Headlight design holds down prices for Porsche 996 sports cars

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Porsche
The Porsche 911 Carrera cabriolet has its original Ocean Blue Metallic paint

With fried eggs and water cooling, the Porsche 996 series was controversial right from the start.  But as a collector car, the 996 represents one of the few bargains remaining for a lusty, rear-engine Porsche.

From the debut of the new 911 model in 1997 until the end of its run in 2004, the 996 was derided by enthusiasts for its departure from the sacred Porsche heritage of air-cooled engines, as well as redesigned headlights that many felt not only looked like fried eggs but made the 911 appear too much like a cheaper Boxster.

Porsche
The 996 looks to be in very good condition

Water cooling remained in subsequent 911s, no longer an issue, although the 997-series 911s returned to Porsche-appropriate round headlights.  But primarily because of those fried eggs, a 996 can still be had for a relatively modest sum.

The Pick of the Day is a good example, a 2000 Porsche 911 Carrera cabriolet with fairly low mileage and a reasonable price tag.  Powered by a 300-horsepower 3.4-liter flat-6 and a 6-speed manual transmission, the convertible is advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Other than those derided headlights, the convertible has the classic shape of a 911.  But the fried eggs shouldn’t be a deal breaker – you can’t see them from the driver’s seat anyway while you’re enjoying the joyful performance of the Porsche.

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Porsche
The offending headlights should be no big deal to a prospective buyer

But if you really hate them, there are inserts you can buy that cover the offending portions and turn the headlights round again. Problem solved.

During the early days of the 996, they gained an unfair reputation for engine failures.  The problem was Porsche’s notoriously faulty IMS bearing that, if it went bad, could blow an engine for good.  Not all failed, but when you buy a Porsche 911 or Boxster from this era, you need to check that the IMS bearing has been swapped out for the new, non-faulty version. If not, be ready to change it yourself or have it done.

Porsche
The sport seats are upholstered in leather

Porsche fans have become accustomed to the IMS drill and most shops are dialed in to perform the work. So don’t let that issue put you off.  It’s still a great sports car.

The cabriolet is painted Ocean Blue Metallic with a leather interior and a blue top that the seller says is in good condition. Factory options in this car include sport seats, digital sound package, Litronic headlamps, 3-spoke steering wheel, rear center console, aluminum hand brake and heated seats.

The asking price for what looks to be a very nice example of a 996 is a modest $26,000. Fried eggs included.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

3 COMMENTS

    • I bought a 2004 996 in March. Had the IMS bearing replaced, did the Headlight Covers and an Electronic Tune.

      I now have a fantastic (and Fast!) 911 for under 30G.

  1. I have a 2000 porsche 996 3.4 liter. I have owned 2 other 911’s 997.1’s. The 996 out-handles the 997 and feels like a go-cart to drive. I engine load up into a corner on the 997.1’s are enough to scar the hell out of you. The fun factor I have had since getting my 996 is over the top to drive. It is lighter and the front suspension and turning is direct and really like a go-cart. I used to race them when a teen. The 996 is a real surprise and people that don’t take the time to drive one are really missing a lot of fun. Look no matter where you go with a porsche you are lucky to get out of 3rd gear. So, if you haven’t driven one you should. Prove it to yourself. Go out there and have some fun.

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