Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 17 September
Prices of the 996-gen Porsche 911 are rising, so how about a 997 Carrera S for £29,760?
John Evans
4 mins read
17 September 2021

With the prices of 996-generation 911s (1997-2004) climbing, how attractive does the model’s successor, the 997 of 2004- 2013, look? To find out, we stuck a pin in the price map at £30,000.

For this money you could have a 2003-reg 911 (996) Carrera 3.6 4S or a 2006-reg 911 (997) Carrera 3.8 S, both with 50,000 miles and manual gearboxes. The 4S would be more secure in the wet thanks to its ability to send around 40% of the engine’s power to the front wheels, allowing its driver to enjoy more of the power, more of the time.

However, that next-gen Carrera S has our attention. Back in the day, our reviewer declared the 997 to be 15% better in every area than the 996. Peter Robinson concluded: “In 997 S form, the 911 Carrera is faster, more stable, more precise and forgiving and an altogether superior – make that more efficient – sports car than the 996.” Praise doesn’t come much higher.

So, with his words ringing in your ears, what should you be looking out for on our find? With even the simplest problems extremely expensive to fix, being sure there’s nothing lurking in the woodshed is key to happy 997 ownership. It’s rather over-egged but check for leaks from the rear main seal.

Next, try the clutch. It lasts around 50,000 miles – or exactly the mileage our find has done. Does the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system work properly, with a clear distinction between Normal and Sport modes? Be sure the cooling system works (it’s vulnerable perched out there at the front) and that the body is rust-free. Finally, drive it and others so you can tell good from bad.

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Toyota GT86 2.0-4D S, £12,295

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Many GT86s have done high mileages, but our find from 2015 has covered just 37,000. It has full Toyota history and a few tweaks, including a full Miltek exhaust. It’s a private sale but rest easy: the car is protected by a one-year Toyota warranty.

Jaguar XF 2.0i 300 R-Sport Sportbrake auto 4WD, £32,995

This do-it-all performance estate shares its 2.0i 300 engine with the F-Type, so is decently rapid, and it has four-wheel drive plus air springs at the rear. This example is a 2019-reg with 5000 miles.

Peugeot 208 1.6 GTi, £5995

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It’s no Fiesta ST but the 208 1.6 GTi is still a blast and, as we’ve found, it’s great value. Our spot is a 2015-reg with 45,000 miles and a full Peugeot service history. It’s a private sale, so cash and determined haggling should tease £500 off the price.

Citroen XM 2.0 SX

The XM was never the prettiest thing, but today it looks like the kind of new car they would put an electric motor in and wheel out with a fanfare. This immaculate 1998-reg has 82,000 miles and a stack of receipts, including for a timing belt and clutch.

Auction watch

Suzuki Vitara Fatboy

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Not sure you’d get away with calling a special-edition bodykit a Fatboy these days, but back in 1993 we were less kind. The popular option increased the Vitara’s width by 180mm, allowing chunkier tyres to be fitted within flared wheel arches. Side skirts completed the look. Our featured car exited the auction ring at £4500. Classic SUVs in good condition like this Fatboy seem to be attracting the right attention. Around the same time, a same-age Discovery 2.5 TD in immaculate condition with 97,000 miles made £6500 at auction. Good Series 1 Discos are rare, so we can understand its attraction.

Future classic

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X FQ-440 MR 4x4, £44,950

Any Lancer Evo has future classic stamped on it, but this one deserves the title more than most thanks to its rarity. Just 40 came to the UK, and our find, registered in 2014, has done only 12,500 miles. Its owner has clearly had an eye on its investment potential since, at least during their ownership, during which it has been dry-stored and only ever driven in dry weather. The service book has no less than eight stamps. New, the model cost £50,000 so with our example priced just £5000 less, it looks like classic status may already have arrived.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: I have £25,000 to get a hypermiling hatchback for a long commute

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Ford Focus Active X 1.5 EcoBlue 120, £25,000

Mercedes-Benz A180d AMG Line, £24,900

Felix Page: For many road users – yourself included in this instance, James – diesel remains very much the fuel of choice. Indeed, the most frugal version of the current Ford Focus still sups from the black pump – and in 1.5-litre guise should crack around 67mpg at a cruise.

Jack Warrick: I too have opted for a 2020-reg diesel, but one that’s considerably more stylish. An AMG Line Merc always looks great, comes full with kit to keep you entertained on a long commute and this one should even match your Ford’s fuel economy. Every little helps…

FP: A bit poky, no? My Focus has a 575-litre boot, compared with your Merc’s 360-litre shoebox, so James can take all of his kit (and maybe a dog or two) to work if he wants.

JW: I think even Fido would get bored after a few minutes in that bland volume-selling cabin. Interiors don’t get much more slick than mine, which brings all the bells and whistles and will stand the test of time.

FP: Your frustratingly slow seven-speed automatic ’box might get irritating before long, though. While we’re splitting hairs, it’s worth noting the A-Class is three insurance groups above the Focus, making ownership a more costly proposition.

JW: You get what you pay for, and if James is spending several hours per day in his car, he might as well be enjoying them.

Verdict, James Ruppert: Better residuals and a classier cabin? It’s got to be the Merc.


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