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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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1983 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 vs. 1993 Porsche 928 GTS Automatic

Back in 1983, when the Carrera 3.2 was launched, the 911’s future still hung in the balance — only a few years beforehand, Porsche heralded the 928 as the car projected to take the brand into the next century. History, however, tells a different story...

Editor's comment
TRUE COLOURS

How time flies. If there’s one thing to make an automotive enthusiast feel old, it’s a significant anniversary of a car or event, the launch of which sticks firmly in the mind as a recent occurrence. The twentyfifth birthday of the Boxster in 2021 is a prime example of what I’m getting at, as is this year’s two-decade anniversary for the Le Mans Classic. 2022 also marks another significant milestone for Porsche fans — forty-five years of 928.

Now, this is Classic Porsche magazine, and as such, we usually only point our cameras at air-cooled cars carrying the Stuttgart crest (if kettles are your thing, subscribe to our sister title, 911 & Porsche World, the world’s bestselling monthly Porsche magazine). That said, with renewed interest in the Zuffenhausen ‘land shark’ as a consequence of its forty-fifth trip around the sun — done in the lap of luxury, what with it being a super-opulent V8 grand tourer — we reasoned comparable cost between the last-of-line 928 GTS and the earlier Carrera 3.2 may well present something of a conundrum to prospective purchasers wanting to experience Porsche ownership with a set budget in mind. Air or water? Classic 911 or something entirely different from the Porsche stable?

In this issue, we’ve brought together samecoloured examples of both models in the interests of ‘compare and contrast’. Talking of colour, the vibrant shades Porsche applied to its products in decades past — as opposed to the popularity of grey, black, silver and white in more recent times — is one of the hallmarks of the classic Porsche scene, but eye-popping paintwork isn’t exclusive to our favourite manufacturer’s historic road cars. Indeed, the Porsche motorsport department turned out some extraordinary-looking racing machines in years gone by, with some of the liveries worn going on to become more famous than the drivers parading them around the world’s bestloved circuits. Across the following pages, we’ve examined ten brilliant examples of Porsche battle dress. Let us know which is your favourite. On your marks. Get set. Go!
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Modified 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera 996.2 vs. 2009 Cayman S Sport 987

Porsches have always lent themselves to brash colourways, demonstrated by this Mint Green 996 and Orange 987 Cayman S Sport. And, as if their striking livery wasn’t enough, both cars have been enhanced by Suffolk-based marque specialist, Charlie Wildridge...

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1987 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Supersport

Want the looks and handling of a classic 911 Turbo without massive lag and the threat of leaving the road in corners? The 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Supersport could be just the Porsche for you...

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European-spec 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 MFI

With a nod to hippy psychedelia, Porsche’s colour palette in the late 1960s and early 1970s was as wild and edgy as they come, complementing evolutions in the 911’s styling and engineering. This early Carrera 2.7 ticks all the boxes. What’s more, it could be yours…

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1984 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa

The Carrera 3.2 Targa remains an affordable entry point to ownership of an air-cooled 911 and, with a careful and considered approach to Porsche personalisation, can be transformed into the perfect everyday Porsche. What’s more, this one can be yours…

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1976 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0

In production for just two years, the Carrera 3.0 is rare, yet it stands as a cornerstone of the 911 dynasty, consolidating the impact-bumper generation and a bulwark for its SC and Carrera 3.2 successors

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