- Available for £80,000
- 3.8/4.0 litre petrol flat six, rear wheel drive
- Astonishing drivetrain
- Wonderfully involving
- Great warranty response by Porsche to early mech issues
- Even more of a bargain now than when they were new
Punching above your weight is something most of us would like to aspire to. Porsche's 991 GT3 did that. Fighting in a ring populated by cars starting at twice its price (before options), the new generation GT3 of 2013 was an eye-rubbing bargain at £100,000. As a driver's car it did everything the exotics could do and more. Today, seven years after it arrived on the scene, you can pick up a 991 GT3 for £80k - and it's still a bargain at that.
The first 3.8 litre 991.1 GT3 of 2013 was around 35kg heavier than its equivalent predecessor, 2006's 3.6 litre 997.1 GT3, but the newer car more than made up for that with big advances in power and engineering focus. It had direct injection, reworked cams, forged pistons atop titanium conrods, and a wailing appetite for revs that had previously only been associated with Italian thoroughbreds.
That first 997 GT3 produced 409hp at 7,600rpm, 299lb ft at 5,500rpm, and redlined at 8,400rpm. Its 0-62mph time was 4.3sec and the top speed was 193mph. Engine-wise, the 991 GT3 was quite different. It had 469hp at 8,250rpm, 325lb ft at 6,250rpm, lightning throttle response and a rev ceiling of 9,000rpm, good for a small 3mph increase on the top speed but more importantly a considerably shorter 0-62 time of 3.5sec. Its official 'Ring time was 7m 25sec.
Great numbers are one thing, but perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the new 991 GT3 was the fact that it managed to combine such towering performance with enhanced useability, comfort and economy. The early 997 GT3's six-speed manual gearbox had gone, but the 991's PDK automatic quelled just about every objection to that by delivering delicious whipcrack upshifts via a stubby aluminium tab with a clicky 50 percent shorter travel than the 997's.
In 2015 Porsche released the 991 GT3 RS. An increase in engine capacity to 3,996cc made it the first RS to have a larger displacement than the base GT3. Power was lifted to 493hp, torque to 339b ft, and the rev limit was lowered slightly to 8,800rpm. The extra drag of the larger rear wing reduced the top speed to 193mph, but the use of magnesium for the roof brought about a 10kg weight reduction which, allied to the power and torque hikes, contributed to a big drop in the 0-62 time to 3.3sec. That was over half a second less than the 997 RS 4.0's time, a shocking leap in the rarefied world of sub-4.0sec cars.
Fitted as standard with the racey add-ons of the Club Sport package (roll cage in place of the rear seats, six-point driver safety harness, fire extinguisher, provision for battery master switch) and with a new bodykit, the 991.1 RS was the most purposeful GT3 yet. It was outstanding on the road as well as the racetrack. Porsche made around 5,000 of them, compared to 1,500 997.2 GT3 RSs and fewer than 700 996 GT3 RSs.
In 2016 the 911 R was released. Technically it wasn't a GT3 but realistically it was a cleanly styled, 'heritage' GT3 using the RS's 4.0 litre engine. 50kg lighter than the old RS, with softer non-RS springing, reduced-section Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres and carbon ceramic brakes as standard, it was a flowing mix of delicate steering and 200mph top speed. Its nominal price was £136,000 but the immediate buyup of the whole run prompted flip resale prices rumoured to be seven or even eight times that.
There was more to come. At Geneva in 2017 Porsche revealed the gen-two GT3. Its 4.0 litre engine offered the same 493hp/339lb ft output as the 991.1 RS, but internal modifications aimed at reducing mechanical friction restored the 991.1 3.8's 9,000rpm redline and put to bed the valvetrain issues that had plagued that car's early years (more on that later). The 991.2 GT3's new front spoiler and slightly taller rear wing generated 20 percent more downforce.
Although there was extra crashproofing metal in the new car Porsche reckoned the weight was the same as the old one at 1,430kg fully fuelled. The Clubsport race cage/extinguisher package remained a no-cost option.
Old-schoolers were reintroduced to the choice of manual or PDK gearboxes (although the first .2 GT3s were PDKs). The manual car was around 17kg lighter than the PDK, but on the 0-62 run the speed of the PDK's shifting and its 15 percent shorter ratios gave it up to a half-second advantage over the manual (as low as 3.3sec against the manual's 3.8sec). In the real world that might be considered pretty academic as 3.8sec is hardly hanging about. Porsche modestly claimed 3.9sec. The time around the Nordschleife was a scarcely believable 7min 12sec. Not bad for a £110,000 car that would also return a combined fuel consumption figure of nearly 23mpg.
Also available in manual guise only was the GT3 Touring Package of 2017, in which the 991.2's stilt-mounted carbon rear wing was replaced by a Carrera GTS-style retractable spoiler. The Touring sounded different too, courtesy of some small intake changes. No Clubsport parts were on its options list.
