911 CARRERA 996 CABRIOLET MANUAL 2000 ‘X’ 44,580 MILES £16,500
Critics of Porsche’s new water cooled cars 20 years ago would have you believe the 986/996 was such a retrograde step that it would never last like its air-cooled predecessor. But time has confounded the naysayers: this column has found any number of presentable 996s and Boxsters all approaching their twentieth birthday still offering entertaining Porsche motoring without the need of vast restorative expenditure.
This 996 Cabrio in Zenith metallic blue with Savannah beige leather interior (amounting to a £4000 option with matching three-spoke leather steering wheel) is a case in point. It is no show car: verdigris on the hood suggests a life largely outdoors, but the body exhibits no damage or signs of any repainting and would respond well to polishing while a scrub would do wonders for the hood which does though need some minor repairs. The much reviled cabin presents a similar picture: the slight grubbiness of the contact surfaces would not resist a clean, the carpets still look fresh and the leather upholstery has lasted particularly well – the rear compartment is quite unmarked. The switchgear of the sometimes frail fascia is also unworn and the entire appearance of this 996 suggests relatively little use over its seventeen year existence. Indeed, the mileage indicated is a mere 44,800. The log book shows five owners, the last, in Richmond, since 2009. There is no service history, but an MOT check reveals that the mileage in 2006 was 32,000 and follows the usual pattern of greatest use in the early years. The most recent MOT certificate at 44,581 miles had no advisories.
Although the Cabrio often has an easier life than the coupé, this undocumented example remains a classic instance of caveat emptor: visually the car is promising from its original-looking paintwork to the slightly fussy split-rim 18 inch wheels, another £1500 option, which exhibit kerbing, but no signs of corrosion. Tyres are Pirellis all round, newish on the front, half worn at the rear, and the brake discs appear to have plenty of life. Aftermarket tailpipes together with a fruity exhaust note suggest a non standard pipe, but this was almost obligatory on the early 996s which Porsche had over-silenced. In the cabin, the cigarette lighter is missing and the ignition barrel is rather hit and miss (the seller will replace this and reactivate the remote central locking which does not respond to the key). The ambient air issued by the a/c suggests at least a regassing (and probably an overhaul) will be needed.
Underway, this 996 Cabrio immediately feels taut and responsive. The engine pulls enthusiastically to 7000rpm yet will trickle along at 1400rpm in top. This six-speed shows why the manual ’box is sought after on these 996s: much the same G50 set-up as the 993, here it is lighter and a real a joy to use, the ratios well chosen. The clutch, biting mid point, has just the right amount of heft and the brakes the usual Porsche authority. This is an irresistible driver’s car, cornering assuredly with no creaks, groans or any suggestions of wear in the suspension. The hood works smoothly and fits correctly with no excess wind noise at 70mph. Post test, the 3.4, impressively clean and dry under its hood, emitted no untoward coolant smells. The original hardtop is included: for a buyer who knows Porsches, this is a very tempting entry level 911. PW