Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Carrera 4 has suffered an engine fire but otherwise looks to be in fairly decent shape. Let’s see if this back-burner Porsche is priced to ignite some buyer interest.
For the past two holiday seasons, I have asked for, and have been crushed not to receive, a unicycle. It’s my longstanding dream to conquer single-wheel travel. I have, after all, already mastered four-wheel and two-wheel travel. Also, I can pop a wheelie in a wheelchair, a skill I picked up in my days as an Emergency Medical Technician.
If you think brakeless single-wheel travel is a risk not worth taking — what about steep inclines, you might ask — you may be more comfortable with something that possesses a traditional even-number wheel count. That might be something like last Thursday’s 2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled. That two-wheel terror was equipped to conquer hills and dales no matter what the trail surface might be. And, with an $8,500 asking price, it had no trouble conquering our contest, earning itself a narrow but solid 55 percent Nice Price win.
That Ducati may have had what it takes for both trail and asphalt, but what it didn’t have was substantial weather protection nor a wicked cool aero device on the back end.
Those are two aspects that may be found as part and parcel of today’s 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera 4. Along with those admirable inclusions comes… hey, what’s that burning smell?
While it may not actually smell at this point, the fact is that a fire has turned the car’s 3.4-liter M96 engine into a crispy critter. And I’ll bet most of you were worried about its IMS bearing.
The seller claims to have bought the car in this condition as a project but reportedly has had second thoughts since the purchase. According to the ad, the car was sold once but that buyer backed out. Geez, does no one want to tackle the effort of getting this car back on the road?
That reticence is a bit surprising since this is one of the more interesting versions of the 996-series 911, the AWD C4 edition. Plus, the ad claims it to have a clean title despite the fire damage in the engine bay.
That damage doesn’t even look to be too terrible. Most of the plastic and rubber pieces of the intake appear to be intact, and the seller claims that the engine turns over so it may be internally solid as well.
There is some warping of the engine cover vent panel that for aesthetic reasons will have to be addressed. That warped vent is bracketed by a crazy-big wing with air intakes on each end and that looks to be completely undamaged. That’s paired with GT style side skirts, rear bumper and a front valance.
The car’s silver paint is accented by an off-center set of racing stripes down the passenger side. Overall, the exterior doesn’t look terrible, but it’s far from perfect, what with its cloudy headlight lenses and scraped front bodywork.
The interior is another mixed bag. The seats, door cards and carpet look to be in serviceable shape, however the dash is missing the radio and the trim panels around the climate control box. The 996 never really had a quality cabin so allowances should be made for how this one has held up. Also, are those bug traps in there? What’s up with that?
The big issue, of course, is with the engine. That will likely need to be dropped to assess the damage and determine if the current mill is salvageable or if a replacement is called for. The seller says the car to be a perfect candidate for an LS swap, but that’s pretty much what every seller of every non-running car claims. It just comes with the territory.
If the engine is salvageable, the removal will engender a slew of “might-as-wells” to be done, including the clutch, rear main seal and IMS bearing (if that concerns you). This version of the M96 had an exceptionally small number of IMS failures so it may be good as is. Leaving the current one in would save anywhere between $700 and $2,500 on repair costs.
Should the engine need replacement, used 3.4 mills are available for around $4,000 to $6,000, depending on how much you want to gamble on the source. Of course, the “might-as-wells” come with the replacement route as well. Then there’s the Chevy V8 option as espoused by the seller. That’s probably the cheapest route to go and would likely be the least finicky over the long haul.
Speaking of long hauls, this C4 only has 98,000 miles under its tires so it should have plenty of life left in it despite the dead engine in the back.
So, that’s a lot to take in. So, too, is the car’s $10,000 asking price. I mean, that’s a lot of cabbage for a non-running car. Here’s the thing though: the 996 edition of the 911 has already taken its walk of shame. Values on these models, along with their 986 siblings, have bottomed out and are now starting to creep back up, just as all other 911s have done. This being an AWD C4 makes it a prime candidate for being near the top of that ladder.
The question for you is whether $10,000 is a fair price to pay to get in on the ground floor. Do this 911’s issues seem too daunting to ask that much? Or, is that $10,000 asking a sweet spot for a somewhat crispy Carrera?
H/T to Bill Floyd for the hookup!
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