This is not another article that will focus on the vast and various variant models that Porsche had made available with the 997 such as Carrera, Carrera 4, GT3, GTS and Turbo. The points I discuss below is my personal view on the way I had segmented my search for the right Porsche 997 that fits my lifestyle.
A bit of background: traces of Porsche 911 enthusiasm has existed throughout my life but never the vehicle itself. Whether it was Porsche hot wheels or poster during my childhood, Porsche magazines, books and photograph collections during my teenage years, or the many Minichamps diecast models during my early adulthood, the Porsche 911 has been always subconsciously lurking in the back of my mind.
Well until now, after so many years of hard work and other priorities this is the year that I realize I could actually afford the commodity of owning one of these cars, and this is how I filtered the search for the "Right One".
Why the 997?
There have been several unsuccessful attempts in my past to get into the older generations, but because of price, condition and aesthetics I was never satisfied to fork a hefty sum for something I was not 100% sure about until I realized the 997 prices in 2018/2019 have stalled. The 997 is a real looker in my own eyes and I no longer was in the dilemma of spending a small fortune for something with no history, or high mileage or that needed restoration, I could finally get something relatively modern with low miles and have plenty of options to choose from within my relatively low price range - I say relatively when you compare prices to the 911, 964, 993 models.
However the decision making did not end there, once you start looking for a 997 you suddenly come across so many variations and this article is first-hand experience on how I chose the right Porsche 997 for me. Your opinion might differ but I hope my argument will help those who are looking into getting 997 ownership.
I would like to also note that the Porsche 997 is the last 911 engineered solely under Porsche ownership, the newer models would have been designed and engineered under the Volkswagen Group, and one can note VW influences on the 991 and 992.
1. Cost - Initial Purchase and upkeep
At glance prices seem all over the place, the number of available models and trims are a big factor when it comes to price, in addition, to make things more complex it also depends where in the world you are located. So what I suggest is to read the rest of the article in order to identify which Porsche
911 best suites you, and evidently you would be in a better position to detect a bargain in your area.
The cheapest Porsche can be the most expensive one - I’m coming from a background of several Japanese cars and BMW ownership and the prices for Porsche parts are reasonable. However the labor together with a Porsche tag might come at a cost. So if you’re not a garage monkey, I would recommend spending a little more to get something solid and sound.
Besides the styling, the main reason many consider getting into Porsche ownership is the engine layout and the sound that the flat 6 makes.
To simplify things there are 2 engine blocks, the M97 which is available on the pre-facelift (997.1) model and the 9A1 which is the new DFI engine put available on 997.2 (facelift) and is currently being used on the current generation of 911s (991 and 992).
Each of these blocks can come in various sizes and specs depending on the model, mainly 3.6l or 3.8l are available. There’s also a 4.0l version, but that’s only reserved for the limited edition GT3 RS 4.0 . The main difference between a 997.1 and 997.2 would be the engine, over and above some minor exterior and interuor updates. During this period Porsche decided to upgrade their engine and resolve all known faults to something more reliable and easier to fix.
The M97 design was carried over from the Porsche 996 M96 engine, which was Porsche's first attempt to water-cooled engines. Nevertheless, Porsche has learned a few things over the years and came up with a more refined and reliable 9A1, which is why the 997.2 are more sought after.
The easiest way to tell the difference in what size engine a specific Porsche 997 is equipped with is by the "S" badge. This "S" determines if the car is equipped with a 3.8l or not. So if there is no "S" insight the car would be equipped with the smaller output 3.6l engine. Obviously there are some exceptions with the Turbo, GT3, GT2 and GTS models.
Note: When the 997 could be bought new at the dealership, buyers had the option to purchase the "Engine PowerKit" option, known as Option X51 which boosts 30hp towards the output of the engine.
What is the IMS Bearing issue?
This issue is only found on the M97 engines, which is the pre-facelift 997 cars. Although the issue was reported on a small percentage of cars in 2005, it has been resolved from 2006 onwards by Porsche
installing stronger bearings. Because of this, the 997.1 Porsches demand a lower price than 997.2, and if you are careful enough you can bag a bargain on opting a 997.1, that is if you can ignore the over inflation that the internet has caused in regards to this issue.
