For a long time, the 996 was ridiculed, and now that I'm more familiar with these cars, I'm struggling to see why that was ever the case. There are the fried-egg headlights, sure, and the potential for IMS/RMS issues with the M96 motor has some prospective buyers gritting their teeth. However, there's still a dynamic, sure-footed, and exhilarating Porsche underneath all that. With the right slew of aesthetic modifications, it can convince some people a genuine GT3 just shot past them.
How much of the GT3 experience can be enjoyed for a measly twenty three thousand? The list of upgrades to this Polar Silver 996 isn't very long, and yet it seems to provide "75% percent of GT3-feel." With the factory limited-slip differential, Bilstein PSS10 coilovers, and M030 swaybars at both ends, it provides the crispness and confidence that Number27, an up-and-coming YouTube motoring personality, needs to run at such an eye-opening pace on pockmarked British backroads. Yet, it doesn't crash over the bumps; the two occupants look as if they're traveling in a Mercedes E-Class despite the scenery passing at an alarming rate. Quite simply, it seems perfectly damped for the real world.
If this modified 996 shines in the handling department, perhaps the 3.4-liter M96 motor is one element which can't quite cut the mustard. Even with a lightened flywheel, it lacks the verve, response, and low-end torque of the GT3's race-bred Mezger engine. Though aftermarket, freer-flowing catalytic converters open up this engine slightly, it lacks the Mezger's urgency and the raspy intake noise which floods a GT3's cabin and makes the experience so intense.
With passable brakes, incredible composure and steering feel, and a motor which provides more than enough power to crack a smile across your face, this mildly-modded 996 is an absolute bargain. If there's twenty grand burning a hole in your pocket, and the GT3 premium is just too much, consider one of these much-maligned gems—they're worlds better than their reputation would lead you to believe.
For Number27's thoughts on a 996 GT3, check the video below: