There are certain triggers in adverts that just say to me, as a prospective buyer, ‘this person’s a proper person’. Stuart’s 996 advert has many such triggers, but the standout of these is the picture of his car’s second set of wheels, which are fitted with a set of winter tyres, sitting in the garage swaddled in their bespoke blankets. That alone shouts that Stuart is a detail man. And, having spoken to him, I can confirm that he is.
He bought this car about four years ago, having searched around for a good 996. He’d always wanted a 911 and, at that time, he was looking for a modern classic that he could daily to and from his job. Not that his job is that far away from where he lives in Langdon Hills, Essex. He works at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre as a prototype technician, so it turns out he knows his way around the mechanics of cars, too.
After a long search, he settled on this 2001 996 as the best, but, as a self-confessed OCD sufferer, this was never going to be a simple case of buy it and run it. Stuart set about a programme of titivating and fettling that, he reckons, has cost him in the region of £16,000 over his tenure.
There were the obvious things that needed doing to a 996, such as the IMS bearing. If you don’t do this item – or see evidence that it’s been done recently – then you may as well clamp a small incendiary onto the aluminium block of your 911, programme a random time in the future, and set the timer running. Because one day you’ll hear a jingle jangle you really don’t want to hear from the back end of your 911, and, more than likely, it'll be a case of sayonara my sweet flat-six.
At times like this, it’s easy to brush over things like the IMS bearing assuming everyone knows what it does. But for those who don’t, the IMS bearing was one of Porsche’s more stupid ideas. There was nothing new about an intermediate shaft driving the valve train at either side of a flat-six, but the ball-raced bearing that supports the shaft at the gearbox end of the engine was new for the water-cooled generation of M96 engine. For the record, it was carried over to the later M97 engine in 997s, too.
When IMS bearing fails, the best case is it shoots shrapnel into the engine. This means engine out, a full strip down and rebuild, and a big bill. At worst, the failure will affect the valve timing, and valves will hit pistons. This means engine out, a full strip down, a call from the garage beginning with a sucking of teeth and the words ‘engine’s kaput, mate,’ followed by an even bigger bill.
There’s no guarantee on how long the IMS bearing will last. The general consensus is around 90,000 miles on average, but some have been known to fail at less than 10,000 miles, while others have gone on to do 200,000 miles without issue. But the point here is, Stuart’s replaced this car’s IMS at 78,829 miles, so it should be safe for a while yet. He’s also refreshed the suspension, which includes new shocks, top mounts, control arms and anti-roll bar bushes and drop links. On top of that, he took the car to Centre Gravity to have all four wheels aligned.
That was some of the like-for-like maintenance, but he’s also upgraded certain items as well. For example, he’s fitted stiffer engine mounts and a set of braided brake hoses. And he fitted a pair of stainless steel exhaust manifolds and Dansk back boxes. The exhaust items are quite easy to get to on a 996, but because the old manifold bolts were seized in the heads, he told me that every one had to be drilled out. That must’ve drained the colour from the cheeks of the chap who thought he had an easy day lined up.
Some of this work Stuart has done himself, of course. That includes cleaning and wax-oiling the car, and he says that, after every winter, he removes the wheels and plastic wheel arch liners and gives the underside a careful hose down to desalinate it. I could go on recounting all the various things Stuart told me he’s done and continues to do, but I shan't because it'll get boring. I hope by now you’ve got the gist, though, which is that he cossets the car.
The obvious question, then, is why has he put his pride and joy up for sale? There are a few factors but I don’t wish to detail them here because some of it is personal family stuff. That’s for him to explain to you. So if you’re interested in a mollycoddled 996, why not give Stuart a call? He’s a very nice chap with a very nice car – one that's in pretty much my perfect spec, being a simple C2 in Meridian Silver with black. All of which makes it well worth considering if you’re in the market for a 996.
Images | Paul Knight @ SS9design.co.uk
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