Remember that time, not all that long ago, when 996-era 911s looked like the fast car bargain of the century? Air-cooled values had gone ballistic and 997s were resolutely clinging to their value, with seemingly dozens of 996s languishing around £10k for those brave enough to take a punt.
Of course it couldn't last. Slowly but surely the market has woken up to both the significance and desirability of the first water-cooled 911. The 996s aren't suddenly now six-figure supercars, but they have appreciated recently. Put it this way: the best C4Ses are for sale at £35k, and there are Tiptronic cabrios above £25k. Which is rather more than they used to be. Perhaps the smart classic Porsche money really is in a Boxster...
Or perhaps not, as this example shows - there are still 996 gems at less than £15k! And while it seems like every other late-90s 911 in the ballpark is sullied by an automatic gearbox, additional driveshafts or a folding roof (or, heavens above, a combination of all three), this one is not. It's a manual, rear-wheel drive Carrera coupe, one that even comes with those delightfully retro orange indicators, and it's for sale at £13,995.
It gets better, too; much better. Goodness knows the 996 had its share of, er, mechanical foibles, but this car has had a good chunk of remedial treatment - £13k in five years - to address them. In 10,000 miles since 2013 it's had an engine rebuild at Hartech (following big end failure), which is the big one, but also a new clutch, a suspension refresh to factory 'MO30' spec, a new water pump and more, in addition to oil changes every 2,000 miles.
It looks really nicely cared for, too, which of course you'd always hope for in a Porsche but which isn't always guaranteed as the values drop. There are small touches too, like refurbished wheels on matching tyres, mention of specific oil types used and pictures of an extensive service history (including work undertaken by the owner), that are all extremely encouraging.
And while the 996 may still be the runt of the 911 litter, let's not forget that this was a very well received car 20 years ago. It won evo's Car of the Year contest in 1998, as well as numerous other accolades, the drive more than making up for the fears about the styling and the water cooling. Imagine too, how nice that will feel today, with hydraulic steering, a naturally aspirated flat six, compact dimensions and a cable-operated throttle. Lovely.
Some may baulk at the six-figure mileage, though judged purely on condition this 996 looks in fine fettle. Some will tell you it should be cheaper still, but bear in mind that an E36 M3 will now cost the same money with similar mileage and it looks even better value. What more could you really want?
A 20 year-old Porsche is never going to be the cheapest car in the world to run, sure, but with many of the key problems addressed by the current owner there's no reason for the future to look disastrous. A 20 year-old anything isn't going to be all that affordable to run now, is it? With an MOT until next June and a host of fresh components, this 996 looks ideal for some relatively cheap, tremendously entertaining Porsche weekend fun. It won't ever be as revered as a 993, but the 996 still deserves more recognition that it currently gets - and this car looks like just the thing to prove it.
SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE 911 CARRERA (996)
Engine: 3,387cc, flat-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@4,600rpm
First registered: 1998
Recorded mileage: 122,000
Price new: £56,130 (2000)
Yours for: £13,995
See the original advert here.