There are 3 transmissions to be had with the 997, the 6 speed manual (available through all the years), the Tiptronic (available on 997.1 cars) and the PDK (available on 997.2 cars). Which is best? Well it depends on your personality and use, but the majority will say the Tiptronic is a very old school style automatic and is the one to avoid.
The clutch is hard and the gear changes are silky smooth, as it should be with a sports car. On the other hand, this would be not so pleasant during heavy traffic. However if you are the person who will own the Porsche
as their 2nd
car, I doubt you would worry about this stuff. Another point with the transmission argument is value and how manuals can demand a higher price than a car equipped with an automatic transmission. Although manuals were initially cheaper to buy at the dealerships than their counter automatics, history tells us that the automatic transmissions are often a fad and from groundbreaking technology, they would grow old and get to be known as old complicated transmissions. Because of this and the rarity manuals deem to be more sought after in the used car market and funnily enough can demand a higher asking price than their automatic equivalent. Another point is weight, and a manual-equipped car is 20kg lighter.
You’ll decide to go down this route if:
- Its your daily driver,
- Faster track times matter to you
- You’re not bothered by transmission and only interested on overall condition of car that comes for sale in your area. That being said PDK (i.e. the 997.2 cars) is the one to have, as Triptronic is now considered pre-historic and gear changes seem noticeable slow.
4. Body Styling
Ignore the wheels, spoilers, and bumpers for the time being, these are reversible modifications that can be done to any 911. There is no good or bad body style to go for, but make sure what you choose you'll be happy with.
- Convertibles / Cabriolets - great open-air performance driving, also good to haul large things with the roof open. Downsides are the fabric roof that might not be secure for everyone's neighborhood, and cabriolets are heavier and less stiff than coupes, so track minded people tend to ignore this body variant.
- Coupes - lovely body lines, the best option for the track. Some come equipped with a sunroof. Tend to keep their value more than a similar equipped convertible.
- Targas - one large panoramic retractable roof.
- Only Turbo cars come with the side vents and are available in both coupe an cabrio body style.
- “Aero kits” is also a keyword to lookout for, this means that the car is equipped with sportier bumpers and spoiler.
Wheels on the 997 come in 2 flavors, either the conventional 5 lug pattern (PCD: 5x130) or the more exclusive center lock wheels. Buyers beware, although the center locks do seem to be the most desired route, they do endure an extra cost and more effort to take off the wheels. Center locks require an expensive optional Torque Wrench to withstand at least 600Nm, and thus the knowledge to use one in addition to applying aluminum paste and a specific step-by-step procedure to ensure your wheels won’t come off during a drive. But they do have a coolness factor to them and were a pretty expensive option at the dealership.
4b) Narrow vs Wide Body
The wide body cars are the most sought after variants and usually reserved for any AWD models with some exceptions (Turbo, GT3RS, GT2 and GTS) but more on that on the model designation area below.
5. Pre Facelift vs Facelift
997 was produced between 2005 to 2012, during the year 2009 the 997 had a facelift and is known as the 997.2 model. The change is subtle but is a key factor when choosing a 997 as some key components such as engine and interior quality issues have been addressed.
Already gone in detail on step 1 but to summarize the 997.2 benefits from a revised more bulletproof engine, with increased performance specs and efficiency to meet emission regulations and hence why they are more sought after.
Besides the updated front and rear bumpers, the taillights are the way to easily distinguish a 997.1 from a 997.2. You can tell its a facelift (997.2) car by the extra angle within the inner side of the taillight.
The interior of the facelift model (997.2) benefits from a larger screen in the center dash, together with better quality buttons. The 997.1 interior buttons are known to get that "sticky" feeling due to the heat melting the plastic to a soft compound and would eventually need to get replaced.
It’s a sports car so don’t worry about going all out on something vivid such as Guards red, Speed Yellow, Rivera Blue ….etc However easier said than done, these vivid colors are now rare, since new owners opted more for the silvers, grays and blacks.
Here are some of the colors available on the 997, and if you don't see it listed here, it could be because Porsche offered the PTS service - Paint to Sample - and would charge you at least $10k to do this - because they would have to stop the production line and manually custom paint the given 997 to order.
|Paint Color Name
7. What other stuff I should look for?
Don’t let the internet scare you about issues of bore scoring, IMS bearing issues …etc, at the end its how well cared the car was taken for and the only way you would know is with the service history and an inspection from a well informed mechanic. It also goes without saying that something with a service history and low number of owners is ideal, but again Porsches are considered as toys and often get traded a lot between hands with owners giving them little use. And don't forget Porsche is German engineering at its best and can withstand those high miles if maintained well.
