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911 GT3 3.8 – 435 ch [2010 à 2011]

20 years of GT3: every generation tested

Mention ‘GT3’ and Porsche’s now-legendary moniker conjures a host of vivid adjectives: Loud. Unrestrained. Pure. Mechanical. Fast.

Porsche’s GT3 is already considered an icon – an exemplary feat given it’s only just turning 20 years old. Launched just before the turn of the millennium, Porsche’s new 911 model line had already positively asserted itself by breaking the Nürburgring lap record for production vehicles with a time of seven minutes and 56 seconds, thereby firing its way straight into the hearts of admiring enthusiasts.

Built to homologate Porsche’s FIA race cars, the GT3 was originally built for the UK and mainland Europe only, yet the line-up has since flourished into a worldwide motoring phenomenon, each new model a highlight within its generation of 911. 

Total 911 has gathered all six generations of GT3 for a special test, as we relive two decades of a special sports car perennially at the peak of its class. Beginning, of course, with the 996 of 1999…

For the full group test of every generation GT3, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 178 in shops now or get it delivered to your door via here. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

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Tuned 996 C2 Dices with GT3s in France

It’s hard to fathom that what for a long-time was considered the « redheaded stepchild » of the 911 family can, if driven well, casually dice with the latest and greatest thoroughbreds in the Porsche stable. A 991 GT3 ought to casually show the aging, 3.4-liter 996 its heels, but Guillaume Artufel’s 996, aided by his wonderful driving skills, remains in contention with cars costing ten times as much at the high-speed Circuit Du Var Luc in Southern France.

There are a few choice modifications that help this 3.4-liter 996 keep up. GT3-style seats help keep Artufel stable while hurtling down the former AGS-Formula 1 test track, KW coilovers offer some stability, Federal semi-slicks provide the stick, and as it’s a fairly focused track toy, it sports a cage. Other than that, it’s a plain-jane 996.

So, how does such a simple car run down a pair of well-driven GT3s? Artufel’s a masterful driver, and never looks flustered behind the wheel. Though he’s driving the Porsche to the edge of adhesion in hairpins and fifth-gear kinks alike, he never looks like he’s trying; he exudes calmness in the cabin.

It could be his tires, but he simply looks to trace tidier lines and show greater confidence in the high-speed sections, where he’s able to wrangle the red 997.2 GT3. Considering how this red car has some 150 horsepower on the camera car, straightline speeds are incomparable, but the 996 shows similar poise and, perhaps spurred on by a bit of underdog’s bravado, Artfuel likes nipping at the GT3’s bumper when he can. That said, the GT3 looks far more stable in the fast direction changes, though Artufel’s second-nature countersteering helps there.

Though the 996 slides at speed (5:05 and 6:08), it still behaves nicely and doesn’t surprise Artufel.

Even more impressive that a 991 GT3 joins the fray and fails to walk away for a long time. The 991’s combination of a broader powerband and a PDK gearbox gives it the ability to waltz away from the red car in a straight line, but due to Circuit Du Var’s narrow confines and a likely discrepancy in driving talent, it takes a long time to find a way around. Meanwhile, Artufel’s comfort behind the wheel helps him observe the fracas from a friendly distance, and, incidentally, demonstrates how wonderful these often-overlooked Porsches are with the right modifications and the proper touch.

Nipping down the inside, Artufel gives a friendly and audacious honk.

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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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Porsche 997.2 GT3 ultimate guide

The launch of the 991 version in 2013 marked the latest in a line of GT3-badged Neunelfers stretching back to the 996. The Mezger engine had gone and not everyone was happy with the PDK-only transmission but it was as beguiling to own and drive as ever.

However, the car we’re interested in here, the second-generation 997 model, is considered by some observers to be the most accomplished of the breed.

Launched in 2009 at the Geneva Motor Show and with a reassuringly high £82,000 price tag, it boasted more power and torque than the Gen1 GT3 and some very impressive performance numbers, including a 0-62mph sprint cut down to 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 194mph.

Porsche 997 GT3 Gen2 engine

That extra shove came courtesy of a new 3.8-litre motor – the last of the Mezger units – that produced 435bhp at 7,900rpm and 430Nm of torque at 6,250rpm, improvements of 20bhp and 25Nm respectively compared to the first-generation model.

Forged aluminium pistons and titanium connecting rods were part of a tasty specification that included VarioCam for inlet and exhaust cams, dry-sump lubrication with an oil-to-water heat exchanger and the £800 option of dynamic engine mounts.

It’s an immensely strong unit that, unless used for pounding endlessly around the Nordschleife, shouldn’t give any problems. Clearly, any example you find should have been meticulously maintained so any gaps in the service history should ring alarm bells.

Porsche 997 GT3 Gen2 interior

Unless you’re certain of previous usage, then it makes sense to get it checked over by an OPC or specialist, including an over-rev check to ensure it’s not spent too many hours nudging the redline.

One area worth checking is the front-mounted radiators as their position in the nose could have allowed road debris to cause damage or corrosion: examine the units and the connecting pipework for any leaks.

And ensure that the exhaust system is healthy, as the standard Sports item costs £3,300 in parts alone should replacement be needed. The six-speed manual gearbox is equally tough and more than capable of handling the occasional circuit foray.

To read our Porsche 997.2 GT3 buyer’s guide in full, pick up Total 911 issue 139 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now. 

Porsche 997 GT3 Gen2 rear

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Watch this 993 Carrera RS chase a 997 GT3 around the Nordschleife

As you may have guessed to day, we’ve started a week-long celebration of all things Rennsport and, as our list of favourite RSs showed earlier, the 993 Carrera RS ranks as one of the best of the breed.

Rennsport 911s are bred for the track and, while some are horded away in the hands of collectors, a large number still see plenty of action out on circuits around the world. This particular 993 RS is no exception.

We don’t know who Sandro Ziegler is. He doesn’t seem to have any international racing pedigree. However, he sure can pedal the last air-cooled Rennsport Porsche 911 around the Nürburgring, as he proves chasing down the 997 GT3 ahead of him.

It’s not a full Nordschleife lap – running instead from Wehrseifen to Pflanzgarten – but, if you watch one Porsche 911 video today, make sure it is this one.

For more of the best Porsche 911 films, check out our dedicated video section now.

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