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Classic Porsche 911 - Surveys owners, repair and operation of 911 news stories and page model, sales and much more in ou...
Classic Porsche 911 - Surveys owners, repair and operation of 911 news stories and page model, sales and much more in our club fans and fans of the legendary series cars Porsche 911. All about 911-901, 930, 964, 993, 996 and new era 997 and 991-series.

If you're buying a used 911 as an investment, send me your address so that I can arrange a visit from the boys. Investors who never drive their 911s bring a word to mind. That word is 'pimp'. As 911 diehards, the boys don't like pimps, so when they arrive, make sure your engine is still warm, the exhaust system is making that tinkling noise and there is evidence in your tyres of some recently accomplished brisk cornering.

All 911s, from 1963 to this afternoon, share a characteristic 911 'feel', but that varies greatly in degree. Bog-standard used Coupes from the late 1970s or 1980s once delivered the goods for sensible money but they might demand some restoration work now.

Choosing a 911 is such a very personal matter. Just go for what you really want, get the best straight car you can find and look after it. Reliability is legendary but repairs can be costly.

My choice is currently the 993 Carrera 2 Coupe of 1993-98. Its predecessor, the 964, was respectable but dull. The 993's different, agile feel makes it terrific to drive and good ones go for less than £30,000 - this week, anyway.
It's the last air-cooled 911 model but so what? Later models lost nothing by being water-cooled. No, pick a 993 for its exhilarating agility, and its price.

A friend of mine paid £26,000 for a superb 1994 993 Carrera 2 in late 2013. He loves it, whether he's tootling about the shops or on a 300-mile blast through the remote Highlands of Scotland, where it truly excels. And that's no more than it deserves.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS
1973 // £500,000
The eternally great, ultimate development of the original 911 concept, it combines high performance and low weight with inch-perfect precision handling. Superb but the price of this model now, sir, is officially‘through the roof'. If you buy one, promise us you will use it.

On an autumn day in 1972 the salesman from Porsche GB came to visit our house. 'We're making a special car,' he told my father. 'Only 200 will be built, and we're offering them to our best clients first as demand is sure to be strong.' They built more than 1500 in the end, and demand was so great that, instead of management having to use them as company cars to use up unsold stock as expected, Porsche sold out the first batch of 500 immediately and had to build two more series.

Why the fuss? Because the RS is so much more than the sum of its parts. It was derived from the relatively humble 2.4S, but with flared rear arches and wider wheels (a 911 first), bored-out engine (at 2.7 litres Porsche's biggest road car motor to date), a rear spoiler (another first, and not just for Porsche, so initially illegal in some markets) and, last but not least, weight-loss that took the RS under the magic 1000kg in 'lightweight' trim.
The result: 150mph, 0-60mph in 5.0sec, handling to die for (and you would if you lifted off mid-comer) and a string of victories on every continent including rallies, Le Mans and the Targa Florio. Oh, and you can drive it to the shops.

Mine's been in the family for 42 years and has never once 'failed to proceed'. Beat that, Enzo...


Porsche 911 GT3 (997-series, generation II)
2009-12 // £80,000-120,000
The 997-series Generation II cars were terrific in their time and the naturally aspirated 997 GT3 was a hugely powerful, seriously fabulous machine, subtly better in fast corners than previous GT3 models.
A classic in waiting - bound to be a sound long-term investment.

Any brand new 911
2015 // From around £75,000
Admit it, they are absolutely brilliant. If you don’t want one, you should. Buy it, keep it, service it properly. One day, it will be a classic but, meanwhile, enjoy a few happy decades driving it. The best of all worlds.
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  •   David Lillywhite reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    #RPM 996 CSR. The 996 is today’s poor-relation of the #911 family, but this brilliant sports car has much to offer, even more so when it’s been in the hands of a leading specialist. Road to Redemption RPM 996 CSR. Despite many having an issue with the #Porsche-996 #Carrera , RPM Technik thinks it’s still a 911 to savour, which is why it has developed its #CSR concept for this much-maligned 911. Story: Jethro Bovingdon. Photography: Gus Gregory.

    Its time is coming. It has to be. People are waking up to the #996 because, frankly, for many it’s now the only affordable 911. Cheap 964s are a distant memory, once unloved SCs are now hot property, the 3.2 Carrera is heating up in its afterglow and the 993 has been commanding strong money for some time. The air-cooled cars are, quite rightly, now solid gold classics with prices to match. So you want a genuinely cheap 911? Welcome to your only choice, people. The one with water pumping through its arteries, fried egg headlights and, as legend has it, an engine made from chocolate, old paper clips swept out from behind the cupboards at #Weissach and chewing gum scraped from the underside of the engineer’s desks: The 996 Carrera.

