Have a hankering for a Porsche 996? Probably best to find one sooner rather than later…
The market for performance cars has seen a rapid rise in values in recent years, and used and classic Porsches are at the forefront of the upturn.
While it isn't uncommon to see sellers asking for comfortably over £200,000 for immaculate early 911s, perhaps surprisingly some of the more modern variants have seen a very sharp climb in values, too. Among the most currently sought-after is the 996.
The 996 caused plenty of consternation among die-hard Porsche enthusiasts at its 1997 release. The first version of the 911 to employ water cooling, it was seen as a risky break in tradition from its exclusively air-cooled predecessors. This, and the Boxster-inspired front end styling initially left critics underwhelmed, so very few Porsche experts would have predicted the 996 would become so desirable – especially while they’re still considered to be relatively modern.
While aesthetics are subjective, in hindsight the switch to water cooling was a necessary one to move along with the times. With the models now ranging from between 11 and 18 years old, the prospect of a little more everyday usability that it brings doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
Of course, it's the rarest, most performance-oriented models which are changing hands for the largest sums. The fastest of all is the GT2. Based on the Turbo, it added carbon ceramic brakes, a more track-biased suspension set up and wilder look. Combined with a 110kg diet, its 455bhp twin-turbo flat six helped it to a four second 0-60mph time and to a near-200mph top speed.
Barely a few years ago, values suggested that it would be a long time before the GT2 became a sound financial investment. As Evo magazine pointed out in a 996 feature back in 2009, in the first eight years of its life "a GT2 owner would have seen £50,000 disappear" from the £110,000 list price. Today, however, these cars are priced at anywhere up to £150,000.
Find an immaculate example of the sublime GT3 RS, and prices are higher still – low mileage examples are advertised for as much as £230,000. That figure means it now commands a similar price to its greatest contemporary rival, the Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale – a car which cost £48,795 more when they were new.
The moderately less extreme GT3 won Evo's Car of the Year award back in 1999. As they pointed out in 2009, 'Unsurprisingly, the GT3 is one of the slowest depreciators of the lot and you’ll need at least £42,000 to get into one'. Barely six years later, you’ll need to almost double that figure for the best sub-30,000 mile versions.
It's at the more basic level of 996 ownership that is really fascinating however. There are still decent prices to be found, and over a similar time period, Carrera values have remained relatively static, with slightly tatty, near-100,000 mile 3.4 examples going for around £10,000. Expect to pay a little more for cleaner, lower mileage examples like this example offered by Silverstone Auctions with S and 4S models around the £20,000 mark.
The demise of rougher examples in recent years has seen the full range of 996 models begin to emerge from the shadows, with values starting to creep up. Our advice would be to place an order while you still can…
Words: Alex Ingram