Unverified Ownership Fried eggs, now or never – Porsche 911 Carrera '98

Lastsoul

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One day last autumn I realized that I need a 911. Then I remembered that I had that same thought the day before. And the day before that. And before that. There was only one cure. A 911.

Funnily the 911s were not my favourite cars when I was a kid. Porsches felt distant, cold and old fashioned. Impact bumpers from Saabs, strange switchgear and weird links to Volkswagen. Yeah, I'm talking about the G-series cars, the 80s 911s. 944s at least looked pretty cool, I mean I was like 7 and 944s have pop-ups.

Most of my youth was spent reading car magazines. Those cold German 911s were stealing most group tests from my beloved Ferraris.

Then many years later I found myself spending a day swapping between 2nd generation (E89) BMW Z4 35iS and 981 Boxster S. It took only 10 minutes to recalibrate my mind: I had been wrong for the last 25 years. Of course the E89 is not a particularly bright point in BMWs admittedly glorious history, it was a curious mix of grand touring comfort and hard edged sports car. Anyway, the Boxster felt like a car from a different culture. It left a lasting impression.

After that I got to drive some 911s. First was a 996 gen Carrera, then a 991 Carrera 4S I somehow managed to borrow form Porsche.

50-years-of-911_9725085198_o.jpg

Curiously, it was the same exact car they used in the 911 50 Years poster, but I only realized it years after taking this picture (the car appears twice in the picture!). Then came couple of GT3s etc, and I really stared to fall in love with these Swabian oddities. I guess it's because of the uncompromising fine tuning done by Porsche. All the controls work in perfect harmony, to give you an example. Yes the 911 is the Golf of the sports cars: it's very probably engineered with the largest budget in the sportscar industry, there are endless variations of it and it's the default choice if you don't have any imagination. My car is silver.
11.06. Vuoden Auto Suomessa 2020_J5A2390-2-2.jpg


It was always a 996 or no 911. Air cooled cars are out of my budget, so are 997s and later models. I don't even mind the looks of the 996, but I do have to admit that I prefer the early pre-facelift cars. Facelifted Carrera has slightly mismatching looks. However, the Turbo is very desirable, but I'd always go for the naturally aspirated GT3 if I had the money. I don't. The requirements list was simple: coupé and manual.

One day black 911 Carrera appeared for sale really close by. I talked about it with my group of friends, and it turned out that one of them had same ideas and he had even test driven the car. We decided to combine our efforts, as neither of us actually need a car, but we both need a 911. Half of one will do just fine. Or preferably a full 911 for half of the time.

Then another came for sale right next to my work. Me and Posambique went to check it out: clean early 996. Model year 1998 to be more specific. That means yellow indicators. The launch spec. This was the 911 from my childhood. This was the 911 that was driven through the window in the opening scene fo the Gone in 60 seconds. I wonder if Angelina Jolie thinks fondly of the 996s?
11.06. Vuoden Auto Suomessa 2020_J5A2398-2.jpg


Anyway, the car was pretty solid. It's an Italian import, like they all are. Very slight repaint on right rear quarter panel, but paint depth gauge said it's just paint, no filler or anything more serious.

If you've ever read about the 996s, you've probably heard about some issues. The engine seems to be the holy grail of issues. Most well known is the intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing, which failure leads to pretty much complete destruction of the engine. There are cylinder issues too, called bore scoring. It’s nasty, as the M96 engines used in the Carrera models is all aluminium open deck design with coated cylinders. There are good ways to fix the cylinders, but they’re not cheap.

Yeah, the 996 has some issues. That’s why they’re in my price range. I spend countless hours reading the web. There is so much conflicting information around, it’s impossible to find the truth. The biggest mistake Porsche did was it wasn’t open enough about this. Had the Germans admitted the real issues, we would have facts instead of random rumors, some of which are based on reality, some of them are not. We took the car to local specialist to check the cylinders. They were fine. So we took a relatively deep leap of faith and bought the damn thing.
11.06. Vuoden Auto Suomessa 2020_J5A2415-2.jpg


The spec list is hilariously short: model year 1998 911 Carrera 3.4 with arctic silver exterior and interior that I thought was back but is actually dark blue. No sunroof, no rear wiper, plastic dash and vinyl rear seats. It's as basic as 996s come: Stock 17” alloys, cassette radio with external six disc changer. Only desirable options is the limited slip differential. That sealed the deal.

