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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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project gold: Porsche remakes one-off 993 Turbo

Porsche has today taken the extraordinary step of remaking a ‘one of one’ special edition 993 Turbo more than 20 years after production of air-cooled 911s ceased at Zuffenhausen. The car, code-named ‘Project Gold’ in teaser videos released by the company in the run-up to its revelation, has been put together by Porsche Classic, with its styling and gold paintwork evoking that of Porsche’s current 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition.

Painted in Golden Yellow Metallic from Porsche Exclusive’s 991, the body of this collector’s item is ‘based on’ an original 993 body shell, with side air intakes present from the Exclusive 993 Turbo S, which was also available as an option on the regular 993 Turbo. Porsche says a brand new 3.6-litre 993 Turbo engine was installed into the car, its quoted output of 450hp suggesting the motor comes fitted with the X50 Powerkit option available at the time through Porsche Exclusive.

Project Gold took one and a half years to build, relying on a pool of over 6,500 genuine Porsche Classic parts, with Studio Porsche responsible for contemporary styling based on the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, which includes black leather seats with gold piping, gold detailing on the tachometer, and carbon detailing inside and out.

Porsche says the car is a ‘one-off production’, which will be auctioned at RM Sotheby’s Porsche-only sale at PEC Atlanta on October 27, 2018, which itself will mark 70 years of Porsche sports car production. However, the winning bidder will not be able to enjoy this 993 on the public road: not road registered, Porsche says the car is “limited to use on private tracks.”

You can see Project Gold for yourself at Rennsport Reunion, Laguna Seca, on September 27, where the car will make its world debut. For the most in-depth report on Project Gold ahead of its appearance at auction, keep an eye out for Total 911 magazine issue 171, due out October 3.

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Porsche 996: GT3 Genesis

GT3: the most evocative, desirable collection of letters and numbers as you can ask for to be tacked to the rump of a 911. Add RS into the mix and that’s even more so. The GT3, as its name and subsequent RS spin-off highlights, has its tyres firmly rooted in Porsche’s racing activities. It’s enough to elevate all the cars here above the usual rhetoric spewed about the once ‘undesirable’ 996, the GT3 badge signifying something very special indeed.

There are three GT3s in the 996 generation, the Gen1 available from 1998-2001, the Gen2 coming in 2003 until 2005, with the RS spun off that between 2004 and 2005. That Gen1 car is unique among GT3s, largely because it’s the only GT3 not to have a same-generation RS model based on it, the Gen1 being Porsche’s GT3 genesis.

It’s inconceivable that you’re reading this and don’t know at least the basics surrounding the GT3. Lighter, more engaging, its creation allowing homologation of parts to allow Porsche to race the 911 to great success around the world. Actually, with the original GT3 that lighter element is a misnomer, as put the Gen1 car on the scales and it’s carrying around 30kg more mass than its base 996 Carrera relation.

Blame that on the marginally heavier G96/90 gearbox and M96/76 engine, as well as an additional engine radiator. Porsche didn’t elect to go down the lightweight panels, thinner glass route with its first GT3 model, though it did bin the rear seats in a small – 8kg – concession to mass reduction, while Sport bucket seats removed around 20kg over the standard Carrera’s pews. As a means of recompense for the weight gain, the M96/76 engine, more commonly referred to in reverential tones as ‘the Mezger’, was fitted, its specification being pure motorsport, with lightened, stronger internals to cope with the stresses of winning competition.

And what compensation, the Le Mans-winning GT1-derived, naturally aspirated 3.6-litre flat six unit was rated at 360bhp at 7,200rpm – redlining at 7,800rpm – with peak torque of 370Nm. It’s a glorious engine with enough power to allow the GT3 to reach 62mph in 4.8 seconds, 100mph in 10.2 seconds and a quoted top speed of 187mph. But it isn’t the numbers that matter, really, rather how it delivers its performance. In Walter Röhrl’s hands the first GT3 lapped the Nürburgring in 7 minutes 56 seconds – isn’t it ridiculous to think how far things have come in under 20 years? Stopping all that are 330mm cross-drilled, inner-vented discs of 330mm in diameter, grabbed by four-piston monoblock callipers.

Getting into James Samuel’s yellow Gen1 car today demonstrates exactly what Porsche intended its customers to do with their GT3s: track them. Why else would Porsche include adjustable suspension with extended-axle geometry sitting 30mm lower than standard, an adjustable rear wing and the possibility to quickly (relatively speaking here, and if you’re a race mechanic) swap out gear ratios to suit differing tracks, as well as the synchro rings? To that Porsche added differing hubs, with 10mm larger bearings over the Carrera’s 70mm ones for the greater forces racing tyres would exert. Spherical top joints more rigidly position the front suspension, the same possible at the rear if you’re off racing, the GT department adding five alternative mountings at the back for the adjustable tubular anti-roll bars.