That was followed in 2018 by the last GT3 of the 991 generation, the RS. It came with lightweight windows and carbon fibre wings, bonnet and seats, but this Rennsport was also available with the optional Weissach package which put carbon fibre in the roof and some suspension components to trim away 6kg. Ticking the magnesium wheel option as well knocked another 11kg off, bringing overall weight down to 1,430kg. The RS generated 513hp at 8,250rpm and 347lb ft at 6,000rpm. Its 0-62 time was 3.2sec, with 100mph coming up in just 6.9sec.
As with every other 911 of recent history, the 991 GT3's rarefied performance stats were delivered with an extraordinary level of repeatability and an unearthly degree of handling composure. It wouldn't be easy for a roomful of informed enthusiasts to come to a general agreement on what the three purest driver's cars in recent history might be, but any conversation along those lines would surely have to include at least one of the 991.2 GT3s.
Whether you drive it as it was meant to be driven or simply park it up for investment purposes, the GT3's engineering integrity is the nearest thing to a guarantee of enduring value on either road or (if you must) asset sheet.
SPECIFICATION | PORSCHE 911 GT3 (991)
Engine: 3,799cc, flat six, 24v
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 469@8,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 325@6,250rpm
0-62mph: 3.5 secs
Top speed: 196mph
MPG (official combined): 22.8
Wheels: 9x20 (f), 12x20 (r)
Tyres: 245/35 (f), 305/30 (r)
On sale: 2013 - 2018
Price new (2013 991.1): £100,540 (£111,000 for 2017 991.2)
Price now: from £80,000
Note for reference: car weight and power data is hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it's wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
Given that reputation for engineering integrity, it's a shame that the first non-Mezger 3.8 GT3s were besmirched by serious mechanical flaws that not only led to engine failure but also put the car at risk of a catastrophic fire.
The first failures on 2013-14 991 GT3s were attributed to a metallurgical defect in the conrod bolts. All 785 of the cars that had been produced to that point were recalled and fitted with new engines, and an extra year was put onto the affected cars' warranties. Separate issues were discovered with the finger-follower rocker arms in the valvetrain, mainly (oddly enough) on cars that weren't being driven very hard. This led to a valvetrain redesign and to the implementation of a transferable worldwide 10 year/120,000 mile extended engine warranty - the world's longest one of its type then, and probably still now unless you know different.
That has pretty much been the full extent of the bad news as far as this drivetrain is concerned. As you'd expect from Porsche, the 4.0 engine in the succeeding 991.2 ruthlessly stamped out all the issues that had arisen in the 3.8 and added a healthy extra dose of cor blimey for good measure. It was effectively a new engine with a new crank, a new oil system, and new cylinder liners. The troublesome hydraulic valve lifters were gone too.
If you thought the engine in the 911 R was special, the 991.2 unit was off the scale. The boosted midrange delivered by the new dual-flap intake system was particularly noteworthy. Short-shifting became an even more viable choice, with 'kicks' at 5,000 and 7,500rpm and a hair-prickling shriek between 8,000 and 9,000 whenever (and however often) you wanted it.
As mentioned earlier, there was no manual gearbox option for the first 991 GT3s. There was on the 991.2, and it's a fine thing that (according to those who have driven both) feels better in a GT3 than it does in the 911 R.
Nobody will feel short-changed by any GT3 equipped with the Doppelkupplung (PDK) seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Developed for racing, it was built to take abuse. It had already been used in the 997 911 Carrera and Turbo cars but it was significantly updated for the 991 GT3 with lighter internals and, as noted earlier, shorter ratios. Seventh gear wasn't an overdrive: that was the gear you used to reach your 195mph top speed.
First-time drivers boggled at the PDK's ability to shift gears under pressure in under a tenth of a second. In less frenzied use, changes were effected with limo smoothness. Launch control was activated by pulling both shift paddles, effectively putting the gearbox in neutral, and then 'dumping' the paddles to re-engage the clutches. With the traction control switched off, you could hit launch control from zero mph at monster revs to deliver a dragster-style high-smoke burnout, transitioning to slingshot acceleration once the active rear diff and torque vectoring had caught up with the tyres. You could do something similar in cars that weren't GT3s, but you couldn't do it time after time in all or even most of them. You could in the Porsche. The PDK was recalibrated in the 991.2 4.0 making it even sharper.
Aftermarket exhausts from the likes of Akrapovic can seem overly loud. The standard pipes are fruity enough for most.
Time, so they say, is a healer. That certainly goes for the 911's driving characteristics, the pendulum of which has miraculously swung from 'mind your back' in the early years to 'no special skills required' today.
Having so much weight at the rear end of those first aircooled 911s made them enough of a liability for wise 911 owners to fire up their second car if there was any wet-weather mileage to be done. Doubters scoffed at Porsche's refusal to abandon the rear-engine approach, arguing that the laws of physics were against them and that it would never work.
