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911 996 [1998 à 2005]

Porsche 996 C4S road trip: flat six on the French Riviera

Beep, beep, beep… groan. It’s 4:00am on a Saturday, shouldn’t I be rolling in from a particularly good night out, instead of trying to drag myself out of bed? I’m pretty sure that four hours isn’t enough sleep, but I actually feel strangely motivated to get on with the day – probably something to do with what lies ahead…

After years of thinking about it, years interspersed with a few fun cars (TVR, NSX, M3 etc) I finally bought my first Porsche in September 2018. It was on a whim, as you do. I’d dabbled with the idea of a Cayman (you drive a lot of cars in this job and I’d enjoyed every Cayman I’d ever tried) but I knew that deep down it really had to be a 911 – you know, a real Porsche. I feel safe writing that in a magazine called Total 911.

A friend needed to move his 996 C4S on quickly so he could get into a Ferrari he’d been offered at a knockdown price (first world problems, huh?), coinciding happily with my having recently sold a house.

I knew the car too, said mate having owned it for a year or so, and I was enamoured by the spec – a lovely deep metallic blue, full black leather, Sports exhaust and short shifter kit making it even more focused as a driving machine. Furthermore, promises were made (and delivered) to have it looked over prior to sale and anything necessary be sorted – that promise eliciting a bill just short of £3K. Good for me. We’re still mates, by the way. 

So the deal was done, and on a sunny Thursday I picked up ‘my’ 911 for the short haul back to Essex from Kent. The Dartford tunnel proved the ideal sound chamber to test the aural attributes (windows down, of course), while a few local back roads elongated my trip home showing that all the uniquely 911 dynamic attributes I’ve always loved were present and correct. This was going to be a blast.

And while it was used little through the grotty winter months that arrived shortly after purchase, a few Sunday fun drives and – in particular – an epic weekend jaunt to Wales with some mates proved the mettle of the car, and that my instinct was right. You see, I’ve always believed that the thing you simply have to do if you’re lucky enough to own a 911 is a big road trip, ideally with the nose pointing south to sunnier climes.

It’s that combination of robustness, compactness and practicality alongside imperious driving dynamics that makes a 911 – for me – perhaps the best car in the world for a road trip involving serious miles on serious roads. It’s something I’d planned to do since well before I bought one, now it’s time to tick that box.

Yep, I think I’m going to pay for that lack of sleep later; good job I put my girlfriend on the insurance. But for now I’m in autopilot, jumping out of bed, boiling the kettle and scooping up any luggage we hadn’t stuffed into the car last night. Coffee quaffed, we’re rolling by 4:30, bound for P&O’s finest 7:25am crossing to Calais with perhaps a little more time in hand than anticipated – damn it, I really could have used another 30 minutes shut-eye.

No matter, there’s always something a little bit special about being on the road before the sun’s up, and we’re treated to a glorious sunrise as we cruise down the M2 motorway. The port beckons bright and early and we roll on as one of the first cars. 120 minutes of broken sleep later, we’re in France: now the trip really begins…

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Which is the Better First Porsche? 996.2 C4S Versus 997.2 C2

The unloved 996 or the refined 997? There are plenty of reasons to love both, and a few reasons to dislike them, too. In this very detailed review, we learn a little more about the characters of these two generations, and why the 996 might offer plenty of thrills if the prospective buyer can appreciate or look past the divisive looks.

The Redheaded Stepchild

The 996 is showing its age. Bushings do wear out with these cars reaching the twenty-year mark, and of course, there are the IMS issues which scare some off. It rides roughly, and the styling is generally disliked.

That said, there are plenty of visual points to appreciate with this aero-kitted 996 C4S. Some find it a stunning car, and there’s no denying a 996 C4S still turns a few heads when purring down the street. With the 993-esque reflector strip at the rear, the Turbo’s widebody, and the gaping intakes at the front, there’s plenty to like. Why the 996 gets as much flak for its appearance as it does it beyond me, though the maintenance issues I fully understand.

The haunches, wing, and central strip look great.

It’s also a very thrilling, active-in-your-hands style of machine. The lively steering, bouncy nose, and classic 911’s idiosyncrasies make it a thrilling machine to drive. In fact, the owner of the 997.2, Stephen, feels the driving dynamics of the two aren’t so different.

The Favored Younger Sibling

The 997.2’s looks are more conventional, and that’s enough to change the general perception of the generation. There’s more to it than that. The new engine, the DFI, which loses the troublesome intermediate shaft. It also revs better; pulling harder to the redline than the 996’s motor does.

The 997 also sports PASM, and as a result, it’s a little more versatile in the real world. Additionally, it’s lighter and nearly as powerful, which makes the 997.2 the quicker car in a straight line. Though its steering lacks a little feel, comparatively speaking, the 997.2 might be the better car on a daily basis.

