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Hoovies Garage

This Is What It’s Like To Own A 996 Turbo For A Year

No creaks, no rattles, no sagging headliner, and no cracked leather. Even the interior lighting shines bright—don’t expect that from BMWs of the era. There aren’t many indications that this gaudy orange 996 Turbo has been rolling around this planet for the better part of two decades. It’s a resilient car to say the least, though somehow it’s still not widely appreciated by the Porsche purists. Tyler « Hoovie » Hoover explains how the 996 Turbo still brings a lot to the table.

Though it’s not hugely powerful by today’s standards, the way the 996 Turbo covers ground is impressive.

Cheaper than the 997 and more analog than the 991, the 996 Turbo is a straightforward, cost-effective, everyday supercar that plays the part well. The fact that it doesn’t look much different than a standard 911 won’t turn too many heads in reasonably affluent areas. In New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, the 996 Turbo is a relatively subdued car that doesn’t attract a lot of attention. It’s pleasant enough for long hauls, and the factory exhaust—muted slightly by the turbochargers—keeps the volume down to a respectable level.

Strong, sensible, and sanely priced, there’s plenty this unappreciated gem offers—but it does have its faults. Hoovie had one embarrassing outing at Heartland Motorsports Park when one of the flimsy cooling pipes decided to let go in dramatic fashion. Though he spilled coolant across the circuit, the damage was minimal. This common issue still set him back a few thousand, but with BBi Autosport stepping in with a more robust replacement, he resolved one of the car’s few weak points.

The other problems with the car are more subjective. If you can get past the broken-egg headlights and the blasphemous water cooling, the 996 Turbo is a sophisticated supercar with great value for the money. That assortment of strengths with few setbacks—for just ~$40,000—has me thinking it’s time to add another « practical » car to the stable.

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What It’s Like When A 996 Turbo Goes Under the Knife for New Coolant Pipes

Yes, removing the Mezger is that daunting.

The one chink in the Mezger’s armor is its flimsy coolant pipes. For such a bulletproof motor, it seems strange that Porsche just glued the coolant pipes on. Though press-fitted, these coolant lines are known to pop off under high RPM load. Hoovie’s lousy luck meant his first trip to Heartland Motorsports Park was interrupted by his own lines popping off. Fortunately, this did not prompt a spin down the front straight, nor did it cook the motor. It was embarrassing though, and as it turned out, quite pricey to mend.

The Mezger motors that see the track will sustain higher temperatures and loads which are prone to make these lines disengage from the coolant console, and ensuring they stay in place during hard cornering and high revs requires a costly fix. While the cheaper band-aid fix would only set him back a few hundred dollars, the sensible approach costs ten times that. After dropping the engine, the hoses need to be pinned or welded in place, and the especially prudent drivers will replace the problematic OEM plastic elbows with stainless steel units.

The process of removing the engine is more labor intensive than dropping an M96. Turbos, intercoolers, head shields, and all the other forced induction ancillaries take a bit more time and effort. The starter and turbo inlets need to come out too, since they won’t clear the CV axles. With a few minor wiring hurdles cleared, the Mezger can be freed from its cramped confines. However, the process takes Hoovie and Wizard nearly two whole days to complete—which is why he was quoted nearly three large.

If there’s one piece of uplifting news here, it’s that BBi Autosport decided to help by offering to fix the busted water pipe situation. BBi, as well as a host of other Porsche-centric shops, can weld the coolant pipes in place for what should be a permanent fix. If you have any Mezger-powered Porsche, be it a Turbo or a GT3, you can preemptively have this work done, so it doesn’t come apart and leave you stranded without coolant. If you can remove your motor to get the « coolant console » out, as Mr. Hoover has, it’ll help save you a ton of labor.

Now you know. Let his misfortune save you a ton of time and money!

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The Lousy Luck Of A Porsche 996 Track Day Explosion

Though Hoovie hasn’t enjoyed the best luck with his purchases, he’s a brave soul who never fails to see the potential in his Porsches. His latest acquisition, a 996 Turbo, had to see the circuit, and Hoovie took some additional precautionary measures to help avoid some of the trackday headaches he’s suffered in the last few years.

After the 3.4-liter M96 in his first Porsche 911 blew, he swapped a Chevrolet LS engine in its place to try for a unusual build that, with the American V8’s renowned reliability, promised him smoother sailing. Unfortunately, that engine promptly exploded during its first trackday.

The 996 Turbo is the first of Hoovies cars which was truly stout enough to handle trackday abuse.

Perhaps Hoovie is a glutton for punishment, perhaps he’s curious beyond reason, or maybe he’s just desperate for attention-grabbing footage of automotive explosions, but he decided to take the 996 Turbo to Heartland Motorsports Park. This time, he prepared for the event with a new set of brakes, and with the race-bred Mezger motor sitting betwixt those orange haunches, he stood a greater chance to leave another trackday with his wallet closed and his head held high.

Though the 996 Turbo is a workhorse, it has one or two flaws. One of which are the coolant lines, which have a habit of coming loose with age and hard acceleration. Those who track their cars regularly know that pinning these lines is a must lest they want to douse the surface of the circuit in sweet-smelling coolant. Unfortunately, Hoovie didn’t get the memo.