    Of course I’m being facetious. As you might know I own a 996 Carrera and all my formative #Porsche-911 experiences were at the wheel of various flavours of this much-maligned series. So I’m biased. But before we try RPM Technik’s lighter, harder, faster version of the 996 Carrera it’s worth taking a little trip back to the late 1990s to see what the 996 promised. Its task was simple but critical: ensure Porsche’s survival by turning a meaningful profit. In order to fulfil its mission the 996 was cheaper to build than the 993, shared many parts with the recently launched Boxster and was intended to broaden the appeal of the 911 by offering more practicality, accessible handling and greater refinement. Hardly a list of qualities to get the die-hard 911 fan’s heart pumping faster. In fact you might conclude that Porsche was, ahem, watering down the 911 experience.

    Of course, that devastating conclusion has become the prevailing view, but it rather ignores the 996’s many strengths. Namely that the 996 was lighter, more powerful and faster than the car it replaced. It accelerated harder, stopped faster, had more grip and finer balance. I have a copy of German magazine Sport Auto’s ‘Supertest’ of an original 996 Carrera 3.4 and it serves to highlight that the 996 delivered more than just a sound business model for Porsche. From 0-200kph the 993 clocked 26.7-seconds to the 996’s 22.9 seconds. At Hockenheim the 996 lapped at 1:15.9, a full 2.3 seconds quicker than the 993. Its margin at the Nürburgring was 11 seconds (8:17 vs 8:28), it had better aero balance in the wind tunnel and so the list goes on. So while there’s no question that the 996 was a cheaper, more profitable car it’s equally true that it evolved the 911’s dynamic capabilities with considerable success. And not just in terms of cold, hard objective data. The 996 Carrera emerged victorious in various magazines’ Car of the Year gatherings and won nearly every group test it ever showed up to. In other words if this is your only choice for 911 thrills, maybe you shouldn’t be too depressed.

    RPM-Technik understands the 996 Carrera’s appeal and with GT3 prices continuing to rise the company felt now was the right time to give the model its CSR treatment. Regular readers will remember the #997 CSR from last year, a sort of GT3-lite that realised much of the potential of the 997 Carrera. The new 996 CSR package follows a similar approach but perhaps makes more sense.

    Early 3.4s are still hovering around the £12,000 mark but these are 15-year-old cars now and will usually require a sort of mini rolling restoration if you buy one. I’m going through this process myself and although you can find a sweet early Carrera that still drives very well, inevitably you’ll start thinking about new bushes, maybe refurbished dampers, new discs and pads… the list tends to get longer every time you log on to one of those addictive Porsche online parts shops. It’s a really rewarding process and can be done pretty economically, but RPM argues that although the CSR package isn’t cheap it’s less painful if you factor in the cost of refreshing everything back to OE standard. And, of course, you end up with a more focused, more special end result.

    The silver demonstrator, riding at GT3-style height and wearing gorgeous HRE wheels, certainly looks special and the spec suggests the dynamics should match the aesthetic. The CSR uses three-way adjustable KW suspension complete with new top mounts, polybushes allround, hollow adjustable anti-roll bars from Eibach, a rear axle housing a Wavetrac torsen limited-slip differential, a new intake and exhaust system and carbon fibre side sills and engine cover complete with ducktail spoiler. The brake discs remain OE but Performance Friction pads beef-up the response and should prove more durable under demanding conditions. RPM claims a total weight saving of around 30kg but the expensive HRE wheels are an option that I suspect few will take up (they cost £5000 plus VAT), the alternative being GT3-style Sport Classic wheels. The M96 engine has been fitted with an LN Engineering IMS bearing upgrade, low temperature thermostat and features a lightweight clutch and flywheel. You can go further with a carbon fibre bonnet (as fitted to this car), RSS solid engine mounts, GT3-style adjustable suspension arms… The list is almost endless.

    No question then, the CSR has some choice modifications. However, it does not come cheap. Deliver your slightly baggy Carrera to RPM’s workshop and it will transform it into a lean CSR for around, gulp, £20,000. RPM is also looking to source 3.4 Carreras and offer turnkey cars for around £27,000. Expect a 100,000-miler with the engine upgrades and a clean bill of health for that price, but there’s no actual rebuild cost included. I absolutely understand where all that money goes, but it’s still not going to be especially easy to persuade people to ignore a nice 996 Turbo or a 997 Carrera S and instead buy an early 996 with some tasty suspension and aesthetic mods. It needs to be bloody marvellous, in fact.

    I love jumping into 996s just because they bring memories flooding back. I adore the amazing tactility of the steering, the slim dimensions that make the whole car feel so intimate and the tangible sense of lightness. Remember, the GT3 utilised the heavier C4 chassis and with all the other bigger items it required (think brakes etc), a Carrera carries a small weight advantage at just 1320kg. That relatively low mass infects the whole car, from the way it changes direction to the way it rides over a bumpy road. As you’d expect it is preserved and exaggerated in the CSR. First impressions? This trimmed-down 996 is still properly quick, sounds terrific with the new exhaust silencers and builds on the donor car’s agility and responsiveness. Good signs. Shame the original but optional hard backed seats are set a shade too high. I think the CSR needs some tasty replacements.

