996 or 997 Turbo?

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A 997 Turbo is an expensive car. Let’s face it, £100,000 is a lot of money in anyone’s books – especially mine – and, if the 996 Turbo is anything to go by, you’ll have to cope with depreciation as fast as the car’s impressive performance. Indeed, a quick look at the classifieds shows that early (2006) 997 Turbos can be had for as little as £60,000, so you’d be taking quite a hit if you’d bought new.

Buying used, £60,000 is still a lot of money, when you realise that you can pick up an example of the previous generation 996 Turbo for under £30,000. Yes, it’s true – the cheapest I’ve seen was a 2000 Tiptronic with 70,000 miles for just £26,000. The 996 Turbo is the supercar bargain of the year.

On the face of it, the 997 version is little more than an evolution of the 996 Turbo – the engine and chassis have stayed fundamentally unchanged – so do you really need to spend over £60,000 more on a new Turbo? What will it give you, apart from a hefty overdraught? To find out, I’ve brought the 997 to Castello Cars in Warwickshire (www.castellocars.co.uk), where’s there’s a 2003 996 Turbo for sale for £38,995. OK, that’s ten grand more than the baseline figure but I’ve always figured that it’s best not to go for the cheapest example of any 911 and, besides, the basics of any 996 Turbo will be the same.

This car, like many others, has been updated with the later 997 19-inch Turbo wheels, which do look good (they should– they cost around £3500 a set) and an improvement on the original 18-inch items. It’s covered a modest 43,000 miles and has been beautifully looked after – there’s not a mark on its Seal Grey Metallic paintwork which, in that respect, puts the car on an even keel with the 997 in our photographs.

Placing the two cars side by side is an interesting exercise. To a disinterested passer-by, they’d look pretty much identical – they’re both 911s, in other words. To you and me, though, the differences are very apparent – the 997 is not merely a facelifted 996, every body panel is different; even the edge of the roofline has changed.

Many of the updates – such as the lights – are common to the whole of the 997 range, although it’s interesting to note that this 2009 Turbo still has the ‘old’ 997 rear lamps, not the LED items now found on the rest of the range. It would be disappointing to fork out your £100,000 only to find your neighbour’s £70,000 Carrera looks more modern (at least the Turbo now has PCM3, though).

The 996 Turbo looks understated next to the more blingy 997. It would be unfair to say it is dull but it is certainly not as eye-catching as it’s younger brother which, in this day and age, is perhaps not a bad thing. I prefer the 993-inspired headlamps of the 997, but am less convinced by its LED indicators and projector-style driving lamps. Both cars have three large front air intakes, but those of the 997’s work better as a whole (no pun intended), whereas the 996’s look more disjointed from one another. The 997’s rear wings are 22mm wider than those of the 996, which makes the car more shapely and less slab-sided, while the side intakes are slashed by a single strake which gives a more aggressive look.

Comments (28)

  • Diana

    I enjoyed your article. I have a 2002 996 Turbo. I have looked long and hard at both body styles. The interesting thing is that people think my car is newer then the 997. The old style headlights on the 997 look like an older Porsche. I do agree with you about the LED indicatiors in the front. They look like they were added on the car after production. The rear end lines on the 997 are not as beautiful, the line swings up and on the 996 the lines are straight across. I can tell you though, I have had 4 other Porsches and I have never had so much fun driving a car, the turbo is the best car on the planet for sheer fun, dependability, saftey (4wd) and beauty. It would be hard to drive anything else but a turbo now. I hate coming home putting it in the garage and waiting until tomorrow to drive it. I wish that they had done some thing less old school with the headlights of the 997. I just could not spend all that money for a car that looks like a 993. I think mine is prettier. I bet when they change the lights again they will be like the Porsche GT or Panamera. That look. More in between the round and the shark lights. Diana.

  • Dior

    Dear Diana: I have a 996 turbo and I have to say, you said it so well. I am in love with this car, the way it handles, the speed, but the way it looks puts it over the top. It is simply stunning. People do think mine is the new model and the 997 is the old one. The 997 does look like a 993. the rear end is just not good looking at all. I also agree with you about the headlights, when they restyle them I bet it will be like the Porshe GT or the Panamera. The 996 Turbo is the most beautiful, fast, reliable car on the planet.

  • Bentley

    Dear Diana/ Dior,
    I totally disagree with our comments on looks. I had a 996 C4S for many years and frankly I found the front end ugly. There is no argument with the way it drives. Porsche went wayward with the headlights on the 996 series. When I owned the 996, I long for the 993 look. Fortunately, they had come to their senses with the 997 design. The change is subtle and effective as a whole. The new car drives better in all respects. I am now a proud owner of a 997 turbo.

    Different folks, different strokes!

