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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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sponsored: Commission your Porsche 911 as fine art

Many 911 owners would already consider their car to be a piece of automotive art – we certainly do – and gazing over the curvaceous bodywork can give many hours of pleasure.  But there’s more than one way to enjoy the stunning appearance, and having it committed to canvas would be special indeed. Which brings us to the work of renowned artist, Rob Hefferan. Fascinated with art since childhood, his first exhibition in 2003 showcasing his skills in figurative work and portraiture was a resounding success. It’s those skills along with an international reputation for quality and unrivalled attention to detail that has led to his work being commissioned by numerous celebrity clients, and it turns out that Rob has another passion; “I’ve been obsessed with cars since I was young, and that developed into a love for Porsches, and the 911 in particular”. 

A serial owner of our favourite sports car, his collection has included the 996, both generations of 997 model, and he now enjoys a 991 Carrera S. A proper car guy, then, which is why he’s decided to focus his talents on the Zuffenhausen marque, offering owners and enthusiasts the opportunity to have their pride and joy recreated as fine art. He admits this is a new challenge and one he relishes, already having set to work creating around a dozen paintings of various Porsches. While such artwork isn’t entirely new, what’s different here and core to Rob’s ethos is capturing even the smallest of details that make each car unique. And having seen it for ourselves we are talking about beautiful pieces of art here, the sort of work that would complement 911 ownership in a way that other pictures just can’t. Painted either in oils or acrylic depending on the timescales involved, each work can take anything from 150 to 300 hours to complete and the work is also unusual compared to other automotive artists in that he is happy to depict not just the car but to include the owner as well. It’s where the talent for portrait work really pays off. 

As for the process of commissioning a painting, an owner can either provide pictures of the car or Rob will travel to view your 911, employing a professional photographer to take dozens of detailed reference shots from which to work. It’s a painstaking process but one that results in something very special, but there was something we were keen to ask and that’s whether he had a favourite 911. “Not really” says Rob. “I love all of them, but if pushed I guess I’d have to say it’s the cars from the 1960’s that most capture my attention.”  “It’s the shape and form that I find so appealing, and the way the light falls on the bodywork. There are few cars like it, and I really admire Porsche’s heritage, especially when it comes to motorsport.” That emphasis on history and quality really shines through when it comes to the finished painting, and whether you own just the one car or are lucky enough to have a collection to see them represented in such a way is likely to prove very hard to resist. You can see examples of Rob’s work by visiting his website at http://www.robhefferanautomotiveart.com, but we’ll say now that you should be prepared to find yourself as tempted to commission his services as we are.

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Semi-Solid Engine Mounts Make A World Of Difference In This 997

For me, the words « DIY » and « engine mounts » in the same sentence cause a lot of stress. Before coming into the Porsche world, I spent years immersed in modified VWs. Seeing those two phrases together recalls unhappy memories of VR6 owners yanking all the rubber out of their engine mounts and stacking hockey pucks in their place, raising the engine and preserving their oil pan. It wasn’t pretty, and years later it still affects my blood pressure. Fortunately Car Fanatic is bringing us a much more legitimate upgrade with components from Rennline.

Ease of Installation

Especially for those of us used to classic Porsche models, working on a late-model car like Car Fanatic’s 997 can fall somewhere between intimidating and frustrating, depending on your skill level. While plastic engine covers and large plastic airboxes can be good for NVH reasons, they almost universally cause frustration for DIY’ers. Fortunately the two rear engine mounts on a 997 are among the easiest engine mounts I’ve ever seen to access, and according to the video replacing them requires just a jack and a few basic hand tools most enthusiasts already own.

The video does a good job breaking down how to replace these components step-by-step. The owner notes that his car has a T55 Torx bolt on the bottom of his engine mounts rather than the conventional nut specified by Rennline, but other than that the installation appears extremely straightforward.

Results

But what is the net result of the change? The video shows a visible change in the amount of engine movement with the worn stock mounts compared to the new semi-solid mounts. The owner also notes significantly less driveline shunt when coming on and off the clutch. With a relatively smooth-running powerplant like a 911’s flat-six this change shouldn’t send the owner running to the dentist to replace a never-ending stream of dropped fillings. For owners of four cylinder Porsches the change is likely to be more dramatic. If my experience with semi-solid mounts in my old Golf is any indication, 924 owners should be especially careful when using poly mounts. A lower durometer reading will save a lot of literal headaches.

For 997 owners, the ease of replacement coupled with the apparent improvements in responsiveness make upgraded engine mounts a worthwhile upgrade.

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America Runs On Porsche 911 GT3 Donuts

The Hoonigans might not be well known among our readers, but they are one of the biggest automotive YouTube channels around. Their audience is in the millions, and their videos are geared towards the tinkering type of gearheads who dream about high-quality AN fittings and elevate automotive customization to the level of fetish. This naturally dictates their focus; they tend to feature drift cars, muscle cars, mid-tier sports cars. Think Nissan Skyline and BMW M3. That said, the Hoonigans do wander into exotic territory once in a while.

Not that a Ali Falahi’s 997 GT3 is an exotic in the truest sense of the term, but it is a car that resides a higher tier than those usually featured on their channel. Still, it fits in with the Hoonigans’ fleet because most of the cars featured here are highly customized, and this GT3 is no exception. With Recaro Pole Position seats, an OMP wheel, and a BBi rollbar, the interior is all business—save for a few alcantara adornments. The exterior is also no-nonsense, with Cup car additions and a set of BBS center-lock wheels to complete this car’s subdued but unmistakably purposeful look.

Its sound is just as enticing as its appearance. The motor is untouched, save for a straight-pipe exhaust which rumbles at a volume somewhere between intimidating and antisocial. To the Hoonigans, this « grown up » burble is misleading and doesn’t prepare them for the scream the Mezger motor makes at redline.

Despite making « only » 350-400 horsepower at the wheels, the torquey 3.8-liter engine has no problem spinning the rear wheels.

Despite making far less power than most of the turbocharged monsters featured on their channel, the 3.8-liter GT3 holds its own. Without any difficulty, it turns its 325-section Toyo R888 tires into smoke as Falahi draws long black stripes across the Hoonigans’ proving ground. While the Hoonigans might’ve been a bit skeptical of this gleaming GT3 at first, they’re completely convinced and hollering wildly at the end of this demonstration of speed, sound, and agility.

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