    We’re on one of my favourite roads in the whole world, the surface is mostly dry and visibility can be measured in hundreds of metres – perfect to carry a bit of speed in safety. The surface is coarse and many of the corners drop away or hide wicked lumps to unsettle a car when it’s already well loaded-up. Despite the aggressive looking ride height the CSR rides pretty well. It doesn’t quite have the fluidity of a first generation GT3 (which is amazingly supple) but the KWs do a great job of parrying the worst bumps and the damping is decisive and controlled. In fact, the main thing that strikes you about the CSR is the tightness of all of its movements… it’s amazing what a fresh set of bushes and some expensive dampers can do. Any thought that a 996 must feel a bit baggy evaporates. In terms of response and control the CSR feels completely fresh.

    From the outside you notice the rake of the setup – front splitter almost scraping the floor but the rear running a bit higher. The car looks ‘on the nose’ and that’s exactly how it feels. Turn-in is very quick indeed and the front Michelin Pilot Sport 2s seem to serve up almost Cup levels of grip. The signature 996 light, bobbly front end is gone completely. If you can get this thing to understeer on the road in the dry then you should probably be sectioned. That initial response is more than matched by the traction available. The Wavetrac LSD is a geared diff and it finds simply tremendous drive. Even if you actively try to provoke the tail it barely budges, just giving a little wiggle of exit oversteer and only then when you’re fully committed at turn-in.

    Skimming over the moor, the engine hollering a distinctive, bassy growl in the strong mid range and yet revving with energy out to over 7000rpm, the CSR feels focused and genuinely exciting. The brakes feel excellent, too. The Performance Friction pads can be a bit noisy at low speeds but the solid brake pedal feel that they create is full of detail and is hugely reassuring. There’s just a real sense of quality to this enhanced 996 experience that’s at odds with its reputation. Even the long throw but deliciously fluid six-speed ‘box feels superb. I’d always thought that the gritty, heavy feel of the short-shift kits might be a good upgrade, but the lightness and accuracy of the ‘box on these roads matches the rest of the car’s controls beautifully.

    My only concern is that I’m not fully confident in the CSR and the 996 is a car I know better than perhaps any other. I’m certain it’ll turn in instantly and grip really hard… but what comes next? To me, some of the steering feel has been lost and the Wavetrac differential, for all the traction it provides, alters the dynamic responses of the 996 to a significant degree. With no locking action on the overrun you get superb front-end response and grip, but without any gentle understeer to lean up against, some of the famed 911 adjustability is lost. Usually a #911 comes alive when you feel the nose go light at the onset of understeer, because what you do with the throttle from here on in determines the balance of the car. Without that understeer, you lose the phase where the car snaps back into line with a throttle lift and then reacts precisely to further inputs, either almost organically around the neutral point or with a twist of oversteer. The CSR would be more exciting, easier to read and, crucially, more accessible if that quality could be reinstated. Maybe a plated differential just suits the 911 better?

    Sure enough when rain starts to fall the CSR proves that beyond the limit it’s trustworthy, well balanced and there are no nasty surprises. The front-end response still takes some getting used to as even in slippery conditions you need to be alert to the most subtle messages from the front tyres. Feel a micron or two of understeer and you can be sure there’s oversteer to follow pretty quickly behind. It’s easy to correct or even hold should you find that killer corner, but I still think most drivers (including myself!) would be able to exploit the CSR more fully with a little more understeer built in to the setup. I know there’s a whole aftermarket industry set up to eliminate understeer from the 911’s make-up but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the right thing to do unless you’re chasing lap times above all else. On the road it’s the gateway to a whole world of subtle thrills. Of course, I’d love to try the CSR on track, where perhaps the set up of the KWs and the Wavetrac diff would combine more naturally. For the most part RPM’s new baby is a huge success. For those who’ve only ever heard bad things about the 996, this car’s combination of speed, composure and excitement will be eyeopening.

    For me, it’s just nice to drive a 996 with all-new components, a tight focus on driving thrills and meticulous execution, because it still stacks up so well even in the context of 997s or the earlier cars. It makes the 996 seem a bigger bargain than ever and I suspect many Carreras will get a new lease of life over the coming years. The 964 used to be the hot rodder’s 911 of choice but as prices rise that pattern is ending. The 996 – the next great unloved 911, I suppose – is its natural heir and I hope RPM do good business with the CSR. They really pour their love and expertise into these projects and the components are top notch.

    Of course the burning question is whether anybody will dig deep to spend circa £20,000 on the full conversion? This is a tricky and personal question and, I suspect, each and every one of us might build a very different CSR. For example, much as I like the carbon fibre ducktail – it’s carbon fibre and a ducktail, after all – I’d save the money and put it into some better seats and an Alcantara rimmed steering wheel just because they’d enhance the driving experience on every single journey. I’d also love to try it with a plated diff and maybe wind up the ride height just a bit to give the front end a bit more travel. Of course RPM can and will do all of this for potential customers, in fact the choices and tuning of those choices is pretty open ended.

