in its most simple Carrera form with manual gearbox and two-wheel drive tips the scales at 1,320kg to be quite light compared to many present day performance cars. This is despite it being 19cm longer than its predecessor. Thinner steel for the body panels helps here, though this also means the 996 is more prone to parking dents.
Carrera 4S used the Turbo's wider body
Also inspect the front of the car thoroughly for stone chips on the plastic bumper and leading edge of the bonnet. Many cars will have been resprayed at some point to rectify this, so be sure there's a good paint match. Scratches around the door handles are common and the door mirrors also take a battering from stones.
The only place you're likely to find rust is around the door latch on the B-pillar. On earlier 996s, this can move very slightly as the door is closed and rub away the paint. Porsche fixed this with a simple gasket and repaired many cars under warranty, so there shouldn't be an corrosion present.
Have a look at the headlights for any signs of condensation, which can lead to the insides corroding. Also inspect the lenses for stone chip damage, plus the windscreen for this. Some owners have swapped the original 'fried egg' headlights on pre-facelift cars for the Turbo-style lights of post-facelift models. If this has been carried out, make sure all of the lights line up with even gaps all round.
Check those fried eggs for condensation
Inside the boot, feel the carpet for any damp. The rubber seal should be in good condition, so damp carpets are a strong indicator of accident damage. Also check the plastic front and rear bumpers for knocks or scratches, as well as the panel fit all around the car. The gaps should be tight and even on a well cared for
A sunroof came as standard with all UK-supplied 996s, unless the owner deleted this as a no-cost option. Most buyers prefer the sunroof to be there, so be sure it works smoothly, quietly and quickly. Also have a look around the headlining for any evidence of leaks so you know if the seals need replacing.
At the back, the automatic boot spoiler should lift at 75mph and retract again when speed dips below 37mph. It can also be operated by a switch in the cabin, so use this to check it works cleanly and quickly.
Do I feel smug with my 996? Yeah I do, it's cheap enough to not worry about using it, looks posh enough to want to use it and goes like a stabbed rat sounding like an April thunderstorm with the sports exhaust. What's not to like?