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The History and Evolution of the Porsche 996

The Porsche 996 is part of the 911 model range that was manufactured between 1998 and 2004. Between these dates, there were 175,262 of these cars produced. It was at the height of its popularity in 2002 when Porsche made 33,013 of the Porsche 996 to meet demand. It is memorable as it differs from both former Porsches and from those that followed.

A Development Project

This car differed significantly from its predecessors and was part of a development project at Porsche, along with the Boxster. The Porsche 996 was the first of the 911 models to have a new chassis platform since the 911 was originally introduced. Another significant change was the introduction of a water-cooled engine to replace the former air-cooled engine. This was a necessity to meet the strict noise and emissions regulations.

It was also as a result of using a 4 valve per cylinder engine and to meet the consumer’s expectations of more refinement. Despite these changes, the Porsche 996 also shared many similarities with the Boxster. They shared the same design of many parts with the only difference being the size as the parts for the 996 were larger. Some of their shared parts included the front suspension, the engine and most of the interior.

The Design of the 1998 Model

The Porsche 996 was designed by Pinky Lai. The exterior of the car was completely different from any of its predecessors and boasted sleek curves and a low profile. The model before the 996 was the 993 and the only thing the two cars shared was the front suspension. When the 996 was introduced, it was available in either cabriolet or coupe variations and there was initially only a rear-wheel-drive option. The powerful 3.4-liter engine could produce 296 horsepower. The one complaint that owners of these cars had was that it shared the same front end as the Boxster. They did not like that both cars looked very similar even though the Boxster was significantly cheaper.

Changes in the Millennium

The Millennium saw some changes for the Porsche 996. The first change came in 2000 when Porsche launched a four-wheel-drive option for the car when only a rear-wheel-drive option was previously available. They also switched to 3.6-liter intercooled flat-six twin-turbocharged engine. This new engine had the capacity to produce 420 horsepower and the car could achieve 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds.

  • In 2001, Porsche increased the horsepower to 300 on the base Carrera model, which was an increase of four horsepower. This was also the final year that Porsche produced the base Carrera 4 Coupe with the narrow body format.
  • 2002 was the year that Porsche made the most changes to the 996. One of the most visually obvious changes was to the headlights. They added new headlights in response to the complaints about the 996 and the Boxster looking the same. The design of these was based on the headlights on the Porsche Panamericana concept car.
  • In the same year, there was also some minor restyling to the standard models as they got a new front fascia and new headlamps. Porsche also made 3.6-liter engines the standard engines across the 996 range.

Turbo and GT Variants

Like all Porsche models, the 996 had variants. The 996 Turbo first went on sale in 2000 as a 2001 model. The Turbo range extended to an X50 option package in 2002 and the Turbo Cabriolet in 2004. The latter was the first Turbo cabriolet produced by Porsche since 1989.

The two GT variants of the 996 that were produced by Porsche were the GT2 and the GT3. The GT3 was based on the standard 966 but saved weight by stripping some of the equipment. It also had upgraded brakes and adjustable suspension that was stiffer than that of the standard Porsche 996. The GT2 also saved weight and boasted aerodynamic body parts. It had ceramic brakes and bigger wheels and tires. The downsides of this variant were that it had no rear seats and no air conditioning.

The End of the Porsche 996 Era

All good things must come to an end and Porsche ceased production of the 996 in 2004. The last of these cars were sold in the following year. In 2005, Porsche replaced this model with the Type 997, which came in Carrera and Carrera S coupe variations. This car retained many of the functional features of the 996 but the styling of the car evolved.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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