Six reasons I’ve bought a Porsche 996 Carrera

It’s no secret that I’d been harbouring ambitions to get myself into a second-generation 996 since the end of last year. Fortunately, my first field assignment of 2016 was to conduct Total 911’s 996 Carrera Gen1 v Gen2 head-to-head in issue 136, and I came away from that test positively amazed by the value for money a 996 Carrera holds. So much so, in fact, that I decided I had to have one, and soon.

I eventually bought a second-generation Carrera 4 as my own ‘project 996’ from independent specialists RPM Technik, who had taken one in as part exchange and gave me a trade deal in light of the fact the car needed some attention in order to be considered ‘ready to retail’. As such it didn’t come with a warranty, IMS upgrade or G-Techniq paint protection, which are customary traits of a 996 sale from RPM (where applicable).


However, the car did have RPM Technik’s 110-point inspection and boroscope (closely resembling that of the service at an OPC) and it’s since had a major service and IMS upgrade carried out at RPM. I also opted for a lightweight flywheel from the company’s revered CSR range. So, it was good to go, and I collected the car at the weekend.

In a bizarre way, long-term 996 ownership fascinates me, so I’ll be reporting on my experiences – warts n’ all – with the 996.2 C4 in the ‘Living the Legend’ owner reports section of Total 911 in each issue. To start with though, here’s six reasons that swayed me in buying a Porsche 996.

1) The 996 cabin is a vast improvement over old

Gone is the ‘shoot-from-the-hip’ placement of buttons and dials that stymies the interior experience of any air-cooled 911, replaced by a cabin that’s had clear purpose and ergonomic thought gone into it. The famous five dials on the dashboard fall neatly within the circumference of the steering wheel for the first time, aiding clarity from the driver’s point of view, while the heating system doesn’t take days on end to figure out how to use, which was seemingly a first for Porsche.


2) The 996 is great value for money

It’s by far the cheapest used 911 generation on the market, yet it’s comfortably quicker than any air-cooled Carrera before it (in terms of top speed, 0-62mph and bhp/tonne). The 996 was lavished with a healthy array of modern comforts too, and even came with switchable PSM (in later models) for added security on the road (this could of course be turned off). So, you have performance and mod cons all together in an enviable package for just a little more than a first-generation Boxster – and with a 996 you get the added prestige of entering into 911 ownership, too.


3) The 996 has great potential for modifications

Only a brave man would currently start modifying something like a 993 Turbo, in my opinion, as residual values for classics such as those are so high. However, humble values of the 996 mean modifying won’t significantly affect its resale potential. Also, parts are relatively cheap, and you can take your pick from a wide spectrum of specialists who’ve now got nearly 17 years experience in fine-tuning their products to make the great 996 even greater.


4) The 996 Carrera is a true 911

Here are the facts: a 996 Carrera is narrow-bodied (even the C4), is naturally aspirated, has a passive rear axle and has mechanically assisted steering. By and large, these are all key components that no longer ring true on any 911 currently sitting in OPC showrooms. Moreover, the 996 is petite: place a 996 Carrera next to a 991 Carrera and delight in the former’s elfin appearance – exactly how a 911 should be.

Blue Porsche 996 Carrera 4

5) The 996 Carrera is a good daily driver

Aside from those modern comforts mentioned earlier, the 996 won’t get hot in traffic like its air-cooled forebears, and there’s plenty of room in the revised boot, too, which has a deeper recess (this is only slightly more shallow on C4 examples), and body work is generally considered excellent. If you find rust on one, it’s likely down to poor accident repair work, rather than anything that can be levied at Zuffenhausen.


6) The 996’s long-term prospects are good

Let’s be honest, values of these can’t go any lower. There’s been a small spike in residual values of the 996 in recent months too, though this is largely immaterial. The fact is, the 996 is a great 911, and people are finally waking up to its merits – I am one of them. As a specialist recently remarked to me, it’s funny how the ugly duckling can turn into something of a swan, eh? I couldn’t agree more.


Comments (13)

  • Tobias Welt

    Congratulations! I like 996s a lot, great value and all, still a much rawer driving experience than a 997 and… the front lights look much more original than the boring round ones on the 997. But why on earth did you buy the boring 4-wheel-drive version???

  • Juha U Kivekäs

    Welcome to the 996-gang.

    Finally the truth is told and bad mouthing starts to end. I’ve got a 1998 996.1 and I am amazed by the fantastic value for money it has given. Frankly, as wonderful a 964 and 993 are 996 is simply a better car in almost every aspect, and yet, it’s like 2/3 or less in price. The ratio of driving ecstasy/price is by far the best in 911 range. Just consider that the new (huge in size) 991 GT3 RS costs like 20 times the price of a 996 Carrera but it definitely isn’t 20 as good to drive. It’s only, really, really, honestly, only marginally better to drive – and big part is down to tyres. It’s is so darn difficult to make almost perfect to a little bit more perfect. But 996 still has that analogue feeling of the aircooled big sisters.

    Some people buy Porsches as investments. That’s perfectly fine. I bought mine to drive. I don’t give a shit what others think of the fried egg lamps. My car’s name is “Giulia” Carrera and I simply love her. I waited for her for 40 years before my dream came true. And after such a long wait one could easily have too high expectations, but, in fact I was positively surprised.

    Last summer, Scandinavian light night, I was driving some little roads around Finnish lakes and, I swear to God, I was so happy that I had tears in my eyes. The gratitude I felt was beyond description. I could feel the road like it was on my skin and I was one with her. It’s very similar to good sex.