8. Model Designations
Okay, so I’ve assumed you have now read my previous points and now can make a better assumption of what meets your needs and is suitable for you. So now I’ll list teh various model designations in ascending order, according to their price tag on the current market.
- Carrera (on its own) or Carrera 2 - This is the base entry into Porsche 911 ownership that comes equipped with the 3.6l rwd engine. Nothing wrong with base entry in fact its lot of car when compared with the competition and this price range.
- Carrera S or Carrera 2S - Same as base entry but with a larger 3.8l engine.
- Carrera 4 - Same as base 3.6l entry but with all-wheel drive drivetrain.
- Carrera 4s - The all-wheel drive version with the larger 3.8 engine.
- Carrera GTS - A Carrera 2S/4S specially specced with a lot of goodies. This was introduced in limited in the last years of production commemorating the best bits of the 997, Center lock wheels from the Turbo/GT3, Alcantara from the GT3, side skirts from the GT2 and more. The RWD of this variant benefits the wider body style usually reserved for the AWD models.
- Turbo - Self-explanatory, all porsches are natural aspirated except for the ones named “Turbo” come with a Turbo charged engine, 3.6l for 997.1 models and 3.8l for the 997.2 models.
- GT3 - think about it as a factory tuned Carrera model. Only the GT3RS models received the wider body.
- GT2 - think about it as a factory tuned turbo model.
There are many more models, but I find the above to be a good basis to start understanding the Porsche
997 lineup. To be exact there are 52 different variants and all are listed below together with their production totals.
Production Totals of each variant can be found below. Note some models are repeated as they were both available as pre-facelift (997.1) and facelift (997.2) models.
|Carrera S Coupe
|Carrera S Cabriolet
|Carrera 4S Coupe
|Carrera 4S Cabriolet
|Carrera S Coupe
|Carrera 4S Coupe
|Carrera 4S Cabriolet
|Carrera S Cabriolet
|Carrera 4 Coupe
|Carrera 4 Cabriolet
|Carrera GTS Coupe
|Turbo S Coupe
|Turbo S Cabriolet
|Carrera GTS Cabriolet
|Carrera 4 Coupe
|Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
|Carrera 4 Cabriolet
|Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
|Coupe Black Edition
|Cabriolet Black Edition
|GT3 RS 4.0
|Coupe China Style Edition
|Targa 4 40 Targa 4S
|Cabriolet China Style Edition
|Turbo S Coupe 918 Spyder
|Turbo Coupe 918 Spyder
|Turbo Cabriolet 918 Spyder
|Turbo S Cabriolet 918 Spyder
So what did I end up buying? I’ve ended up narrowing my search for a manual 2009-2012 Porsche
997.2, as I wanted a sound mind of engine reliability and no major surprises for the years to come. And when the times comes to sell the car I knew that the traditional manual would be more sought after say in 2030 when everyone is complaining how the PDK is outdated.
As for body style, I knew I wanted a coupe, preferable without sunroof and was leaning towards the looks of the wider body models. Budget as always was limited to a certain amount so that immediately marked off the likes of the GT3RS and Turbo models which in a way was good because I think their rides would have been too harsh on local roads and I really wasn't after the speed.
That left me with options such as the Carrera 4, 4s or GTS. There was a lot of back and forth on several cars throughout the months, but one stuck which was the GTS I have settled for and couldn’t be more happier about the choice :) Yes it was more expensive that a 4S but when factoring all the optional extras such as the exterior bits, sport seats, dials, center locks, ceramics (PCCP), lsd and rarity I think it was a good call. I also preferred the power delivery of a natural aspirated motor (rather than a Turbo), and the GTS delivered that sweet spot!!
I believe the extra cost over the Carrera 4 / 4S at the current market prices would reward me in the future as the GTS is rare and caters for less than 2% of the total production of Porsche 997s ever produced. Let alone one in manual, and in speed yellow, which I hope someone reading this working at Porsche can contact me and inform if I have managed to get my hands on a unicorn :)