The Porsche 911 (996) is thought of by some, if not many, Porsche enthusiasts as the poor relation compared to both the 997 and earlier air-cooled models. Water cooled and to many people not as attractive as the 993, the 996 was still (unsurprisingly) a great car and remains something of a bargain – but maybe not for long.
You’d be amazed at how quickly we can spot a trend here at Classic & Sports Finance and that’s because when a car begins to become popular buyers pick up the phone to us. These spikes in interest are normally pretty dramatic – earlier this year the Ferrari 456 was tipped by Quentin Willson on the Classic Car Show as a car to watch and within 24 hours we had half a dozen enquiries on them from eager buyers. Asking prices for the 456 went up pretty quickly – they have almost doubled since February – and the number of cars available has increased dramatically which tells us that owners are trying to cash in their classic car “investments”.
We have seen a similar pattern over the last few weeks with the Porsche 996 Turbo and in one week we arranged finance for no less than four of them. Buyers were losing out on cars that were selling from under them which is a always a strong indicator of demand and the phones were red hot with enquiries.
So – why the flurry of interest?
Porsche as a classic marque is doing extremely well at the moment and, as Andrew Mearns of Gmund cars put it to us, “you’ll never be disappointed when you drive a Porsche” which isn’t something you can say about every older car. The 996 looks great value when compared to other similarly priced classics and is certainly inexpensive when compared to other contemporary supercars such as the Ferrari 355 and 360. They are easy to drive and with four wheel drive and a raft of electronic driver aids are flattering as well as astonighingly capable and practical.
Manual Turbos have gone up by approximately 30-35% according to specialist Tom Harris of 911 Virgin with prices moving from £28-30,000 for a decent, average mileage car to £38-40,000 and we can’t disagree. But what is it about the turbocharged that has piqued buyers’ interest.
According to Tom, the well built race-derived “Mezger” engine is one of the main attractions. It doesn’t suffer from the weaknesses of the standard 996 Carrera engine (IMS bearing failure) and is very reliable – more so in many people’s eyes than the more recent 997. There are also fewer of them which always helps and the styling, which just five short years ago was considered to be lacking, now looks purposeful and aggressive although realistically the interior is a little dated. The 964 is also a good example of Porsche that has grown into it’s looks over the years.
What to watch out for
According to the team at 911 Virgin it is really important to check that the car has been properly maintained – check for bills amounting to around £2-3,000 per annum. Check for accident damage and rust underneath and avoid tuned cars where overboost can cause problems. The turbocharged 996’s are potent even if only one of the twin turbos is working so check that everything is in order even if a car still feels quick. Over revs (caused on the downshift) can be identified with an ECU interrogation. The X50 pack gave the car an extra 30hp which gives a subtle performance benefit for an extra £3-4,000 on the price – on balance probably not worth the extra according to Tom.
The rear wheel drive, turbocharged GT2 was produced in even lower numbers as well as weighing less and boasting an extra 70 horsepower and ceramic brakes but lost out on rear seats and air conditioning. Prices have gone up by around 100% in the last 12 months. Set up is critical on the GT2.
When compared to Ferrari, Porsche manufactures a lot more cars so we don’t anticipate the same dramatic price hikes associated with the Italian marque over the last 12 months. However we do expect to see 996 Turbo prices rise, particularly for the best cars (as usual) as they have realistically looked like a bargain for too long.
Many thanks to Tom Harris of 911 Virgin and the team at Millenium Heroes for letting us use their fantastic pictures.
If you need any advice on buying or financing a Porsche 911 (996) Turbo or GT2 please get in touch with us. There is also a useful EVO magazine buyers guide.