LETTERS PORSCHE 997 - THE PRAGMATIC APPROACH
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I have built a few interesting Porsches in the past, some transaxle, some air-cooled and a few of them have been featured in magazines.
What I have now is a 997.1 C2S, which I feel might be of interest in terms of the 997's perceived value and risk, particularly with the earlier cars. The car is nothing special as such, but perhaps represents a safe, if unconventional, way of buying a 997.
Instead of looking for the 'Virgin Mary's' 16,000-mile, never driven in the wet 997, which all other buyers seem to look for, I went for a highmileage car in the spec and colour that I wanted. Why? Because in my experience, the 997 platform doesn not really 'wear out' with miles. These things are solid, the chassis stays tight, rust is non-existent and I was not looking for an investment, just a 911 I could use everyday as Porsche intended and with no worry of adding miles. We know about M97 engine issues, and even the lowest mileage cars can be affected by scored bores (every car I checked in fact) and IMS issues.
So all three of the lower budget 3.8 997s I looked at had the familiar tapping sound and all three vendors assured me it was just a hydraulic lifter. I didn't bother to argue. I knew it was piston slap and I had budgeted for a rebuild anyway. Not only that, I fully intended to rebuild the motor myself, whichever 997 I bought, fitting six liners and an uprated IMS, as well as a few other upgrades.
I eventually bought an early Basalt Black manual C2S, with Sports Chrono, Sports seats, cruise, in fact everything bar a sun roof. With 123,000-miles on the clock, it was £10k less than most on the market, due to people avoiding well-travelled gen 1 997 3.8s like the plague.
I set to with the rebuild and discovered the IMS bearing was in perfect order, but true to form, the no6 cylinder bore was scored and the piston was scrap. All the bores were slightly oval, too. However, I went in with my eyes open and now 3000-miles and three months on with my rebuilt engine, I have achieved a bullet proof 997 DIY bargain.
Of further interest, I have used iron liners as opposed to steel. I plan to document the condition of the liners at each oil change, and put out some facts about how they last and if they are a worthwhile repair. Gavin Arnold via email