I’ve owned my E46 M3 for a few years now but I’ve become a little bored of the car as of late and have began to look at used Porsche 911’s in the 996 C4S and 997.1 variety. Well maintained examples can be found on Autotrader and Cars.com for $35k or a less with 50k miles and so long as short list of preventative maintenance mods (IMS anyone?) has been done, they are fairly reliable cars that can be used as daily driver even if you have a child or two. This is where I’m at.
Photo by Kévin Goudin
The older 996 Carrera 4S has the allure of all-wheel-drive and the sexy hips of the wide body, shared with the turbo model. The interior design is more modern than the 993’s before it. It’s not terrible. It just doesn’t yell 911. The worst part of the car has got to be the front end. I prefer the 99-01 headlights over the 02-04 but I think it’s actually the front bumper design of the standard Carrera’s that sometimes make me cry. The 02-04 Carrera 4S has a bumper similar to the turbo model, thank God. Then there’s the whole intermediate shaft bearing that’s plagued the 996 911s. Only the GT3 and turbo models were safe.
Photo by Mike Crawat
The 997 (2005-13) Porsche 911, on the other hand, looks every bit the part of a modern 911. The interior with its flat dash is more reminiscent of the air cooled era. Even the base Carrera with it’s 325 horsepower 3.6L would be plenty for me. And this is good thing as there’s no chance of finding the 355 horsepower Carrera S for $30k. Unfortunately for me, the 2005 model year also had the old intermediate shaft design known to fail in 996 models. The engine failure rate didn’t seem to improve until the 2006 model year though there have been some reports of those failing too. The 2009 997 introduced an all-new direct fuel injected engine producing more horsepower (345 for the base Carrera) and none of the IMS problems. Those cars, dubbed 997.2’s, are at about $40k now.
I don’t know what to do. The Porsche 911 is so attractive. I can swing $30k for the right car but I don’t need to sell my M3 and I certainly don’t want to regret selling it. Maybe my M3 just needs a few mods to hold me over another couple of years?