Buyer’s Guide Porsche 911 Carrera 2S 997.1

Buyer’s Guide Porsche 911 Carrera 2S 997.1

It’s arguably the best-value Porsche 911 right now, so here’s everything you need to know about buying a £25k 997.1 C2S. Written by Kieron Fennelly.


Everything you need to know about buying the first-generation 997 for under £25k


The 997 was universally praised for its looks and Porsche was keen to tell correspondents that this was no mere reskin – all body panels except the roof were new, and Peter Robinson of Autocar was largely alone in finding the shape of the new 911 a shade too conservative. All testers though were impressed with revisions to the chassis which endowed more stable handling and a smoother ride. Robinson atoned for his earlier observation by adding that adhesion was so good that he could not make the 911 oversteer on dry roads, and body control was “brilliant”. There were no complaints about performance either, especially the S for which Porsche claimed a top speed of 182mph. In 911 history, the ‘S’ began as a higher-tuned model before disappearing for 20 years, then reborn simply as a wider-body version of the Carrera. However, with the 997, the S got its own engine – while the Carrera 997 inherited the 996’s 3.6, an increase in bore (95 to 99mm) endowed the S with 3,824cc and 30 more horsepower. A canny move as the better-margin S versions would out-sell the Carrera 2:1.

Porsche 911 Carrera 2S 997

There was no doubt that the 997 was a better car in all departments than its predecessor: quite apart from its dynamics, the gearshift was shortened and for most drivers, the variableratio (still hydraulic) power steering was an improvement. The evident quality of the entirely revised cabin was also praised. As a statement of Porsche engineering and finesse, the 997 was unimpeachable, but it did have one crucial weakness, not apparent in the first two or three years: it carried over the same ‘open deck’ flat six M96 engine of the 996. A new design, the 9A1 was in the wings, but not ready: it would be introduced in 2008 with the second-generation 997. The critical component of the (now) M97 engine was its intermediate shaft which drove the camshafts from the crankshaft. The bearing on the heavily loaded ‘bottom’ end of this shaft had been known to fail on 996s, which usually destroyed the engine. In its defence, Porsche introduced at least four modifications to this bearing and instances of M97 failure were far fewer, and even rare towards the end of the model life. This flaw rather darkened the reputation of the early 997, but today the IMS is a relatively minor worry: many 997s have had aftermarket IMS modifications and on the used market buyers should be far more concerned about the car’s general health and service history.


The air-cooled 911 fan feels immediately at home in the 997. Despite the much overdue updating of the cabin, all the major controls are exactly where you expect to find them, although the ‘button fest’ of minor controls on the central panel is not one of this 911’s best features, but visibility, control weights, clutch and gearshift all have a reassuring familiarity. Response and performance however make the 997 very much a 21st century car. The S packs 70 more horses than its visually similar predecessor the 993, and these are very apparent as soon as the throttle is depressed. PASM is a standard fitting and as well as firming the dampers, it also tightens accelerator response. While PSM is obviously standard (and is difficult to provoke) the 997 S is so smooth and so eager to race right up to its 7,300 redline that the neophyte has to be careful not to underestimate the car’s sheer velocity. That said, the 997 S is quite unlike hyper-fast, hyper-electronic moderns. The 997 driver should always feel in touch with the road: for the experienced pilot, its 350bhp is a very manageable package and the 997 remains amenable when the traffic slows to a crawl, a state of affairs that was never to the air-cooled 993’s liking. These comments apply to cars in first-class, properly maintained condition: 15 years will take their toll and a half-hour road test should soon reveal obvious faults such as brake imbalance, reluctance to rev and non-functioning PASM.


The 997 Carrera was launched in the UK in 2004. The S retailed at £65,000, some £6,200 more than the base Carrera; prices remained strong, and even after the introduction of the 991 in 2012, there were plenty of 997.1 C2Ss for sale around £40-45,000. The passage of time brought this down to below £30k and the lowest point was reached in 2017- 8 when high-mileage/multi-owner Carrera Ss started to appear around £20,000. Today the 997’s worth is related directly to its condition and mileage: the gap between higher and lower-priced examples has widened as all Porsche used prices have strengthened over the last 18 months. Entry level remains about £22,000 and average cars – four or five owners with mileages of 70 to 90,000 – are on offer in the mid £20,000s. Lower mileage models can make £10-12,000 more: broker Hamptons of Surrey sold a brace of 35,000-mile C2Ss recently in the £34-37,000 bracket.

“The S packs 70 more horses than its visually similar predecessor the 993, and these are very apparent as soon as the throttle is depressed”


Porsche built around 100,000 first-phase 997s, which means plenty to choose from and as previously observed, a wide range of pricing. But whether the buyer’s budget is £23,000 or £40,000, the same advice applies: these are 15+ year-old Porsches and all are likely to exhibit signs of age. Logically, offers in the lowest price category are likely to require the most expenditure. While the 997 will not exhibit structural corrosion (unless accident repairs have been carried out incompetently) the underside, especially on high-mileage examples, will have suffered during salty winters. This takes its toll on suspension mountings, exhaust pipework and brackets, brake lines and electrical connections. Uneven tyre wear is a sign that geometry needs adjustment at least and probably further investigation.

