If you’ve been following along with our coverage of my 996 Porsche 911 ownership experience, you won’t be surprised to read that I love the car. It’s incredible, and it’s been everything I’d hoped it would be. The unjustly maligned 996 platform is great in stock form, and with some minor modifications, it is a truly epic sports car for the money. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and while I have no plans to get rid of the car, there are a few things I hate about it.
1. Lifting the Car
The first big points ding against the 911 is the hassle of getting it up on jack stands. Seriously, on any other car, this is a no-brainer. Put the jack under a cross member or the jack pad, lift and add jack stands. On the 911, it’s more complex.
First, you should have special flat-top jack stands with rubber pads. Then to actually get the car in the air, you lift from the front side jack point, which brings the whole side of the car up. Insert your first jack stand and with the jack still in place, put your second jack (that’s right, you need two!) under the rear inboard lower suspension mounting point and lift from there. A bottle jack is fine for this. Then drop your trolley jack, and while the bottle jack supports the rear of the car, put in your other jack stand. Then do it all again for the other side.
2. Wheel Bolts
The next thing I hate is less of a 911 thing and more of a European car thing. It’s the fact that Euro manufacturers love wheel bolts instead of lugs and lugnuts. They use bolts because they believe that a bolt connection will handle shearing loads better and, therefore, will be safer. Of course, if you hit a wheel so hard that a stud would shear, you probably have other more significant problems.
What’s not safer than a wheel stud and nut setup is dropping a heavy 18-inch x 10-inch 911 rear wheel on your foot because the previous owner of your car lost the little temporary hanger stud and you’re trying to juggle the wheel and get a bolt in at the same time.
I plan on converting my car to wheel studs, which makes sense since I was going to add some spacers to the wheels anyway, necessitating longer hardware. This should make getting the wheels on and off significantly less of a hassle.
3. Soft-Touch Plastics
This isn’t specific to my 911 either, other than that Porsche decided to use soft-touch plastic all over the interior of the second-generation 996. Many manufacturers used this sort of rubberized coating on plastics in the 1990s and 2000s. The biggest culprit for annoyance with this stuff typically is on buttons, which, thankfully, isn’t an issue on my car. What is a problem is that it scrapes and scratches super easily and is tough to clean without damaging it. It also feels kind of gross, and it hasn’t even gotten to the sticky, goopy phase, but as the great Fatlip once said, “It’s comin’.”
Repairing these surfaces can be as complicated as sending them out for professional refinishing or as simple as hosing it down with Plasti-dip and hoping for the best. I’ll let you guess which way I’ll go on my high-mileage 911.
4. Telescoping-Only Wheel
The 996, despite being over 20 years old, is a relatively modern car. It’s got modern safety features, modern-ish tech, and reasonably modern looks. Why, then, did Porsche decide that the 996's steering column belonged in the 1980s?
For most people, this probably isn’t that big a deal, but the 996 is a small car, and I’m a very large driver. I’ve got the wheel telescoped all the way out in mine, and I’m reasonably comfortable behind the wheel, but if the wheel tilted at all, it would be perfect.
How much weight, bulk or complexity would a tilt and telescope wheel have added to the vehicle? My guess is not that much, given how many cheap cars produced at the time had both.
5. The Brakes
Last on my list of things I hate about my 911 is the brake pedal. Not the pedal specifically, but how the pedal feels. It’s weird because the brakes on even the most basic 996 are excellent. They’re totally up to the task of hauling this 3,000-ish pound car down from speed with aplomb. Why then do they feel like they belong on a Lada or something?
Seriously, the initial brake bite of my 911 is pathetic. Despite being fully bled and with fresh pads and rotors, the pedal is long and soft in a way that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. Is it the rubber lines? Or the master cylinder? It’s hard to say, which is why I’m changing both asap. I’m upgrading the brake lines to braided stainless units from Goodridge, and the master cylinder comes courtesy of the 997 GT3. Both promise a much more firm pedal and, I hope, a more confident drive. Keep an eye out for this story soon.
Obviously, these things are all fairly petty annoyances. Some of you may be surprised I didn’t mention things like the headlights or the M96 engine or even the decidedly un-911-like interior. The truth is, I don’t mind any of those things.
The headlights are fine, and it’s not worth the price premium of buying a 997 to ditch them. The engine has been fantastic aside from a few small hiccups, and with proper care and maintenance, I suspect it’s got plenty more life left in it. As to the interior? Well, it’s not like the cars that came before or after, and other than the janky cup holders, that’s ok. The seats are supportive, things are laid out sensibly, there’s tons of storage, and so far, my interior has held up to almost 140,000 miles of driving with very little wear and tear.
So, again, if you want a 911 and don’t want to drop air-cooled or later water-cooled money on one, the 996 should be on your radar.