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911 997.1 [2005 à 2009]

15 years of the Porsche 997.1

A new model of 911 is always controversial. Porsche enthusiasts tend to get so used to the current version that they can be almost resentful when it is replaced.

Indeed, the arrival of any new 911 is usually at least slightly controversial, and with over half a century of history, examples abound: the 964 disappointed for resembling its aging predecessor so closely; the 991 shocked some with its considerably larger dimensions and, for more conservative types, the 992 was not only wider still, but a daunting tech-fest.

Then, of course, there was the 996, Porsche’s imaginative and brave attempt to translate the 911 into the 21st century idiom. Such was the outcry that it was hard to distinguish whether it was the styling or the water-cooled engine which upset diehards more.

The original 901 attracted more curiosity than outright admiration, but in 1963 nobody knew what the future 911 would be capable of. 30 years later and the 993 was mostly favourably received, if still seen as quaintly old fashioned outside Porschedom

By contrast there was one 911 for which praise was unanimous when it appeared, and that was the 997. Here, Porsche managed to combine tradition and progress as never before or, for many people, since. Allow us to take you through the 997’s history, tech, and current standing.

Planning dictated that the 996 would run out six years after its launch, and preparations for that successor began within a year of the 996 appearing in the showrooms. In response to market and press reaction, ideas for its successor were already taking shape.

Two things became clear: if aesthetically modern, the 996 was a little too radical. The Carrera was seen as a shade too refined-looking, lacking a certain aggressive element.

If the Aerokitted versions partly addressed this, in reality they still looked too much like aftermarket modifications. The cabin, too, was not quite right: certainly it was more spacious, and ergonomically it addressed the classic faults of the old 911 cockpit, with its scattered and not always logical switchgear.

But the 996 interior’s curves were, for many observers, overstylised. There was also the matter that the 996 shared not just its cabin, but the entire body from the doors and A-pillar forward with the much cheaper Boxster. 

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Diving Deep into Analog Machines with One Man’s Cherished 997.1 GT3 RS

Some owners develop bonds with their cars so close that they make certain parent-child relationships cold and distant. Perhaps the involved relationship one must have when owning and modifying a car over the course of a decade, one might get closer to their car than they can with kin. Plus, a Porsche 997.1 GT3 RS doesn’t make rude comments at Thanksgiving, nor does it come home with strange suitors and expect you to make small talk. However, like a kid, the GT3 RS does cost a great deal of money—not that spending money on this beauty was something Shawn Lee ever did begrudgingly.

This simple, frill-free GT3 RS is impressive on stats alone. With 420 horsepower, less than 3,000 pounds to haul around, a slick six-speed, and as little superfluous bits as possible, there’s plenty to enjoy. But this model has some history to boot. A former car of the late Paul Walker, this GT3 RS was modified in the way that the face of The Fast and the Furious would have. Walker fitted it with Lexan rear windows, GMG Cup fenders, and Carrera GT seats in the year he owned it, then sold it to Mr. Lee.

A few tasteful modifications make this GT3 RS even more of a driver’s car.

To Lee, the analog nature of this generation of GT3 is its main appeal. « This car gives a workout, » he says. With the ability to make its driver sweat and the level of involvement it demands, it leaves you tired. « It beats on you, » Lee adds. Even compared to the 991 GT3, he finds the visceral, unfiltered experience of driving a 997 GT3 RS can’t be beaten—even if it’s not the fastest machine around nowadays. There’s a deeper connection that older cars offer the driver. The young guns and the laptime-obsessed might not feel the same way, but that relationship one forms with an analog car can really leave its owner panting, elated, and ready for another go.

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Porsche Celebrates Twenty Years of the 911 GT3

The GT3’s formula is something that stirs any driver with a drop of motor oil in their veins. A high-revving naturally-aspirated flat six engine closely related to the engine used in motorsports, rear wheel-drive, a lightweight construction, upgraded aerodynamics, and track-focused suspension made the GT3 a must for the drivers wanting a little more than what most supercars could offer. While there are cars with greatest statistics, the well-rounded nature of the GT3 has made it a wondrous car that still pulls at our heartstrings after twenty years. As we’ve seen, integrating more tech hasn’t dulled its appeal, either.

The successor to the 2.7 RS, the 996 GT3 ushered in a level of performance not available to customers for two decades.

Spiritual Successor

Upon its release in 1999, the Porsche GT3 was one of the few road cars to lap the Nurburgring in less than eight minutes; Walter Rohrl snagged a 7:56.33 in one of these edgy, temperamental, and rewarding cars. Lowered suspension, a distinct aero kit with an adjustable rear wing, a standard limited slip differential, adjustable suspension, and 360 horsepower made this one of the sharpest 911s available. While we Americans didn’t receive the GT3 until the 996 was facelifted, the two years on the market had us all waiting eagerly for the arrival of the next generation.

More Tech, More Speed

It was the 997 which captured the public’s attention Stateside. A bevy of new electronic systems, divided control arms, more power, and eventually center-lock hubs, the 997 was a step or two in practicality beyond the first iteration. Traction control, electronic stability control, and an optional front axle lift system made this generation of car a much more usable product, but still as capable over a backroad or a circuit. In fact, the 997 GT3 was significantly faster with a 7:40 lap at the ‘Ring.

Sophisticated but Pure

Continuing on that theme, the 991 introduced both a PDK gearbox and rear wheel-steering. These gadgets caused outrage among the purists, but the resulting performance only helped cement the 991 GT3’s reputation as one of the best track cars on sale. With its 3.8-liter’s 485 horsepower pushing a still svelte 3,153-lb car, the 991 GT3 became much more of a dragster than its predecessors, and its improved aero and agility helped chop another massive margin off its previous lap time at the Nurburgring. There aren’t many cars in the GT3’s price range which can dawdle around town comfortably and still set a ‘Ring time of 7:25.

Despite twenty years of electronic assistance and greater practicality, Porsche’s rawest car is still a hot-blooded machine. Perhaps it’s not as focused as its spiritual forebear, the 2.7 RS, but it’s still a thrilling, demanding car that rewards the talented. The 911 GT3 represents the beating heart of Porsche’s commitment to building pure, uncompromised sports cars—and proves that involvement and usability aren’t mutually exclusive.

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Porsche 911 GT3 Has Been Defying Physics For 20 Years

It’s a beast on both road and track.

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Porsche : 20 ans de 911 GT3

VIDEO. Porsche a réuni les différentes générations de 911 GT3 pour les 20 ans du modèle.

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