Car trivia: as far as I know, at 1 320 kilos the base spec 996 gen 911 Carrera 3.4 is the lightest non-RS 911 in the 1990s. Yes, the air cooled 993 and even the 964 are fatter.

It’s quite a sensation to realise that you own something that belonged to the dream section in your childhood magazines – even if the 911 never used to be part of my dreams and today it can be had for a base Golf money.
996_Lidl_2019_LA2.jpg
996_Lidl_2019_LA6.jpg

996_Lidl_2019_LA1.jpg


It’s not perfect. Brakes have tiny vibration, some engine mounts are toast and mass air flow sensor seems to be at its last legs. Those are issues we can easily deal with now when we’ve got the car back from winter hibernation. I’ve already had my first proper drive with it, but that’s for another post.

Proof pic is also coming, the car is not at my place right now.
 

Matt2000

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Congratulations. The 996 has aged rather well, I was never a fan of the 'new' headlight design at the time but after all these years of the traditional headlight shape on 911s this is refreshingly different again. Enjoy it!
 

Mitchi

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The PYC finally came! And I'm still in love with your car, very, very jealous indeed!

Very underrated car. Glad it's finally getting the attention it deserves in the automotive world.
 

Tram13

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I must say, when I was a kid, before and during my early teens, I didn't care about sports cars that much. In fact, I was more of a BMW fanboy. I still remember reading about a comparison test of a BMW M5 E60 and a Porsche Carrera (S?) 997, in which BMW turned out to be faster, and then being much more fascinated with the BMW. I considered the air-cooled 911s to be nice cars, but nothing particularly interesting. It was just another car I saw on Wheeler Dealers and classic car meetings, nothing that would spark my interest or make me fascinated by it. But the 996... I had a Bburago scale model of a 996 that I kept at my grandma's, that my grandma bought for me in a long-defunct local grocery shop, so even if I wasn't exactly fascinated by the 996, it somehow had a soft spot in my heart.

Then came my mid-teens, I started reading a Croatian translation of the Evo magazine. Initially, it sparkled my interest for sports cars and supercars, making me discover some of the more exotic stuff like Alpina BMWs and manufacturers like Ginetta and Ariel. But after reading it more and more through my mid- and late-teens, I came to the obvious realisation of how much they praise the Porsche 911. All of a sudden, the 911 became much more interesting to me. I still remember, and to this day often reference, the top 100 driver's cars of all time list Evo did back in 2009. The third place went to the Porsche 911 GT3, the 996 generation. Considering the first place went to the Pagani Zonda F, a car so rare and exclusive you'd be hard-pressed to spot unless you lived in Monaco, and that the Lotus 340R was in the second place, a car that was built in higher numbers, but considering its nature, one is even less likely to encounter, at least on the road, the 996 GT3 somehow seemed like the highest-ranked "normal" sports car.

In my late teens, I was already pretty much a Porsche fanboy. This was the time when Mangus Walker became well known, and also about the time Singer started doing 911 restomods. Of course, that meant that I got into air-cooled cars as well, although the 996 and 997 would still be the vehicles of my choice. In the recent years, I'd watch and read more and more Porsche content, most of which revolves around 911s. The 996, being the least appreciated of the bunch for objective and subjective reasons, became my favourite. It's the underdog, it's the odd one out, it's underappreciated, it's just what I want. Not only because it happens to be the cheapest 911, but also because I appreciate its design, as it was the first all-new 911 since 1963.

Oh, and I love the fried-egg headlights. It symbolises the fact that Porsche wanted to try something new and different for the new-era 911, and I love the fact it pisses of the purists, who can in fact be a very boring bunch that resist any change. I love them even more when the turn indicators are orange, which also happen to break the greyness of a silver car. Not that I have anything against the silver colour on the 996, I actually think it's a great choice, as it emphasises the car's curves better, and it's the traditional German colour. Oh, and it goes well with the whole basic 911 theme, which I like very much.