    So how you judge the value of all this stuff is as personal as ‘your’ CSR could become. If a basic but clean 964 Carrera is worth £35,000, does a fully-fettled, track-optimised 996 CSR stack up at under £30,000? In terms of pure driving enjoyment, absolutely. Is it a good substitute for that GT3 you’ve always promised yourself but now might not ever be able to afford? Again, yes. Aside from not being fitted with that engine, it’s not a million miles away at all. And you might find its more humble beginnings will mean you’ll be happy to drive it as Porsche intended with more freedom. Does it look like value compared to that rare thing – a well loved and cared for 3.4 that’s mechanically fresh and advertised for, say, £12,995? Not so much. So, like anything that involves a substantial investment, the CSR can be dismissed or justified in a million different ways. But if you want a highly focused, relatively affordable and seriously enjoyable #Porsche 911 for road and track days then the 996 as a platform is looking more attractive by the day. The CSR, with a bit of fine-tuning to your own personal requirements, could just be the answer.

    The KW Variant 3 suspension gives the CSR a quasi-GT3 stance. HRE alloys are £5000 plus VAT, lovely but pricey. 3.4-litre M96 gets a full overhaul including an LN Engineering IMS bearing upgrade.

    To discuss the CSR range and options contact RPM Technik at 01296 663824

    Revving with energy out to over 7000rpm, the CSR feels focused and genuinely exciting.
    The 996 was lighter, more powerful and faster than the car it replaced.
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  •   David Lillywhite reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    The #2002 #Porsche-911-Turbo-996 long-term fleet

    By the time you read these words I’ll have had the Turbo for just about a year, and around this sort of time into car ownership I tend to get itchy feet and start browsing the classifieds for potential replacements.

    In the last few years I’ve had a BMW M3, a #Porsche Boxster S, a Mercedes Benz C55 AMG and a Renault Sport Clio 197, a lovely list of good cars, none of which made it far beyond 12 months of ownership. It might seem flighty to change cars so frequently, and my friend and fellow contributor Jack Wood has chastised me in the past for being too fickle to really learn a car, foibles and all, but I’ve never quite ‘clicked’ with any of my recent purchases and so I’ve not felt any regret in selling them and moving on.

    There was always a niggle or two that spoiled my enjoyment of the car; the awful brakes on the M3, a sluggish automatic gearbox on the C55 and so on. Over time, these issues would begin to dominate the driving experience – in my mind, at least – and at that point I’d usually start looking for a replacement. However, I think this trend may change with the Turbo. I have no intention of selling it at the moment because I’m still very much enjoying driving it, learning how to use the prodigious performance and how to improve my own driving skills to get the best out of the car.

    Besides, there’s very little out there that offers the same blend of performance and everyday usability at a similar price point. 996 Turbos are remarkable value at the moment, and I’m not just saying that because I bought one! Of course, I’d swap it in a heartbeat for a GT3 – any GT3 – but the recent and remarkable rise in GT3 values shows no signs of slowing, so I think they’re going to be out of my reach for the foreseeable future.

    With that in mind, I have noticed a slow rise in the prices of #Porsche-911 996 Turbos at well-known independent specialists in the past few months. As ever, low mileage manual examples seem to be the most sought-after cars but a car not dissimilar to mine was advertised for £40k at JZM, which seems like a huge jump up from the £25-30k price point that most 996 Turbos have been selling for in the past year.

    I don’t want this report to devolve into a discussion about future prices and I didn’t buy the car as an asset whose value should be protected at all costs, but this gradual appreciation in value prays on my mind a little. I’m wondering if I should get the car revalued when my insurance renewal comes through, and if I should get those two little dents on the rear wheel-arch sorted out, and maybe keeping the car parked outside isn’t such a good idea after all…

    If I’m not careful, these sorts of things could begin to colour the ownership experience just as much as the niggles did with my previous cars. Instead, I’m just going to focus on driving the Turbo as much as possible and ignoring the speculative threads on internet forums wondering if the 996 Turbo will be the ‘next big thing’ in appreciating Porsches. Spoiler alert: it won’t.

    This month’s improved weather has meant I’ve had far more opportunity to use the Porsche rather than the family car, and there’s been a week or two where MVC has been my daily driver. My fuel consumption has taken a bit of a hit as a result – 18mpg instead of 21mpg – but with the recent drop in fuel prices, a tank of V-Power costs slightly less so it’s made virtually no difference to the running costs.

    As I mentioned last month, the wheels are the next item on my ‘to do’ list for the car, and they’re going to Exel Wheels this month for a full refurb to strip the old bubbling paint and refinish them in the factory silver colour. I did briefly consider getting them painted in a darker smoked chrome finish having seen a very lovely 996 GT2 with dark wheels at a recent track day, but ultimately I decided to stick with the original colour. Those thoughts about originality and future values are creeping in again! I chose Exel because not only are they very wellregarded but they are the only company that collect your wheels and supply you with a set of appropriate loan wheels while yours are away being refurbished. That’s a huge timesaver for me, and I can’t wait to see how the wheels look when they come back…

    Martin rarely keeps his cars for longer than a year, but his #Porsche-996 could be a different story…
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  •   David Lillywhite reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    NEW DIRECTION PORSCHE 911 996 DESIGN HISTORY

    The New Generation is how Porsche referred to the two entirely new models that would be the hoped-for saviours of a company which had witnessed some lean years. We look at the development of one of those models, the #Porsche-996 … Words: Keith Seume. Photos: Porsche Archiv.

