There have been few cars for Porsche more controversial than the 996 generation of the 911. Sure the front-engined water cooled cars caused a stir, as did the VW sourced engine in the standard 914 and the 912 E. But, none of these changed the tried and true formula of the 911 that had represented Porsche since the mid-60’s.
Between the controversial headlights and the even more controversial move to a water cooled engine, the 996 was a major evolution for the 911. It’s a bit like the jump from an ape to a man, with nothing in between, the rational person would think that is simply impossible.
For the 911 the move to a water cooled engine was foreshadowed first by the 959. While it was still partly air-cooled it also had a form of water-cooling. That all other cars that Porsche had made, besides the 911, had used a form of water cooling since the late 1970’s was another clue. The 924, 944, 968, 928, 959 and Boxster all used at least partial water cooling. The 986 Boxster, which was released to the public before Porsche 996 911 (although the 911 design was started first) showed exactly where Porsche was heading, although many purists hoped it wouldn’t.