Whenever Porsche changes anything significant about the 911, people are left hankering after the older generation. It happened with the switch to water cooling, the move to electric power steering and the change to turbocharged engines.
The 997 arrived with a rare wave of positivity, then, having ditched the divisive headlight shape of the 996 and gone back to a cleaner, more classic rounded design. The 997 Carrera was a fundamentally great-looking car from its tight proportions to its not-too-large size and its timeless wheel designs. Bye bye, dated 996. It sold like the proverbial hot cakes.
As ever, there were two rear-wheel drive Carrera options at the foot of the range. They were arguably the sweetest all-round choices in the whole line-up. A 3.6-litre opened proceedings with 321bhp at 6800rpm. Peak power came 200rpm higher than in the 3.8-litre Carrera S, but the latter did pack an extra 34bhp and 33lb ft of torque.
Both were initially said to be vulnerable to the dreaded IMS bearing failure, but Porsche experts say that by 2006 small upgrades had reduced the failure rate before more or less eradicating it around 2008. These ‘risks’ of buying an earlier car are relative, though, and it’s still easier to buy a car that won’t fail than one that will.
As we delved into the classifieds, inspired by our best look yet at the new 992-era 911, we found some pleasing news. If you’re well paid and have cash to throw at a car, what seem to be really nice examples of one of the best everyday 911s ever made are now less than £20,000. You’re never going to get these cars down to bargain basement money, but that does tend to mean that fewer of them get badly abused.
Check out our pick. A very early 997 from late 2004, this Carrera 3.6 for sale with a small trader called Barn Autos ticks all the right boxes. It has done precious few miles, just 68,000 in 14 years, has the coupe roof and – of course – the sweet manual gearbox. Acceleration to 62mph took five seconds, which is slower than some hot hatchbacks these days, but which would you honestly rather be driving?
With just two owners in its life so far, this is almost certainly a good one worth keeping. The service history isn’t all from Porsche but we’d be happy enough with very regular oil changes. Its current MOT, which runs until July 2019, has no advisories. Not just that, though: it hasn’t had any advisory items at all since 2010, and those were only worn tyres. It has never failed an MOT test to date. Basically, it’s a big thumbs-up for what is clearly a cherished car.
On the spec sheet is a full leather interior, climate control, the active rear wing, electrics for the mirrors and windows and not much else, but it’s all in great condition. The cheapest, high-mileage 997s start from £17,750, but we’d spend the extra on the one we’ve chosen. Some Carrera Ss, usually with Tiptronic, are also cheaper than the Carrera we picked, but we stand by our choice. Would you?