    We hated that drip rail so much! We tried so hard to get rid of that!’ Those were the words of Pinky Lai, the Hong Kong-born stylist responsible for the smooth looks of the 996-series 911, in a reference to the old gutters (drip rails) that were a feature of earlier 911s, and of virtually every car designed in the 1950s and ’60s.

    Of course, getting rid of these archaic details wasn’t the prime reason for giving the 911 such a comprehensive overhaul. The main reason was that the car was starting to look old – and the company had been in financial trouble for some while. In styling terms, the first radical redesign of the 911 had been its transformation from the plastic-panelled 964 – itself little more than a waistline down revision of the original 1963 design – to the more sensual 993. Suddenly the #Porsche-911 was beginning to look a little more up to date.

    Jointly, the 964 and 993 had represented considerable mechanical updates compared to the original air-cooled, torsionbar suspended 911, the roots of which could be traced back to the late 1950s. Coil-spring suspension, with subframes to isolate the body from the running gear, along with technical delights such as power steering and four-wheel drive, meant that the last of the air-cooled 911s were a far cry from the originals, arguably better in dynamic terms, if not to everyone’s taste with regard to styling.

    Porsche had made a loss – no, make that ‘considerable losses’ – back in the early 1990s, and boss Wendelin Wiedeking knew there was only one option available: Porsche had to spend its way out of the financial hole if it was to survive.

    Referred to as ‘The New Generation’, two new models were proposed, one being the mid-engined Boxster, the other a new 911 – the 996. The ‘New’ of ‘New Generation’ was as much a reference to the way the cars were to be manufactured as to any aspects of their design.

    They were the first cars built by Porsche to share major components – and the first ‘world’ cars, where there would be relatively few variations in specification between models offered for sale in different export markets. The first modern Porsches, in fact. Wiedeking persuaded the board to set aside the sum of DM1.5million for the development of the new models, with half – DM750,000 – allocated to each project. In 1994, when the decision was made to proceed, this called for a massive injection of cash into the company’s ailing finances.

    Porsche’s management had already recognised the need for investment, following the lacklustre sales of the 964. But then the 993, which had been produced on something of a tight budget – it was, arguably, little more than a new body over old mechanicals – had turned out to be a big seller. This came as a surprise to the board, some members of which had been expecting the worst.

    The success of the 993 was almost the undoing of plans for the New Generation. Nobody expected it to sell well, so every effort was put behind creating a new car to drag the 911 into the rapidly-approaching 21st Century. Had the board had an inkling that the 993 would sell as well as it did, they might not have been so keen to invest so much money into coming up with a suitable replacement!

    Wendelin Wiedeking and Porsche’s chief financial officer, Walter Gnauert, had successfully argued the need to release funds, pointing out that, despite falling sales, the company was still asset-rich, and had plenty of money tucked away for a rainy day. Plans were drawn up to slim down the workforce and, ultimately, to reduce the product range to just two cars, which shared 36 per cent of their components. But in the meantime, the 968 and 928 would continue in production until declining sales suggested it was time to pull the plug.

    We can thank the research and development department’s Horst Marchart for pushing forward the idea of the two-car line-up. While others favoured the idea of concentrating on one new model – the Boxster – Marchart was a keen backer of the two-car New Generation. But it had to be cost-effective in every way. That meant looking at sharing as many components as possible, including the front bodywork and underside, doors and other components. The challenge would be to give the two cars their own separate identity.

    Ulrich Bez, as head of research and development, turned to senior designer Harm Lagaay to work on the new projects, Lagaay having returned to Porsche and being largely responsible for the 968 and 993. Hong Kong-born Pinky Lai had also been invited by Bez to join the design team (known as ‘Porsche Styling’) as studio chief under Lagaay, having previously worked at BMW (as had his boss). The two had joined Porsche in January 1989 at the start of what was to be a critical era in the company’s history.

    Although it was clear the #Porsche #911 needed to be updated – and not only by the loss of the drip rails and the sharing of components with the Boxster – it was vital that the ‘DNA’ should be clear for all to see.

    Lagaay is quoted by Karl Ludvigsen in his masterwork Excellence was expected as saying of some designers that ‘(they) just cannot do a Porsche. Simplicity has always been a Porsche trait. Proportions and graphics are important, but above all it’s the Formsprache (‘form language’). It’s the sheetmetal being shaped in such a way that you cannot compare it with anything else.’ In other words, it was imperative that a new Porsche had to look like a Porsche.

