Just Add Water: The Generation That Revolutionized the Porsche 911

RM Sotheby’s second online-only auction, offered entirely without reserve. Auction closes June 3, 2019.

Andrew Miterko

For the iconic Porsche 911, 1997 marked a year of radical change. The internal designation was 996, and it underwent a complete redesign from the ground up. For 30 years an air-cooled flat engine resided at the rear. In the 996, the 911 received a water-cooled flat-six engine with four valves per cylinder for increased performance, efficiency, and engine temperature management.

For the 2001 model year, Porsche introduced the all-wheel-drive Turbo variant with face-lifted bodywork, featuring larger ducts at the front bumper to improve airflow to the radiators before the front wheels, widened fenders with large intake ducts before the rear wheel arches, and distinctive vents for the intercoolers at the rear bumper. A hydraulically actuated rear spoiler rises automatically at 76 mph to increase downforce. The 420-horsepower, 3.6-liter twin turbocharged-and-intercooled-engine-incorporated technology is from the 1998 911 GT1 race car. Building upon the proven Turbo model, the Turbo S package was introduced for the 2005 model year in both coupe and cabriolet form and further increased its already impressive performance and handling capabilities.

This cabriolet example was completed in December 2004 and finished in attractive non-metallic black paint with color-matched hardtop. The black fabric soft top is fully powered and tucks away neatly beneath an integrated clamshell. The interior is upholstered in optional black full leather, completely covering the entire dashboard, center console, A-pillars, door panels, and rear-seat side panels in supple full-grain leather for added luxury. The factory sport seats received optional soft ruffled leather, lumbar support for both occupants, and heating functionality. The instrument panel received aluminum-look gauges, a thicker sport steering wheel, and plush floor mats with the Turbo S insignia embroidery.

The Turbo S package includes the X50 option, which adds larger K24 turbochargers and intercoolers with revised engine software to the 3.6-liter flat-six, bringing total horsepower to 444 and torque to 457 lb-ft. The six-speed manual transmission was paired to an optional factory-installed short shifter, making for an engaging driving experience and precise shifting.

Porsche’s 350 mm cross-drilled and ventilated carbon-ceramic composite brake rotors at the front and rear, paired with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, bring the powerful cabriolet to a stop in a shorter distance than its steel counterparts and are vastly more resistant to brake fade under spirited driving. The combination of Porsche’s hollow-spoke aluminum wheels paired with the carbon-ceramic brake rotors provide a tremendous reduction in rotating weight, improving handling and acceleration. A tremendous amount of grip is provided by the all-wheel-drive system paired with the massive contact patch of the 225 and 295 tread with tires, ensuring the Turbo S stays planted on its sprint from zero to sixty in 4.1 seconds, through every corner and all the way to its 190 mph top speed.

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