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25 Years Porsche 911 996

Watercooler moment 25 years ago, the Porsche 996 attempted to replace the iconic 33-year-old 911. We drive the bargain Carrera 2, ultra-reliable Turbo and collector-grade homologation GT3RS to see whether they make great classic buys today.

Editor's comment
If you think the water-cooled 996 is still the new kid on the 911 block, this issue will change your perspective


The generational effect on which cars we perceive as classic compared to those merely secondhand is something I’ve talked about before. Probably more than once in over two decades on Classic Cars, so forgive me if I appear to be repeating myself, but celebrating the 996 generation of Porsche 911 as it reaches a quarter of a century makes me feel classic myself. I remember testing a 996 Carrera 4S when it was new, and joining the long queue of journalists to simultaneously praise its huge ability while bemoaning the passage of the air-cooled flat-six engine, compact dimensions and other 911-defining characteristics. As we saw them. Would the new water-cooled wonder ever be revered by enthusiasts not just when new, but at every step of its journey through secondhand status to bargain performer and eventually classic old age?

Well here we are, regarding the 996 in much the same way as we did the SC and Carrera 3.2 of the Seventies/Eighties back then – an affordable entry point to the 911 experience, but not looking or feeling quite dated enough for universal classic acceptance. Well we know what happened to those cars, as buyers too young to be inspired by Sixties chrome started chasing dream machines of their formative years. And now the 996 has set off on the same path, enthusiasts not just settling for them as the only affordable 911 option, but increasingly targeting them out of pure desire.

Certainly the entry-level Carrera 2 still represents the most affordable entry ticket to the 911 cult, but as Sam Dawson concludes, that doesn’t damn it with faint praise. After a day exploring the joys and limitations of the intense and collectable GT3RS, the crushingly quick but greatvalue Turbo and a simpler Carrera 2, you might be surprised by the car he could most see himself owning.

And our special celebration offers even more to complete the 996 picture, including an interview with successful GT racer Jörg Bergmeister, plus sections on its role in film, tuning and more. Enjoy the article.

GT3RS, 911 Carrera 2 and Turbo makes the case for 996
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2004 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren C199

Just over 1,400 of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren were made between 2004 and 2009. Despite receiving a mixed reception when new, veteran helmsman Piotr R Frankowski explains why we should give more credit to this 200mph sports star.

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2004 Venturi Fétish

Back to the future – the original EV sports car is an acquired taste

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2004 BMW 645Ci E64

Many have forgotten about the early E64 645Ci – the expensive V8 6 Series Convertible that arrived in explosive style dividing the opinions of passionate BMW fans the world over

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