THE LOVE OF CARS PORSCHE 911
Ant Anstead's moderns tipped for stardom / #Porsche-911-996
/ 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
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.