The Sweet Spot

A powerful yet civil tuned 996 Turbo

June 30, 2016
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The 2001-2004 996-generation 911 Turbo is without a doubt one of the best used Porsche bargains right now. Though its performance figures are easily overshadowed by the latest Turbo, the boosted 996 still boasts some impressive performance stats: 415 hp, a 0-60 mph run of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 189 mph. All-wheel-drive, a relatively nimble chassis, and impressive brakes added to the equation make this one of the most well-rounded performance cars available in its price category. After all, there is no shortage of 996 Turbos available for between $30,000 and $40,000 on the used-car market.

But even more impressive than the incredible value that the 996 Turbo offers in stock form is the ease with which it can be transformed into a supercar that can hang with the latest generation of Porsche Turbos and a whole slew of supercars from other manufacturers. The 996 Turbo’s ease of tuning and relatively bulletproof GT1-based Mezger engine makes it a tuner’s dream come true.

That latter fact is what attracted Arizona enthusiast Eric Pasia to the 996 Turbo in the first place. “Originally I had my heart set on a (2005-2012) 997 Carrera,” says Pasia. “Conventional wisdom says to buy the newest Porsche you can afford.” The only problem was that, after driving a few different models that were for sale in the local market, he realized that the best car for him wasn’t necessarily the newest one he could buy.

“I wanted my first Porsche to be what I thought it would be like when I was eight years old: an unrelenting, violently fast yet precise, refined yet special piece of car history.” He even took a look at the 997 Turbo, but after a stint behind the wheel of one Pasia came to the conclusion that a 996 Turbo was not only cheaper but also a little more Spartan and raw, which he liked. The model may be considered very luxurious when compared to older generations of Turbos like the 993, 964 and impact bumper examples, but compared to what’s currently available in Porsche showrooms, the 996 Turbo is relatively simple.

Buying & Building a Beast

In July 2013, Pasia spotted the perfect 2002 911 Turbo for sale in Northern California. “It had been owned by an older enthusiast who had several air-cooled Porsches in his collection,” he says of his Lapis Blue Porsche. “The 996 Turbo was just the one that he drove the least, so he was looking to get rid of it.”

Once Pasia took delivery, however, he was initially a bit underwhelmed. “I admit that out of the box the 996 Turbo can be quite a sterile car,” he says. “Start it and it doesn’t sound particularly special. The turbos muffle any sort of hint of sportiness one would expect it to have.” He saw unrealized potential in the rest of the car, too. “You feel secure and planted due to the all-wheel drive, but the fact that it understeers reminds you there are electronic driver’s aids preventing you from doing anything foolish.”

Also from Issue 239

  • First Drive: 2017 911 (991.2) Carrera 4S
  • The all-new Panamera
  • Market Update: 912 & 914
  • APAL-Porsche 1600 GT
  • 1983 Gruppe B Concept
  • 1976 Carrera 2.7 MFI
  • Interview: Fritz Enzinger
  • Handling Problems & Solutions
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