Has there been a 911 generation more polarizing than the 996? There are a few years of 911s which are not well liked (I'm looking at you, thermal reactor cars). From the car's inception through the end of the 993 generation, the most polarizing change was the addition of coil-sprung Macpherson Strut front suspension in 1989. To the Porsche loyal, however, every new iteration of 911 was familiar. Breaking with that familiarity bred contempt. The 996, with its controversial styling, and more importantly its water-cooling, tended to boil blood more than coolant. Hot on the heels of Jethro Bovingdon, Doug DeMuro tries to explain why this ire may be misplaced.
IMS-woes aside, as time goes on we keep finding more to like about the 996. Compared to the later water-cooled cars they are simple, light, and compact. In all of its forms, the 996 is about 2" narrower and between 100 lbs and 200 lbs lighter than a 991. The 996 Turbo, with its legendarily tough Mezger engine, can be had for a fraction of the price of a later Turbo. In cars with the full leather option, the interior even feels fairly sophisticated. Sure, it's not on the 991 or even 997's level in terms of modernity, but as time passes the 996's turn of the century simplicity is becoming more appealing.
Have we been too harsh on the 996 for nearly twenty years now? With all this Porsche has to offer, and the skyward trajectory of air-cooled Porsche prices, I agree with Doug: The 996 is well worth consideration.