  • Russell

    I am faced now with the dilema of purchasing a 996 turbo here in Australia or a 997 S. Both are hot but I’m scared to make a mistake. Many are saying the 997 is a better car overall even though it is slower – with new technology etc. The turbo was much more expensive brand new however and in Austrlia there are not many here. My heart loves the 997 shape and newer design but my ego tells me that the turbo is the king and will have more street cred. I cant afford a 997 turbo so its either the 996 turbo or 997 S.

    If I could see the two cars side by side it would make all the difference. Its not the same on picture.
    Rus

  • David

    Russell –

    Go for the 997. The 996 (regardless of what “Diana” and “Dior” said) will always be the ugly duckling of the Porsche lineup. While it is possible that their friends mistook the 996 for being newer than the 997, nobody on the planet that knows anything about cars ever would. The 996 is famous for being a flop, hence the ridiculously low prices. No way Porsche will go for CGT/Panamera style lights in the next revision, they learned their lesson with the 996 fiasco. The 911 is the 911, iconic (except for the 996). A good condition 993 with similar miles, many years older, currently costs as much or more than an equivalent 996. That should tell you something.

    As for speed, although the 996 turbo will be faster in a drag race, the ‘lowly’ C2S (post 1998) is faster around a track. If you really need the ‘turbo’ badge, save up for a 997 or get a 993 in good condition (+10 on the street cred you were talking about). 997 C2S might be your best bet though, it’s modern, sexy and as I said, faster around a track than the 996 turbo. If you always drive in a straight line and want a car to pass slow soccer moms on the motorway, maybe the 996 turbo is better though.

    Myself, I am a GT3 kinda guy, although that may be a bit over your budget as they hold their value extremely well (even older high mileage examples).

  • André Silva

    I think that a great thing in 997 is the VTG. It should be considered, as it has minimized the lag problem.

  • WellIi can truly say that I am in Love with my 996 TT, I just took the car on a huge trip from London to Le Mans, Monaco, through Nice, Grasse and then through to Geneve and finshed at Reims. Takeing in the Alps.

    The car in Monaco next to all the higher priced cars looked understated and classy, the 997 TT I am sure is a fine car but it just looks so 50 cent with its bling bling wheels and LEDS lights.

    Flop or not its really down to taste and in my book less is more.

  • Michael Leavy

    I have a 2005 996 Turbo S with a remapped ECU to produce 535bhp, GT2 front and rear, lowered on KW suspension and BBS split rim racetrack alloys painted dark olive to match the bodywork. The car is genuinely awesome, performs incredibly and the looks make the 997 turbo look basic! Only trouble is I can’t imagine what I will ever replace it with when the time comes!

  • Does anyone know whay the 996 GT2 is like to drive compared to the 996TT, I am looking at a black one from Hendon way motors on Saturday.

  • Not as wild as some people will have you believe. Ride is harder, though, and it doesn’t offer the same security when pushed to the limit. I suspect it’ll be a better long-term investment, though.

  • JohnnW

    Fun debate. I have the same hard choices. But I went with the 2002 Turbo. Think of it this way when deciding between 996 TT or C2s, if its not money directly, then know that when you pass a C2S in your Turbo… you fursure wont be thinking I wish I didn’t have a turbo. They can only look at your tail lights and smile. The Q headlamps will always keep our generation unique. I agree its a matter of personal taste. I just always liked the nose of the 996 since the beginning but lets face from inside you can see the lamps anyway.

  • Diana

    David: Like I said, you should take a look at the 2012 998 911. Topspeed.com

  • To be honest, lets face it… if the only difference between a 996 and a 997 is the headlights. is that worth paying 40,000 GBP for?

  • Jakob

    Come on.. you can`t compare a 996 and 997 turbo.

    Yes you pay more for the 997 couse.

    A more aggressive exterior.
    Better preformance
    Interor looks more 2000 (the 996 looks early 1990)
    Better handeling and better comfort.

  • vick

    Hi all. I have owned my 2004 Speed Yellow Turbo for the past two years and love it. Was hell bent on a 993 turbo but just could not afford it. At closer examination, the 996tt did not look all that bad. Especially in Speed Yellow. Yes it was “settling” but over all a great choice. Love the Power. Canadian roads aren’t good enough, so more power would just be too dangerous . And the cops are not too friendly. A friend of mine is just about to lose his license.

  • Carlos

    I consider the 996 Turbo as having more attractive interior. The 997 interior a bit too linear for me… reminicent of late model Z cars. 996 T exterior more appealing with smoother lines and bettler looking rear end. In some respects 996 performance better too (linear acceleration). Great potential also for perfromance upgrades. Yes.. 996 suspension not adjustable and some claim a bit harsh… I disagree. We are not driving touring cars here…. my opinion….

  • HENRY

    996turbo current supercar bargain. You can modify and get 550 BHP without too much fuss, also add turbo S suspension to further improve handling. To my mind it also looks better than the 997 turbo.
    For £26,000, plus say another £7500, you have something that cant be beaten, unless you are spending £120,000 plus.

