Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 2002 996 Porsche 911 Carrera

‘Expensive air-cooled 911s’ is starting to seem like it fits with death and taxes on the list of certain things. Even as other older Porsche models appreciate, the iconic rear-engine sports car is in a class of its own. But not every classic or used Porsche is inherently pricey, not even a 911. It’s not air-cooled, but the 2002 996 Porsche 911 Carrera currently listed on Cars & Bids is assuredly fun on a budget.

It’s unloved and often overlooked, but the 996 Porsche 911 is still “a great driver’s car,” Road & Track says

A dark-blue 2001 996 Porsche 911 Carrera driving down a road
2001 996 Porsche 911 Carrera | Porsche

The 996 Porsche 911 is very much the unloved generation among the brand’s fanbase. Part of that stems from the 996’s looks; many say the headlights look like fried eggs. The other main reason for the hate is because it introduced water-cooled engines to the 911 lineage. And with that introduction came the dreaded IMS bearing, an engine component that bricked a few 996 Porsche 911s. Not to mention a few contemporary Boxsters and Caymans, which also had these bearings in their engines for a time.

However, it’s worth noting that the 996 was the Porsche 911’s “first total clean-sheet redesign” ever, Road & Track reports. Also, it, along with the Boxster and Cayenne, helped Porsche bounce back from severe financial straits. Plus, while IMS bearing failures can be catastrophic, that only happens to a fraction of equipped Porsche engines. And, arguably most importantly, a 996 Porsche 911 is still a 911, only “a touch more measured, more planted, more confidence-inspiring than…earlier 911s,” Hagerty muses. In other words, it’s still a fun, do-it-all premium sports car with an analog feel.

And it’s a sports car that Porsche improved over the years. After its 1999-MY introduction, Porsche gave the 996 911 “a major refresh” for 2002, R&T says. Arguably the biggest change was growing the base Carrera’s rear-mounted flat-six engine from 3.4 to 3.6 liters. So, instead of 296 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera has 320 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Also, Porsche stiffened the chassis, tweaked the suspension, and gave the Carrera a 996 911 Turbo-inspired fascia for better stability and handling.

There’s a post-update 2002 911 up for auction on Cars & Bids

The front 3/4 view of a gray 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera in a parking lot
2002 Porsche 911 Carrera front 3/4 view | Cars & Bids

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More power and better handling weren’t the only things Porsche added with the 996 911’s refresh. The 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera added a few luxuries to the rear-engine sports car’s interior. Cabriolets got a glass rear window, rather than a plastic one, MotorTrend reports, while all 996s got new instrument clusters. And even the base 996 Carrera got two things that it’d been missing up until now: a glovebox and cupholders.

Being a 2002 996, the Porsche 911 Carrera currently listed on Cars & Bids has those features. But it also has a power sunroof, rear window wiper, Becker radio, leather upholstery, xenon headlights with built-in washers, and automatic climate control. Plus, it has 18” Carrera III wheels, and, crucially, an LN Engineering IMS bearing upgrade.

The black-leather front seats and dashboard of a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera
2002 Porsche 911 Carrera interior | Cars & Bids

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Additionally, apart from chips, scratches, and seat creases, this 996 Porsche 911 Carrera is in excellent condition. And it has less than 44,900 miles on the clock as well as a zero-accident history. The seller also has service records dating back to 2003.

Plus, besides the IMS bearing upgrade, the previous owner installed a new throttle body, cabin air filter, engine mounts, and front brake pads. They also replaced the rear main seal, crankshaft seal, drive belt, coolant expansion tank, front tie rods, and clutch. And while the oil and filter could use a replacement, this Carrera has new tires and a recent alignment.

Looking for a bargain 911? A 996 Porsche Carrera like this is worth considering

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As of this writing, this 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera is listed on Cars & Bids at $13,333 with three days left in the auction. 996 Porsche 911s are starting to appreciate, but they’re still some of the most affordable 911s out there. Even so, a 2002 example like this often costs at least twice as much, Hagerty reports.

In addition, one of the main criticisms of the 996-gen 911, the IMS bearing, has already been addressed in this car. Another age-related issue, the rear main seal, has also been addressed. This 2002 Carrera also doesn’t appear to have a smudged or smoky exhaust; if it did, that could point to cylinder liner failure, Hagerty says. Though as always, a pre-purchase recommendation is recommended.

Still, if you’ve wanted to get into an affordable Porsche 911 Carrera, a well-maintained 996 like this is a solid choice. Oh, and if you’re still not sold on the headlights, know that the 911 GT1 used the same ones.

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