Can You Really Live With a Low-Buck Porsche 911?

For the past two years, forum regular BoxheadTim has been chronicling his life with a Porsche 996. Has it been happiness and rainbows, or pain and suffering? Click here to follow his odyssey.

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Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
4/14/17 5:50 p.m.

I've put about 6k miles on my cheap 996 without spending any money so far (aside from a $90 oil change). Does it have issues i should spend money on? Sure. Am I planning to take it apart and spend money on it in the near future? Yes. But do i need to spend money on it? Is it stopping me from cruising a functional 300hp rear engine luxury sports machine around whenever i feel like it? Nope!

mw
mw Dork
4/14/17 7:55 p.m.

I've put 35000 km on my cheap 99 and other than oil changes and brake pads, the only thing I've had to replace was a plastic coolant hose connector for $12.

I did choose to upgrade the shocks and tires too.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
4/15/17 7:12 a.m.

I'm going to be 40 next year. My forehead is getting taller. Leon is getting larger. And you guys are not helping.

Harvey
Harvey Dork
4/15/17 7:53 p.m.

I've put 4 yards on my Hot Wheels Porsche 911 and nothing has blown up yet!

HapDL
HapDL New Reader
4/16/17 12:06 p.m.

That is a really odd looking car with that hardtop on it. Guy across the street from me had an '03 convert, sans hardtop, and it looks much better and I'm not a convertible guy at all. The proportions of the car as pictured are just not very 911 like from the windshield back. Maybe it's the perspective of the photo, I dunno.

My neighbour just sold his for $28K Canadian (that's about 6 bucks US isn't it?) It was low mileage, about 40K Kms and had a complete rebuild of the engine about 15K Kms ago.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
4/16/17 12:12 p.m.

Some of it is the perspective and the fact that it's a not-so-great cellphone picture. Some of it is that it does look a little awkward with the hardtop on it. It definitely does look better with the hardtop off.

The photo David linked to reminded me that after the initial two photos I actually never put up any new and better photos. I should rectify that pretty soon.

Thanks for the shout out, David.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/16/17 8:37 p.m.

Happy to give the shoutout. Thanks for sharing the experience with the rest of the class.

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/16/17 8:50 p.m.
HapDL wrote: That is a really odd looking car with that hardtop on it. Guy across the street from me had an '03 convert, sans hardtop, and it looks much better and I'm not a convertible guy at all. The proportions of the car as pictured are just not very 911 like from the windshield back. Maybe it's the perspective of the photo, I dunno. My neighbour just sold his for $28K Canadian (that's about 6 bucks US isn't it?) It was low mileage, about 40K Kms and had a complete rebuild of the engine about 15K Kms ago.

Low mileage and needing a rebuild seems about right. These need to be driven regularly and hard. Air cooled 911s can be DDs, my 76 was my DD for a few years, but the 996 is the first 911 that is a true DD.

Ricky Spanish
Ricky Spanish Reader
4/17/17 12:28 p.m.

I've had two 996s, a 986 and a 986S - all trouble free.

Wish I could say the same about my 944s.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
4/17/17 12:36 p.m.

This thread is not helping me to not own one of these.

Devilsolsi
Devilsolsi Reader
4/17/17 2:49 p.m.

My 996 experience has been a little different. Bought it last year knowing it needed a little love. Found out it needed a lot more love than I originally thought. It hasn't been started since Sept. Eventually someone will offer enough to payoff my loan and make it go away. Or I will find the time to fix things and actually get it on the road.

Ricky Spanish
Ricky Spanish Reader
4/18/17 10:27 a.m.
dean1484 wrote: This thread is not helping me to not own one of these.

You can find an automatic cab for $12,000 - do it.

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/18/17 12:43 p.m.

In reply to Devilsolsi:

What does it need?

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/18/17 12:44 p.m.

In reply to Ricky Spanish:

Yeah, a tired 1st gen.

SEADave
SEADave HalfDork
4/18/17 1:47 p.m.

I looked into these pretty thoroughly, including joining a well-known Porsche forum and spending some time on the 996 page. Some say a "tired first gen" is exactly what you want, if that means a '99 with 100k+ miles. They say that sitting is bad for the cars, and that the early dual-row IMSB is stronger and generally would have broken by 100k if it was gonna go.

In the end I was a little put off by both the cost of regular upkeep and the potential cost of total engine replacement/rebuild. I'd still like one some day, maybe a 2009+ once they depreciate a little (lot) more.

Devilsolsi
Devilsolsi Reader
4/18/17 1:50 p.m.
markwemple wrote: In reply to Devilsolsi: What does it need?

See here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/open-classifieds/1999-porsche-911-c2-coupe-20k/121414/page1/

The big thing is a drivers side chain tensioner. Then a bunch of little things..

WilD
WilD Dork
4/18/17 3:12 p.m.

I read the first couple of pages of BoxHeadTim's experience and feel I can go a while without seriously considering a 996 again.

TR8owner
TR8owner HalfDork
4/18/17 4:50 p.m.

In reply to Harvey:

"It was low mileage, about 40K Kms and had a complete rebuild of the engine about 15K Kms ago."

An engine rebuild after only 25K kms?

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/18/17 5:10 p.m.

Or you could be me, 116k, oil, filters, trans fluid, coolant, brakes, etc, you know maintenance parts. Only 2 real otherwise issues, a/c condensor(stone) and alternator. As reliable as any car I've owned.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
4/18/17 6:55 p.m.

To be fair, mine 'needs' front swaybar endlinks, a starter/alternator battery cable section, both front window regulators (still working but not properly), some kind of work on 2nd gear (mostly my fault, don't drive angry!), valve cover gaskets, a rear main seal..maybe some other stuff i don't remember. In other words, not much for a 1999. Pretty normal. And nothing that keeps me from starting it up or enjoying it or thinking of it as a 'nice' car. But, if I had to pay someone else to do all of it, it would cost me a small fortune. Just like any other car. There really isn't any car where paying $100+/hr labor on all the stuff that's broken after 18 years wouldn't be expensive.

Lugnut
Lugnut Dork
4/18/17 7:12 p.m.

I still think they're wonderful. And I can't understand all of the "fried egg" and "droopy" headlight hate. I think the 996 is one of the best-looking 911s. I have a 997, and I think the 996 is better looking.

pres589
pres589 PowerDork
4/18/17 7:32 p.m.
Lugnut wrote: I have a 997, and I think the 996 is better looking.

You weird.

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/18/17 7:45 p.m.

Personal taste. I like the exterior of the 997 better, but the interior of the 996 better.

Nathan JansenvanDoorn
Nathan JansenvanDoorn Dork
4/19/17 3:35 a.m.

It's a Porsche thing. If it was a Hyundai, everyone would be screaming about how crap that was. With a Porsche, you make excuses like: "yeah, that doesn't surprise me, they need to be driven hard."

CLEARLY, the owners fault, and not bad engineering.

TR8owner wrote: In reply to Harvey: "It was low mileage, about 40K Kms and had a complete rebuild of the engine about 15K Kms ago." An engine rebuild after only 25K kms?
FlightService
FlightService MegaDork
4/19/17 5:55 a.m.
pres589 wrote:
Lugnut wrote: I have a 997, and I think the 996 is better looking.

You weird.

Like really really weird.

Ricky Spanish
Ricky Spanish Reader
4/19/17 9:47 a.m.
Devilsolsi wrote:
markwemple wrote: In reply to Devilsolsi: What does it need?

See here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/open-classifieds/1999-porsche-911-c2-coupe-20k/121414/page1/

The big thing is a drivers side chain tensioner. Then a bunch of little things..

Asking is about 15% over market price - you could ding him down and have a nice car.

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/19/17 11:14 a.m.
Nathan JansenvanDoorn wrote: It's a Porsche thing. If it was a Hyundai, everyone would be screaming about how crap that was. With a Porsche, you make excuses like: "yeah, that doesn't surprise me, they need to be driven hard." CLEARLY, the owners fault, and not bad engineering.
TR8owner wrote: In reply to Harvey: "It was low mileage, about 40K Kms and had a complete rebuild of the engine about 15K Kms ago." An engine rebuild after only 25K kms?

Yada, yada, yada. The failure rate is about 5%. Of those, almost all have been low mileage ones that were driven lightly. Your comment is unnecessary and not reflective of any actual facts except a lack of personal knowledge.

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/19/17 11:16 a.m.

In reply to Ricky Spanish:

Already have one. I was actually looking to help a fellow 996 owner. Many people think parts prices are outrageous simply because they don't know where to look. Prices are pretty reasonable and these are still a DYI car. Up until the 991, the 911s are DIY. In fact, I'd argue that the most DIY 911s are the 996 and 997 (having owned 911s from 68-83 and my 996).

