Units Produced: 179,163
During the 1990s, Porsche was facing financial troubles and rumors of a proposed takeover were being spread. The signature air-cooled flat-6 of the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential. Stricter emissions regulations worldwide further forced Porsche to think of a replacement of the air-cooled unit. Porsche realized that in order to keep the 911 in production, it would need radical changes. This led to the development of the 996. The sharing of development between the new 911 and the entry level Boxster model allowed Porsche to save development costs. This move also resulted in interchangeable parts between the two models bringing down maintenance costs.
The Porsche 911Type 996 was a complete reimagining of the 911 sports car, and carried very little over from its predecessors. At its debut, the 996 featured the most significant change from the classic 911 series: a water-cooled engine replacing the previously air-cooled engine. Progressively stringent emissions and noise regulations, environmental concerns, a higher expectation for refinement and the need for a high-performance 4 valve per cylinder engine made the switch necessary. Other major changes include a completely new platform having a sleeker body with a more raked windshield, and a re-designed interior along with the highly controversial "fried egg" shaped headlamps (which mimicked the entry-level Porsche Boxster). It was also the first water-cooled engine ever used in a 911. The 996 shared no body panels, no underbody structure and no major mechanical components with previous 911s. The only carry-overs were from the earlier 911 (Type 993) from which the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a six-speed gearbox were repurposed after some revisions to make them current.
First launched in 1997, the 996 911 range received a minor facelift in 2001 when Porsche made a few slight changes to the base models. The 996 range was discontinued in 2004 when the German carmaker rolled out the Type 997 model which re-adopted the round headlights.
Most models of the 996 generation of the Porsche 911 (excluding GT3 / GT3 RS / GT2 & Turbo models) sports car were afflicted with a vulnerability in the intermediate shaft (IMS) that drove their engines' camshafts. Failure of the ball bearing within the IMS leads to varying degrees of engine failure. In general, after an IMS bearing failure, the engine internals could be contaminated with debris from the failure that requires the engine to be stripped and rebuilt. In severe failure modes, cam timing could be affected, leading to valve-piston impact, necessitating a rebuild or replacement of the entire engine. This, combined with the switch to water cooled engines, and the strange headlamps, has always haunted this generation of the 911.
911 996.1 (1998-2001)
When introduced in 1997, the first 996 models were available as either a rear-wheel-drive coupe or cabriolet (convertible). Later development of the model would re-introduce an all-wheel-drive variant of both versions of the car. The new 911 featured a water cooled, naturally aspirated 3.4 liter flat six engine that produced 296 horsepower thanks to the introduction of its four-valve cylinder heads, variable valve timing, integrated dry-sump oiling and new variable resistance intake system. Moreover, the new boxer engine broke new ground in terms of reduced emissions, engine noise, and fuel consumption.
The 996 Turbo had a water-cooled, twin-turbocharged/intercooled 3.6- liter engine that produced 415 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 415 lb-ft of torque. The 996 Turbo featured all-wheel drive and came equipped with either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. The 996 Turbo also featured revised body styling and a wider stance than its other 911 Carrera counterparts.
911 996.2 (2001-2004)
In 2002, the 996 went through a restyling exercise. Known as the 996.2 range the big visual changes included changing the integrated headlamps that had been shared between the 911 and Boxster models with the Turbo-style headlamps. All variants of the car also received a new front fascia. The most important upgrade was the standardization around an upgraded 3.6-liter engine (up from 3.4 liters in the 996.1) which is now able to provide no less than 320 horsepower (up 15 horsepower over 996.1).
In 2002 Porsche introduced both the 996 based Targa (featuring a sliding glass roof) and the Carrera 4S model which shared the same wide-body look of the 996 Turbo. The range was also expanded with sportier versions such as the RS and GT3 as well as the GT2. Designed as a road-legal take on the racing GT3, the model was essentially a stripped down, naturally aspirated treat, with 360 hp at its disposal in 1999 (more power was added later).