  • Hugo Reis

    Because it’s not boring at all. It’s only marginally different form the C2 in feel and the weight difference is insignificant.

  • Earthchief

    It’s all a bit surreal really. For years Total911 has been hammering the 996. For all intents and purposes leading the hate campaign from the front. Usually with rubbish information. And now bits of love are starting to appear. What’s going on? Did some marketing consultant point out that there are probably more 996 owners out there willing to buy decent Porsche magazines than they realized? Has it just dawned on their finance director that maybe they’ve been continuously insulting half the ‘Total911’ ownership population out there and should maybe change tack or rename the magazine to ‘Half911’ (the air cooled specialist ragzine).

  • Donald Burger

    Good point. Exactly the reason I don’t purchase certain Porsche publications on newsstands. 10 years of trashing the 996 now it’s turned into a love fest.

  • Lee Sibley

    Wow, Earthchief – who’s scored your bores?! The funny thing is I genuinely believe you’ve got us mixed up with another title. As such, if you can give me just five examples of this alleged ‘996 battery’ from the 138 editions of Total 911 magazine (and counting) I’ll personally pay for a year’s subscription for you. I’m confident my money is safe…

  • Michael Berning

    You are indeed correct. The lights on the 2002 – 2004 996s are not ugly. Just look at Ferrari headlights. They are not round like a VW bug either. The round ones don’t function better either. These non traditional lights will create value for the 996s in the future.

    Furthermore the statistics for IMS failures on 996s are way overhyped by sellers of the IMS kits. How many total engine losses were there actually?

    A survey of 400+ P996s advertised on shows that 6.2% vehicles for sale have a new IMS bearing installed. Further inspection in these adds said it was recently installed and original bearing was intact. What does that mean? Most of the IMS bearing kit sellers do not advise installing an IMS upgrade kit into motors with failed bearings. Thus these kits are only useable for vehicles with a functions IMS bearing. The % of Porsche 996s with new bearings does not represent the failure rate of those vehicles.

    Only way to sell these kits to owners with perfectly good running engines is by hyping the statistics. I agree that the kit makers are making a technically superior product but are doing an even better marketing job for their product. Much like anti-baldness cures like Rogaine which only work for men whom still have hair on their head.

  • jckluge

    it is nice to see an honest assessment of what is a great car. And I suspect the values of 996s will go up as time goes on. The thing about the IMS bearing is that not only have they been upgraded, there is now a kit that replaces it with a direct oil fed shaft like the 964s and Turbos have. That should solve the issue altogether.

    The other thing is that a lot of these cars, mine included, have had their engines completely rebuilt after IMS failure and in the process upgraded to a large degree. As more and more of these cars are wrecked or parted out, the percentage of the ones with proper rebuilds will increase and the reputation of the car with it.

    The biggest thing holding back the value of the 996 is that they were such great sellers and so many of them were made. There is a reason why 993s are so expensive, few buyers at the time wanted them and there just were not that many made. The 996 was wildly popular and made in numbers larger than any previous generation of 911. So they will likely never be rare enough to be super valuable. They will however likely not depreciate and good examples will always command decent prices.

  • Martin Miller

    After a (non car related) near death experience I decided​ ‘what the hell, I am going to get a super car’. Limited by funds I tracked down a traded in Y2000 C4 cabriolet in Turin the garage thought was on it’s last legs. But as a life long mechanic I made a judgement call and went for it. I fixed the rattling and the gunk in the oil filler pipe was solely due to short runs in winter weather. I replaced the dual row IMS bearing at 100,000Km (just in time) and after 30,000Km it has never missed a beat.

    It is nothing but a pure delight to drive top down in the mountains (even more so at night) where twisting roads make speed limits an insignificant drawback. It is an awesome car for the price of a family runabout.

    I have occasionally had the chance for a ‘payage’ (toll booth) GP start with other Porsches and up to motorway speed limits it lacks for nothing even against more modern C2S machines. I like everything about this car, don’t listen to doomsayers. Get one and live a little.

  • Michael Berning

    Own a 2002 996 C2 Cabriolet with just 28k miles. Had my IMS replaced based on warnings about low mileage vehicles. The original was in perfect condition so I would say the issue is way overblown.

    This car is going to go up in value. If you have a nice one, hang on to it.

    Having a different look headlight is what makes these vehicles unique for the future.

  • Ion Link

    I own a 996.1 turbo, 49,000 km, arctic silver, black interior, facelifted 997 fiberglass & GT3 bumper, which I bought from the first owner. for the price I paid for this, I saved double getting the 997.1 turbo given they are almost of the same specs specially the engine, and boy, what a joy it is to drive, it never gives me a dull moment from the acceleration to the prestige it brings. pricewise and performance-wise I am so happy, just by looking at it makes me feel good, specially the wide body stance and the intercooler intake which is the trademark for all the turbo models. truly, an amazing authentic 911 experience at half the price!

  • Al Nelson

    I remember a discussion with a fellow Porsche nut when I first got into Porsches in the 1980s, and was considering a used longhood 911 purchase. Part of it went something like, “Who would ever want one of those wretched 1972 911s with the ridiculous external oil filler. If you have to get an old 911, avoid those oddballs – they will never be worth as much as other 911s.” Now, look at things today for the 72s, and many other unique Porsche models.

    So I have to agree with one post here – unusual headlights on a 911 (that otherwise is similar in character and performance to its successors and superior in performance to its predecessors) will likely prove to be an advantage years from now. 996s are very good cars overall. At a minimum, as time goes on and things settle down, that goodness will outweigh any concerns over their freaking headlight shape. Please.

  • anonymous

    cos they’re cheap. the cars and the magazine.