Nobody cared for the 996 Carrera. It marked the transition from air-cooling to water-cooling, and the fried-egg headlights were divisive, to put it mildly. It came with a few mechanical issues—including the fabled intermediate shaft bearing and rear main seal; both were happy to fail and cost its owners a cool twenty large. No surprise then that the 996-generation was not a real zinger and became the redheaded stepchild of the 911 family.
However, that’d only be seeing one half of the equation. In more ways than one, the 996 was a rightful successor to the much-loved 993. It was lighter, faster in every way, and ergonomically a step ahead. The water-cooled motor, if retrofitted with the aftermarket IMS bearing and RMS, is good for serious mileage—as is the case with Mr. Jethro Bovingdon’s own 996.
Another thing going for the car is it’s price. While fifteen grand is a good chunk of change, it’s something you’d associate more with a gearbox or a set of wheels for a 911, much less the entire car. The 996 generation, due to their widespread disapproval, don’t go for much these days. Hell, even a 996 Turbo can be had for $35,000, and that car is still supercar-fast, even by today’s standards. Supercar performance for the price of a mildly-used WRX? Yes please.
Bovingdon has as much reason to be persnickety with his cars as anyone. Yet, when he found this Arena Red 996, he couldn’t pass it up. With a curb weight of roughly 2,900 pounds, the strong side of 300 horsepower, a GT3-replica aero kit, and GT3 seats, he couldn’t argue with the price.
While this car isn’t a dedicated widowmaker, it definitely covers the road with as much precision and poise as anything. Some of that has to do with the rose-jointed rear, GT3 alignment, and a pricey set of shocks, but much of it is the foundation. “You have to use technique and thought to get the most of it,” admired Bovingdon, since the car has a specific way it wants to be treated. It’s an older 911, after all, and it takes a delicate touch to “have a relationship” with the car, and that’s why it’s so satisfying.