Porsche 996 – The least loved 911 Carrera

In 1998 Porsche released the 996, which was a monumental change from their legendary 911 Carrera series, they switched from an air-cooled engine to a water-cooled one. This change, as well as its different design, is probably the reason why the Porsche 996 is considered today as one of the least loved generations to date, as reflected in current resale values.

Porsche was forced to switch from its legendary air-cooled (horizontally opposite) 6-cylinder flat engine to a water-cooled version due to stricter noise restrictions (especially in Europe) and environmental concerns. Not only where government restrictions put pressure on Porsche to make the switch, but they also hit a power ceiling in its air-cooled engine.

The new design of the Porsche 911 came from designer Harm Lagaay. The design pushed the new 911 towards a more aerodynamic look with a steeper windshield. With the design deviating from previous generations and the switch to the legendary power source, this annoyed Porsche enthusiasts everywhere. Too many changes in too little time. The Porsche 996 so impressed the enthusiast base that the next generation 911 released, the 997, reverted in style to previous ones, maintaining the necessary change to the power plant.

The new Porsche 996 was launched in 1998 with a 3.4-liter water-cooled 6-cylinder flat engine producing 296 hp capable of propelling the new 911 0-60 in 5.1 seconds. Their first water-cooled power plant is known to have some problems, so much so that in 2002 (available in 2001 on the 9114S) they switched it over to a 3.6-liter, improving its reliability. The 3.6-liter Porsche Flat 6 engine was what powered the Porsche 993, which to most enthusiasts represents one of the most desirable air-cooled Porsches ever built. Although it was a water-cooled version, it enhanced the 996’s appeal to the Porsche fan base and improved its power to 320 hp and from 0 to 60 to 4.9 seconds.

The Porsche 996 still struggles to win the hearts of today’s enthusiasts, creating one of the affordable 911s available on the market today. Prices for the early 3.4-liter models are definitely tainted due to known issues, while the 3.6-liter models are priced somewhat higher, compared to previous models the 996 is a steal.

In 2000, Porsche launched a new all-wheel drive Turbo edition of the 996, which increased power to 420 hp, from 0 to 60 to 4.2 seconds and was hailed by the automotive press as an engineering triumph. Even this new Porsche 911 Turbo represents the cheapest generation available on the market today.

So what can we get out of this discussion? Will the 1998-2005 Porsche 996 still be an outcast or will it eventually win the admiration of enthusiasts? Until then, this model represents an inexpensive way to experience the legendary engineering of the Porsche 911 Carrera.

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