Most of Porsche’s 996 models of 911 (model years 1999-2004) are at the bottom of their depreciation curve…decent performance for the cost of a well-optioned Ford Fiesta. The 996 model is the unloved black-sheep 911 (if only it had round headlights like all the others). Cursed as the first water cooled edition, the 996 started with a 3.4 (996, series 1) and ended with a revised 3.6 power plant 996, series 2). Between the much-maligned 966 Carreras and the Metzer engined 996 GT3 and Turbo (currently ~values at $70k and $45k) there is a small sweet spot where you get incredible value for money, extreme performance, and the luxury materials and finish expected from a $98k Porsche.

I’m talking about the 2004 911 40th-Anniversary Edition. More than a re-badged Carrera, these are very special 911s—not quite a GT3 but close. Limited to only 1963 units (the year the 911 was first released), each “40 Jahre” car has a plaque with its edition number in the production (approx 800 cars shipped to North America). All 40AE’s have the X51 power package (engine upgraded to 345hp—a $17k option on regular 996s), factory Limited Slip Differential (available only on the 40AE and on some 1999 models with the smaller 3.4L engine), club sport suspension (M030 suspension lowered 10mm), GT Silver paint (the only other ‘04 model with that color option was the $440k Carrera GT), custom wheels, model-specific Natural Grey Full Leather interior with Alcantara headliner.

In my opinion, this is not a car that you get in and drive; this is a 911 that you strap into and wear like a tailored suit to a triathlon. No other factory 996 under $40k feels as exhilarating as the 911 40th-Anniversary Edition.

Wilton, Connecticut, United States