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911 GT3 3.6 – 360 ch [1999 à 2001]

Video: How Long Can a 996 GT3 Last in the Real World?

Porsche 911s have a reputation for reliability. They’re robust. You might even hear them referred to as « workhorses. » All are undeniably true—spotting a forty-year-old 911 SC isn’t tough in most cities. They are the everyday supercar, the one to take your kids to basketball practice in style.

What about a 996.2 GT3 Clubsport that’s spent nearly 80,000 kilometers on the track? It’s seen some serious freeway and backroad mileage, too. In total, this car has been driven by its owner for some 230,000 kilometers, and best of all, its owner still frequents the Nürburgring.

At the Nürburgring, this old GT3 can still hold its own, thanks largely to its owner’s sensible driving and a strong engine. Note at 4:38 how the healthy engine keeps it in spitting distance of a 997 GT3, which ought to have an additional forty-odd horsepower on the camera car. Now, this 996 Clubsport’s engine was rebuilt 21,000 kilometers prior to the filming of this video—and it’s only gone through three clutches (skip to 20:44 for the full list of maintenance items). With only new dampers, and the occasional brake and tire refresh, this paragon of durability has provided its owner with hours and hours of stress-free smiles. Sounds like a deal to me.

Considering the life this GT3 has lived, it’s aged better than Morgan Fairchild.

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GT3: A Porsche 911 History

Forget the switch to water-cooling, for Porsche enthusiasts, 1998 was really all about the release of the first Porsche 911 GT3. It marked the beginning of a new Neunelfer model range that has, in just 18 years, worked its way into Zuffenhausen legend.

Based on the Porsche 996 Carrera’s narrow body shell, the original 996 GT3 debuted in Cup car form at the tail end of 1998 before the road going version was launched at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show.

Unlike the standard 996 Carrera, it was bestowed with a dry sump, race-bred engine, the architecture of which could be traced back deep into the air-cooled era. Designed by legendary Porsche engineer, Hans Mezger, the 3.6-litre engine developed 365hp at a heady 7,200rpm.

Tracking shot of a Dark Blue Porsche 996 GT3

Named after the FIA racing class it was designed for, the first 911 GT3 was still very much a road car (despite its motorsport-inspired moniker and drivetrain). As it turned out, this would be the key to the car’s success with 1,858 996.1 GT3s leaving the bespoke production line at Porsche’s Motorsport Department.

In 2003, the GT3 got its first update, bringing with it the 996 Gen2’s sharper front lights, new alloy wheels and a revised aerodynamic package that included a more modern rear wing design. The 3.6-litre ‘Mezger’ engine was also fettled, providing an improved 386hp at 7,400rpm.

While the 996.2 GT3 was no longer made in Weissach, the move to the Zuffenhausen factory allowed Porsche to increase production, with 2,313 Mark II cars being built between 2003 and 2005.

Blue Gen 1 Porsche 997 GT3

Demand was even higher for the first 997 GT3, launched in 2006. Still based on the narrow Carrera body shell, Andreas Preuninger’s department made the 997.1 the first GT3 to weigh less than its Carrera 2 counterpart, while further development of the 3.6-litre flat six yielded an even higher rev limit.

Now producing 412hp, the 997.1 GT3 was also the first to come equipped Porsche Active Stability Management (PASM), allowing less experienced drivers to experience the race-bred road car’s talents with the benefit of an electronic catch net.

In 2009, the GT3 got its biggest revision yet as part of the 997 platform’s Gen2 facelift. Along with refreshed styling, the flat six engine was expanded to 3,797cc and the compression ratio increased to 12.2:1, increasing power to 435hp at 7,900rpm.

Riviera Blue Gen 2 Porsche 997 GT3 driving

Centre-lock wheels (a regular feature on the GT3 Cup cars since their debut in the 1999 race season) were also fitted to the road-going GT3 for the first time too, although 2010 model year cars needed to be recalled to fix a rear hub problem.

The Porsche 991 GT3 – launched at Geneva in 2013 – had even more tricks up its sleeves though. For the first time, the body shell was that of the wider Carrera 4, while the longer wheelbase of the 991 platform led Preuninger’s team to utilise a rear-wheel steering system jointly developed for the GT3 and 911 Turbo.

The drivetrain saw the greatest overhaul however. Gone was the now-legendary Mezger engine, replaced by high-revving version of the Carrera’s 9A1 engine while the manual gearbox was replaced with a PDK shifter (the performance of which was improved considerably to match the GT3’s race car credentials).

991-1-gt3

The move to the dual-clutch gearbox shocked many 911 enthusiasts and, with the 991.2 GT3 in the pipeline, it is expected that Porsche will bring the six-speed manual transmission back to the GT3 line-up as an option).

Due for launch early next year (possibly at Geneva), the Gen2 991 GT3 is also due to get the 4.0-litre powerplant from the current 911 GT3 RS. Complete with a lower 8,800rpm rev limit, the Rennsport’s engine is widely regarded as a more reliable unit that the 991.1 GT3’s engine (which suffered a few hugely publicised failures).

