Brought to the market in 2004, the 997 was a significant relaunch for Porsche. The generation’s most obvious updates were the interior and exterior styling, most notably the return to the “bug eye” round highlights of the original 911s and 993 generation. To this day, it retains its status as Porsche’s best-selling 911 in spite of the financial crash during its production years and critical acclaim of its successor, the 991. The slightly widened body and larger 18″ wheels gave the 997s a more aggressive stance. Whilst the 997 still utilized the rolling chassis and the water-cooled flat-six of the outgoing 996, the difference in handling balance and peak grip was substantial and engines got an upgrade vastly improving on-road character. Inside, the 2+2 design was similarly reminiscent of the pre-996 generation design. The return to traditional styling makes the 997 generation feel like an homage to the iconic and prolific original 911s, yet the futuristic and modern technology and engineering make it a car firmly rooted in the present. The 997 is truly the best of both worlds, a modern car in a subtly classic body, an eye on the past but a nod to the future.
The first generation 997(2004-2009), which we’ll herein refer to as 997.1, offered a 3.6L, 321 hp for the Carrera and 3.8L, 355 hp for the Carrera S. Uprated engines meant uprated performance as well – standard Carreras had a 0-60 of 4.8s and the Carrera S did it in 4.6s making it 20s faster round the Nürburgring than its 996 counterpart. Both models were available with a six-speed manual or 5-speed tiptronic, Tiptronic being perfectly suited to urban life. All models had assisted steering and brakes making 997s manageable for every type of driver. ?Second Phase (2009-2012) 997s (997.2), included facelift styling changes as well as direct injection, and a 7-speed PDK dual clutch transmission which made them faster, lighter and therefore more fuel efficient than the earlier models. Power was increased so the 3.6 produced 345hp and S models’ 3.8 produced 385. Improved suspension and a new front bumper design made the 997.2 distinctive, and despite the incredible reliability of the gen1 (early cars enjoy a first-time MOT pass rate of 85%) the second generation managed to improve on that aspect as well.
Jeremy Clarkson said it best, noting that the 997 “will make love to your fingertips and stir your soul.” With classically beautiful styling and much lauded engineering it’s no wonder that the 997 is still a highly sought after model to this day. Thanks to Porsche’s intrinsic model variety, there’s a 997 for every driver type and price point.
997 C2 and C4 Coupe and Cabriolet
In what was quite possibly an automotive design first, the development of the 997 generation was actually led by the cabriolet rather than the coupe. Despite being unprecedented, this was actually a far more logical way to work. Cabriolets present a unique set of problems so working on these first would mean the benefits would trickle down to the coupe. For example, because cabriolets don’t have a fixed roof, they struggle with chassis stiffness. Fixing this issue would make the coupes more rigid as well, which in turn improved performance. As with previous generations, the C2 was set up as a traditional RWD format and the C4 uses a torque tube front differential system accommodated by a wider body. Day to day, most drivers won’t feel the difference between the C2 and C4, but when pushed, the C2 is more agile in fast bends thanks to its lower weight, and the C4 offers more grip on slippery surfaces and in inclement weather.
For the first time, the cabriolet versions were virtually on par with their coupe counterparts when it came to performance figures. Therefore, the 997 cabriolets were by far the best generation for those who wanted to feel the wind in their hair without sacrificing performance. Although it is worth noting, unlike the 996, the 997 cabriolet models don’t have a hardtop included. Gen 2 coupe, Targa and cabriolet are differentiated by a new headlight design including fully incorporated LEDs.
Following on from the 993 and 996, the Targa 4 and 4S both have glass roof systems that can be opened, at any speed, prompting the top to drop down 25mm and slide a metre back underneath the rear window. However, this generation’s Targa was far more popular than its predecessor. This system added an additional 60kg to the curb weight, so the Targas have a modified suspension to accommodate. Unlike previous generations, the 997 Targa was only available in an all-wheel drive, “4” version. The all-wheel-drive and heavier curb weight contribute to slightly slower performance numbers, but the Targa remains a lively and well planted car.
Porsche’s GT3 model line was introduced as a way for the company to offer race cars for customer teams and homologate new aero features for racing. The 997 GT3’s Mezger engine set it apart from other 997 models and its enlarged brakes, lowered, re-tuned suspension system, lighter-weight wheels and a new front bumper raised its track prowess even further. Its 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds and top speed of 193 are a testament to the success of these improvements. “Zero-lift” aerodynamic design means the GT3 doesn’t create any grip damaging lift, just pure downforce which when married with a track bred, electronically adjustable (a first for a GT3) version of Porsche’s PASM suspension, creates an unparalleled driving experience. These adjustments make this generation GT3 excellent on a track but also a surprisingly usable everyday driver. 997.2 GT3 changes included an enlarged 3.8L engine and options for dynamic engine mounts and pneumatically lifted front axle.