Have a blast with this car! I hope it serves you well, without any major issues. And sorry if I made this post so long and went into too much details. I just wanted to share my appreciation of the 996.
 

Redliner

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Funnily the 911s were not my favourite cars when I was a kid. Porsches felt distant, cold and old fashioned. Impact bumpers from Saabs, strange switchgear and weird links to Volkswagen. Yeah, I'm talking about the G-series cars, the 80s 911s. 944s at least looked pretty cool, I mean I was like 7 and 944s have pop-ups.

Most of my youth was spent reading car magazines. Those cold German 911s were stealing most group tests from my beloved Ferraris.
Hah. I could have written the same.

I wans't much of a fan of 911s, and they're very rare around here, so I must have seen 1 or 2 in person until 2014, when I attended my first Ringmeet and then something changed inside me. No, it wasn't caused by the currywurst. I finally got it.

It's an Italian import, like they all are.
I need an explanation.
 

Der Stig

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Lovely car, perfect spec, IMO. Slick top with a manual and LSD and no other options is a rare find.

Hope you can enjoy many happy miles with it!
 

Lastsoul

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Thanks everybody! No, Posambique isn't the other owner, he isn't on the forums. Posambique was a huge help when buying the car and helping to do the pre-purchase inspection.

Italian import: apparently Italian economy was doing pretty great at the turn of the millennium, so they bought a lot of nice cars. Then when the market crashed ten years later (2009), many of them were sold abroad. So it's common to find Italian import in Finland too. This one, if I remember it correctly, was imported by Finnish guy living in Germany, he brought the car to Finland when he moved back.

Anyway, about the car. Why a 996? This is a very personal question, there are no rights and wrongs when buying something like this. As I said, the brand isn't very important to me. I've been lucky enough to drive quite a selection of cars that are generally found to be extremely desirable, and as interesting as they are, my mind has started to break them down to bits: what the people behind the car did right and where they failed. I've more respect for mk7 Golf than I've for Rolls-Royce Phantom, Volkswagen engineers nailed their goal even better than people at Rolls-Royce. Sure, I too would pick the Rolls-Royce over the Golf if I had the choice, but that's not the point.

Secondly there is something special about Porsche. Even today I don't call myself a fanboy of the German company, but I've a huge respect for the way Porsche works. All cars are compromises: there are limited material resources, limited research and development times, limited budgets, but Porsche seems to make less of a compromise when it comes to subjects that I care about. Be it the steering feel of the Macan, chassis of the 992 gen 911 Carrera S or the brake pedal controlling the extremely complicated braking system of the Taycan, Porsches nails the goals more often than their competitors. It's not that they're better than the rest, it's just that fine tuning and system calibration are held at higher regards in Porsche than in many competitors, they demand more from the engineers and give more resources to hit the higher goals.

Of course not everything with their logo is sacred: Caynne Coupé has no reason to exist, first gen Panamera looks like a dog and you really can't love the engine note of the four cyl boxer in 718 series. Some people certainly have similar thoughts also about the team behind the M96/M97 engines in 996 and prefacelift 997 Carreras...

I also believe that the 90s were great time for car design. Computers had advanced to offer the engineers tools like CAD, CFD etc, but those were additional possibilities to all conventional wisdom the companies had learnt over the years. And car companies couldn't afford to put expensive technology into cars, there was no combination of electric power steering, advanced electronically controlled damping, super clever 8 speed automatic gearboxes, electronic stability controls with four wheel torque vectoring etc. So thanks to computer technology you had more possibilities in designing the car, but they still had to make everything work with good old mechanical solutions. The basics had to be right, you couldn't polish shoddy dynamics with more lines in the code.
We got plenty of great cars in the 90s. It was BMWs golden age, they made things like the E46 and E39. Peugeot made great hot hatches (then all changed and they made the 206 GTi), Ford developed the Focus. Honda had the Integra Type R... you can just continue the list forever.

Thanks to all that, the 996 still feels pretty special to drive. It's not that quick by today's standards, something like Golf R wins at everything but absolute top speed. That's fine, I think most modern performance cars are too fast and they need to be pushed hard before they start to deliver.

