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The Porsche 996 Handbook: Culture, Community and Evolution

Buyer guides, forum threads, YouTube videos, community resources—it is easy to be overwhelmed with the hundreds, if not thousands, of rabbit holes online to guide (or deter) a dream car purchase. This is a problem we have set out to solve, and this week, we are diving into the 996 generation Porsche 911.

We have curated the best 996 resources and content to get your (IMS) bearings set. Whether you are pre or post-purchase, here is everything you need to know about Porsche's first water-cooled 911. But before we get started, let us go back in time...

Written by Archie Hill for The Apex by Custodian. Edited & produced by Archie Hill.

A 996.1 GT3 leads a 996.1 Carrera 4 and a 996 Turbo // Source: Porsche AG

The end of Porsche?

It is 1992. Porsche are on the brink of bankruptcy. Recession has crippled sales and costs are spiralling. Amidst this turmoil, Toyota propose an acquisition deal, but the Porsche family remain steadfast in their refusal to sell the company. Porsche do however recognise the efficient manufacturing techniques of the Japanese as the only way to return to profitability. The alterations in production, advised by a team of ex-Toyota engineers, breathe new life into Porsche's financial performance.

An original Porsche Boxster ad // Source: Porsche AG

The release of the 986 Boxster in 1996 alleviated Porsche's heavy reliance on the 911, and opened them up to a broader market. But when Porsche turned their attention back to the 911, they had no choice but to depart from some of the long standing traditions of the 911 series. Water cooled engines, fried egg headlights, updated interior - the 996 marked a transition to a more modern and technologically advanced 911. 25 years on and the 996 has not changed, but attitudes towards it have.

A 996.1 Carrera 4 // Source: Porsche AG

Variant Breakdown

The majority of road going 996's were manufactured between 1998 - 2005*, and consist of the following variants:

*Some early Carrera's were delivered in late '97, and some Turbo's, GT3's and GT2's were produced in '06.


  • Carrera - The entry-level.
  • Carrera 4 - The capable all-wheel drive.
  • GT3 - Road proven, track ready.
  • GT2 - The widow maker.


  • Carrera - The timeless classic, redefined.
  • Carrera S - Elevated performance, uncompromised luxury.
  • Carrera 4 - All weather x iconic design.
  • Carrera 4S - Dynamic prowess amplified by all-wheel drive.
  • Targa - Open top and distinctive style.
  • Turbo - Blistering speed, everyday usability.
  • Turbo X50 - Bigger turbo's, more torque, more power.
  • Turbo S - The pinnacle of turbocharged.
  • GT3 - Precision engineering, performance icon.
  • GT2 - Put on your seatbelt.
  • GT3RS - Race car for the road.

The primary aesthetic change between the 996.1 and 996.2 updates were changes to the controversial ‘fried egg’ headlight design. The 996.2s have the 'yolk delete', referring to the yellow light positioned just below the main headlight. The anomalies are the 996 Turbo's and the GT2's. The 2001 Turbo's received the updated headlights (hence lumped in with the 996.2 list), but not the interior updates. The second generation GT2's got a remap that resulted in an increase in power and some extra carbon fibre, but the changes are subtle. The 996.2 Carrera's benefitted from a boosted powerplant, going from a 3.4 litre, flat-six engine with 296bhp, to a 3.6 litre engine with 320 bhp.

Front row: 911 GT3 (996.1), 911 Turbo S Coupé (996), 911 Carrera 4 (996.1), 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet (996.2), back row: 911 GT1 `98, 911 Targa (996), 911 GT3 RSR, 911 GT1 street version, 911 GT3 Cup (996) // Source: Porsche AG

The Turbo and GT variants were blessed with the GT1 Le Mans derived Mezger engine, which integrated a dry-sump lubrication system. This was a better system for cooling and lubricating the engine, and meant these model variants did not suffer from the IMS and Bore Scoring issues associated with the standard models (more on this later).

The 911 GT1 won the 1998 Le Mans in the hands of Allan McNish, Laurent Aïello and Stéphane Ortelli. It was this engine that would be adapted for use in the 996 Turbo and GT cars // Source: Porsche AG

It will come as no surprise that 996 prices vary in accordance to each variant’s desirability. At a broad level, you are looking to spend between £10,000 - £150,000 depending on which model takes your fancy, and meets your budget criteria.

Buying Guides

There is no shortage of buying guides for the 996, so we have curated our favourites from Porsche Club GB and PCP Euro which provide a great level of detail to walk you through all the purchase considerations for those looking at ownership:

Porsche GB's Buying Guide

Watch: PCP Euro Buying Guide

Market Data

The 996's growing popularity has naturally lead to an increase in prices. The Carrera 4S Coupe for example, has seen an average price increase of around ~5%+ over the last few years, according to data from the Classic Valuer. For a low mileage manual example, prices enter the £30-35k range, which borders 997 Carrera S territory. If you want more information on pricing data, you can sign up for free to the Classic Valuer here.

