Do ugly headlights warrant dismissal of a great 911?

There are many names that the 996-gen Porsche 911 is called. These include (but not limited to) ‘the one with the ugly melted headlights’ and ‘the most hated Porsche 911’ and of course ‘the fried egg’.

Is it fair that these nasty names exist? Probably. But what’s really wrong with the 996 911? Let’s find out.

The history of the Porsche 911 plays a role in a part of the reason why people dislike the 996. In the 60s, the first 911 was released and this model was updated up until the 964 and then came the 993. These three initial models all roughly looked the same and didn’t really dare to change or evolve much, perhaps due to the fear of upsetting the loyalists.

Why The 996 Is Considered The Worst 911
The Car Spy, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Then, the 996 crashed the party in 1999 and unlike its predecessors, it actually dared to change. This marked the first modern Porsche 911 and features styling changes that some would consider radical at the time but the truth is, the 996 just dared to be different.

One of the main complaints and definitely the most well-known one is aimed at the lights. Up to this point, all 911s featured round circular lights. It had become part of the 911’s identity and the 996 took that away, to the displeasure of many disgruntled fans. It was even nicknamed the ‘fried egg’ 911 after the lights which looked like a split yolk that was oozing into the bonnet. This effect was even more apparent on pre-facelift 996’s which featured yellow indicator lights on the headlights in the US.

Why The 996 Is Considered The Worst 911
Ben, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another weakness of the 996 that was used as ammunition in its smear campaign from those disgruntled fans was the engine failure. There was a well-known fault with the intermediate shaft bearing or more commonly known as the IMS bearing. Basically, due to the change from air-cooling to water-cooling (another act of sacrilege, the purists will say) the engine was redesigned in a few ways. This affected the IMS bearing and essentially, due to the lubrication gradually disappearing, it had a chance to blow up a good portion of the engine at any point without warning.

Why The 996 Is Considered The Worst 911

Another complaint many had was that the interior was lacking. This is baffling to a lot of people as the interior was a clear improvement from the previous models and a lot of those complaining are or were doing so years after its release, comparing it to the new 911 models that came after.

Why The 996 Is Considered The Worst 911
The Car Spy, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The interior features a lot of plastic and some complain that this feeling of ‘cheapness’ resonates throughout the 996. Critics of the car say the paint fades, components wear quickly and the interior wears quickly too. Also, the 996 Porsche 911 was produced in vast quantities, more than the 993 at least, therefore cheapening its image to those that were looking for something ‘special’. This could be another part of the reason why even today, 20 years later, the 996 is still yet to shoot up in value like other 911s.

Anyway, do you think the 996-gen 911 is the worst 911? Let us know, in the comments!

If you enjoyed this, you may also like: ‘Alfa Romeo SZ: Weird Car of The Month

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One Response

  1. Murage

    I admire the characteristics of air cooled ones ; canopy like windshield , lowered tail lights , triangular side window and the dry engine sound.
    I love my 996 as well , and cannot understand why they are hated.
    Different headlights ? Why cares ?
    IMS and bore scoring ? Can be fixed and prevented by proper management.(my opinion)
    996 was the challenge, transformation of the 911to survive …maybe I hated it if the engine was loaded at the front.


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