Porsche 996 Turbo: Long-term report, March 2015

Porsche 911 Turbo

Thoughts on one year of 996 Turbo ownership.

By the time you read these words I’ll have had the Turbo for just about a year, and around this sort of time into car ownership I tend to get itchy feet and start browsing the classifieds for potential replacements.  In the last few years I’ve had a BMW M3, a Porsche Boxster S, a Mercedes Benz C55 AMG and a RenaultSport Clio 197, a lovely list of very good cars, none of which made it very far beyond 12 months of ownership. It might seem a little flighty to change cars so frequently, and my friend and fellow Drive Cult contributor Jack Wood has chastised me in the past for being too fickle to really learn a car, foibles and all, but I’ve never quite ‘clicked’ with any of my recent purchases and so I’ve not felt any regret in selling them and moving on.

There was always a niggle or two that spoiled my enjoyment of the car; the awful brakes on the M3, a sluggish automatic gearbox on the C55 and so on. Over time, these issues would begin to dominate the driving experience – in my mind, at least – and at that point I’d usually start looking for a replacement. However, I think this trend may change with the Turbo. I have absolutely no intention of selling it at the moment because I’m still very much enjoying driving it, learning how to use the prodigious performance and how to improve my own driving skills to get the best out of the car.

Besides, there’s very little that offers the same blend of performance and everyday usability at a similar price point. 996 Turbos are remarkable value at the moment, and I’m not just saying that because I bought one! Of course, I’d swap it in a heartbeat for a GT3 – any GT3 – but the recent and remarkable rise in GT3 values shows no signs of slowing, so I think they’re going to be out of my reach for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, I have noticed a slow rise in the prices of 996 Turbos at well-known independent specialists in the past few months. As ever, low mileage manual examples seem to be the most sought-after cars but a car not dissimilar to mine was advertised for £40k at JZM, which seems like a huge jump up from the £25-30k price point that most 996 Turbos have been selling for in the past year.

I don’t want this report to devolve into a discussion about future prices and I didn’t buy the car as an asset whose value should be protected at all costs, but this gradual appreciation in value preys on my mind a little. I’m wondering if I should get the car re-valued when my insurance renewal comes through, and if I should get those two little dents on the rear wheelarch sorted out, and maybe keeping the car parked outside isn’t such a good idea…

If I’m not careful, these sorts of things could begin to colour the ownership experience just as much as the niggles did with my previous cars, so I’m just going to focus on driving the Turbo as much as possible and ignore the speculative threads on internet forums wondering if the 996 Turbo will be the Next Big Thing in appreciating Porsches. Spoiler alert: it won’t.

This month’s much improved weather has meant I’ve had far more opportunity to use the Porsche rather than the family car, and there’s been a week or two where MVC has been my daily driver. My fuel consumption has taken a bit of a hit as a result – 18mpg instead of 21mpg – but with the recent drop in fuel prices, a tank of V-Power costs slightly less so it’s made virtually no difference to the running costs.

As I mentioned last month, the wheels are the next item on my ‘todo’ list for the car, and they’re going to Exel Wheels this month for a full refurb to strip the old bubbling paint and refinish them in the factory silver colour. I did briefly consider getting them painted in a darker smoked chrome finish having seen a very lovely 996 GT2 with dark wheels at a recent trackday, but ultimately I decided to stick with the original colour. Those thoughts about originality and future values are creeping in again! I chose Exel because not only are they very well-regarded but they are the only company that collect your wheels and supply you with a set of appropriate loan wheels while yours are away being refurbished. That’s a huge time-saver for me, and I can’t wait to see how the wheels look when they come back.

This article was originally published in the April 2015 issue of GT Porsche magazine.