Data for 996 Carrera 4S Coupe provided by the Classic Valuer.


Since its debut, the 996’s departure from some of the 911’s design cues sparked passionate perspectives from Porsche enthusiasts. Lead designer Pinky Lai had this to say, “My design was more sculptural, more revolutionary. It was outside the usual 911 thinking..." in this 2020 interview with Total 911.

Source: Porsche AG

996 Culture & Nostalgia

The 996 has been no stranger to pop-culture, feeding Y2K-era nostalgia in films and media alike with prominent features in 'Fast Five' and 'Gone in 60 Seconds', and by Porsche themselves with unique projects like the Classic Club Coupe. Here are a few of our standouts:

Porsche Classic Club Coupe

Initially starting out in life as a standard 996 Carrera, the Classic Club Coupe is a result of Porsche's “Sonderwunsch” (special request) programme. The original Carrera was transformed into an utterly unique, one-of-one car, that brings together influences from some of the greatest hits from across the different 911 eras. The ducktail spoiler of the 911 Carrera RS 2.7, the double bubble roof of the Carrera GT, the iconic look of the 911 Sport Classic. The car was built for the Porsche Club America, the largest single-marque car club in the world, and sold last year at auction for $1.2 million.

Jörg Bergmeister Homage

On February 2nd, 2003, Porsche made history at Daytona International Speedway. A privately entered 911 GT3 RS not only won its class but also clinched an overall victory in one of endurance racing's toughest events. Jörg Bergmeister, a Carrera Cup graduate in only his second 24-hour race, was one of the drivers, alongside Michael Schrom, Timo Bernhard, and team owner Kevin Buckler. The 996-generation racer, entered by TRG (The Racer Group), sported the team's signature blue and yellow livery. 20 years later and Bergmeister now has a unique and deeply personal car of his own design, which was presented to him last week, and pays homage to that iconic win.

Source: Porsche Newsroom // Jörg Bergmeister

Fast Five 'GT3RS'

The Porsche used in the film was actually a 996 Carrera 2 with some stickers, wheels, and aero, but hey, it looked cool. And in the words of the late, great, Paul Walker - "Look at that. How about that? All motor, no tuning issues. I always wanted one of those."


Source: Universal Pictures

Sally Carrera

In 2022, Porsche and Pixar Animation Studios teamed up to create a one-of-one car inspired by Sally Carrera – the charming and witty Porsche from the animated film series, 'Cars'. This street-legal and drivable car celebrated Sally's 20th anniversary and sold at an RM Sotheby's Auction in Monterey for $3.6 million.

Source: Porsche AG

Movers & Shakers

While prices for G-bodies (1973 - 1989) were steadily on the rise, the 996 became the beacon for entry level 911 ownership. Subsequently, 996 owners span a variety of first-time and legacy owners who have driven the reverence and sub-culture, spreading love for those who prefer their eggs fried.

Brock Keen - "When you own a 996 you’re not only part of the overall Porsche community, you’re also in this special niche that’s a bit rebellious. The 1st water cooled 911 and it broke the mold design wise. For me the 996 is a line in the sand for Porsche and the 911. It was the brand saying it’s time to change and I think the design reflects that. For the time being the 996 is the “everyman’s 911”. The prices are still reasonable which is opening the door to 911 ownership like never before."

Sam Hancock - Watch as racing driver and dealer in rare and exceptional competition cars, Sam Hancock, takes this incredible ex works 996 RSR for a spin.

“This car represents the ultimate evolution of Porsche’s 996-generation RSR - a design that won its class in every arena in which it competed, from British GT to Le Mans, Sebring, Spa, the Nürburgring and many more. It even won the Daytona 24 Hours outright! And having recently driven this ex-works example myself, I can understand why: friendly to drive, with predictable and intuitive handling, yet utterly capable when pushed. No wonder it has proved so competitive in Endurance Legends racing today.” - Sam Hancock

Pain Points

The IMS bearing is the well-documented Achilles heel of this generation 911. The Porsche community, steadfast as they are, have not taken this lightly. Parts manufactures have provided retrofits, and you will find in many cases vehicle listings will share whether or not the IMS bearing has been sorted or not. There are plentiful forum threads, YouTube videos, and Porsche specialists, so fear not.

