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2002 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 996.2 converted to RWD

This side of a GT3 or Turbo, the Carrera 4S is widely considered the optimum 996. Paul Layte decided to refine the recipe. We track his car’s evolutionary progress to hot-yet-practical road-burner...

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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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1998 Porsche 911 GT1 996

There’s a silver car in front of us that’s completely alien to how we normally consider a 911 to look, yet strangely, some aspects of its aesthetics are recogniseable. This, then, can only be the venerable GT1.

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25 years of Porsche 911 996

The use of a water-cooled flat-six may have been a radical rethinking of the original 911 concept, but there was much more to the 996 than headlines would have you believe…

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