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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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Ride Onboard For Some Silky Smooth Laps in a Track-Spec 996 GT3 at Road America

Photos & video courtesy of Ryan Gates/311RS, LLC.

With the right modifications, the 996 GT3 becomes a car that will sway the most skeptical, please the frigid, and bring out the best in the timid. Not that it was slow from the factory, but with some talented tuners and a skilled set of hands making the most out of the least loved of the GT lineup, we see that it—like every other member of its purebred stable—is made for carving quick laps and stretching smiles.

Minneapois-based motorsports design firm 311RS is responsible for making this GT3 into something capable of cracking off consistent laps in the 2:26-range. They spared no expense here, starting with JRZ-RS Pro coilovers with custom 311RS damping. ERP arms and solid bushings came next, and the suspension maximizes the footprint made by the 311RS-spec BBS E88 18×9″ & 18×11.5″ wheels wrapped in Michelin Sport Cup 2s.

With roughly 400 horsepower courtesy of a Cup exhaust, BMC filters, an IPD plenum, and a tune, it’s definitely rapid and needs serious stopping power. The brakes, still factory reds, use Girodisc rotors, Pagid Yellow pads, and stainless lines. For a track as fast as Road America with heavy braking zones, these bring the ~3,000-lb GT3 to a stop. On that note—they trimmed a little heft by removing the airbags, sun visors, glove box, front console, and head unit. It’s a track special, no doubt.

More than its straightline speed and its stopping ability, this GT3’s stability and responsive front end are its most impressive features. Rather than some frightening, hair-trigger monster, it’s composed and neutral, especially in high speed corners. Granted, Ryan Gates has the deft touch of an experienced driver, but no wiggling under braking, no mild corrections in the quick stuff, and only a hint of oversteer on turn-in proves 311RS really dialed it in. Perhaps a more aggressive driver would bring out its fangs, but Gates is still clicking off quick times with a very economical, subdued style.

Perhaps the large RS wing at the rear must help there, and the broad front splitter can’t hurt. Clearly, it’s a reassuring car with balance, braking performance, and punch enables Gates to charge without breaking a sweat and reel in some 991s. Note the distance he gains in braking and entry speed through the daunting Turn 11, known as the Kink (6:54). There, you want a car to sit nicely lest you leave a big black streak along the outside wall.

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What It’s Like When A 996 Turbo Goes Under the Knife for New Coolant Pipes

Yes, removing the Mezger is that daunting.

The one chink in the Mezger’s armor is its flimsy coolant pipes. For such a bulletproof motor, it seems strange that Porsche just glued the coolant pipes on. Though press-fitted, these coolant lines are known to pop off under high RPM load. Hoovie’s lousy luck meant his first trip to Heartland Motorsports Park was interrupted by his own lines popping off. Fortunately, this did not prompt a spin down the front straight, nor did it cook the motor. It was embarrassing though, and as it turned out, quite pricey to mend.

The Mezger motors that see the track will sustain higher temperatures and loads which are prone to make these lines disengage from the coolant console, and ensuring they stay in place during hard cornering and high revs requires a costly fix. While the cheaper band-aid fix would only set him back a few hundred dollars, the sensible approach costs ten times that. After dropping the engine, the hoses need to be pinned or welded in place, and the especially prudent drivers will replace the problematic OEM plastic elbows with stainless steel units.

The process of removing the engine is more labor intensive than dropping an M96. Turbos, intercoolers, head shields, and all the other forced induction ancillaries take a bit more time and effort. The starter and turbo inlets need to come out too, since they won’t clear the CV axles. With a few minor wiring hurdles cleared, the Mezger can be freed from its cramped confines. However, the process takes Hoovie and Wizard nearly two whole days to complete—which is why he was quoted nearly three large.

If there’s one piece of uplifting news here, it’s that BBi Autosport decided to help by offering to fix the busted water pipe situation. BBi, as well as a host of other Porsche-centric shops, can weld the coolant pipes in place for what should be a permanent fix. If you have any Mezger-powered Porsche, be it a Turbo or a GT3, you can preemptively have this work done, so it doesn’t come apart and leave you stranded without coolant. If you can remove your motor to get the « coolant console » out, as Mr. Hoover has, it’ll help save you a ton of labor.

Now you know. Let his misfortune save you a ton of time and money!

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Barks of the 996 GT3 RSR Bounce Off Monza’s Trees

Though not the fastest car through Parabolica, the 996 RSR’s baritone bellow is very entertaining.

The signature bark of the 996 GT3 RSR is unmistakable to the sonically sensitive Porschephile. They recognize the dry blat-blat-blat of the 3.6-liter under deceleration and heel-toe and from years ago when they heard those same sounds bounce off the walls at places like Sebring and Daytona. The rasp, the throatiness, and the absence of gearbox noise help it stand out as a distinct piece of music in the Porsche anthology.

