Porsche 911 (996)
If you have not owned a Porsche and are thinking that it is time to get into one, what should your first Porsche be? Sure it would be easy to just saw the latest 911, 718 Boxster or 718 Cayman and call it done. However, if you have the cash for a new Porsche then the cars in this series are not for you (with a few exceptions). These are cars for someone that is wanting to get their first Porsche, but they don’t want it to break the bank. All of them can be had for under $30,000 with some being as low as about $5,000 for a running car in decent condition.
With a lower budget a buyer is likely to want a car that they can do the routine maintenance themselves. It also needs to be fairly dependable as it may double as a commuter car as well as a weekend driver. Below is the list of Porsche’s that we think best fit this criteria. Over the next few articles we will cover each model, so make sure to subscribe to our updates now (scroll down to get our daily updates in your email box for free).
Today we cover the fourth car on our list which is the Porsche 911 (996).
The 996 variant of the Porsche 911 is one of the most important and yet least loved 911 generations ever made. The 996 was the first 911 to feature a water-cooled flat-six engine. For some purists the change was not welcomed and there was another issue. The early 996 looked exactly like the less expensive 986 Boxster from the front. The fried egg headlight design was the biggest complaint. Not only did this styling make it look similar to the Boxster, but it was quite a departure from the traditional round headlights.
The 996 was first available for the 1999 model year. Development was shared with the 986 Boxster which resulted in the similar front end styling, same front suspension setup and much of the interior being the same. The water-cooled engine was similar in design to the Boxster flat-six, but with a larger displacement.
The standard 911 Carrera started out at 3.4-liters of displacement with 296 horsepower which jumped to 300 horses in 2000. The power plant would grow to 3.6-liters in 2002 and offer 315 horsepower. In the 3.6-liter engine VarioCam Plus replaced the earlier VarioCam and helped it gain the bit of extra power.
The available performance of the standard 996 is good, but the GT3 models are the pinnacle of naturally aspirated performance in a 996 generation 911. Of course they command a premium over the standard 911. The GT3 was available in the US in 2004 (although it was offered since 1999 in other markets) with 380 horsepower coming from a 3.6-liter flat-six. The 0-60 mph time was just 4 seconds flat (incredible performance at the time).
The 911 Turbo and GT2 offered higher levels of performance. The 996 Turbo was first available as a 2001 model in the United States. Its 3.6-liter engine with forced induction pumped out a strong 415 horses. The twin-turbocharged car received a facelift with new bi-xenon headlamps and a wider stance than the Carrera. The GT2 took the performance to the next level with its flat-six power plant pumping out an earth moving 489 horsepower which propelled the 911 from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and flat out it could hit 198 mph.
The 996 is a great starter Porsche, but is not without its problems. The 996 is prone to the same Intermediate Shaft (IMS) Bearing issue as the 986 Boxster. While the GT3, GT2 and Turbo models don’t have the same issue due to design differences, if you are buying a Carrera find out if it is fitted with a re-designed IMS bearing. If it isn’t figure on doing this after purchasing the car and use it as a bargaining chip to lower the purchase price.
As with any used Porsche a pre-purchase inspection is very important. Paying the small fee to have one done can save you thousands in potential repair costs. You also want to look for a well documented machine.
The 996 is currently the best value you can find in a used 911. It offers modern levels of performance and comfort all with classic 911 lines, except for the controversial headlights. Those lights in the front (along with the IMS bearing issue) are a large reason why the 996 generation 911 is so undervalued.
Early 996’s can be had for as low as $11,500 in running condition. Good condition Cars will cost about $19,500 with prices going up to $26,000 for a car in excellence condition. For a later 996 Carrera expect for a running car to cost about $13,000 with good condition machines going for about $20,500 and excellent examples fetching about $30,000. The more powerful 996 Turbo fetches more with cars in good condition going for about $38,000 and fair condition Turbos being available for as low as $30,000. For most the GT3 and GT2 is still out of reach, but an excellent 996 GT2 or GT3 will run you about the same as a new 911 Carrera depending on condition. 996 GT3 and GT2 prices are starting to rise, so if you can afford one now may be the best time to purchase one.
If you decide to buy a 996 generation 911 you may want to pull the trigger now. Prices are low, but they appear to have leveled and may begin to rise in the near future.
Want to buy a Porsche 996? Head over to our new Cars and Parts for Sale section to find the perfect 996 for you.