Porsche 996 prototype: the bulletproof 996

As we well know, the 996 is famous for being the generation which took the 911 from air- to water-cooling, thereby serving the single biggest step change in the Neunelfer’s long and decorated history. Twinned with Pinky Lai’s striking exterior design which deviated substantially from 911s of old, the 996 really did herald a time of innovative thinking at Porsche, the company daring to be different in the face of a battle for its very survival.

Mr Lai described to Total 911 just last year how the 996 was thought of at Porsche as the company’s last bullet: with sales down and costs rising, this new 911 really was the last chance for Porsche to return to profitability or face extinction. The analogy is ironic because, once the 996 entered production, it was indeed bullets Porsche decided to focus on for a special project – only this time they were physical rather than metaphorical.

Finished in Libelltürkismetallic (that’s Dragonfly turquoise metallic, in case you were wondering), at first glance this 996 Carrera looks like any other from the era, with iconic amber lenses signifying that it was built during the first year of 996 productionat Zuffenhausen.

While those amber lenses tell a true story – this particular example is one of the first 996 models produced – its bodywork does justice to deceive, because beneath its skin, this is certainly far from a normal 996. Created in 1996, this very early 996 was pulled from the production line at Werk II and, on the request of a customer, remodelled into an armoured car. That’s right, this really is a bulletproof 996, and the only such drivable 911 in the world.

Historically, it has long been Porsche’s Stuttgart neighbour in Mercedes which has enjoyed the lion’s share of the market in production of armoured and reinforced vehicles. The ‘Three Pointed Star’ has kept the rich and famous safe in transit for nearly 100 years with its special protection vehicles, beginning with Japanese emperor Hirohito in the 1930s.

It was around the time of Mercedes’ rebranding of its ‘Guard’ vehicles that Porsche began to show a willingness to explore the market of specialist protection cars – especially after interest was shown from a potential customer, the identity of which Porsche is (quite obviously) not forthcoming in sharing. Regardless of who it was built for though, what we’re most interested in is how it was built, and it’s here where Total 911 has been able to uncover some useful information.

With a new era for its 911 sports car on the horizon, Porsche sought out its new 996 platform as the perfect subject for such a study, hauling an early car from the production line to begin work on this bespoke project. The 911’s bulletproofing would be achieved by reinforcing both the bodywork and glass on this special 996 concept. First, the glass…

For the full bulletproof 996 feature, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 201 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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