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.
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.