Much like an artist who only garners respect and success in death, the 996-generation Porsche 911 continues its unabated rise from the ashes of rampant depreciation and communal disrespect. With the fresh debut of the one-off Classic Club Coupe at Amelia Island’s Werks Reunion, the unloved 996 just received a blessing from the pope and a symbolic reintroduction into the true canon of the Porsche 911.
We’re being a bit dramatic, but this really is a landmark car for fans of the first watercooled 911. Few have ever lavished serious attention and money on a 996 outside of that generation’s Turbo and GT models, and what extreme aftermarket builds exist are almost always driven by the fact that 996s are plentiful, (relatively) affordable, and a great platform on which to forge your own Stuttgartian identity. In other words, no Porsche purist gives a hoot if you chop up a 996.
For the team behind the Classic Club Coupe, it all started back in 2018 at Rennsport Reunion 6. Almost ten years after Porsche Club of America collaborated with Porsche Classic in restoring a 1971 911 T, PCA returned to Porsche with a vision of an “ultimate” 996. “The 996 had just joined the catalog of Porsche Classic, and we thought, ‘no one has ever done a major, serious Porsche-backed build of a 996,’” explained PCA President Tom Gorsuch.
After two years of planning and another two years of development, the finished Classic Club Coupe is a tantalizing look at what Porsche’s Sonderwunsch—or special request—program is capable of. As some Porsche nutters might have already guessed, the Classic Club Coupe pulls heavy inspiration from the 2010 911 Sport Classic, a “Greatest Hits” album as sang by the 997-generation. “This is [conceptually] a prequel to the Sport Classic,” said Gorsuch. “That, and the idea of doing something with the 996 that has never been done before.”
So, with the full might of Porsche Classic and Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur behind it, the Club Classic Coupe took shape. Right from the get-go, they took the long way up; all the mechanicals are lifted from the 996 GT3, including the stock 3.6-liter Mezger flat-six, six-speed manual transmission, suspension, and brakes. Seeing as the 996 GT3 is almost visually identical to the standard 996 Carrera aside from some flared side skirts and a rear wing, you’d think the bones of the Club Classic Coupe were exhumed from a GT3. Nope—Porsche undertook considerable engineering effort to upfit a standard 1999 Carrera with the hotter guts, going so far as to prep a separate test mule for track driving and development.
Yes, instead of respraying a GT3 and swapping the decklid, this is a perfect case of engineering for the sake of engineering—with a dash of marketing for good measure. Think of this an advertisement for how capable—and serious—Porsche’s Sonderwunsch program is. If you have the cash and the vision, you too can have the Porsche from your gnarliest fever dreams.
The end result is a ground-up, factory-fresh hot-rod that really does look like a 996-generation Sport Classic. The most obvious references are the Sport Classic Gray paint, the ducktail decklid, the double-bubble roof, and that handsome set of Fuch wheels. Those wheels are snazzier than you think; Porsche worked with the original manufacturer and designer of the historical Fuch wheels to create a new 18-inch set perfect for the 996. Compare this to the black Fuch-style wheels on the 997 Speedster and Sport Classic, where Porsche developed its own interpretation of that iconic design rather than go to the source.
Elsewhere, Club Blau accents give a not-so-subtle wink at PCA’s heavy involvement, and small “Classic Series” fender badges indicate this ain’t in the same league as your typical Tiptronic 996 Cabriolet languishing on a used car lot. It’s the Classic Club Coupe’s interior that delivers the biggest aesthetic suckerpunch, with super-special one-off touches like a bespoke blue-stitched steering wheel and stripped tachometer. A special “pepita” woven leather trim fills the seat inserts and door panels, a unique touch that was once a design floor reject.
“I went down to our color and trim department for that,” said Grant Larson, Director of Special Projects at Style Porsche. “It’s full of ideas and experiments that never reach fruition due to being too expensive, too unusual, or too complicated to reach production. I came across some unused woven leather developed a few years ago, and I knew we had to use it.”
Even if you ignore Larson’s enviable role at Porsche, he’s the obvious choice for this project. Aside from his signature found under the designs of the original 986 Boxster, Carrera GT showcar, and 997-generation Carrera and Turbo, he designed both the 997 Speedster and the original 997 Sport Classic. “It’s a nod to the 996,” he explains. “We think its time has come, and we want to cast some extra focus on both the 996 itself and all the 996 fans out there.”
The message is clear—Porsche recognizes and understands the 996’s role in the enthusiast space almost 20 years after the final car left Zuffenhausen. “The 996 has come of age,” Larson continued. “We want to show our appreciation to all of the ‘other’ Porsche enthusiasts. There are a lot of people out there who are in love with Porsche, but it’s gotten out of reach for a lot of those who would love to participate in the brand, and we see the 996 as an entrance into the Porsche family.”
So, expect big things for the 996 going forward, particularly within the pages of the Porsche Classic catalog where some bits from the Classic Club Coupe will trickle down for public consumption. No word yet on what special parts might make the cut, but a few Porsche Classic reps hinted that the Fuch wheels, ducktail, and aero kit likely has the strongest chance of escaping the vaults of Exclusive Manufaktur.
If you would rather take the easy way out and purchase the Classic Club Coupe outright, PCA will auction the car off following a year-long tour. Look for the winning bid to land on a decidedly un-996 figure.