Porsches are engineered to high standards, nevertheless components corrode and wear out and bushes fail, control arms slacken, struts become fatigued. Exposed pipework in particular corrodes and after 15 years the complex exhaust manifolds will be fused to the engine, a very labour-intensive intervention if they require replacing. Situated behind the front valance, the air-conditioning radiators are especially vulnerable to corrosion and may have been renewed at least once. Replacing the coolant radiators at the same time is practical as these sit just behind the a/c matrixes, but renewing both ventilation and coolant systems will not leave much change from £2,500. These are all general maintenance items which should have been dealt with on a correctly serviced car and be apparent in the history file.

Although nowadays specialists such as Ray Northway or Cridfords rarely have the 997.1 S on their forecourts, both enterprises service them regularly and concur that if there is a mechanical problem, albeit occasional, it is not the IMS, but scored bores. No one appears to have a definitive answer to why the S is so afflicted – suggestions range from cylinder liner material to inadequate heat dispersion by the larger-bore block. A reputable dealer such as RSJ in Slough, a long time 997 specialist, always has a wide range of 997.1 C2Ss in the £30,000-40,000 bracket. RSJ offers a year’s warranty which includes scored cylinders, but owner Joel claims that he has come across only a tiny handful of cylinder problems since 2006 among the 3,000 997s he has sold. The secret he says is buying wisely and ensuring that the car’s service history is immaculate with oil changes and maintenance carried out on time either by Porsche or recognised independents. The service record also indicates what components such as brakes have been renewed, and may provide a basis for negotiating the asking price.

BELOW 3.8-litre M97 was punchy enough, but they seem to suffer more with scored bores over the C2's 3.6

ABOVE Sport Chrono Pack was optional for the first time on the 997.1, which gave you the now famous Chrono clock atop the dash.


Despite being the more expensive ‘S’ model, the 997 was not generously equipped so examples with heated and/ or sports seats and sunroofs are worth seeking out. No particular colour stands out, according to RSJ, “they all sell.” In its day, Tiptronic transmission was a popular option, but unlike the 996 Tiptronic, commands much the same price as the six-speed manual. Here in its final iteration, the Tiptronic is particularly smooth, but has nothing like the dynamism and reaction time of the PDK, optional on the 997.2. The C2S was shod with 19-inch alloy wheels with unusual, and to some eyes, rather distinguished slotted spokes. Crested Carrera Sport wheels finished in ‘GT silver’ were a popular option, but perhaps the most expensive add-on was the X51 Powerkit which took output to 381bhp (for a mere £9,000).


No naturally aspirated 997 Carrera should be looked on as having investment potential – Porsche made far too many of them. Clearly, the better cars, those with uninterrupted and verifiable service records and which have been looked after, will retain their value better and have even increased their worth significantly in the present strange circumstances of chip shortages and COVID repercussions. But Porsches are thoroughbreds and besides a careful diet of meticulous routine attention, they also need exercise: very low mileages are not commensurate with the best health and stratospheric pricing for 10,000- or 15,000-mile examples should never be seen as a measure of these cars’ future profit potential.

“Porsches need a careful diet of meticulous routine attention”

ABOVE The 997's interior marked a return to tradition, but buttons can become excessively worn over time


The 997 Carrera is, by general consent, the last analogue 911. The next in the dynasty, the 991 was bigger, better built, faster, more refined and more economical, as might be expected from a design conceived more than a decade after the 996-997 platform. But such advances come at a price and in the case of the 911, electronics, hitherto playing an assisting role, now created a distance between the driver and the road – imperceptible to most people who might take the wheel, but plain enough to any 911 enthusiast who tried the 991. The 997 also retained much of the traditional 911 visibility and ‘feel’ even if the still hydraulic steering had a clever variable ratio gearing and took off some of the rougher feedback of earlier 911s’ steering.

It becomes a question of budget: a 997.2 C2S offers the same virtues and is a younger car, but will cost 25-30% more than the equivalent C2S of the first phase. The Gen2 certainly has a more advanced engine, but as a second or weekend car, rather like an air-cooled 911, the earlier car fits the bill and increasingly this seems to be the basis on which the model is now being acquired. The 997 combines classic 911 looks and modest dimensions with huge, but usable performance: selected wisely, a 997.1 C2S is very unlikely to disappoint.

“The S packs 70 more horses than its visually similar predecessor the 993, and these are very apparent as soon as the throttle is depressed”


The spread of prices between £20-37,000 allows a variety of other 911 options, though largely water-cooled, to be contemplated.

996 4S

The handsome widebody 996 remains very popular and because it was always slightly special, many were pampered and have remained low-mileage cars. £27,500 here may be preferable to a more worn and used 997 S.

997.2 S

These are generally in a higher price bracket: GT One offers a well-specified, 53,000-mile 997.2 S with PDK at £42,995: this is the very top of Gen1 territory – at this level a pristine, barely used C2S Gen1 should be expected.

911 SC

The classic option. The least costly air-cooled 911s are priced £25,000-30,000 and at this level are likely to be rolling projects, says specialist Paul Stephens. A good, though still well-used example is £50 60 000

997 Carrera

This was the less popular model, but if the ‘S’ on the engine cover and marginally more torque and power are not important, a one- or two-owner Carrera with low mileage and unimpeachable history might offer better value for money at £30,000.

Tom Horrall 1 month ago #

Super summary of the 997.1 and 997.2. As the owner of a 997.1 for over 10 years I can attest to virtually all of the points made. One additional point I would make is that cars made in the last half year of .1 2005 production were fitted with the larger IMS bearing also used in the 2006.2 and later cars as a class action lawsuit exposed earlier cars having the smaller bearing were having the bearing failure issue.

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