Lee’s 996 Carrera diary: upgrading to a Carrera 4S

There has been quite a change in the Sibley household since my previous 996 Carrera diary earlier this year. That’s because After 14 months of happy ownership, I decided to sell my 996.2 C4. I felt I’d come to a crossroads with the car: its new paintwork meant the bodywork was way too nice to be spoiled by the rigours of track days, something I enjoyed immensely in 2016 and was keen to continue this year. With 88,000 miles on the clock, I was also conscious I’d introduce a sixth digit onto the C4’s odometer within the next twelve months and, even though the 100,000-mile barrier is immaterial really, I prefer my cars under that threshold. My good friend Alex at Apsley Cars agreed to sell the car for me and five days later it was gone.

I was sad to see the car go, yet absolutely delighted to know the C4 is to remain within the Total 911 family: Andrew, a subscriber to this fine Porsche publication, had read about the car’s escapades for the last year and wanted to write its next chapter. Andrew, you already know you’ve got one of the best 996.2 C4s in the UK, and if you have half as much fun with the car as I’ve had, you’re in for an amazing time.

My replacement 911 came about quickly indeed. Truth is, it was a road test of a 996 C4S back in January 2015 that alerted me to the 996s incredible value for me. I really fell for the C4S and, put simply, had to own one. I’d kept an eye on the market for the last year though by the time I had cash from the C4 in my pocket, the choice at my price point was altogether more limited as the market had moved on. I had, however, found a Seal grey example with 66,000 miles and an absolutely gorgeous spec. The drawback? The car had no less than ten previous owners.

I’d spoken with numerous Porsche friends and dealers who all had differing opinions on high owner cars but a common theme nevertheless came to fruition: condition is key. With that in mind, I arranged to view the car, which was being sold privately. Its condition was exquisite inside and out, and was one of the best C4Ss I’ve ever driven (they ALL drive differently).

I should have bought it there and then, but I didn’t. Perturbed by its high owners, I delved into the car’s history, intent on finding clues to an unscrupulous past. I took pictures of the service book (its history appeared perfect, with services every year at various Porsche Centres part from two at well-known specialists) and called up every single Porsche Centre to verify the job date and mileage. Everything checked out, as did the sizeable wad of paperwork detailing much of the expense undertaken by previous owners.

The car has had several private ‘plates adorning its face and rear too, and a little digging revealed these now resided on a GT3 and Macan, showing previous owners were all dyed-in-the-wool Porsche guys. The last owner even commissioned an independent, 230-point check by Peter Morgan back in 2015, which detailed no crash damage (but paint to nearside front) or significant over-revs. Put simply, there wouldn’t be another car out there with as much information on it as this.

Yet still I waited. Remaining undecided for a couple of days, I couldn’t shake the high number of owners from my mind, my main concern being a difficulty to sell the car myself should the time come. In the end, it was none other than Total 911 magazine that prompted me to buy the car. Reading Kyle Fortune’s 996 C4S v Turbo article in issue 153, I began to sigh as Kyle waxed lyrical about the merits of the C4S. What was I doing?! If somebody else bought that car, I reasoned, I’d be distraught. I had to act.

There was one last twist, though. As I was due to make the call to buy, I had an urgent email from my local Porsche centre, who knew I was on the hunt for a C4S. They had a late-build, one-owner example in. I went to view it but left soon after: despite being a one-owner car, it’s history was limited, its condition far worse, with rust all over the car (I’ve never seen so much on a car so new). The escapade well and truly made my mind up: if you put the high-owners car next to the one-owner car, many would say the immaculate car would surely be the one-owner car every time. But, as has been proven here, this is most certainly not always the case, and I left the Porsche Centre content I was making the right decision. I was to be the 11th owner of A911 HCM, and was absolutely delighted about it.

As for real-world differences between my old 996.2 Carrera 4 and latest 996 Carrera 4S purchase, there are quite a few to be had. The first is the most noticeable, which for me is the C4S’s wider track. Its Turbo chassis means the car has a 17mm wider front and 28mm rear track width than the narrow-bodied C4, which correlates most vividly to a better balance on initial turn-in to a corner. The car feels so planted and so much more stable through all manner of turns, and the extra grip available from those wider tyres means I can learn to carry more speed into turns.

Stopping ability is also markedly improved in the 4S, those Turbo-spec ‘Big Red’ brake calipers pinching the pads together to scrub speed with more intent than the C4. However, the lavishing of this Turbo-spec onto the C4S is to the detriment of its weight, a 65-kilogram penalty over the C4 keenly felt under hard acceleration. It’s not that the C4S feels sluggish per say, more that the C4 just seemed quicker off the mark. This would no doubt have been helped by single-mass flywheel I had fitted to my C4, which helped give me razor-sharp throttle response.

Lastly but by no means least is the sound, and here the C4S asserts itself as a clear winner. It has an advantage over the C4 in being fitted with PSE, which gives a louder, more bassy bark, flipping to a gutteral growl the moment the crank spins past 5,000rpm. There’s even a beautiful crackle when letting off the gas in the mid range. So, the C4S not only blows the standard C4 out of the water (I had a throaty Milltek system on mine), I don’t actually think there’s a better sounding Carrera out there outside of a 991 with PSE.

I’ve put over 5,000 miles on the C4S in four months, which has included summer road trip as well as day-to-day driving. It hasn’t missed a beat and I’m so pleased with my decision. Recently I took the C4S to Porsche Centre Bournemouth for a complimentary health check, too. I’ve mentioned before I think the results of these tests should be taken with a pinch of salt but its nevertheless a good way to get a second opinion on what sort of project I’ve undertaken. As it happens the test only brought up a couple of points for my attention, namely the worn brakes and tyres, which I’ll look to put right in the coming weeks.

 

 

Comments (2)

  • David Hancock

    Hi Lee, thats my old car or at least I am one of the 11 owners! I put that reg on it, it was FB02 previously. I bought it from a really nice guy called James who was a traffic policeman in the Mansfield area. I think I was about the 5th owner and had if for about 2 years – I am in Cardiff. The guy who James bought it from spent a lot of money on new brakes, condensers, rads, clutch etc so that would have been in about 2011? I think he also had it painted but it was simply for stones chips as It was a straight car. I sold it to a mechanic for Bob Houghton Ferrari, he was a good guy and able to look after it as intended. I added a low temp thermo to it to save any hot running and hence scoring of the bores. The spec is very rare amongst 996’s and really lifts the interior with all the carbon. I also modded the circuit board in the footwell enabling the exhaust to be constantly loud as it is a ‘pre switch’ car so it’s a speed sensitive exhaust value and that was annoying! The seams on the exhaust boxes were starting to split but I think they are double skinned so you should be ok for a while and they’re not cheap but it sounded very nice and properly loud – almost as loud as my current GT4. The sound system I also remember was a Harmon Becker unit and was superb even for an older unit. I believe Cameron Sports cars in Bath sold it about a year ago so I think most of its owners have been fans of the brand. Look after her, I called her Petra!

  • Lee Sibley

    David, thanks so much for getting in touch! I’d love to chat with you further, as I aim to track down the car’s previous owners. Would you mind emailing me? Lee.sibley@futurenet.com. Thank you and look forward to chatting!