TRIED&TESTED 911 996 CARRERA 4 MANUAL * 2003 ‘03’ * 84,441 MILES £17,995
This 996 stands out in any crowd because or its colour: Orient Red metallic was a new shade and standard for the facelift (3.6) 996, but few buyers specified it for it has not subsequently reappeared. The colour alone particularly when combined with a dark leather interior makes this mid-priced 996 worth a second glance. A four owner car, the last since 2012, it lived in Yorkshire until 2011, where it received largely Porsche Centre attention; subsequently based in south west London it has continued to receive scheduled servicing from independent garages where the only recognisable stamp is from Parr. The most recent owner, Andrew Champion, carefully filed all the invoices for his six years, always a good sign. Vendor Eporsch has nevertheless carried out extensive preparation: as well as a major service, it has replaced the front top mounts and the left ‘tuning fork’ – the upper suspension arm as well as renewing an exhaust gasket. “Not the sort of things that appear as MOT advisories,” says Roly Baldwin of Eporsch, “but we know how the suspension can creak on older 996s so we like to renew these parts before we sell.”
In fact Eporsch preparation went further than that extending to a very careful respray of the front wings and bonnet. Paint matching has been well done, the fried egg lights polished up and the overall effect is impressive. The interior too is entirely in keeping: after fifteen years the stock ‘plastic’996 cabin can look its age, but here the original investment in full leather has fully justified itself, the surfaces, even the steering wheel unmarked and only the driver’s seat revealing any signs of wear. Outside, Bridgestone Potenzas look half worn, on closer inspection the elegant 18 inch alloys are corroded, but the wheel nuts are, like the front discs, new. The rear discs show some wear. The engine is clean and dry if exhibiting some surface corrosion underneath; the boot, reassembled after the front end respray, is spotless.
Underway this 996 feels smooth and belies its 84,000 miles. Of all the 911s, the 996 must have generated the most critical column inches when it was new: after 20 years it is not so obvious what the fuss was about. Your correspondent was reminded very much of his 993: without the engine fan the 996 is obviously quieter inside, but the controls, the heavy clutch, the steering and the response and even torque curve of the engine, not to mention the 996’s dimensions, all felt very familiar. Not so different from the 993 as improved – the gearchange at low speeds less heavy, the car easier in traffic, the engine both slightly more flexible yet ready to rev further. This Orient Red example is well set up and only the occasional clonk from the rear when negotiating Surrey’s potholed roads betrays its age. This is the C4 and the sensitive driver will immediately notice this in the steering: it does not seem to lose any accuracy, but you feel the additional mechanical forces of the four wheel drive even though most of the torque is directed to the rear wheels. Given a (rare) stretch of clear road, this 996 revs readily to 7000 rpm and the 3.6 for all its reputation has lost none of its zest. Indeed apropos that reputation, Eporsch says it has barely seen an IMS problem in fifteen years – “now bore scoring, especially 3.8s, we do see those,” says Roly Baldwin.
The asking price buys a much younger Cayster, but it wouldn’t be a 911 and the rare shade makes this 996 quite exclusive and all the more deserving of active retirement: a fine second car perhaps. PW