For the full feature, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 167 in shops now or get it delivered to your door. You can also download a digital copy, featuring a bonus gallery, to your chosen Apple or Android device. 

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Porsche’s Mission E Cross Turismo Concept Driven For The First Time

Porsche’s EV future has been teased by a pair of Mission E concepts, one a swoopy sport sedan that looks like the future, and the other a tall wagon that looks quite similar to a current production Panamera Sport Turismo on stilts. While both feature components that would identify them strictly as concepts, the latter looks to us to be mostly production ready. In order to prove that fact Porsche invited a few jounalists out to drive the Cross Turismo on real streets. Only four non-Porsche folks have had the opportunity to drive it in sunny southern California on open roads with a proper police escort, and one of them made the video below documenting the experience.

In his newest video, Tom Voelk explores the bounds of the Cross Turismo EV, as it isn’t quite up to the spec Porsche claims it will be when it comes to showrooms. It doesn’t have the 600 horsepower or the inductive charging, but it does have a set of electric motors and it does run and drive. Tom is joined by Porsche’s Dr. Stefan Weckbach and Gana Meissner to discuss the car and its capabilities. Visually, we don’t expect many changes to this faux-off-roader when it comes to market, though, like Tom, we could do without the pair of hood air inlets, as they’re far too busy for a proper Porsche design.

Mission E to E Mission

Tom does make the ‘Mission E’ to ‘E-Mission’ clever wordplay connection that has completely evaded our brains for the better part of three years. I’m not sure how I managed to miss that one, but it’s brilliant in hindsight. We look forward to the day when Porsche’s Tesla-beater finds a place in dealer showrooms. Based on this interaction, we think that might be nearer than previously imagined.

Did you know that Porsche has been building full-EV Boxsters and Caymans for years? They made their 987 version of the Boxster E pretty well known, but the 981 Boxster and Cayman E Mobility concepts were well kept secrets.

 
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Porsche 996.1 GT3: complete buyer’s guide

HISTORY & SPEC

The car you see here was introduced for just one reason: so Porsche could go racing in the GT3 endurance category. However, even as a road car it was a hugely tempting – not to mention rare – confection. And it’s also unusual, it being the only GT3 model not to have a more focused RS variant sitting above it, further adding to the unique appeal.

At its heart was the 3.6-litre, M96/79 Mezger engine that pumped out 360hp at a tantalising 7,200rpm. Dry sumped and featuring a raft of lightweight parts that included titanium connecting rods, it was impressively rapid, with the 62mph and 100mph benchmarks dismissed in 4.8 and 10.2 seconds. Flat out you’d have been knocking on the door of 190mph, and only the Turbo that arrived three years later offered anything of a similar pace. Power was sent to the rear wheels only via a six-speed manual gearbox that benefitted from a shorter throw linkage and ratios that could be replaced for track work.

The rest of the mechanical specification was just as tasty, the suspension a mix of MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement aft, both of which were adjustable for height, camber and toe angle. Brakes were uprated for the new application, too, with four-piston mono-block aluminium calipers and 330mm discs. Externally the hunkered-down stance was bolstered by aerodynamic addenda that included an adjustable rear wing, and the look was finished off with a gorgeous set of multi-spoke rims.

At the car’s UK launch in 1998 Porsche asked buyers to part with £76,500. Of the 1,858 built just over one hundred examples made it to these shores, with less than 30 of those in circuit-ready Clubsport trim. Opting for the latter bought a half roll cage, six-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher and battery cut-off switch and a single-mass flywheel for even quicker response. One thing that did surprise, though, was that Porsche didn’t take the lightweight route with its new model, eschewing the likes of thinner panels and glass and equipping Comfort-spec cars with leather bucket seats and
air conditioning among the luxuries. The GT3 actually weighed an additional 30kg compared to the Carrera 2. Production ended in 2000 and it would be another three years before the Gen2 model arrived.

THE VALUES STORY

Despite their rarity and the reverence afforded to them when new, the GT3 wasn’t immune from the normal effects of depreciation. Ten to fifteen years after the launch it was still possible to pick up a good example for somewhere in the region of £40-45k, and that would have represented cracking value given this was a nigh-on £80,000 car when new in 1998. By 2016, fortunes of the car began to dramatically change, however, with values making a notable upturn according to Greig Daly from RPM Technik and Paragon’s Jamie Tyler. Those same examples were now attracting prices closer to £60,000, perhaps a little more. It’s a pattern that’s continued, with a good example with sensible mileage worth upwards of £70,000 today. We shouldn’t be surprised, given the rarity and deliciously analogue appeal and, as both of our experts point out, these were never difficult cars to sell.

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