To be a member of the Porsche Club of America (PCA), you first have to own a Porsche.  That’s a lot easier to do than you may think.  Yesterday, the PCA released their top 5 market sleepers in the Porsche line-up.  Some of these won’t be a surprise if you’ve even peripherally paid attention to the vintage Porsche market.  Others throw a bit of curve ball when it comes to future market projections.  Today we’re covering my personal favorite of the five.

Enthusiasts often are turned off by featured articles like this, leaving the buying and selling to those who aren’t really into anything other than profit.  We’d like to ask that audience to suspend that belief just for a few minutes…remember, you jumped into the market at some point too and not everyone who saddles in is always looking to sell.

2003 996 911 turbo x50

First up, and should be no surprise to anyone is the 996 generation 911 turbo.  Built from 2001-2005, this generation turned many Porsche loving 911 die-hards into die-hard haters.  It was the first water-cooled variant that shook the 911 air-cooled world but is arguably the most undervalued supercar in the current market.  And what about those headlights, and the dreadful IMS bearing?  I think we can all agree we have moved past that now…but, not without first clearing up a few things.

Contrary to many beliefs, they are not “fried egg headlights”…the origin of that reference was to the orange turn indicator placement in the lower portion of the lights in the early first gen 996’s and Boxsters.  The real issue was with the shape…what were they thinking not making them round like all the generations before it?? 

They were thinking this:

Photo credits to

That’s the Porsche GT1 Straßenversion … a semi-street legal version of the GT1 sports car series racer, powered by none other than, you guessed it, a water-cooled twin turbo flat-six.  The GT1 was the archetype upon which the 996 was built…you really don’t think Porsche would just haphazardly throw together the next gen 911 do you?

But what about that pesky little intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing, better known as the 996 killer?  Premature failure of the IMS will cause complete engine failure, and that’s never a good thing.  Fortunately, that only happened in a very small number of 996’s.  Even better, by now they have already failed or been replaced with aftermarket parts designed specifically not to fail.

Highly reliable Mezger designed 996 twin-turbo flat-six…some have experienced 500k+ miles without rebuilds

And even better…the 996 turbo doesn’t even have an IMS bearing.  The 996tt (twin-turbo) engine is a Hanz Mezger (no “t” in Mezger) designed engineering piece of art.  Short of a few things to watch out for like coolant pipes coming unglued or premature failure of the timing chain, it truly is unbelievably reliable.

The market bottomed out on these about 18 months ago.  The days of finding clean low mileage non-storied ones in the $30k’s are long gone.  On average, expect to pay $45k-$65k for a good one.  The market and community aren’t quite sure what they want to do, or how to proceed given the next gen turbos (997 series) have fallen to around what you’d pay for a very well maintained 996. 

2013 Porsche 997 turbo S with PDK

I’ve personally experienced both, and whereas the PDK 997tts is no doubt fast and more modern, the steering was a bit dull…and overall you feel as if you are just simply along for the ride as the car does what it pleases.  The 996 is raw, a driver, allows you to make mistakes but rewards you when you drive it properly…the smaller frame provides that feel of engagement.  Look for the x50 (’02-’04) or turbo S (2005 only) packaged ones for added collector value.  There is great online support via Rennlist, Pelican Parts and Flat6 Innovations to name a few.

So how is it as daily?  It can be great, AWD twin-turbo with all the modern amenities…but you need to consider your tolerance level for things like mileage, door dings, and expensive oil changes.  Buying a low mileage collector value 911 will mean you don’t daily it, plain and simple.  It also means your blood pressure rises just at the thought of where you’ll park downtown…you’ll defer to self-valet and heart-healthy parking at the grocery store and invariably an ’86 Firebird with 3′ doors will position itself directly next to you.  So if you’re looking for something you can actually enjoy, get one with 75k+ miles and extensive maintenance records…and drive the hell out of it. 

*cover photos are the copyright property of Porsche, courtesy of the Porsche Club of America

Second Daily Report Card

Repair Costs: D
Collectability: B (tide is rising on these) 
Avg. Cost: $45000 – $65000
Overall Daily’ness: B (if you get a higher mileage one with 18″ wheels)


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Agree with 95% of this article. One correction is that the Mezger engine does have an IMS bearing, it is just not the same design used on the M96 engine that powers the non-turbo versions of the 996. I bought mine in September 2015, and although it is nice to see the market values climb, I seriously doubt that I will ever sell it. It’s that good.