The 996 is pretty nice to just cruise around. All controls are perfectly calibrated the steering delivers real texture from the road, the flat six makes plenty of real noises. It's not too polished, you feel more connected to the car. I have not driven the car particularly hard yet, but you can sense the rear engined layout. Less weight on the front axle means clearer steering feedback, and sometimes you can feel the rear end moving through the steering wheel. It's not something you need to be aware of anymore, but it feels slightly different to drive than comparable front or even mid engined car would feel. I really can't wait to find out how it feels closer to limit.

Damn, this turned out to be another super long post. I guess I should've started the thread way earlier and I could've split these thoughts into many posts.
 

Lastsoul

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Lovely car, perfect spec, IMO. Slick top with a manual and LSD and no other options is a rare find.

Hope you can enjoy many happy miles with it!
Thanks! Yeah I too like the spec. Of course it would be great to have full leather interior and such luxuries, but then again this still feels very basic sports car. It feels like it's made to be driven instead of being admired. Like a slightly grown up Miata.
 

Mitchi

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Damn, this turned out to be another super long post. I guess I should've started the thread way earlier and I could've split these thoughts into many posts.
Lauri, please never feel sorry for posting random yet long throught trains like this. I'm always soaking them up like nothing else and love to read stuff like this. Use your profession to tell us even more about the 911 ownership in the future!

(also, actually way better to post this here and reflect on it later than let it sink into the abyss of some Telegram #gear) :)
 

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I concur. Never apologize for writing good posts.
 

AkiH

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Nice 911. I've been a fan of these since year 2000. It was the year of Need for Speed Porche 2000 and 911 Turbo was also tested in Tuulilasi magazine in may 2000. It was yellow. Pure porn.


This was the 911 that was driven through the window in the opening scene fo the Gone in 60 seconds. I wonder if Angelina Jolie thinks fondly of the 996s?
Sorry to disappoint you, but she didn't ride in 911 in that movie. She was a Ferrari girl .;)
 

Lastsoul

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Thanks! Writing is a good way to process thoughts.

Nice 911. I've been a fan of these since year 2000. It was the year of Need for Speed Porche 2000 and 911 Turbo was also tested in Tuulilasi magazine in may 2000. It was yellow. Pure porn.

Sorry to disappoint you, but she didn't ride in 911 in that movie. She was a Ferrari girl .;)
I remember that article well, the pictures were excellent!
 

Lastsoul

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Little more than a year ago I got back to film photography, just for fun. I like old cameras as mechanical devices. I also thought that maybe I could become better photographer by slowing down a bit, and film is great way to do that. But mostly it was for fun.

I took the long way home after picking up the 996 from winter storage, and managed to take few shots on the way.

2020_04_Hasselblad_FP4_Rodinal_Bentley_0010-3.jpg


I don't have any wide angle lenses for my film cameras, so this one shall do for now. Notice the rather funny user manual holder under the steering column: pre-facelift 996s lack glove boxes, so they stuck the necessary items to here. It's a rather strange location, but luckily completely harmless, your knees never hit the book shelf.

2020_04_Hasselblad_FP4_Rodinal_Bentley_0011-4.jpg
 

gaasc

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Worse, A Chevy Vega :p

Actually...Stylish, affordable compared to its contemporary peers, no glovebox, well publicized catastrophic engine malady...
 

Der Stig

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Early X300s also had no glovebox.

Definitely an odd decision though. AFAIK, part of cost cutting measures.
 

Lastsoul

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Passanger side airbag was relatively new idea when the dash was designed, so that probably also had something to do with it. Some rumors say the base dash was originally designed for the 993 generation, but budged didn't allow that change. It might be just a rumor of course.

I didn't know about some X300s missing it, our Daimler Six is '94 (I think?) and it has got a glove box.
 

Labcoatguy

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It was only 1995-model X300s that lacked gloveboxes, and not all of them did. Post-facelift Saab 9000s with passenger side airbags also lacked gloveboxes, and later ones put an owner's manual pocket in the passenger footwell; if you had a '95 like mine, though, the footwell pocket was absent, so the manual went in the seatback pockets.
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