Where the 996 had been somewhat generic and bland in some eyes, Porsche brought back much of the beloved 911-styling when it released the 997.
As we noted in our 996 market guide, in the mid-1990s Porsche was in the midst of an existential struggle as they developed the 996 generation in the mid-Nineties. The company brought in Toyota to help streamline the factories and design processes – and, while the 996 (and the 986 Boxster that shared so much underneath) were successes, it was clear to enthusiasts that the 996 was compromised by the cost-cutting.
Just a few years later around the turn of the century, Porsche’s fortunes had turned. The Boxster had proven to be a hit, injecting the company with much needed cash. The Cayenne SUV was soon to come and bring additional stability to the company’s coffers. It was upon this much different backdrop the follow-up to the 996 was to be developed.
Much as every generation of 911 prior to the water-cooled 996 was a gradual evolution of the same basic car that was originally laid out in 1964, the Porsche 997 was an evolution of the basic 911 formula. This time, however, Porsche added a fair bit of their beloved DNA back into the styling of the car – where the 996 had been somewhat generic and bland in some eyes, enthusiasts could see their beloved 911 form lurking within the 997.
Most notably on the exterior, the 997 generation (from model years 2005 through 2012) returned traditionally-styled rounded headlights, compared to the fried eggs on the 996. The indicator lamps that had been integrated into the fried eggs were relocated to the corners of the front bumpers on the new car. From the rear, the easiest way to distinguish a 997 from a 996 – at least on more basic cars not wearing a wing – is the louvered panel over the engine, which has a distinctly old-school vibe that plays beautifully with the 997’s styling.
Two Generations: Porsche 997 Mark One and Mark Two
Once again like the 996, the 997 was built in two generations – referred to as “Mark One” or “Mark Two”, or occasionally 997.1 and 997.2. The 997.1 began with model year 2005 with the introduction of the Carrera and Carrera S, followed by the all-wheel drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 S models. A variety of models followed, with convertible, targa, and turbocharged varieties. 2009’s Mark Two brought an updated car with a new engine using direct fuel injection, more potent brakes, and a revised Porsche Communication Management System. Styling changes included bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, and a revised front and rear bumper. Notably, the 997.2 ditched the Tiptronic automatic transmission for a sportier dual-clutch automatic known as PDK.
You’ll note that the 997 sold in seriously big numbers, no matter the generation. According to HowToPorsche.com, over 136,000 of the 997.1 were sold, with another 76,000 and change of the 997.2 models.
Naturally Aspirated Porsche 997 Models
The 997 Carrera is the base rear-wheel drive 911. Powered by a 3.6-liter engine, the 997.1 Carrera put out 321 horsepower. The new engine introduced in 2009 for the 997.2 Carrera remained at 3.6 liters, but now produced 340hp. Approximately 23,700 coupes and 13,150 cabriolets were produced, 70% of which were part of the 997.1 generation and the remaining 30% were part of the 997.2 generation.
The Carrera S was the first step up in performance over the base Carrera. The 997.1 Carrera S used a 3.8-liter engine producing 355hp – the available X51 Powerkit bumped that number to 376hp. From 2009 onwards, the 997.2 Carrera S offered 380hp from 3.8 liters. Approximately 36,700 coupes and 21,800 cabriolets were produced, split broadly 70% to 30% between the 997.1 and 997.2 generations.
Carrera S Club Coupe
In 2006, Porsche offered a limited-edition run of 50 of the 997 Carrera S Club Coupe – to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Porsche Club of America. These were 997.1 Carrera S coupes fitted with the X51 Powerkit and special badging. All fifty cars were painted Azurro California (a metallic blue).
The 997 Carrera 4 is the base all-wheel drive 911. Powered by a 3.6-liter engine, the 997.1 Carrera 4 put out 321 horsepower. The new engine introduced in 2009 for the 997.2 Carrera 4 remained at 3.6 liters, but now produced 340hp. Approximately 5,500 coupes and 4,400 cabriolets were produced, split 70/30 between the 997.1 and 997.2 generations.
The Carrera 4S was the first step up in performance over the base Carrera 4. The 997.1 Carrera 4S used a 3.8-liter engine producing 355hp – the available X51 Powerkit bumped that number to 376hp. From 2009 onwards, the 997.2 Carrera 4S offered 380hp from 3.8 liters. Approximately 24,200 coupes and 20,300 cabriolets were produced, split 60/40 between the 997.1 and 997.2 generations.