Over a bumpy road, the softer 997 might have the edge.

Is the 997 worth the extra money? Perhaps—due to the general perception of the car, it ought to maintain its prices a bit better. Either way, these two are wonderful cars with their own strengths, and neither should get overlooked.

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Porsche 911 type 996 occasion

1997 à 2004, à partir de 26 000 €

 

Dénigrée par les intégristes de la « 9.11 » en raison de l’adoption d’un refroidissement liquide – et non plus par air – et d’une face avant trop proche de celle du Boxster, cette type 996 est actuellement la plus abordable de la lignée, à défaut d’être la plus désirable. Si elle n’est plus aussi mélodieuse que celle du moteur « à air », la sonorité du « flat-six » demeure aussi attachante qu’atypique, tout comme l’agrément, incomparable, et les performances du 3.6 litres de 320 ch, à privilégier au « petit » 3.4 litres 300 ch « de base ». Avec son implantation mécanique en porte-à-faux arrière, son comportement demeure assez « déséquilibré », ce qui participe au charme de sa conduite. Elle offre une remarquable polyvalence et un confort très honorable pour une sportive, à condition de composer avec ses deux places arrière riquiqui. Multiples déclinaisons, 4×4, Targa, Cabriolet, S…

FIABILITE 3/4
Le passage au refroidissement par eau n’a pas été bien maîtrisé et si les problèmes moteurs sont demeurés rares, et ont depuis été résorbés, ils ont grevé la réputation de cette 911. Le 3.6 est un peu moins touché.

  • Moteur 3.4/3.6 litres : des casses liées à des défauts de conception ou de fabrication, en particulier sur la chaîne de distribution dont un élément est sous-calibré ; des cylindres qui se fendent ; des poussoirs hydrauliques perméables ; joint spi fragile en sortie de vilebrequin ; des culasses fissurées ; refroidissement moteur (pompe à eau en particulier).
  • Des bobines d’allumage fissurées, des vases d’expansion fendus et des débitmètres remplacés.

Exemples d’annonces
Carrera 3.6, 2001   115 000 km    29 900 €

 

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Porsche 911 Cabriolet type 996 par Vilner : un raffinement de cuir et de bois

Vilner, le spécialiste bulgare de la personnalisation automobile, a dévoilé sa dernière réalisation sur une Porsche 911 Cabriolet type 996. Ce travail impressionnant mêle cuir et bois de façon harmonieuse dans un habitacle entièrement revu dans les moindres détails. L’extérieur est quant à lui plus discutable. La Porsche 911 type 996 est devenu assez accessible, …

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This Porsche 996 CSR Evo Is The GT3 That Porsche Should Have Built

This screaming eggplant could be described, somewhat unfairly, as an OEM+ version of the 996. With a little more power, several modifications to improve durability, less weight, and a sharpened chassis, its modifications might not impress the most number-hungry types. However, these well-chosen tweaks blend together beautifully and transform a base 996—already a strong car—into something GT3-rivaling.

The ducktail, athletic stance, and OZ Alleggerita wheels turns this once-garden-variety 996 into something with real presence.

The CSR EVO’s suspension is completely overhauled with KW ClubSport coilovers, adjustable anti-roll bars, stiffer engine mounts, adjustable lower control arms, and improve suspension geometry. The result, as RPM Technik put it, is « aimed at the track driver for more aggressive turn in and high speed stability. »

The motor isn’t a complete powerhouse, but improved incrementally in most areas for a more involving and rewarding experience overall. The M96 is strengthened for trackday abuse with a third radiator and a low-temp thermostat. Of course, it also gets an upgraded IMS.

With a lightweight clutch and flywheel, short shifter, and stiffer transmission mount, the urgency and directness of the motor is more akin to that of the GT3. It’s more engaging and less refined, and those traits are complemented by a healthy 350 horsepower. That bump in grunt comes courtesy of a top end refresh, gas flowed heads, cams, and special engine mapping. What’s more crucial is that the power delivery is much stronger; with an impressive amount of torque available from just 2,000 rpm.

A center-exit exhaust helps tie all these mods together—and improves the soundtrack:

RPM Technik have a unique approach when it comes to the appearance of their cars. Unlike the CSR Retro, this car is modern, sharp, purposeful, and yet understated—like a 996 which started the way it dresses more seriously. The GT3-inspired front bumper, side skirts, and carbon hood make it that much more purposeful, and who can argue with the subdued style of an old ducktail? Without the GT3’s garish taco wing, the CSR EVO’s appearance blends a bit of class with undeniable potential.

The Recaro Pole Positions, a prominent shifter, a half-cage, and a sway of sporty touches give the 996’s cabin a little more sense of occasion.

If your imagination is now going wild, we can’t blame you. If you’re looking for a way to wile away the afternoon and appease your inner tuner, you can spec your own CSR EVO here.

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