96 may be worth more cash in the long term being the first of the run, I went with a late 97 to try and get a better "sorted" car a few thousand into the build of GTS.
Remember this was a new plant at the time as well in 96. New model in a new plant.
Weatherstripping along the door sill is 1 piece in 97, 2 in 96, rear strip was dropped in 97 as they couldn't line up the stripes correctly from the fascia below it. Typical DCX move, just drop the stripes thru the plate, haha.
97 rim is forged not cast, and has more polish than 96. Oil pan gasket issues seem to hit 97 more than 96. As well as rear main seal I believe is more of a 97 problem than 96.
Very similar car obviously, spiltting hairs to omit one over the other unless your a track rat, then 97 rims are the ticket. (running change in early year, some 97's are cast still).
I had a '97 and it was faster than any of the other '96's. I don't remember running against any other '97's though. It just may have been THAT car, but out of the box stock it was running 12.0's at 122mph. That's fast.
OK, I have a '96 GTS and GTSboy up there has a '97. I kid him about his stripes not going all the way through in the back, but if I had a choice I'd pick up a '97. For some reason that model year put out some really strong engines which made for a fast car. Maybe they got the bugs out, tweaked it a little to run faster, I dunno. But then due to emissions standards I think they had to tweak it down a bit for Vipers after '97 or so. GTSboy and I both have almost exactly the same rwhp and torque now, but I have a lot more mods than him. What does that say. The 97's were strong dude.
the one thing I really thought was cool about my 96 GTS was it was considered a Indy 500 Pace car. Sounds silly but I totally went nuts for Vipers when I went to the time trials/race back in 96 and saw those beautiful blue and whites up close.