The 997 Targa is fitted with a panoramic, retractable glass roof to give both more sunlight when closed and more fresh air when open than a traditional sunroof. In the 997 generation, it was only available as an all-wheel drive model – thus the models were Targa 4 and Targa 4S – each with the powertrains found in the standard 997 Carrera 4 and 997 Carrera 4S. Production numbers were 2,571 for the Targa 4 and 5,888 for the Targa 4S for a total of 8,459, split broadly 60/40 between the 997.1 and 997.2 generations.
The 997 Carrera GTS trim was offered in 2011 and 2012 (997.2) as a midrange offering between the 997.2 Carrera S and the 997.2 GT3. It was offered as both a coupe and cabrio, on rear-wheel drive (Carrera GTS) and all-wheel drive (Carrera 4 GTS) variants. However, all samples were fitted with the widened rear fenders of the Carrera 4 models. The engine was a 3.8-liter six producing 407 horsepower. 6,947 were built.
The 2010 911 Sport Classic is a limited-run special edition based on the 997.2 Carrera S coupe. The engine is the 407 horsepower unit from the 997 GTS, and the car is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. A double-bubble roof harks back to racing cars of yesteryear that were similarly bubbled to clear helmets for taller drivers. Approximately 250 911 Sport Classics were painted a specific Sport Classic Grey, and fitted most notably with a ducktail rear spoiler inspired by the duckbill fitted to the Carrera RS of the early 1970s.
The 2011 911 Speedster was a limited run of 356 cars – the number inspired by the classic Porsche 356 of the Fifties and early Sixties. Mechanically similar to the 997 Carrera GTS, the car was only offered as a cabriolet with a shorter windscreen – much as the original Speedster of the ‘50s. It was only offered in two colors – Pure Blue and Carrera White.
The first GT3 from the 997 (a/k/a 997.1 GT3) was sold between 2007 and 2008 – with a 3.6-liter Mezger engine producing 415hp. That’s over 115 horsepower per liter from a naturally-aspirated engine, an incredible figure. With wings and spoilers, the 997.1 GT3 looked ready to hit the track. 3,329 were built.
GT3 RS 3.6
The GT3 RS 3.6 (a/k/a 997.1 GT3 RS) was a homologation special meant to make the 997.1 GT3 ready to race. Two and a half inches wider at the rear than the standard GT3, the GT3 RS shared a bodyshell with the 997 Carrera 4 to give room for wider tires. It was 44 pounds lighter than the standard GT3 due to lighter weight body panels and a carbon-fiber rear wing. 1,909 were built for model years 2006-2008.
The GT3 3.8 (a/k/a 997.2 GT3) was introduced in 2010 with a larger, 3.8-liter Mezger engine producing 435hp. Notably, one option on the GT3 was a driver-controllable front nose lift system that allowed the low-slung car to better negotiate speed bumps. Sold between 2010 and 2011 – 2,256 were built.
GT3 RS 3.8
The 997.2 GT3 RS, with its 3.8-liter engine, bumped power to 444 horsepower over the 3.6-liter model – and took all of the various 997.2 styling changes over the 997.1. A total of 1,619 were built for the 2010-2011 model years.
GT3 RS 4.0
The 997.2 GT3 RS 4.0 uses the largest engine ever in a street 911 at four liters – producing 493 horsepower. Again destined for the track, only 603 were built for model year 2011. It’s also the last 911 with the famous Mezger engine. As you’d expect, it’s significantly more expensive today than its GT3 siblings.
Turbocharged Porsche 997 Models
Introduced in 2007, the 997.1 Turbo used a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter engine producing 473 horsepower – at least. Porsche offered a Sport Chrono option that allowed the car to raise the maximum turbo boost pressure for ten seconds, which added torque and power for a hot lap. The 997.2 Turbo was introduced for the 2010 model year and received a new 3.8 litre boxer engine capable of 493 horsepower. Both generations were offered in coupe and cabriolet variants for a total production of 26,778.
In 2011, the 997 Turbo S added thirty extra horsepower over the standard 997.2 Turbo – but was only available with the 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission that became available in the 997.2 generation. Still, those seven gears could be ripped through with lightning quickness via the column-mounted shift paddles. 4,950 of the Turbo S models (both coupe and cabrio) were sold between 2010 and 2012.
In 2008, the 997 GT2 appeared with a 3.6-liter, twin-turbocharged engine producing 523 horsepower. With wilder wings and spoilers than the standard 997.1 Turbo, it was seriously quick – with a top speed over 200mph. 1,242 were sold between 2008 and 2009.
Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder
The Porsche 918 Spyder was a genuine hypercar – sold in seriously limited numbers of 918. To commemorate that car, Porsche introduced a 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder that was mechanically identical to the standard 997 Turbo S – but accented with bright green trim, decals, and even brake calipers to match the similar trim on the 918. Contemporary accounts suggested that Porsche would limit production to 918 models – but the records we’ve found are much lower, with only 146 produced between coupe and cabrio versions. If you can find one, this is a seriously rare car.
Engine Concerns on the Porsche 997
Not all of the engine reliability issues of the naturally aspirated 996 engines had been worked out as Porsche transitioned to the 997 chassis. The earliest 997 models used the M96 engine, or a development of the M96 known as the M97. Both of these engines are susceptible to failure of the intermediate shaft bearing (IMS bearing, for short) – though Porsche had worked to improve the oiling of the bearing over the years. The internet is filled with anecdotes about these engines and these bearings – there seems to be no consensus to whether these earliest 997 engines will or won’t fail.
Another concern with the M96 and M97 engines is bore scoring – basically, abnormal wear to the surface of the cylinder bores. There are a number of factors that cause this bore scoring, and a number of symptoms. Again, no consensus to both causes and remedies – but it seems well established that if your car has experienced bore scoring, you will need a significant amount of engine work.
Just like on the 996, all turbocharged 997 models along with any of the GT3 models use the Mezger engine, which is not affected by any of these afflictions. The IMS issues went away with the 997.2 facelift – the new 9A1 engine, with direct fuel injection, did away completely with the intermediate shaft, and thus far has proven to be a much more robust powerplant.
All this is to say – get a PPI! The Pre-Purchase Inspection is so frequently mentioned when discussing potential purchases online because current owners want to make sure those new to the Porsche marque know what they’re getting into. Further, they want those new owners to be satisfied with their purchase. Find a local marque specialist who knows the 997, and bring the car to them for an independent verification of the car’s mechanical condition. Get records of all prior work. Be judgmental of the seller – with a car like a Porsche, you’re not just buying the car, you’re buying all of the people who’ve owned it before because the way they maintain their car can have an effect on your future with that car.
For a driver quality vehicle, we think the 997 Carrera S represents the best value opportunity in the 997 market today. It’s the largest in terms of sales count during the last 5 years which means there’s plenty of “liquidity” to enter or exit the market. However, we suggest focusing specifically on the 997.2 Carrera S simply to avoid any concerns about the IMS bearing problems, but also because production numbers are substantially lower. Yes, that also means you’ll have to be more patient to find one and pay a slight premium (about 10k as of this writing) over the 997.1 Carrera S, but we think it’s worth it. The base 997.2 Carrera is an excellent buy as well. It’s slightly less powerful than the 997.1 Carrera S (approximately 10 HP and 7 lb/ft of torque, which is negligible in real world driving terms), while being a much better car. We suggest going for a manual transmission as there are fewer than those equipped with PDK. They are likely to hold their value better due to cheaper long term maintenance costs and their simplicity will appeal to many enthusiasts.
Another interesting market to look at is the 997 Turbo S. Available only during the 997.2 generation, it appears the market has not recognized their value relative to the “standard” 997.2 Turbo. As of this writing, the CLASSIC.COM Market Value (CMV) for the Turbo S is $81,914 compared to $88,860 for the 997.2 Turbo. Why? While CMV should only be used as a benchmark, we can’t find a good explanation for the difference. Rather, we see it as an opportunity.
For collectibility, we would keep an eye on the Sport Classic. With a production count of 256, that is an incredibly rare car. That being said, we would be careful not to jump in without additional data points. In the meantime, put your bulls-eye on a low mileage 997 GT2 RS. That market has softened, but with a production count of 510 and impressive performance figures, we see plenty of long term upside.
Of course, when it comes to knowing what you should pay for your 997, we highly recommend checking out the Porsche 997 sales comps on CLASSIC.COM – you can explore past auction sales, and Follow the market to get alerts when we detect new listings of your favorite model.
After the 997, Porsche introduced the 991 generation for model year 2012, on an entirely new platform with major improvements. But just like the 993 generation, the last of the air-cooled Porsches, the 997 left us with a sense of nostalgia: it marks its place in history as the last 911 with real hydraulic steering; a significant fact as the beloved 911 steering feel was partially lost with the introduction of the electric assisted unit.
Written by Chris Tonn. Market insights and opinions by CLASSIC.COM. Contributions by Alejandro Trujillo, the 997 Wizard.