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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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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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What Is The New 911 Speedster Like To Drive On The Road?

A few years ago, we discussed the idea of a GT3 Cabriolet (below). Some of us thought it was a great idea, and others not so much. It took almost five years, but Porsche finally built something that is basically the 991 GT3 Cabriolet that we asked for, but better. Consider the 991.2 Speedster a send off for the chassis. This is among the last cars to be produced on this chassis that was introduced in 2012, and in my opinion that very few asked for, possibly the best of the breed. Porsche perfected the closed-roof GT3 concept with the GT3 Touring. Cut the roof off, strip the body of some extra weight, and slam a shortened windshield on there for good measure, and you’ve got the Speedster.

17 Year Old Kid Designs The GT3 Cabriolet Porsche Really Needs To Build

It still has GT3 suspension bits and that mega 500 horsepower naturally aspirated flat six at the back, only now it has a fiddly manually-operated drop top similar to that found in the 981 Boxster Spyder. Don’t worry about the Speedster’s top, however, it’ll usually be stowed away. The Speedster is meant to be driven with the top down.

Porsche had considered selling this car with no roof at all. While that would have been incredibly ballsy, and would have dropped the car’s mass by a not-insignificant amount, it feels right to have a manual roof to continue the Speedster’s lineage as a pure track-capable road car that can be driven across the country. Lets be honest, if you had purchased a 356 from Hoffman in the 1950s, you would have wanted a roof for your 3500 mile drive home to Southern California, right?

Now, Henry Catchpole has driven every iteration of Porsche GT since the 991 series was unveiled (while I myself have not yet driven the GT2 RS). That makes him perfectly qualified to discuss the merits of the Speedster as a package. In the video below for Carfection, Catchpole will touch on just about everything you’d need to know about the Speedster’s ability to perform. Considering it came from the GT car department, it was bound to be good, but how good?

Don’t bother putting the top up. Get in. Push the Sport Exhaust button. Slam the manual gear lever into 1st. Never look back.

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La future Porsche 911 Targa surprise

Avec la présentation de la nouvelle génération de 911, Porsche prépare comme d’habitude toute une série de variantes, dont la Targa. La nouvelle génération de 911 Targa a été surprise… sans surprise. Elle reprend en effet la recette qui a fait le succès de la précédente génération (photo d’ouverture), la type 991. Heureusement pourrait-on dire […]

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