The IMS Bearing

"The intermediate shaft is a steel shaft that runs through the centre of the engine. The chain-driven off this shaft connects to the camshafts. Given the role of the IMS sprocket in relation to the camshaft timing, the consequences of a failure are significant. The IMS bearing failures are caused by the lubricant in the IMS bearing housing leaking out or drying up and then the bearings overheating. When they overheat, the bearings start to disintegrate, and the metal swarf finds its way into the engine causing damage. If pathways become blocked by debris, it can cause significant engine damage and, in some cases, the IMS bearing face collapses altogether causing catastrophic damage to the engine. Neither option is desirable!" - RPM Technik.

A very small number of 996's also suffer from bore scoring, which results from excessive friction and wear between the piston rings and the engine's cylinder walls. This friction can cause small scratches or scoring on the cylinder walls' inner surface and similar damage to the pistons. This is rare on the 996, and more common on the 997.1 generation cars.

Great forum threads / resources:

911 UK - Porsche 911 forum

Rennlist - Porsche 996 forum

RPM Technik - One of the UK's leading Porsche specialists

Get a specialist quote from us here.

Get In The Mood

996’s are meant to be driven—and nobody quite embodies this like Brock Keen, also known as @996roadtrip. Brock’s fleet of 996 C4S’ are fitted with a rooftop tent for all his on-and-off-road adventures across North America. This film by Evan Pollock sums it up:

As alluded to in the Variant Breakdown section, the hallmark in the 996 line-up is the Mezger engine, only featured in the Turbo and GT models, which are immune to the IMS bearing issues. Enthusiasts sing its praises in terms of durability and longevity with many high-mileage examples to boot, including this 678,000-mile example featured on Marqued.

Fuel Your Feed

It is no secret Instagram is a wonderful place to connect with enthusiasts. Here are a few must-follow accounts if you are looking to join the 996 scene.

  • @the911page - Celebrating all things 911
  • @type 7 - Unique storytelling, powered by Porsche
  • @000magazine - Quarterly magazine on Porsche
  • @996roadtrip - Follow Brock's wild adventures in his C4S
  • @996enthusiasts - All things Porsche 996
  • @porsche_newsroom - Official Instagram of Porsche Communication
  • @ptsrs - Uniting enthusiasts & owners of 'Paint To Sample' Porsche's.


The Porsche-devoted offer no shortage of community activities, events, and groups. Simply, it is one of the most turnkey, approachable cultures that celebrate cars. There is also no shortage of manufacturer love and support for the 996 from Porsche, meaning parts availability and upgrades are plentiful. We have gathered a selection of favourites to get your started:


Porsche Club GB is the official Porsche club for enthusiasts in the UK. Membership starts from £85 for individuals, and other options are also available - more information here on their website. There is also the Porsche Club Register for 996's here, and an active 996 Facebook group here.

The Independent Porsche Enthusiast Club (TIPEC) is another great option for those passionate about the Porsche marque. It is a club run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, and membership is £40.

Porsche Classic

In the words of Porsche themselves...

"First established in 1999 the Porsche Classic division is a section of Porsche AG with the specific purpose of preserving and restoring classic Porsche vehicles. Porsche Classic focuses on providing servicing, genuine parts and accessories, and the knowledge and expertise required to keep classic Porsche cars on the road."

Porsche Classic offers a vast selection of accessories, all designed to enhance the experience of owning and driving your classic Porsche. Some of the more popular accessories include:

  • PCCM+ (Porsche Classic Communication Management Plus): A modern infotainment system that is compatible with most classic Porsche.
  • Classic Motor Oil: Designed to protect your Classic over the long term, Porsche Classic Motor Oils meet the high-performance standards of Porsche we have come to expect.
  • Classic Care Kit: This cleaning car kit features products designed specifically with your Classic in mind.
  • Fuchs Wheels: These iconic wheels were recently reintroduced by the Porsche Classic team. Originally designed for the Porsche 911 in the 1960s, these wheels are available in a range of sizes and finishes and are designed to a selection of classic Porsche models.

The Showroom

If all this 996 content has got you in the mood for one, be sure to check out the ones we have for sale on The Showroom, courtesy of our partner dealers.

And if you do end up buying one, we're on hand to help you insure it.

Signing off

While the debate on the 996’s aesthetics will continue for the ages, we are excited to see what the future holds for the 996. It is now the youngest 911 in the Porsche Classic range, and its growing fanbase can only be positive for the preservation of this iconic, and controversial 911.

As always, The Apex and Custodian team are here to help manage your car with our app. The best part? It’s totally free.

The Apex Team

The Apex Team

The Apex Editorial Team @Custodian: Archie Hill - Interviewer & Editor, Archie Hill Jeremy Hindle Charles Clegg - Editors, Archie Hill - Production, David Marcus - Transcription.