    There was much discussion about how to achieve a coherent family style with the two new models. In theory, if they could be made to share the same front-end sheetmetal, they would at least look like members of the same family in the rear view mirror. Whether they would be recognised as a member of the Porsche family was another challenge…

    One of the most significant features of the new look also proved to be by far the most contoversial: the so-called ‘fried egg’ headlights. Loved or hated – there was no middle ground – the new light units chosen for the Boxster and 996 were likened to a frying egg, the yoke of which had run to the edge of the pan. It wasn’t a particularly flattering comparison…

    From Lai’s point of view, the project was a designer’s dream challenge come true. The new 911 had to look like a 911 – had to look like a Porsche! – had to look good, and had to be fresh and different.

    The 993 had a distinctive slotted nose, a feature carried over to the #996 and used to accommodate two radiators at the front of the car – the new models being watercooled. Lagaay felt that the design, with two intakes either side of a central number plate, was now recognised as being a ‘symbol for Porsche’. Both the Boxster and the 996 displayed an overall ‘corporate’ look, but detailed differences helped identify them as two separate models.

    The design process was not simply a case of a couple of stylists being given a sheet of paper and a pen, and then told to go away and design a new 911. There was an element of competition about it, with four teams within the design department given the opportunity to prove their worth.

    Each team was asked to lay out their designs as full-sized tape ‘drawings’ on a blank wall, as well as showing a range of sketches to demonstrate how they had reached their decision. Pinky Lai recalls being stressed as each team tried to outdo the other, but there was a happy twist to his tale, as Ludvigsen once again recounts.

    In addition to the drawings, the teams were tasked with creating a full-sized clay model of their proposed design. This called to the services of the highly-skilled in house modellers, among who was an Eberhard Brose. Brose was legendary among the designers, having been part of the team responsible for finalising the shape of the original 901 (911) prototypes.

    After looking at the various design ideas on show, Brose turned to Pinky Lai and casually said, ‘Pinky, I’m going to do yours’. Lai recalls that ‘When he picked mine, I knew I had a winner.’

    Lai’s design was chosen as the best of all the submissions, having succeeded in retaining the original 911’s character yet bringing it firmly up to date. Gone was the need for widened rear wings – the new, more subtly-curved bodywork could accommodate wider rims than before – but the 911’s trademark ‘boomerang’ rear quarter window profile remained, albeit tweaked to give a more modern feel.


    The windscreen was raked back to an angle of 60 degrees, compared to the original’s 55 degrees, while the higher tail and sleeker roofline helped make the car more aerodynamically efficient. Door mirrors were relocated, too, now being mounted in the front corner of the door windows as opposed to the door top itself. The raised tail helped in three ways.

    First it added a ‘power bustle’ to the profile, emphasising the rear engine location and hinting at the car’s performance potential. It also helped airflow over the rear of the car, and finally it provided more space for the bulkier new engines.

    As a carry over from the days of the 964, the engine lid featured a combined intake grille and spoiler that would raise automatically at speed.

    Harm Lagaay is quoted as saying the 996 looked more ‘relaxed’ than the rather more aggressively-styled earlier cars. ‘With the 993,’ he said, ‘we had exhausted the visual possibilities. I wanted the new car (the 996) to look more relaxed, and I think we achieved that.’

    Amusingly in hindsight, he likened the two cars to the two famous American sprinters of the time: ‘The old 911 is like the athlete Ben Johnson, packed with muscle and aggression. The new 911 is like Carl Lewis, still powerful but with a slimmer figure, more elegant and much more perfectly proportioned.’

    Clearly Lagaay was impressed with Lai’s design, going on to say ‘If it doesn’t stir anything inside you, inspire you, then it isn’t a Porsche…’

    Lai’s design wasn’t all about sleek looks, though – it was also very efficient, with a drag coefficient of just 0.30. Whereas in its early days the original 911 had been plagued with problems of rear lift at speed, the new design had a lift factor of seven per cent at the front and just three per cent at the rear. Testing showed that, at 170mph, the overall lift was just six per cent, an extremely low figure.

    Such efficiency was achieved by a number of small but significant details. Early wind tunnel tests showed that drag over the rear bodywork was high, calling for changes to be made that wouldn’t adversely affect rear lift. Underbody cladding helped greatly here, as did a small lip that reduced air pressure in the engine bay, also aiding airflow through fans which helped cool the engine compartment.

    Porsche examined the possibility of using aluminium to build the 996’s basic body structure, with plastic panels used for the front and rear ‘bumpers’. This technque had been used by Honda on the NSX, but Porsche was unimpressed with the way the Japanese company had used the material. Whereas in more recent times cars with an aluminium substructure, such as Audi’s A2 and A8, treated the lightweight material in a different way to steel (smaller complex pressings welded together to make a light but rigid structure), Honda preferred more traditional techniques, similar to those used to press steel body panels.


    This technique left Porsche’s engineers unimpressed, but it was also clear that the process used by Audi was simply not cost effective – indeed, it is still claimed that Audi lost money on every A8 sold, while repair costs were (and still are) so high that many cars would be written off after suffering relatively little damage. Neither problem appealed to the bean counters. In the end, zinc-plated steel body panels were decided upon, these being stamped out by BMW – this was truly a time of cooperation between rival companies, all of whom had been through lean times in the early 1990s.

