∙ Outstanding condition inside and out ∙ Huge and fastidiously organised history file ∙ Recent IMS bearing upgrade ∙ Excellent runner in superb mechanical order
The 996-generation 911’s time has well and truly arrived. This is the model built between 1997-2004, and while it would be inaccurate to say that any era of Porsche’s age-old iconic sports car has ever been truly unpopular, it’s an undeniable fact that the first of the water-cooled cars were rather more controversial than most. The switch from air-cooling was just one hurdle too high for some die-hard purists. The 996 still sold like hot cakes, of course, as it really was a magnificent piece of design and engineering, and we’ve reached a point today whereby the values are just about on the cusp of skyrocketing. The time is right to pull the trigger on 996 ownership before the prices start to get dramatic.
As with all 911s the list of variants is entertainingly complex, from slinky two-wheel drive Carreras to wide-hipped all-wheel-drive models, up to the fiery GT2s/’3s, RS road-racers and track beasts and, of course, the fabled Turbo, but we’d suggest that the real sweet spot in the range is to take things back to basics with the classic and timeless Carrera 2, in Cabriolet form so as to enjoy that glorious flat-six burble. And as you can see from the photos, we’ve got a real honey of an example for you here.
It’s often the sign of a good car if it’s clearly been owned by somebody who’s loved and cherished it, and that’s very much the case here. The history file is enormous and fastidiously ordered, and bears evidence of all the right work having been done by all the right people. The 911 has always been correctly maintained, and has been cleaned and polished with obsessive care; the pampering also extends to addressing the infamous issues experienced by some 996s. Marque aficionados will be wary of the engine’s IMS bearing and the potential for trouble there, but this owner has very recently had an upgraded IMS and oil pump feed conversion along with all sorts of other in-depth maintenance to ensure longevity. Maintenance carried out with an eye on the future, and as such the 996 has many, many years of enjoyment ahead of it. The only reason for the current owner to end this protracted bout of pampering is that they’ve replaced it with another car, so it’s time for a new curator to carry on the good work.
The file of paperwork with this car is not only huge, but it’s ordered with incredible attention to detail – everything’s in date order, so it’s extremely simple to interrogate the data and see precisely what’s been done and when. The service history is full and comprehensive. We can see, for example, that the most recent work (carried out this year) took place at AutoFarm Oxon, fitting a new air-conditioning condenser and dryer, as well as an upgraded set of coil packs. In 2020, a new set of Pirelli P-Zero Rosso N4 tyres were fitted, along with new wheel bolts, new gas lifters for the front bonnet, and the soft-top was re-proofed. Crucially, 2019 also saw the upgraded Vertex IMS bearing with oil pump feed conversion, as well as a new clutch and new front discs and pads. In essence, all of the expensive stuff has been recently done, and the drop-top 911’s ready to rock ‘n’ roll. The MOT runs to March 2022, and shows no advisories.
The design of the 996’s interior is one that’s aged extremely well, with a particular highlight being the dash layout. The fighter-pilot array of five main dials is something of a design icon, the rev counter front and centre, with logically laid out controls and superior ergonomics helping the driver to truly feel at one with the car.
This 996’s cabin is trimmed in its factory-original leather, which has evidently been looked after as it’s all in great condition – particularly the rear seats, which we can assume have been seldom used. The steering wheel isn’t unduly worn, and it would appear that every button and switch does what it’s supposed to do. With the new air-con compressor and dryer having been fitted just a few weeks ago, it’s blowing ice cold. Overall, a superbly maintained cabin that strikes just the right ambience.
Arctic Silver is a shade that suits the sylph-like 996 curves extremely well, and the tasteful counterpoint of the Metropole Blue soft-top helps to create a tremendously elegant silhouette. The soft-top has been recently re-proofed to keep it water-tight and strong, and the original hard-top is also present, kept safe in its correct protective bag.
The paintwork is in fine order throughout, and the panels all sit straight and true with even gaps. The headlights were treated to a professional refurbishment in 2019, and all of the correct badges and trim are in place. The car wears its original Carrera Sport Techno alloy wheels in excellent condition, and a new set of N-rated Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tyres were fitted last year, which still have lots of tread.
With the preferred 3.6l engine under the bonnet, the mechanicals of this car are as solid as you could reasonably hope a 996 to be, thanks to the care with which it’s been looked after. It’s very recently had a new set of upgraded coil packs fitted, and the big job was attended to last year: an upgraded Vertex IMS bearing was fitted with oil pump feed conversion, and while the Porsche was at AutoFarm Oxon it was also treated to new exhaust gaskets and sleeves, oil pump gasket, crankshaft seal, RMS and tensioner seals. The works continued with a full clutch kit, clutch release ball pin and spigot bush, air/oil separator, plus a full major service including plugs, filters and Castrol Edge oil in 2019. As such, the car is running like a dream, with all the eager performance you’d expect from that venerable flat-six motor. It’s worth noting that the Porsche is fitted with the desirable manual transmission. The car has also been fitted with a new alternator, new stainless exhaust silencers, and the front brake discs and pads have been renewed.
The first of the water-cooled 911s has become a true-blue modern classic, and this one certainly stands up as one of the best examples we’ve seen. The spec is desirable, with the tasteful combination of Arctic Silver paint and Metropole Blue hood working well with the leather, but the real selling point of this car is the painstaking care with which it’s been looked after. The mighty file of paperwork is proof of extraordinary pampering, and the crucial thing to bear in mind is that all of the expensive things have been done (to the tune of over £7,500) within the last twenty-four months. So it’s not a 996 that you’re going to climb into with trepidation, but one that’s straining at the leash to be enjoyed, top-down, all across the summer of 2021 and beyond. A fabulous example of a true thoroughbred.
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