic “Metzker” engine. The 1999 has a mechanically operated throttle while later 996 models use an electronically operated throttle which some people believe is inferior as it does not provide nearly as much feedback.
The 1999 996 is also a model that suffers fewer problems with the IMH bearing which is a known issue that plagued many 996 models. However, most specialists recommend fitting an aftermarket bearing on both pre-1999 and post-1999 models.
2003 Porsche 996
The Porsche 996 got a refresh between 2002 and 2004 which made the car look a lot nicer. The engines grew to 3.6L with more power. This was also the time when Porsche reintroduced the Targa model which many collectors lust after. The 2003 model was more aerodynamic and had more downforce which helped the car handle better around the track.
Many enthusiasts believe that the 2003 Porsche 996 is the one to go because it offers a culmination of many small upgrades which ultimately made the car feel a lot more special than previous models. The 2003 model is identical to the 2004 model, but the 2003 model is cheaper so it had to be listed in our article.
The GT2 and the 996 Turbo are the best models from the 2003 996 lineup which also means that these are the most expensive 2003 996 models.
Should I buy a Porsche 996?
There are a few reasons why you should consider buying the Porsche 996. For starters, it comes at a much more attainable price than the models that came before it and after it. There are some 996 models which are indeed collectible and others that are cheap which means that you can get a decent driver’s car for not all that much money.
However, if you can’t fathom the “egg-plant” headlight design and you believe that the 996 represents a dark era of the 911, then you should either test drive the car or skip it entirely. I do believe that the 996 is now somewhat of a bargain, especially because it really isn’t all that old.
Which Porsche 996 model is the best?
The best Porsche 996 models are the GT3 and the Turbo as these two are the ones most people are interested in buying. The gen-1 Carrera is the value choice for many as you get quite a bit of car for the money. The GT3 RS is also a really good option, but it may be a bit too serious for daily driving.
Is the Porsche 996 the worst 911 generation?
Many people deem the 996 generation to be the worst generation of the 911 and that there are no other 911 generations that can even come close to the 996 when it comes to design. Even though the prices do reflect that majority of people believe this way, I think that that is not exactly true as many people love the 996, but are scared to buy it as they are not cheap to run even though they are cheap to buy.