    Modern manufacturing techniques, such as using laser welding equipment, led to a reduction in the time necessary to complete a body ready for paint. In fact, according to Ludvigsen, the 996 body took 20 per cent less time to make than that of its predecessor, the 993.

    This wasn’t the only major improvement over the old model. The 996’s bodyshell was some 30 per cent more torsionally rigid than that of the 993, with bonded-in glazing, front and rear, accounting for 21 per cent of that increase.

    The torsional rigidity helped the 996 to be one of the safest cars in its day. ‘Our goal was to build the world’s safest highperformance car,’ said Horst Marchart, ‘and all our tests show we’ve done that.’ Whereas the old 911, with body engineering dating back to the early 1960s, was never a car in which you’d expect to have a major accident and walk away unhurt, the 996 was a very different proposition. Increased public awareness of vehicle safety meant that Porsche, like all other manufacturers, was keen to promote this aspect of its product design.

    The latest computer modelling – FEM, or Finite-Element Modelling – was used to demonstrate on-screen how strong the 996 was. This system, which referenced no fewer than 180,000 separate analysis points, allowed engineers to look at the bodyshell in a way that their predecessors could only have dreamed.

    FEM allowed them to simulate crashes from all angles, reducing the amount of time and expense associated with the destruction of prototypes at a preproduction stage. Project leader Bernd Kahnau is quoted as saying that his team ‘put a lot of effort into designing a new car that would meet all anticipated crash safety requirements. It was a fantastic effort!’ Porsche’s engineers would spend literally hours – as many as 40 or more per computer session – assessing the damage inflicted on a 996 bodyshell, primarily in frontal impacts. Only when they were happy would a ‘real’ crash test be performed on a prototype.

    It was the responsibility of Bernd Kahnau, as project leader for the 996, to see that the new car had sufficient customer appeal to be a success. After all, the 911 family had been the flag wavers for Porsche since 1964. With two new cars being marketed alongside each other, it was important that customers be able to differentiate between them.


    To this end, the decision was made to market the Boxster as a more youthful product, the emphasis being on ‘hedonism’ rather than the ‘success’ and ‘evolution’ of the 996 – references to the 911’s long bloodline and competition history. However, the sharing of components and, to a certain degree, styling inevitably meant there was a cross-over between the two models. It was potentially a challenging situation, the task of the sales and advertising people being to separate the products and sell them into two different markets.

    As has been mentioned previously, there was more component sharing here than at any other point in Porsche’s past, unless you compare the six-cylinder 911 and its four-cylinder sibling, the 912, in the 1960s. This was different, though, as the Boxster was an entirely new concept, rather than a ‘less expensive’ 911, its mid-engine layout clearly defining it as a stand-alone model. The front suspension was shared between the 996 and the 986 Boxster, consisting of a MacPherson strut design with aluminium lower links, on an aluminium subframe.

    At the rear, the 996 featured a far simpler layout than the suspension assembly of the 993. The old car had required a substantial aluminium subframe to carry the suspension components, but the greater torsional rigidity of the 996 body allowed the engineers to do away with the 993’s subframe in favour of a less complex design with just one main crossmember. Mounted on four rubber bushes to the bodyshell, the new set-up was both lighter and cheaper to manufacture.


    Of course, there was one other major component shared by the two ‘New Generation’ Porsches: the engine. Both models were now water-cooled, largely to satisfy noise and emission regulations, but the Boxster was equipped with a 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine, the 996 a larger 3.4- litre version. This in itself is a subject worthy of an archive feature in its own right, so we’ll leave the development history of the latterly much-maligned M96 engine to a future issue.

    For Porsche, the launch of the New Generation was a very big deal. On these two models rested the fortunes of a company which had seen many highs and lows over the previous decade. So what did the media think of the new 996?

    Damned as a ‘bastard son of the Boxster and the 928’ by one critic, the 996’s styling came in for a lot of comment. But the influential Auto Motor und Sport probably summed it up best of all, tipping its hat to the efforts of the stylists, Harm Lagaay and Pinky Lai: ‘That the traditionalists sulked a little was only to be expected. The bigger overall dimensions, the nose from the Boxster, with the oddly-shaped headlamps, the lack of muscular bulges on each rear flank, even the loss of the drip rails – all must evoke sadness in a fan of the old 911. But next to the new 911, the old one looks like a relic from days gone by.’

    Time has been cruel to the 996, with its engine problems and criticism of its lack of character, but it was a success for Porsche in marketing terms. It also, along with the Boxster, helped the company keep its head above water…

    The 993 Targa had been seen as a controversial design by many but a triumph as far as the stylists were concerned. The same sliding roof concept was considered at an early stage for the 996, too, as demonstrated here in this 1996 sketch.

    Crash testing took place only after considerable time had been spent acting out various scenarios on computers. But once the design had passed with flying colours, it was time to hit the road – much of the long-distance testing was carried out in North America, while Weissach’s wind tunnel honed the final details (GT2 pictured).

