What is the Porsche 911?
This is the best everyday used sports car money can buy. The 997-designation 911 model, sold in the UK from 2004 to 2012, is relatively good value, offering nearly as much performance as quality as the current new 911, for significantly less money. Used 911 prices start at around £20,000 for the oldest 2004 Carrera coupé.
The reason it is so good is that Porsche has had half a century in which to build up its impressive CV, and since its original launch in 1963, the 911 has rarely failed to serve as the benchmark in its class.
The contemporary 911 still has its engine at its rear end, now water-cooled, but a process of evolution has embraced technology, addressed modern-day issues — including economy, emissions and crash safety — and developed it to meet the most exacting demands of 21st-century drivers.
It is vaguely practical – there are a pair of rear seats that kids can use – and is built to last, with robust interiors. As for the driving experience, it is thrilling when you want it to be, but just about bearable on a daily commute, especially with a PDK automatic transmission.
Buying a used Porsche 911
Service history and correct maintenance is crucial — don’t consider anything without a full set of official-franchise stamps. Even a new set of brake pads, tyres or refurbishing kerbed alloys is going to be expensive, so it is important to ask any vendor to confirm the remaining life of such wear-and-tear components. If you’re a first-timer, make sure you go into Porsche ownership with your eyes open to the running costs of owning such a sports car.
Although it was sold between 2004 and 2012, post-2008 cars are the ones to buy. In the summer of 2008, Porsche introduced new direct-injection 3.6 and 3.8-litre flat-six-cylinder engines which were more powerful and efficient than their predecessors – 345bhp and 385bhp, up by 20bhp and 30bhp respectively. There was also the desirable option of PDK – an automated manual transmission – in place of a Tiptronic automatic. Further models in the line-up include the four-wheel-drive Carrera 4s, the Targa, the Turbo and Turbo S, a wide-body GTS, the stripped-out track-oriented GT3 and even more extreme GT3 RS, as well as the 530bhp GT2. These were very different variants on the same basic 911 theme, meaning there are many ways to live the 911 dream. Prices vary depending on age and mileage, so research the classifieds carefully.
What to look out for
There were several recalls of the 997, including for loose steering joint screws, stress cracks in the engine spacers, faulty switches for the Porsche active suspension management and traction control off, faulty seatbelt buckles, parking brake failures and poorly welded exhausts. A Porsche franchised dealer should be able to tell used car buyers what recalls have been carried out on any 911 and whether a specific car they’re are thinking of buying was subject to these, and if so whether it has had the repairs carried out.
Other glitches noted in 997-series include software gremlins in the PDK gearbox and clutch and flywheel faults. In the earlier 996 series, a well-reported issue with a leaking oil seal (the rear main seal between engine and gearbox) led to serious problems such as, in the worst cases, crankshaft failure and complete engine seizure; this is thought to have affected the 997 as well, also prone to oil leaks and excessive oil consumption.
The one to buy
911 Carrera S coupé
- 3800cc, 6-cylinder
- 385bhp @ 6500rpm
- 310lb ft @ 4400rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 4.9sec
- Top Speed:
- 26.6mpg combined
- Road Tax Band:
- L (£475)
- L 4435mm, W 1808mm, H 1300mm