The Porsche 996 is the internal designation for the Porsche 911 model manufactured from 1997 to 2006 (model years 1999 to 2005 in the United States). It was replaced by the 997 in 2004.
The 996 had little in common with its predecessor, with the first all new chassis platform since the original 911 and a new water-cooled engine. Technically, it was a major change, a complete breakthrough from the original car other than overall layout.
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At its debut, the 996 featured the most significant change from the classic 911 series: a water-cooled engine replacing the previously air-cooled engine. Progressively stringent emissions and noise regulations, environmental concerns, a higher expectation for refinement and the need for a high-performance 4 valve per cylinder engine made the switch necessary. Other major changes include a completely new platform having a sleeker body with a more raked windshield, and a re-designed interior along with new "fried egg" shaped headlamps instead of previous "bug eye" headlamps.
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The Porsche 996 was a new design developed by Pinky Lai under Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay from 1992 to 1994; it was the first 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor. Featuring an all new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine, the 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and 6 speed transmission were retained in revised form.
All of the M96 engines offered in the 996 (except for the variants fitted to the Turbo and GT2/GT3 models) are susceptible to the Porsche Intermediate Shaft Bearing issue which can potentially cause serious engine failure if not addressed via a retrofit. Porsche settled a class action lawsuit relating to this failure in 2013, however an OEM fix was not released until 2017, by which point many owners of the 996 had already fitted their cars with aftermarket retrofits.
The 996 was initially available as a coupé or cabriolet (Convertible) with rear-wheel drive, and later with four-wheel drive, utilising a 3.4 litre flat-6 naturally aspirated engine generating a maximum power output of 221 kW (300 PS; 296 hp). The 996 had the same front end as the entry-level Boxster. After requests from the Carrera owners about their premium cars looking like a "lower priced car that looked just like theirs did", Porsche redesigned the headlamps of the Carrera in 2002 similar to the high performance Turbo's headlamps. The design for the initial 996 "fried egg" shaped headlamps could be traced back to the Porsche 911 GT1 race car.
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Porsche offered a special edition of the 996 for the year 2000. The car, named the 911 Millennium edition was based on the Carrera 4 coupé. Only 911 cars were made. It featured all of the options that came with the Turbo model including electric and heated seats and telephone module. It came with polished turbo twist wheels and GT3 side skirts with some having the same aerodynamic components as the GT3.
This special edition was finished in Violet Chromaflair paint with natural leather interior and dark burr maple trim. The car was available with a Tiptronic or six-speed manual gearbox. A number plate on the center console and a unique "911" badge on the engine lid and lettering on the door sills make this special edition easy to identify from other base Carrera models.
Porsche celebrated the 911's 40-year history in 2003, using the slogan, "40 Jahre 911/40 Fast Years". The company also introduced the 996 "40th Anniversary Edition" for model year 2004. This model has the 996 Turbo's front-end, and was available only in GT Silver metallic paint. Other unique features included: X51 power kit, turbo radiators, limited slip differential, sport suspension, polished 5-spoke alloy wheels (unique to this model), GT3 side skirts, natural gray leather interior (with matching luggage set), sports seats (there was a power comfort seat option), polished exhaust tips, heated seats (option in Latin America), litronic bi-xenon headlights, special dynamic sealed panels, and a special "40 Jahre 911" logo on the engine cover. The power was increased 254 kW (345 PS; 341 hp)> Only 1,963 units were made, to commemorate 1963—the year in which the 911 was first introduced.
Hollywood custom car builder Eddie Paul created a modified 996 Carrera as one of a set of three vehicles for Pixar's 2006 Cars promotional tour.Sally, a blue Porsche 996 designed to closely resemble a 2002 Carrera, is built on a slightly-shortened wheelbase; her windscreen is tilted closer to vertical (adding a few inches to the car's height) to accommodate the animated character's eyes. Also in 2007, a motorist's 2001 Porsche 911 was searched during a traffic stop by Hoover, Alabama police. The police department seized the vehicle after they found 10 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside two compartments. Since then the vehicle was redecorated in two-tone police blue with a wing, light bar, and rear window lights.The vehicle was unveiled in 2009 as a Hoover Police Department police car and has appeared at various public events.