Like the GT3, the RS’s improvements are intended for homologation into a range of international racing series. The GT3 shares the C4’s body shell but is lighter than the GT3 by 20kg thanks to the adjustable carbon fibre wing, steel engine cover and lightweight plastic windscreen. Concealed under the muscular rear end is a wider track which improves stability and grip. Whilst the rear wing improved downforce, it also increased drag therefore impacting top speed. A smaller fuel tank was required to comply with the rules of SCCA, Can-AM, and IMSA. The only change for the 997.2 was an additional 15hp thanks to a new 3.8L flat six bringing total horsepower to 444. Whilst the car isn’t unfeasible as a daily driver, the younger you are, the more like you are to agree with that statement.
GT3 RS 4.0L
After six years of testing both on the road and track, Porsche released the jewel of the 997 generation’s crown, an evolution of the 997.2 GT3 RS. At the time of its build, the GT3 RS 4.0 L featured the most powerful naturally aspirated flat-six in any street-legal Porsche, and after a strict diet, lost a further 22lbs past the original RS reduction making it the most radical iteration of road-going Porsche 911s. This generation GT3 RS is regarded as one of the best cars Porsche has ever created and its Mezger engine is one of the reasons why. Mezger engines are the most revered iteration of the flat-six overhead-camshaft engines and whilst all other 911s adopted a new and sometimes problematic design, the GT cars stuck with it. Having proven itself by winning Le Mans in the 911 GT1-98, the engine was proving to be unbreakable, and to top it all off, sounded fantastic. The other reason the 997 generation GT3 is considered one of the best is because it was the last with the six-speed manual gearbox that had been a hallmark of its predecessors. Borrowing monumental developments from other models, like the RSR’s crankshaft with increased stroke dimensions, and lessons learned from the GT2’s chassis development made the 4.0L a conglomeration of Porsche’s best. Performance figures put the 4.0L’s 0-60 time at 3.5S and top speed at 193 mph. Aerodynamic features on this model include a special front bumper with canards which increase cooling to the front mounted radiators and split spoiler at the rear, as well as a special bumper and centralised tailpipes that help draw heat away from the engine. The engine cover has been enlarged and features an additional air intake underneath the similarly enlarged rear wing. The engine and the gearbox mark the end of an era for Porsche and place the GT3 RS 4.0L firmly in the company’s history books.
Debuted at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show, the 997 Turbo was an exciting update on the Carrera model. It featured a dramatically redesigned front bumper wherein the LED turn signal strips were integrated into the air intakes (a design feature that would be carried into the 991 generation). Like previous generations, the Turbo used the same wider body shell of the all- wheel-drive models, giving it that aggressive wide-stance typical of the Turbo denomination. Other design changes included large air vents either side of the rear wheels and in the rear quarter panels as well as a retractable rear wing. The extensive use of aluminium and optional ceramic brakes were key in lowering the Turbo’s curb weight by 41kg and therefore upping its performance. The other component responsible for this feat? The incredible 480 hp engine based on that of the 911 GT1. In a Porsche production first, the engine used two Borg Warner VTG turbochargers that were fitted with a two-stage resonance intake system and were instrumental in reducing turbo lag at low speeds. All these improvements led to dizzying performance statistics. According to Porsche, the 997 Turbo does 0-60 in 3.9 (manual) and 3.7 (tiptronic) and has a top speed of 193 mph. It is important to note that the 997.2 did away with the Mezger engine in favour of a unit with more power and torque and updated the interior. The 997.2 engine had an uprated 500 hp and acceleration times of 3.6 (manual) and 3.4 (PDK).
Thanks to the backwards production process of the 997 generation (cabriolet before coupe), the Turbo cabriolet was one of the fastest convertibles in production when it was released, coming incredibly close to the Turbo coupe’s performance statistics.
Rounding off the line-up of forced induction 911s, the Turbo S is a 530hp behemoth with a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds and top speed of 195mph making it Porsche’s the fastest production car up to that point. Only available with 7-speed PDK transmission, PCCB and Sport Chrono package as standard, the Turbo bridged the gap between road car and track- only racer. Two-zone climate control takes care of the sweat you built up throwing the car round corners, electronic dampers and seats ensured your spine stayed in one piece, and one of the most advanced sat nav’s of its time made sure you got to where you actually wanted to go.
Whilst this list doesn’t cover every iteration of the 997, it covers the most commonly found ones. Other models included the Sport Classic, Speedster, Carrera GTS, and GT2RS. Should you have questions about these other models please let us know.
Generally, the 997 engines are robust but 05-06 Carreras can be prone to rear main seal oil leakage and can have the IMS bearing issue that affected 996 models. Many owners chose to have 06 cars fitted with Porsche’s highly-effective ceramic bearing retrofit solution so check history and if it hasn’t been fitted we suggest you have it done. From 07 onwards, it was completely fixed. Bore scoring is an infrequent but documented problem in gen 1 models and if it occurs at all it is more likely on 3.8s. Check for blackened nearside exhaust tips or tapping noise when idling as they could indicate a problem. Look for overrev events on the ECU check. If it happens often, that’s an indication the car has been “enjoyed” (thrashed) by its previous owner(s). Generation 2 Carrera engine wear and tear can include the tandem vacuum pump, small oil leaks from the rear of the engine, and corrosion, but only after 10 years. Lastly, on Turbos, wastegate actuators should always be checked for free movement.
