With Porsche cranking out all manner of 911 variants these days, not to mention SUVs and EVs, it could be easy to forget that back in the late 90s, Team Zuffenhausen was struggling to keep the lights on. Their legendary air-cooled flat-six, at that point powering the 993-generation 911, was banging up against increasingly strict emissions regulations and on the verge of non-compliance. Rumors of a takeover were rampant, and the Porsche Way was under threat. However, the company turned to the masters of lean manufacturing, Toyota, for their help in finding a way forward.
And so, the first water-cooled 911 was born as the new 996 model that ran from 1997 into the early aughts. Instantly controversial due to ending the air-cooled era, the reality is this new 911 led the charge to reinvent both the vehicle lineup AND the company. The new power plant sported four valves per cylinder for the first time in a 911 along with VarioCam adjustable camshaft timing and dry sump oiling.
In 2002, a mid-cycle refresh resulted in new headlamps to match the period Turbo model, improved chassis rigidity, a wider front track and a retractable cupholder! While that cupholder was a startling addition to a 911, certainly the biggest news of the 2002 update was a beefier motor. Displacement bumped from 3.4 liters to 3.6, 80% of the engine internals were replaced and the VarioCam system was massaged. Christened the 996.2 C2, this refreshed Carrera made 320 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque when new.