  • Dan

    I have just gone for a 996 Turbo, over a 997, to me it’s a more aggressive looking front, the open eyed headlights of the 997 look a bit too soft for me, I found when comparing the cars i couldn’t escape the fact that the 996 to me really said PORSCHE, where as the 997 looked less distinct, i like the fact the 996 is the only model to have this look, makes the car unique within the brand. Performance is astonishing, truly epic, i’ll never get bored of that Turbo rush!

  • Tom Zidek

    To Henry and Michael Leavy I have the 996 turbo S and I am totally in love with the car! I bought it crashed and fixed it all up with a Techart kbody kit, wow what a stunning car, having done all the work myself has been a real joy too. But now I have a question, is it ok (for the car motor and workings) to get the car re mapped for more power? How and who do u recomend? Also does anyone know how many 996 turbo S were ever built? Thanx

  • henry boxer

    Later answer for Tom. Go to Tech 9, they can fit larger turbos and change ECU to get 542 BHP.
    They really know their stuff, one of the best companies to do this conversion and have a car you can drive to the shops everyday. The mid range power is unbelievable, a 997 turbo couldnt stay with you.

  • henry boxer

    The conversion is a TechArt conversion that they have done many times. As you know TeckArt are the top Porsche tuner in Germany.

  • henry boxer
  • El Boricua

    Tham I’m in the same Boat as you. I’m confused wich one to get the 2003 Porsche 911 TURBO with 27k miles or 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera S with 57k miles love the Headlights from 997

  • Brent

    For information purposes and my research on the purchase of a 996tt or 997tt. These notes are from after talking to a Porsche Dealership Tech and my local Porsche Tuner shop in Denver, CO USA.
    The gen1 997 TT had a list of known issues; seals, gaskets and such. This was resolved in the 997 gen2. So make sure what year you purchase. But note your 997tt price just went up $30-40k. The Gen1 997 will be at lease $20k more then the 996 model.
    The 996 model is the easiest to modify as the turbos are a completely different design. I upgraded to a Tiel K1668 putting over 650bhp and 700bhp with injectors and race fuel.
    Now you can do a front end conversion on your 996 to a 997 for $5500 in parts (R&L front fenders, OEM hood, 997 headlamps, front bumper, front bumper support for a 997. Labor varies per your body shop as the fenders will have to be cut in the inner fender to fit and then fitment and then paint of all parts. So expect $3-5k for all the work. Still you saved over $10k from getting the 997tt model and equal the 997 Gen1 price after the front end conversion and a monster power upgrade.
    You be the judge on the model you want.

  • janon

    Ironically years on many(most?) agree that, head lamps aside, the 996T is aging much better than the 997T both inside and out. Simpler, while less flashy when slightly old, holds up better as the years pile on. And of course the 997.2T lost the Mezger engine in favor of a series engine so with 993T prices in the stratosphere, the 997.1T and 996T are *the two* to get IMO. Looks of course are subjective, but can’t go wrong either way.

  • janon

    More aggressive exterior != nicer exterior. Over time many have come to feel that the 997 looks off.

    Interior as well. What “looked 2000” 4 years ago today looks like a confused mess of old tech. The 996 has NO tech. While 4 years ago that seemed stone age, today the simplicity holds up better.

    Clean design and NO tech is much better than aging and sad tech.

    The problem with the 997 is that it is caught between the two worlds. The modern cars, of course, will have to be disposable. A 2015 991T will again have a horrible mess of embarrassing tech once 2025 rolls around.

    Put another way… It’s better and cooler to have NO smartphone, than to have a Miami Vice era clunker.

  • janon

    997.2 has a regular series engine. No more GT1 derived Mezger. They can keep that. It’s good for people who lease and flip and stay evergreen. A $200k appliance. It is NOT a “keeper”. Used car bargain hunters should proceed with extreme caution on “commodity supercars” that are *underbuilt*, vs the old school OVERbuilt variety, as they age.

  • janon

    You were wrong here on so many levels it was hilarious. You have a hard on for the 996, but it just makes you look ridiculous.

    993 prices touch $200k years on now. The 996 has started inching back UP. The bullet proof nature of the Mezger GT1 engine has EARNED its respect. Meanwhile EVERY “regular” 911 ALL THE WAY UP to the 991 has IMS risk exposure. Who knows what the 991 hides? And the 997.2T inherited THAT engine as well (buh bye to the Mezger race engine after the 997.1T… hello to MORE cost cutting/profit maximizing crap)

    Of course as a highly monied GT3 owning enthusiast you probably were just exaggerating and already knew all of this (with the 996GT3 again being among the BEST of breed – especially with the modern electric steering, PDK only, GT3 being closer to a Nissan GTR than any prior GTx).