Both manual and auto gearboxes are highly reliable. Manual is considered pretty much unbreakable and specialists love them for ease of maintenance. Clutches should last at least 50,000 miles, if anything the gear shift cable might need to be replaced. If the clutch pedal is heavy it could suggest the clutch is on its last legs so get it checked asap, also listen out for a noisy torque converter. Keen drivers should look for Sport Chrono package which has sharper throttle response in sport mode and in Autos, will hang onto gears longer and shift down more quickly. Thankfully, there’s no increased maintenance cost for this option so it is worth looking out for.
Suspension and Brakes
Suspension is characterised by a 5-link set up with coil springs and gas filled dampers. If fitted with sport suspension, ride was lowered by 20mm and there was an option for limited-slip differential. Suspension is very durable, especially in the S models thanks to the standard fitted PASM system. Creaking noise from front suspension is a sign that the lower control arm bushes might need replacing, but that is not a pricey job. Be aware that 19″ wheels on non PASM cars don’t have the best ride quality. They’re also more susceptible to kerbing damage and are expensive to replace.
Brakes are excellent, both Carrera and S have four piston monoblock callipers at each corner. General wear and tear on pads and discs may mean they require replacing. Make sure any work done is by Porsche specialists using OEM parts. If low miles, check inner disc faces because they can corrode when sitting. Ceramic brakes are exceptional but are more than 4x the amount as standard steel brakes to replace. PCB were really only ordered for extended track use because of how exceptional the standard fitted brakes were.
997s were expensive when new so the bodywork is high quality and not prone to rust. As with any 911, stone chips are expected, just check that any respray or touch up is the correct colour. Targa’s operating switch can fail but probably won’t, shouldn’t be a huge concern as only £50 to replace. The cabriolet’s hood is extremely well-made and impeccably insulated. As always, make sure the car looks secure both when the roof is open and shut. If you live in a particularly harsh climate, you should know that all 997 door windows can refuse to drop when door is opened in cold weather, but a coating of silicone spray can sort that in no time. Air conditioning condensers live behind the front bumper so prone to leaks thanks to stone chips or corrosion resulting from debris being allowed to accumulate around them. This area can only be cleared during a service so check history to make sure the car has been serviced regularly. If it hasn’t been done already, expect to have to replace condensers yourself which can be costly at £800, so make sure you have an expert look over this on any car you’re thinking of buying.
If you’re looking for a gen 1 don’t make the sat nav a dealbreaker as they’re generally regarded as outdated. 997.2’s on the other hand, have notably good sat nav’s that are inexpensive to upgrade. Gen 2s also have a simplified PCM interface which is compatible with iPods, Bluetooth and USB devices. The Bose upgraded system is desirable but if you have an aftermarket system in mind opt for an original system as it will be easier to tear out and replace. General wear and tear will require a replacement or rebuild of the air conditioning system, part in thanks to those pesky condensers having a lifespan of 6-8 years. Drivers’ seat bolsters commonly have scratches and wear on the outside, and some rubber coating on the switches and centre panel can wear away making the car look scruffier, but none of this would have any impact on operability. Cars without any of these age-related issues will be particularly fastidiously looked after. Look for rear windscreen wipers as they’re desirable for everyday practicality. Wipers could be customised to where they were triggered by the selection of the reverse gear, a feature far ahead of its time. Another interesting optional feature enabled users to configure up to three ignition keys which can provide unique characteristics for each user including climate control and door locking procedures. These technological advances highlighted what a big step up the 997 generation was.
Modern Porsche’s running costs aren’t too dissimilar to a premium saloon. As with most cars, service every 2 years or 20k miles and check coolant system regularly. Full service history is especially important in Porsche’s because if mechanics aren’t familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the brand, they may miss signs that experts would know immediately and easy fixes might become larger problems. Even 997.1 models with some issues will easily get to 6-figure mileage, so any problems really are manageable. Thanks to the 2008 financial crash, gen 2 numbers are decidedly lower than gen 1 meaning prices remain high. There is a small premium for S models as they’re more sought after but since they outsold the Carrera 3-1 there are a lot of examples out there. ?So, you’ve sifted through the litany of models and figured out which 997 you want, now comes time to comb through the multitude of listings and find the best. Over the years, Hendon Way Motors has sold most, if not all of these models and variants, and we believe that armed with all this information you’ll see that those we have in stock are the best of the best. Head to our Porsche Stock to view what’s currently on offer, and if you’re looking for something specific that you don’t see, give us a call. We have extensive connections within the industry and can often find you exactly what you’re looking for.