The Porsche 911 is probably the greatest sports car of all time! It’s shape is instantly recognizable, it’s been in production for over 5 decades, and guess what, the base 997 Carrera is an insane value right now!
The 997 911 has a great balance of performance and refinement. One of this model’s selling points was its everyday usability. Here’s a genuine sports car with breathtaking performance and impressive handling, which is as comfortable on the morning commute as it is on a quiet country road.
It has incredibly pure curb appeal that combines superb performance in one of the most timeless packages. So, I’m going to go over 6 reasons this generation is the one we should all be buying!
The 997 represented a return to form after the 996. The M96 engine is far from bulletproof. IMS, RMS, and scored bore horror stories should suitably confirm that one. And those runny egg headlamps were a kick in the stomach for those who had long admired the simple, elegant vista of every single 911 pre-1998.
Then there’s the 996’s interior, which fell short of Porsche’s usual high standards of luxury and opulence as cost-cutting became the new buzzword.
However, the 997 brought a much-needed return to traditional 911 aesthetics, admittedly through borrowing styling cues from the 993, without the bulbous evolution of the longer and heavier 991. The interior was completely overhauled with luxury once again in mind, too. Even better, 997 interiors have stood the test of time since, unlike the dated 996.
Engines also improved for the 997, despite suspect revelations about the early M97, it doesn’t suffer from the same reputation as the M96, while the DFI engines fitted to second generation 997’s are considered bulletproof.
Make no mistake, the 997’s role should not be underestimated. If the 996 saved Porsche, the 997 saved the legacy of the 911 as we know it.
In terms of usable performance, the 3.6-liter 997.2 base Carrera is all anyone needs in a daily driver.
It’s relatively light at around 3,200 pounds, and with 345 horsepower, 0 to 60 miles per hour comes up in around 4.5 seconds. The top speed is somewhere around 180 miles per hour. Maybe not absolute top-shelf today, but neither will you be smoked by a Kia Stinger.
Overhyped or not, the bane of any M96/M97-engined Porsche is the intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing. In the 997.1, it’s a particularly nuanced situation. From mid-2005 through 2008, the bearing is not replaceable without an engine removal and tear-down. But, get the LN Engineering Kit and for $2,500 you’re good to go! I have 100,000 miles on my 997 and it’s been the best car I’ve ever owned!
While those flat-sixes have among the lowest failure rates of IMS-equipped water-cooled engines, the feeling of the Sword of Damocles hanging over one’s head is still there to some extent.
The 997.2 introduced in the fall of 2008 for model year 2009 at last did away with the IMS bearing and introduced direct-injection and Porsche’s brilliant PDK gearbox. The 997.2 engines were simpler designs with 40% fewer parts than their predecessors and has developed few reported hiccups and certainly no pattern of catastrophic failures.
The 911’s main boot is in the front of the car, and offers enough space for a weekend hold-all or some light shopping. If you need more space, then you can drop the rear seats to create an extra loading area.
But, it also seats four, and I’ve been in the back more often than I’d like to admit!
The 997 has a fantastic analog steering feel, whereas the 991 went to electric steering. The 997 has hydraulic steering that really lets you feel the road! It’s sharp, and extremely fun. Think vinyl rather than digital.
The 997 looks and feels like a rear-engined car. Despite technology like PDK, active suspension, and advanced traction control, it’s still an old-school 911 as Car and Driver noted a decade ago in their first drive in the summer of 2008: “Sometimes a gentle plow suddenly locks into a vicious bite, which spirals quickly into tail wag if you lift, as your right foot is seemingly screaming to do. Slow in, fast out. That old saw should be engraved on the dash of every 911.”
It doesn’t get any more old-school 911 than that.
Now for the best part: the base 997 Carrera is hands-down one of the biggest bargains in the Porsche world. The IMS issue is so strongly hyped, however rightfully so, that it will continue to torpedo 997.1 values for a long time in my opinion.
The starting point for a 2009 or 2010 car is around $35,000 for a lightly-optioned car with 60,000 to 100,000 miles. That’s a bargain for a car with no IMS worries, excellent reliability, and an available PDK gearbox for those who don’t want to shift for themselves.
There might be a hair of depreciation left in the 997.2, but my gut tells me that this is the bottom of the curve, and we’re unlikely to see examples, other than the ones with lunar miles, in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.