Fried Eggs. The buzzword that the haters and the keyboard warriors love to use to define and ultimately knock down the 996 series, because of the inexcusable crime of sharing oddly shaped headlights with their lesser Boxster siblings. A 911 should have round ones!... Which, of course is perfectly fine for people like me, who have to give up on a good part of their hard earned bread and butter in exchange for... well... fried eggs.
Another thorn in 996’s side, the notorious IMS bearing: Yes, it was and it is an issue with possible grave consequences, however the proportions of the problem are way overblown due to internet forums and so called car guys with opinions but no knowledge. Without going deep into technical waters, let me underline some basics:
First of all, the percentage of the cars reported to be affected differ from source to source, nonetheless it is in the range of give or take 5 percent, not as many as you were made to believe.
Secondly, the IMS problem is not specific to 996. The 997, which by and large is mechanically identical, save for the second generation direct injection model, also has this problem and depending on the model year, a 997 can be harder to fix. As the 996 was the first water cooled 911 that overheated the aircooled loving community, the IMS bearing issue eventually made it the punching bag.
If you own a 996 or contemplating owning one and you think something needs to be done about the IMS, gather proper knowledge about the aftermarket solutions being advertised, as well the type of IMS your car has. Basically there are two options; the first one is to simply replace the bearing. If you take this route, be aware that what you are effectively doing is exchanging a lifetime part with a service item, that needs to be replaced every forty thousand miles or so. And there is a range of aftermarkets offers, from ceramic to cylindrical instead of the original ball bearings. Try to choose a tested and a tried solution rather getting advice from a kid with pimples who does have no 996 but a point to prove on the internet forums.
The other option is to transform the system in order to use engine’s oil to lubricate the bearing. Keep in mind that this requires some drilling and cutting, something that you may not be willing to do. There are cars out there that has done over three hundred thousand miles with no IMS replacement, no engine rebuilt but just timely and proper maintenance.
My advise? Maintenance is king; change your oil at no more that 5000 miles and use the revs all the way to the redline. Driven cars are known to have less problems than garage queens.
Last but not least and this one is for you anoraks, the IMS is not something that fell from the sky and ended up in a 996. Air cooled 911’s also have it. The difference is in the design; the trouble makers are of a sealed nature with lifetime grease in them, whereas the ones in the aircooled engines are lubricated by engine oil.
The 996 values have already hit rock bottom and the only way is up, though how high or fast it remains to be seen. The point is, they are still relatively cheap and present an incredible value for money if you want a real sports car. What I mean by a sports car is a car designed from scratch as a sports car, not a souped up version of a family saloon initially designed to get grocery and has seats with easy to clean fabric in case your kids vomit on them.
The running costs of a 996 are pretty reasonable and they are arguably the easiest 911s to service. So get a 996 now while they are affordable, but not in the hope of making big bucks any time soon. Mind you, all 911s are destined to appreciate in value at some point in time. But buy a 996 for a true, analogue driving pleasure in a digital age when even the colour of your socks matters to your car’s computer in optimizing power delivery.
Leave aside all that has been said and give a tought for a moment: How bad can 996 be when its the model between the darling of a 911, 993 that is and 997, which is great if not the best 911 overall.
Alright, because of the water jackets, you do not get the same level of mechanical sonority that you get in aircooled motors, the sound is partly diluted but it still is the wailing and howling flat six.
Alright, so it is not as pretty as a 993, but nothing else on the road is. So it doesn’t have the 3.8 litre engine of a 997 S but it is on average two hundred pounds lighter than a 997 which makes it feel just as quick and more tossable thanks to lower weight. It doesn’t have suspension modes, torque vectoring or any kind of electronic stability wizardy but just a primitive traction control that you can turn off completely! And this particular 98 model car that I use as my daily driver, has throttle cable, not the e-throttle of the later cars, so it is as analogue, as manual as it gets!
The chassis is so tight and well balanced. It all feels like one single piece on which your every single input has impact and your level of control is in line with your level of skill. It can go as fast as only you can. It may not be as powerful as the current breed but it is still capable of scaring the crap out of you with the weight of the engine hanging at the back.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the computer involvement in today’s cars; back in the day, six hundred horsepower in a 911 GT1 was good enough to win Le Mans. Now you can find as many horses in road cars. Getting the hang of such a car require more processing power than an averagely skilled driver has, so there is no question that the electronics play a vital role in keeping modern era’s ridiculously powered cars on the road... But in the expense of driver involvement.
The Nurburgring lap times and zero to sixty capability provides you with pride but not driving pleasure and the unattainability of those ring times for a regular driver is a sobering fact, while using launch control at traffic lights is not much fun.
Here is the link to the video, hope you enjoy and please share if you do...