    It’s probably true to say that no other Porsche before had undergone such rigorous preproduction testing as the 996. On the far left a Carrera undergoes wetweather testing, while left and centre, 996 GT2 and Turbo undergo suspension and wind-tunnel evaluation.

    The 996’s bodyshell was some 30 per cent more torsionally rigid than that of the 993…

    At first glance you might guess this was a 993 Carrera 4S, but in fact it’s the original test mule with all the underpinnings of the soon to be released 996. Bonnet pins, roll cage and small bulge in the bonnet hint at something out of the ordinary…

    Under Wendelin Wiedeking (centre) several different projects were investigated, including a stretched four-door cousin to the 911. For the first time, computer modelling played a major part in a design process that led to the creation of the new Porsche 996.

    With the 993, we had exhausted the visual possibilities. I wanted the new “car to look more relaxed…

    Pinky Lai lays out a full-sized tape drawing of his new design. His idea came out on top at an early stage, but he found the whole process ‘stressful’.

    Narrow rear to the glasshouse on this 1994/5 drawing resembles that of the much later Cayman. Sensuous curves reflected a desire to make the 996 look more modern than its predecessors, including the 993, which had itself been regarded as a major departure from the established 911 shape.

    Left front is Harm Lagaay, with back to camera, while behind him is Pinky Lai – studying the painted clay model in daylight for the first time.

    Pinky Lai (in the background, with glasses) watches over the creation of the clay model of his design in. By this stage, the overall style had been established – now it was time to concentrate on the details, such as the controversial ‘friedegg’ headlights.

    The go-ahead was given to the new project in 1994 and within a few months, all kinds of ideas were being kicked around by Harm Lagaay and Pinky Lai, as this range of sketches proves.

    Crude 1995 design sketch (above) demonstrates the stylists’ desire to give the 911 a fresh, modern look. Pinky Lai’s solution was more sensuous than earlier models, but hopefully it was still recognisably a Porsche 911.
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  •   David Lillywhite reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    THE LOVE OF CARS PORSCHE 911

    Ant Anstead's moderns tipped for stardom / #Porsche-911-996 / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche-996 / Porsche /

    After a lukewarm reception, the 996- generation 911 won people over. It's now a performance bargain, says Ant Anstead.

    COST NEW £105,350
    VALUE NOW £50,000

    Staggeringly fast, yet eminently usable – the Porsche 911 (996) represents great value – if you find a good one.

    What To Love – and To Fear

    + The cheapest and most practical way into 911 ownership. Buy a good C2/C4 and it's a lot of value. Turbos/GTs are amazing.

    - Intermediate shaft bearing problems are a concern on non-Metzger engines. Pick one that's had the job done, or take up some form of organised religion and hope.

    When the muchloved air-cooled 993 was phased out in #1998 and #Porsche launched the water-cooled 996 model there was uproar among diehard 911 enthusiasts.

    Porsche made a rare mistake and decided its top-of-the-range model should share the fried egg headlights seen on the Boxster. The car looked spectacularly ugly, but let's put aside 'cars as art' and look at the figures.

    While the Carrera's 3.4-litre flat six produced a healthy 296bhp and 178mph top speed, that really only put it on par with the BMW M3.

    Munich's baby would be blown into the weeds by the 2002 911 Turbo (see MC Issue 2). Packing two mighty turbochargers and 420bhp, kept in check by a four-wheel-drive system, it could hit 62mph in 4.2 seconds and keep on pulling all the way to 189mph. It was glorious. While these cars have their appeal, my pick of the bunch are the post-facelift (996.2) ones from 2002 onwards. Out went the ugly headlights and in came a revised 3.6-litre engine that yielded an extra 15bhp for the Carrera models. The Turbo X50 was even quicker; 60mph was a memory in four seconds and it charged to 192mph – on German autobahnen, of course.


    That wasn't the end of the story – the GT3 and GT3 RS models pared back the Carrera to its essentials for track-based thrills. The GT2 did the same trick with the Turbo, but junked the four-wheel-drive safety net and pumped the top speed up to 198mph. The GT2 became known as the widowmaker – well earned.

    The GT3 and GT3 RS rightly have a cult following and are truly breathtaking cars. Sadly the GT3s and the GT3 RSs are now out of reach for most mortals. The GT2 is frankly scary.

    My choice would be a post-2002 Carrera 4S (wide body). It is a beautiful and usable car that shares a lot of the best features, parts and looks of the Turbo. Find yourself a low-mileage manual 4S with dealer and specialist service history and you are in for a real treat for less than £25k. Prized examples are not that hard to find, so long as you have patience.

    I'm also a fan of the Turbo and Turbo S, but people are warming up to its appeal. Low-mileage Turbos are hard to find and prices have risen.

    But a warning – those of you looking to buy a Carrera with an eye on the investment side should bear in mind that 175,262 rolled out of the factory – they're not rare. Then there's the better, prettier, similarly cheap 997.1 Carrera S. I feel another Porsche article coming on.

    Ant Anstead founded Evanta and co-hosts For The Love Of Cars.
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