It’s the cheapest, least desirable 911 coupe you can get. Disliked for years by so called “Porsche enthusiasts”, the 996 is finally having its day in the sun. The owner of this killer 996, Alan Browning, has taken this one to the next level and has hit it out of the park!
Words and photos by Alan Browning @flatsixaffair
It all started for me at the Silverstone F1 GP in 1999. Watching the Porsche Supercup for the first time, I was completely hooked. I don’t think I had ever seen or heard a race car quite like the 996 GT3 Cup. Little did I know that it would take me nineteen years before I would own my first Porsche.
Originally I was looking for a 997 Carrera, but out of the blue I suddenly received a notification from Carsales.com that a new car had just been listed, a super low mileage 1998 996 Carrera. It was everything I didn’t really want, silver, Savanna and a Tiptronic (we’ll get to that later).
I almost walked away, but after a 5 minute chat to the owners son, I realised this could be one of the last good 996’s left. Being an early Mk1 car, it was also lighter, had an accelerator cable rather than an electric system and no PSM to spoil the party. Originally the car was bought by a doctor in Perth, it was later sold to an avid collector in Queensland where it sat for the last 12 years gathering dust. This was an Australian delivered car with no accidents or modifications and just over 28,000 kms on the clock. After having it checked over by an independent Porsche specialist, I realised it would be a mistake to let this one go, especially when the specialist told me if I didn’t buy it, he definitely would. More to the point this was a Porsche 911 for the price of a base Golf GTI… I didn’t even think that was possible.
Three weeks later a rather large tow truck pulled up outside my house with a dusty stock Porsche 996, complete with original wheels and tyres strapped to the back.
My first stop was Autocoupe where I was greeted by Darren. He took a good look at the car. Initial reports were good and he said it was one of the cleanest and original he had seen in a long time. Unfortunately as the car had sat for so long, my first bill was a whopper. Most of the plastic parts were so brittle that they had to be replaced. We also found a large crack in the expansion tank, this was my first introduction to the Porsche parts tax, how could a plastic bottle cost so much.
I realised early on that the car was never going to be a true collector’s car and wasn’t going to reach the values of some of the earlier cars. In fact, it was the perfect 911 for me. I kept thinking back to the look and sound of those Supercup GT3’s blasting around Silverstone and thought sod it, I’m going build my own GT inspired car.
Right from the beginning I decided if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. No cheap aftermarket parts, only tried and trusted components and if possible, Porsche OEM.
Getting the right look of the car took a while. Finding any sort of GT3 body parts nowadays is a challenge. I’ve never loved the Mk1 skirts, so made the decision to go with the sharper looking Mk2 versions after finding a set located in Melbourne. The rear wing was a stroke of luck as genuine GT3 wings are so hard to find but after a call from a fellow Porsche mate, who just happened to have a wing removed from a GT3, I somehow managed to persuade him to sell it to me. The final piece in the puzzle was the GT3 front bumper which was sourced from Design911 in the UK. All bodywork and fitting was done by Paint and Custom in Thornbury.
My first mechanical modification was to sort out the sound. In standard form, the car sounded okay, but nothing special so the mufflers were replaced with a Cargraphic Sports Exhaust system. This certainly helped but it still wasn’t quite the sound I wanted so I decided to change over the standard OEM Cats. These were replaced with a high flowing 200 Cell X-pipe. Straight away the car revved freely and was quicker to accelerate. Then there’s the sound, when she hits 3000rpm she starts to howl, like a GT3 Cup blasting down the Mulsanne Straight… well almost.
Handling was next, this was more of a necessity as it rode on 20 year old shocks and springs. I thought long and hard about replacing them with Bilstein PSS10 Coilovers but as I’m not really a track guy, I decided to go for sport shocks and springs. The car now sits on Koni STR shocks, Eibach Prokit Springs and a set of Eibach GT3 sway-bars. To compliment the suspension setup the car is now fitted with ultra light OZ Racing Alleggerita HLT and super sticky Yokohama A050 rubber.
I wanted to break up the savanna interior colour and it didn’t take me long to decide the best way to do this was to invest in new seats. Recaro Pole Positions were soon fitted, super comfortable, super cool and the perfect driving position. A Momo Mod 07 steering wheel was next as I felt the standard wheel was a little on the large side.
The last modification was probably the most difficult to make, but by far the most enjoyable. The Works Bell paddle shifters transform the gear change into a much more involved driving experience, with the levers having 10mm stroke and an addictive click-click of the carbon paddles.
Which brings me onto the subject of the Tiptronic box. One of the most surprising features of this car is indeed the gearbox. Once you figure out how this gearbox works, you can really start to enjoy the experience, especially with proper paddles. I’ve managed to keep up with some of the best drivers I know and I’m sure the car has still more to give… not bad for a 1998 996 that costs about the same price as a base Golf GTI today.
Plans for the future. Well who knows, roll cage, bigger brakes or maybe sports headers. One thing for sure, I have no plans to sell it, she’s part of our family and definite keeper.