Get one before the prices go up.
The brand-new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera is one of the best sports cars on the market right now. But if you are loathed to spend well over six figures on a base 911, the 997-generation has a lot going for it with prices yet to go crazy.
The 997 911 lasted from 2005 to 2012 as an evolution and colossal improvement over the previous 996 car. Porsche offered numerous versions ranging from the base Carrera up to the legendary GT2 RS but we will save the GT models and the Turbo for another time since they exist in a very different price bracket. You can now pick up a 997 911 for a shockingly low price and we suggest you get one now before collectors start scooping up all of the good ones.
Many people say the 996 is the worst of the 911 models with its subpar interior and oddly-snapped headlights. The 997 improved in both of these areas with a more modern cabin and a return to the 911's round headlight design. It is also considered to be the pinnacle of modern 911s in terms of driving dynamics, being the last model to feature hydraulic power steering. The 991 generation that succeeded the 997 was larger and more livable, compromising on driving enjoyment. Porsche has moved even further away from the 997 philosophy with the latest 992 generation, which only features turbocharged engines.
The 997 generation cars are still relatively modern and thus include the necessary creature comforts to be acceptable as daily drivers. But they are not too old to be considered collectible yet, so prices have yet to skyrocket like the 993 generation. Now is the perfect time to buy a 997 before Porsche collectors remember how perfect they are.
Prices for the 997-gen 911 range drastically depending on the year, body style, trim level, mileage, and condition. This generation of the 911 is broken up into two categories. Model years from 2005 to 2008 are the 997.1 cars while the cars from 2009 to 2012 are the facelifted 997.2 model. Porsche made various improvements to the exterior, interior, and engines with the 997.2 facelift but you will pay more as a result.
It is now possible to buy a 997.1 starting in the low $20,000 range but we highly suggest spending more to find a well-kept car with a manual transmission. Expect to pay around $35,000 for a decent 997.1 Carrera or Carrera S and be sure to get a pre-purchase inspection. If you have a larger budget and want the more collector-grade car with an improved interior and more powerful engine, later examples of the 997.2 can command nearly six figures.
All Porsche 911 models are powered by a flat-six engine but the 997 generation had many different versions depending on the trim level and year. The 997.1 Carrera debuted with a 3.6-liter engine producing 325 horsepower while the Carrera S models received a larger 3.8-liter mill with 355 hp. Power could be sent to rear- or all-wheel-drive via a six-speed automatic or manual transmission.
For the 997.2 generation, power from the 3.6-liter Carrera engine was increased to 345 hp while the Carrera S was bumped to 385 hp. Once again, power could be sent to the rear or all four wheels via a manual box but the 997.2 saw the introduction of the dual-clutch PDK, which was a drastic improvement over the traditional automatic. The 997.2 concluded with the Carrera GTS model, which produced 408 hp from its 3.8-liter engine. The GT and Turbo models aside, the Carrera GTS is the ultimate 997.
Since Porsche offers so many ways to customize its interiors, most 911 cabins differ pretty significantly from each other. That being said, there is still a clear improvement from the 997.1 to the 997.2. Porsche replaced the 997.1's then-outdated head unit with a more intuitive touchscreen and made various other material improvements including the switch to more visually appealing steering wheel designs. In all honestly, neither car is a tech tour-de-force by modern standards which is why we'd recommend finding one with the base radio head unit. Just enjoy driving and leave infotainment to your modern daily driver.
When you factor in all of the trim levels, body styles, and drivetrain configurations, there is bound to be a perfect 997 911 out there for you. Whether it is a coupe, convertible, or Targa, we believe the 997 generation is the ultimate cross-section between modern reliability and old-school driving enjoyment. Prices range drastically depending on the configuration but anyone with a budget from $35,000 to $100,000 can easily purchase a 997 that they will enjoy. Instead of spending well over six-figures on a new 911 that will depreciate, why not buy the affordable future collectible?