After a successful session, Hoovie’s enthusiasm was quickly deflated after he started spewing coolant all over the track. While this is a repairable fix and shouldn’t have him wringing his hands for too long, you can’t help but feel for him.

When will Hoovie find a track toy that can last more than a few sessions?

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Is Buying a 996 Turbo a Wise Decision?

The fact that Tyler Hoover picked up another 996 after a painful foray into the range speaks to the value of the car. He first grabbed a first-generation 996 with a 3.4-liter M96, which promptly grenaded. He then swapped in a Chevrolet V8—an LS2, to be specific—for $17,000. What was once the cheapest 996 with a manual transmission was turning into a costly and time-consuming project.

To make matters worse, the American motor let go shortly thereafter—at the very same track the previous engine gave up the ghost. Rather than fuss around with another swap, he decided to buy a 996 Turbo. Logical, right?

The car was mint and had only been driven 76,000 miles. Also, with Bilstein lowering springs, a GT2-style clutch, and BBS SR wheels, $36,000 was a steal—especially after considering the prices of 993 and 997 Turbos.

Of course, the Turbo’s Mezger motor is also robust, and the typical 996 IMS-related concerns don’t apply. Combine that added reliability with 4WD and 415 horsepower, and there’s plenty to like about the Turbo. What other supercars can be bought for that sort of money, and driven without fuss, unwanted attention, or kid gloves?

« It’s the best mistake I ever made, » Hoover concludes. Though the looks are divisive, there is plenty to like about the unloved 911—though going for the slightly spiffier Turbo model makes much more sense. It was a logical purchase, after all.

With 420 horsepower and 415 lb-ft, the Mezger makes Hoover grin on every onramp.

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Hoovies Garage on the Carrera 3.2, and What It Means to Overpay

Through the 1990s and early 2000s impact-bumper 911s seemed like one of the best deals in sports cars. Sure, an LT-1 C4 Corvette was faster in a straight line, but it had all the build quality of a newspaper bin and all the cachet of an Applebees. Though ill-equipped for the stoplight drags, an impact bumper 911 offered a lot for relatively little money. In the early 2000s, when I was getting my license, driver-quality Carrera 3.2s could be had in the low to mid $20k range. Today, those prices have spiked. Prices are up 50% or more compared to 10 to 15 years ago, with rare options pushing the prices to new heights. This swift market adjustment is happening seemingly across the board. Hoovies Garage asks, why is it happening at all?

Understanding the Impact Bumper 911

For those who may be unfamiliar, the latest crop of Hoovies Garage videos are much like Doug DeMuro’s, unsurprising because they now both operate under the auspices of Autotrader. Unlike Doug, Tyler Hoover is apparently rather mechanically inclined. As such he spends more time running through the impact bumper 911’s mechanical quirks than its peculiar button layout.

Of course, an entire article could be written about the Carrera 3.2’s interior ergonomics. I personally think Porsche threw darts labeled with interior functions at a picture of the cabin, and stuck the controls where they landed after a wild night of Schnapps and cheap pilsners, but I digress.

But, people aren’t laying down their cash to inherit multiple sets of climate controls and valve guide issues. No, as Tyler says, they are paying for the experience. While an old 911 may not be particularly fast, it offers a very usable type of performance. The car is narrow, seemingly making every lane wider and giving you more room to play without crossing the double yellow. Until you start upgrading the suspension and tires there isn’t that much grip (by modern standards) either. The car will move around and you don’t need to be going that fast to enjoy it.

Like an early Miata, on the road, an old 911 is about as good as it gets. As modern cars become increasingly competent on track, the amount of on-road fun you can have without losing your license diminishes. Analog cars with low thresholds help remind us of what makes driving fun all the time, not just when pushing the car to the ragged edge.

But What Is The Market, Really?

Worth noting, part of the reason used 911s seemed to be such a good deal in the 1990s was the higher relative cost of most new cars. Adjusted for inflation a 968 cost substantially more than a Boxster does today. A 300ZX Turbo cost $42k in 1995, or the equivalent of $70k today. Prior to the investment era of car collecting, riding the depreciation curve on an old 911 made a lot of sense.

But that brings us to the issue of overpaying. While Hoovie’s Garage famously bought (and tracked) the cheapest 911 in the country, he did not buy the cheapest air-cooled 911. At 38k, he didn’t even buy one at the low-end of the market. He bought one somewhere in the middle of the impact bumper spectrum. If we look at Bring a Trailer’s results for impact bumper cars, we can see that Hoovies’ purchase was in the lower half of the distribution.BAT Impact Bumper Scatter Chart

This raises an important point, and establishes my only real issue with the video. If Tyler paid well above market for his Porsche, then you can argue that he overpaid. If he paid well under market for the 911, then he may have gotten a good deal. If he paid what everyone is paying, well that’s a different issue. It isn’t that everyone is overpaying, it’s that the free market has spoken. The market has spoken and these Porsches are just worth more than we, as buyers, would all prefer.

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