Or is the 996 generation just that bad?
In the past, we have questioned whether buying a 996 Porsche 911 would be a good investment. We think that the 911 Turbo from this same generation is a complete steal right now, but what about the normal versions? The 996 lasted from 1997 to 2004 and is usually referred to as the worst 911 generation. While that may be true, these 911s are by far the least expensive alliteration of Porsche's sports car that you can get. For example, we found this lovely 1999 Carrera on eBay with just 73,000 miles on it for under $20,000, although it is an automatic.
We also found this slightly rougher example with a buy-it-now price of $15,800. Basically, you can now find Germany's most legendary sports car for less than the price of a new Honda Fit. The base Carrera came with a 3.4-liter flat-six producing 296 hp. In 2002, this number was increased by 4 hp to an even 300. This may not sound like a ton by today's standards (even the new 718 Boxster has more), but the 1999 911 could hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and pass through the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds. It weighs only 2,900 pounds. The 996 is generally maligned because of the "ugly" headlights and the IMS issue that would completely destroy the engine. Are these issues worth the cheap prices today?
We are not saying that a base 996 Carrera will ever be a collectible, but if you have always wanted a 911, it is definitely your cheapest option (at the moment). Matt Farah even drove one that its owner paid just $10,000 for. If you can find one for less than $15,000 (with the manual), we say go for it. You may be in trouble with maintenance, but it is a 911 after all. The 996 is pretty spartan on the inside, but if all you want is a sports car that is fun to drive and great on the track, you should consider getting one.