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Now’s the Time to Buy the Last Cheap Porsche 911


July 30, 2019 Cars By

Obvious fact alert: Porsche 911s aren’t cheap. They’re not cheap when new, certainly — the just-announced base model of the latest 992-generation 911 starts at $97,400 — and they’re increasingly becoming pricey on the used market, as well. The 993-generation has long commanded a premium, thanks to its status as the last of the “classic” air-cooled 911s; that desire for the purity of retro rides has also driven the prices of other earlier 911s higher in the last couple decades. Likewise, the 997-generation 911 that’s arguably the first truly modern example of the breed still holds its value well, and the outgoing 991-generation still holds its value well enough to put it out of reach of bargain hunters.

But there’s one generation of Porsche 911 that remains a bargain: the 996.

As we’ve discussed before, the 996 — built from 1997 to 2006 — has been maligned for quite a reasons, starting with its water-cooled flat-six and its runny-egg headlights and continuing through its lackluster interior. But these are the sorts of quibbles that are easy to make when a new car winds up being a massive deviation from an iconic predecessor (or, alternatively

Here in 2019, with close to two decades between us and the 996, many of those complaints seem to be missing the forest for the trees. It still has that iconic silhouette, it still has the engine in the back, it still makes that coarse boxer roar when you mat the gas, and it still puts a smile on its driver’s face when he or she tosses it through a turn. It’s still a Porsche 911.

And while the prices of pretty much every 911 — and hell, even other less-respected Porsches — have been blasting skyward, 996 values have been flying nap-of-the-earth. A quick look at Bring a Trailer reveals that, of the 280 examples of the generation to hit the auction site over the years, the vast majority have sold for less than $30,000 — a price that puts it in league with a VW GTI or Honda Civic Si. And many cars are far cheaper.

This blue beauty, a 2001 Porsche 911 Carrera with 61,000 miles and a six-speed manual? It sold for $19,996 in mid-June.

This silver Carrera, with an admittedly-intimidating 115K on the clock but still looking almost as good as new? $16,485 at auction.

This stick-shift black ’99 Carrera with 82,000 miles? It went for $17,400 earlier this month.

Fancy something in a droptop? This Carrera Cabriolet has a six-speed manual, an iconic color combo of silver exterior and red interior, and 74,000 miles on the odometer. Selling price? $23,000.

Prefer an automatic for the daily commute? You’re kind of a dweeb, but here’s a tasty Carrera 4S coupe with the Turbo-look widebody, a five-speed Tiptronic and 65,000 miles that sold for $27,000.

Willing to spend a little more for a choice example of the breed? This blue Carrera coupe has just 36,000 miles on the odometer, spent its whole life in the Sunbelt, and sold for $29,650.

Granted, buying a used car of any type carries with it risks, and that goes double for a Porsche; repair bills can run high. But the 996’s pain points are well-known at this point — you’ll want to make sure the IMS bearing is upgraded on high-mileage examples, for example — and the deep bench of knowledgeable enthusiasts found online on sites like Rennlist make it easier than ever to avoid problems.

If you’re feeling the itch, there are several 996 Porsche 911 Carreras currently on the block at BaT, including this stripped-down black beauty and a one-owner Carrera 4S with a stick shift. (In fact, the silver Carrera seen above is up for sale again.) But don’t wait too long to scratch. With Porsche’s plans filled with computer-aided performance machines and futuristic electric cars, it’s only a matter of time before the market for 996s starts heating up.

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