The varied soundtrack accompanies a motor that screams to a tick over 8,000 rpm, and made ~445 horsepower while up there. Just a hair under 300 lb-ft was the churning force this motor produces, and though that’s not an exceptional amount by today’s standards, it is plenty of shove to propel a car weighing ~2,400 pounds. With a six-speed sequential to row through, it reaches a much higher top speed than one would imagine after watching it accelerate seemingly casually out of Monza’s hairpins.

Great stability on the brakes is one of this car’s obvious strong suits.

Fortunately, these two RSRs brake very well and exhibit great stability while decelerating. The 380mm and 355mm discs front and rear, respectively, bring the Porsche to a halt without much fidgeting. To run at somewhere like Le Mans for 24 hours, the car had to be reasonably stable. The big wing and diffuser help, but by modern standards, the 996 RSR’s areo doesn’t look like that a factory racer.

Still, after Looking at the body movement and the comparatively simplistic bodywork you get a sense of how far GT cars have come in the last fifteen years Body control, downforce, and braking performance are simply different level. Now, GT3 cars are built more like prototypes with an emphasis on aero grip, while back then, cars had to be managed more at lower speeds and slid in a subtle fashion. The steady forward march of progress, right?

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OUR FAVORITE PORSCHES FOR SALE THIS WEEK: VOLUME 136

We’ve been compiling some amazing Porsche models on the internet for over five years now, and we’ve seen some pretty astonishing examples pop up now and again. This week the weather has been nice, so we’re looking to get out and hit the track day circuit. Here are a bunch of cars ready and willing to head for laps at your favorite circuit. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our « curated » look at the Porsche market. Keep in mind, some of these Porsches could be great collection investments, while others might prove to do more financial harm than good.

INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR PORSCHE FEATURED HERE?

Every other week, we feature 5 of our favorite Porsches for sale. That post is sent out to our mailing list of more than 17,000 Porsche owners and fans and is seen by tens of thousands of other readers who visit our site directly. If you’re selling a Porsche on eBay and would like to see it featured here, just shoot us an email with the details and we’ll be back in touch. Otherwise, feel free to check out all the other eBay listings we have on our Porsches for sale pages.

1. 2009 Porsche GT3 Cup For Sale

What could possibly go wrong with a decade old Porsche race car that has been driven hard its entire life? This one was recently given a thorough going-through with an engine, transmission, and suspension rehash just two operating hours ago. The great thing about a 997 GT3 Cup is that it is old enough to be not quite so expensive, and new enough that there are plenty of shops willing to work on it and set it up for you.

For more pictures, pricing and information, check out the full listing on eBay.

2. 1988 Porsche 928 S4 Track Car For Sale

You wouldn’t normally think of a 928 as being a good track car, but this one is completely set up for racing or track days with a nice solid roll cage built in. The limited slip differential and 5-speed manual make this a great starting point, and once you pull out a lot of the things that make a 928 exceedingly heavy, it might have the potential to perform pretty well on course. If for no other reason than it has a nice rowdy V8 under the hood.

For more pictures, pricing and information, check out the full listing on eBay.

3. 1997 Porsche 911 3.8 RSR For Sale

Back in the days of 993, the RSR was a track king. These days it’s a collector special, but it would be an absolute boss move to show up to your next HPDE event with a twenty-plus year old superstar. The last of the naturally-aspirated aircooled race car monsters, this RSR deserves to be set free on a race track once again. Be the hero to let it roam.

For more pictures, pricing and information, check out the full listing on eBay.

4. 2006 Porsche Cayman Track Car For Sale

For my money, a 987 Cayman that has received some moderate track preparation is the best place to start if you are addicted to Porsche and track time. For one thing, this car is among the most forgiving and capable chassis Porsche has ever built. It’s compliant and quick, and will instantly instill confidence. It rewards consistency, but won’t punish mistakes the same way the 993 above would. For another thing, spares are inexpensive and easy to come by.

For more pictures, pricing and information, check out the full listing on eBay.

5. 2011 Porsche Cayman Race Car For Sale

And if a Cayman track car is good, then a Cayman race car is even better. Prepared for the GX class at the 24 hours of Daytona, this Cayman features a 3.8-liter engine from an X51 Carrera GTS 997, producing a whopping 405 horsepower. The seller claims more than a quarter million was spent preparing this car, and based on the parts list I believe it. It placed second on the podium in the 2013 Daytona 24, and would serve you quite well at almost any race track. Go chase GT3s with this high powered Cayman.

For more pictures, pricing and information, check out the full listing on eBay.

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