Jcamper
Jcamper Reader
4/19/17 9:23 p.m.

I have been DDing my 996 for two years now, rain or shine almost every day. I have changed the oil and done sway bar end links. Still amazing to drive, hauls the kids around just fine. Wonderful, fun, and such a nice place to spend time (full leather, carbon fiber, comfort seats, modern bluetooth stereo, etc.). Did I mention it drives and sounds like nothing else when heel toeing on a winding country road with targa roof back? Love. Jcamper

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
4/19/17 9:36 p.m.
Nathan JansenvanDoorn wrote: It's a Porsche thing. If it was a Hyundai, everyone would be screaming about how crap that was. With a Porsche, you make excuses like: "yeah, that doesn't surprise me, they need to be driven hard."

ALL cars need to be driven regularly and hard. The most trouble prone vehicles are the low mileage ones.

I have a recurring nightmare where my car gets totalled and the insurance company can't find me an "exact replacement" with under 200k. Every low mileage car I work on is a nightmare, you see, while the high miles cars are cream puffs because thy have to have been maintained well to live that long.

I can see a 25k km Porsche needing an engine rebuild if it has the kind of owner who is afraid of it and does a lot of short distance cold-start driving with a lot of time in between. Basically the worst abuse you can inflict on a vehicle. People don't drive Hyundais like that.'

Get it hot, run it hard, never let it sit for more than a couple days at a time.

Nathan JansenvanDoorn
Nathan JansenvanDoorn Dork
4/20/17 4:08 a.m.

You know, you're kinda proving my point, right? I find 996 owners the most defensive when anyone dare criticise the hallowed Porsche name. (Insecure maybe?)

A 1 in 20 failure rate actually is anything but small, but I'm sure you can appreciate that.

Lighten up Francis, this is supposed to be fun. I actually have a Porsche, which no doubt you'll tell me (again) is unreliable etc etc.

Enjoy your purchase and lighten up. My comment was absolutely unnecessary. All of this is. At least I can laugh at myself as I replace my headstuds. Feel free to continue making silly assumptions about what I know.

markwemple wrote:
Nathan JansenvanDoorn wrote: It's a Porsche thing. If it was a Hyundai, everyone would be screaming about how crap that was. With a Porsche, you make excuses like: "yeah, that doesn't surprise me, they need to be driven hard." CLEARLY, the owners fault, and not bad engineering.
TR8owner wrote: In reply to Harvey: "It was low mileage, about 40K Kms and had a complete rebuild of the engine about 15K Kms ago." An engine rebuild after only 25K kms?

Yada, yada, yada. The failure rate is about 5%. Of those, almost all have been low mileage ones that were driven lightly. Your comment is unnecessary and not reflective of any actual facts except a lack of personal knowledge.

tripp
tripp Reader
4/20/17 4:32 a.m.

I had one a few years ago and it was a great car to drive. Didn't feel as solid as the 911s from the 80s but comfortable and fun.

That being said the prior owner replaced the intermediary bearing as did the owner after me. I avoided any major repairs but owned it for less than a year.

I would consider another but some simple things like spark plugs are more complicated with the layout of the engine and manifolds. Of I got another I would plan on the $1000 for a new intermediary bearing because they can be catastrophic if it fails at the wrong time.

Ricky Spanish
Ricky Spanish Reader
4/20/17 12:02 p.m.
markwemple wrote: In reply to Ricky Spanish: Already have one. I was actually looking to help a fellow 996 owner. Many people think parts prices are outrageous simply because they don't know where to look. Prices are pretty reasonable and these are still a DYI car. Up until the 991, the 911s are DIY. In fact, I'd argue that the most DIY 911s are the 996 and 997 (having owned 911s from 68-83 and my 996).

Having owned two 996s and an SC, I agree with the statement that the 996s are super easy to work on. I mean, they come from a Toyota-based mass assembly philosophy rather than the hand built philosophy of the air cooled cars, and you can tell when you get in there.

Plus, everything is RIGHT THERE when you open the boot or crawl underneath and remove the paneling.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
4/21/17 7:14 p.m.
markwemple wrote: Personal taste. I like the exterior of the 997 better, but the interior of the 996 better.

I completely agree with that.

I do think the 996 holds up well if you think about it in terms of 'late 90s styling'. But it pales in that category to what i consider nearly a masterpiece, the contemporary Volvo S80!

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