Porsche has one of the greatest track records out of any automobile manufacturer on the planet (both on and off the track, as the case may be). Simply put, they’ve never really made a bad car; it’s just that some Porsches are more desirable than others.
The Cayenne was widely ridiculed at the time of its release, but now it’s Porsche’s best-seller. The oddball 914 didn’t sell well back in the day, but now, collectors go crazy for them. Same goes for the 928. Even the Boxster is getting plenty of love these days. Punters just want Porsches!
No, there’s really only one Porsche that Australians – as well as the rest of the world – don’t really want: the controversial 996.
Produced from 1997 to 2006, the fourth generation of the famous 911 is widely considered one of Porsche’s rare missteps. The switch from air-cooled to water-cooled engines infuriated purists, but most buyers simply didn’t like the unusual ‘fried egg’ headlight clusters. For years, the 996 was Porsche’s ugly duckling, and could regularly be picked up for as little as $40,000 even a few years ago.
But it seems things have changed. Perhaps as a result of Australia’s completely cooked used car prices – or maybe because Aussies have finally woken up to the joys of the 996 – prices are absolutely booming, especially for low-mileage fixed-roof models.
“You could get a 996 4S for $80k 12 months ago,” DMARGE Publisher and Founder Luc Wiesman explains. “Now, if you want one with under 100kms on the clock, it’s nearly double. Others are going for $130k.”
So what’s the deal – is this just more COVID-era speculation, or has the 996 finally become cool?
We spoke to Ian Davies, Director of Prestige Connex and a die-hard Porsche fan, who’s in two minds about this 996 situation.
“It certainly hasn’t become a ‘real’ investment for the astute buyer… However, there are certainly 996 fans and owners that believe as it’s a variant of the 911 it must be worth more and a [worthy] future investment.”
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t that what they say?”
He also recommends that buyers look for models with the later 3.6L engine, as the earlier 3.4L power unit was notorious for IMS bearing failures – if that bearing goes, it’s a complete engine teardown for you.
As we’ve seen again and again this year, it’s hard to tell if this is just a result of the current car shortage, or if the 996 has finally started to grow on Aussies. Some truisms remain, well true – do your research, shop carefully, and above all, drive a car because you like it, not because others tell you to like it.
Check out the original promotional video for the Porsche 996 below.