For more historical online features, check out our full selection of ‘Porsche 911 history’ articles now.

Photo by CarPix AB

Photo by CarPix AB

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Best of the Porsche 996

There are two core elements that create a collectable 996-generation 911. The first is the obvious requirement of rarity. Limited numbers 911s always make the cut. The second is the Mezger engine.

This core element, carried over and constantly evolved and updated through the timeline of the 911, creates a tempo, a personality that utterly transforms the 996.

At a moment in the 911’s history when the faithful may have wavered in the face of a water-cooled car, the Mezger-engined 911s showed that Porsche still understood its enthusiast driver market. They are and always will be something special, as Total 911 finds out when putting all five dry-sumped 996s to the test.

996 GT2 v 996 GT3 RS
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For anyone investing in Mezger-engined 996 Porsches, the GT3 RS has long been the default choice. Iconic in appearance and exceptionally rare, the 996 GT3 RS was a collectable for Porsche enthusiasts well before the current global 911 collecting phenomenon.

But there are other 911s of that era produced in limited numbers that are equally collectable, just as challenging to drive, and in some ways could be more satisfying to own.

We are talking, of course, about the 996 GT2 – and with both cars currently commanding the same money in the Porsche marketplace, suddenly a GT2 vs GT3 RS is a 996 showdown many serious buyers may look to ponder over.

DSC_4024

Introduced in 2001 and intended for those who felt the 996 Turbo was just too civilised, the GT2 uses essentially the same engine as the Turbo but with larger KKK K24 turbochargers.

Together with uprated intercoolers, a revised exhaust system and ECU, the maximum power increased to 468bhp. The huge torque figure of 620Nm at just 3,500rpm was all delivered to the rear wheels only and the ever-reliable Porsche Stability Management was deleted. With the GT2 it’s all down to you.

The fact that almost every 996 GT2 that I’ve seen is finished in Basalt black makes the Porsche development engineer’s nickname for the car of ‘widowmaker’ particularly apt, as we walk over to the stunning GT2 Clubsport in our pictures.

To read our celebration of Mezger-engined Porsche 996s, pick up Total 911 issue 143 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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Video: Mighty Road Trip in a Porsche 964 Turbo and 996 GT3

YouTube channel, Supercar Advocates, has uploaded a clip of a road trip involving the Porsche 964 Turbo and 996 GT3. Both cars are in immaculate condition and in black exterior paint. The video above looks at the performance and look of the cars and how they fare against each other. The Porsche 996 GT3 gets a…

Video: Mighty Road Trip in a Porsche 964 Turbo and 996 GT3

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Better than stock? Modified Porsche 996 GT3s do battle

As much as any other model, the 996 GT3 epitomises Porsche’s design and manufacturing philosophy. A perfect blend of road-going sportscar with track-orientated elaborations, it’s a direct manifestation of the philosophy that goes back way beyond the much vaunted ’73 2.7 RS to evolutions of the 356, such as the 356 Carrera of 1955.

The company has always sought to implant lessons learned on track in its road-going models, so it was only a matter of time after the firm made the quantum leap from air-cooled 911s to liquid-cooled engines in 1998 before a new standard bearer was launched.

Come the Geneva Auto Salon in April 1999, the 996 GT3 was announced. It unites a higher performance normally-aspirated engine with a track-tuned chassis and augments the lineage of Porsche thoroughbreds in the RS idiom.

Modified GT3s 2

It certainly looks the part with its deep front spoiler and airdam, aerodynamically configured sills and fixed double-decker ‘swan neck’ wing on the engine lid (in Gen1 guise) instead of the previous retractable wing of the standard 996.

With a nod to the FIA’s GT3 endurance racing class, it was immediately seized on as the vehicle of choice for the Carrera Cup and Porsche Supercup series and, from 2000, the N-GT class of the FIA GT Championship, as well as international races like the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

It was an immediate sensation. Manthey Racing’s GT3 won the GT class at the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours with drivers Uwe Alzen/Patrick Huisman/Luca Riccitelli at the wheel. Shortly afterwards, Porsche’s test driver Walter Röhrl took a GT3 around the 14-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes 56 seconds – the first ever time under 8 minutes for a production car – much to the glee of the Porsche motorsport PR department.

Modified GT3s 3

The 996 GT3 is the hallowed offspring of Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT series production department and manager of Porsche High Performance Cars.

A renowned purist, he designed a specification that would encourage maximum driver involvement and for that reason Tiptronic and PDK transmissions were off the menu. The 996 GT3 uses the then-new Carrera 4’s narrow (as opposed to wider C4S) bodyshell, adapted to house the GT3’s dry-sump oil tank, different engine mounts and larger fuel tank.

To read our modified 996 GT3 head-to-head in full, pick up Total 911 issue 129 in store now. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device.

Modified GT3s 4

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