The Porsche 911 is arguably the greatest sports car of all time, and because of that many generations of the 911 are now considered as true classics or modern classics. Older air-cooled 911s are selling for hundreds if not millions of dollars while the 1997-2004 Porsche 911 996 is somewhat of a black sheep of the family.
The 996 introduced quite a few departures from the decade-old trusty 911 design and execution which somewhat caused a fuss with Porsche 911 enthusiasts. The 996 was the first water-cooled 911 and it also introduced a beefier, wide-body which is commonly known for its “eggplant” headlights.
Because of this the 996 never got the glory it truly deserves, so now is a great time to consider buying the 996. Design-wise, the 996 is a marmite car, you either love it or you don’t. It is known to last a long time, but there are quite a few potential issues worth mentioning.
Space-wise, it is the first modern-era 911 which means that it will easily accommodate both taller and oversized drivers. Value-vise, the 996 is somewhat of a steal right now because it can be had for considerably less when compared to the preceding 993 and the succeeding 997 generations of the 911.
Porsche 996 911 – The powertrain
The base 996 911 comes with a 3.4L flat 6-cylinder engine that makes 296hp and 258lb-ft of torque. The 996 Carrera 4 comes with the very same engine and an AWD system. The 996 Carrera 4S also comes with AWD, but a more potent 3.6L flat 6-cylinder that makes 320hp and 273lb-ft of torque.
The range-topping Turbo model got a whole host of upgrades over the regular 996 911s which made it a really fast car even by today’s standards. The 3.6L flat 6-cylinder engine got a twin-turbocharged setup which increased the power output 415hp and 415lb-ft of torque.
You were also able to upgrade the Turbo with the X50 package which raised the power output to 450hp and 444lb-ft of torque. The Turbo 996 is still an incredibly fast car with a top speed of 186mph and a 0-60mph time in under 4 seconds. All 996s come with either a 6-speed manual or an automatic, but most enthusiasts prefer the manual.
The last hoorah of the 996 was the 996 GT2 which is a true track-focused beast that offers 462hp and 457lb-ft of torque. The Turbo S also came at the very end of the 996 production but it basically is a regular Turbo with the X50 package.
Porsche 996 911 – Design and chassis
The Porsche 996 911 was not only the very first water-cooled 911, but it was also the very first 911 to be produced on an assembly line rather than by hand. The 996 introduced arguably the greatest design departure from previous 911 models which is now still considered relatively conservative.
The 911 became smoother, wider, lower, and larger with the 996. The suspension was also a relatively large departure from previous models, but everyone can agree that the 996 is a lot more dynamic because of it. The chassis is balanced just like with all the other modern-day 911 generations.
One of the most controversial design decisions the 996 introduced are the so-called eggplant headlights which are considered by many as the weakest design link of the 996. The design upgrades continued into the interior as well because the 996 finally got a proper HVAC system and even a navigation system.
Porsche 996 911 – Reliability and common issues
The late 90s and early 2000s Porsche models are not the most reliable cars on the market both because they are more than 20 years old and because Porsche was in somewhat of a financial crisis at the time. As such, the 996 is not the most reliable 911, but with proper maintenance, a low mileage example should do the trick for years to come.
The most common issues that plague the 996 are down to cracked IMS bearing failures, cracked cylinder liners/heads, oil leaks, clutch and gearbox issues, ignition coil issues, and potential radiator and condenser issues.
Porsche 996 911 – Value and practicality
You can get a decent 996 911 for around $35,000 to $40,000 while some older higher mileage examples can be had for almost half of that. This is not exactly all that cheap, but the preceding 933 generation costs $80,000 for lower-end models.
Chances of the 996 going up in value are not as exaggerated as is the case with some more popular 911 models. However, well-kept examples are likely going to go up continuously. Practicality-wise, it’s a classic modern-day 911 which means that it offers 2 usable seats and a relatively tiny front trunk.
Is a Porsche 996 expensive to maintain?
Yes, it is. All Porsche models cost quite a bit of money to maintain as they are indeed Porsches. Even though the entry price does not seem all that high, maintenance costs indeed are so be sure to do your homework before you consider buying a 996 911.
You may be able to service the 996 at an independent mechanic, but only if the mechanic experienced enough with a 996. Granted, this is not going to favor the value of the car, but it is likely going to cost a lot less as opposed to a Porsche dealer or a licensed Porsche specialist.
Is the Porsche 996 safe?
The 996 is a performance car which means that you are probably not buying it to drive it like a grandma. As such, it must be a fully functioning car because it is not as safe as a modern-day 911 is.
That’s not to say that the 996 is unsafe, but rather that it lacks when it comes to almost all of the current active safety software systems.
Is the Porsche 996 911 worth it?
The Porsche 911 996 is worth it if you want to experience the iconic 911 without paying exorbitant amounts of money. You need to find a decent example with not too many miles on the clock, otherwise, you will be spending way too much money on maintaining it.
It is not a car you should drive on a daily basis, and if you are willing and able to take proper care of it, a 996 is indeed worth it.