By the time the 991 arrived in 2011 with its extra track widths, enhanced torsional stiffness and ultra high performance tyres, the back-end weight that had been such a devil on the shoulder of earlier 911s had long since become a force for good in Porsche's never-ending quest for grip and traction. The 2013 GT3 was the ultimate extension of that process, a supersports machine that was immensely rewarding, incredibly safe, and a polite 'up yours' from Porsche to all those doubting Thomases of yore.
The 991 GT3's new fast-rack electro-mechanical steering had a lot to do with that. A development of the 911 Carrera S system, it was aided by rear-wheel steering that had proved its worth on the 918 Spyder and the 911 Turbo. The rear wheels turned 'against' the fronts at speeds below 37mph, easing slow-speed parking, and with them above 50mph, providing useful extra straightline stability.
Electronic control of the damper settings through the Porsche Active Suspension Management had been standard on GT3s from the 2006-on 997. It was improved on the 991. That 997 was the first GT3 to back up its limited slip differential with a traction control system. It was also the first GT3 to have the Sport button which reduced exhaust back pressure and added extra dynamism to the drive.
991 GT3s had centrelock wheels like the 997.2 but they were now forged from aluminium and enlarged to 20in. Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes had been an option on GT3s since the 2003-on 996. On the 991 the carbon discs were up to 410mm front and 380mm rear (compared to 380mm all round for the standard iron discs). They worked well even at temperatures well below the optimum for this type of brake.
It all added up to a remarkable and happy contradiction. Earlier 'hot' 911s like the 993 Carrera RS were quick without being especially compliant. The GT3, by contrast, turned into corners with mindboggling speed and bite but it also had exceptional ride quality and bump absorption. You could dial the dampers up or down with a button on the centre console to provide a level of everyday comfort that would seem slightly surreal to owners of 997 GT3s, but even on the Comfort setting the handling and composure were exemplary, encouraging owners to press hard in the knowledge that they'd have to do something exceptionally stupid to get into trouble.
There's a lovely compliance and flow even in the stiffest suspension mode and enough information coming through the wheel to let you carry massive speed into corners and introduce you to the delights of extreme trail-braking. Some have said that the RS wheel cambers added track agility at the expense of some steering feel. It's all relative, mind.
The bodyshell of the first 991.1 GT3 was essentially that of the 911 Carrera S, but the GT3 sat 25mm lower. It was 118mm longer and 44mm wider than the 997.2, but drivers didn't seem to notice that from the inside, where it felt small and wieldy.
Though the wings, roof, doors and engine bay cover were made out of aluminium, the 991.1 was 35kg heavier than its predecessor, but in its defence the body was 25 percent more rigid. There was a deep new front bumper, new door mirrors and plenty of ducts both at the front and the be-winged back. A front axle lift was an option, as were the Sport Chrono package and a lithium-ion battery.
The 991 GT3 reflected the advances Porsche had made with the quality and layout of its normal 991 911 interiors. GT3-bespoke instrumentation included a large central tacho with the 9,000rpm redline.
On the 991.2, the standard perches were Porsche Sports seats Plus with enhanced seat bolsters, mechanical fore/aft adjustment and electronic seat height and backrest adjustment. The 'adaptive' option gave you 18-way electrical adjustment of all seat functions. Alternatively you could specify sports buckets with folding backrests, integrated thorax airbag and manual fore/aft adjustment, or full CFRP buckets with a carbon-weave finish.
Along with the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system (navigation plus real-time traffic information), 991.2 GT3s came with the Connect Plus telephone module with integrated SIM card, and the Track Precision app which allowed you to display, record and analyse detailed driving data on your smartphone. The 991.2's 360mm steering wheel originated in the 918 Spyder.
Testing the first 991 GT3 in 2013, Autocar's experienced wheelman Steve Sutcliffe described it as 'the bargain of the century'. He also said it was the best car Porsche had ever made. A minute or so later he said it was the best sports car he'd ever driven.
When the 991.2 GT3 came out four years later, Autocar's equally experienced road tester Matt Prior called it the best driver's car on sale. Chris Harris said it was in a class of one and that he'd pay the £111,000 asking price just for the engine. Henry Catchpole made it his lottery win car.
You can understand why. There are so many things that are great about the GT3. For a start, it's a true dual purpose machine. There aren't many cars that genuinely excel on both road and track, but the 991 GT3 is certainly one of them. It's a car you can enjoy as much on the drive to and from the circuit as you will on the track itself. The extent of prep required on arrival at the circuit would be a quick fiddle of the tyre pressures, something you'd do on any car but especially here as this is one of the few things 911s are quite pernickety about. There is understeer, but in this car it's a key piece in the chassis balance jigsaw and a pathway to extra enjoyment rather than the joykiller it so often is in less special cars.
Would you want an RS or a straight GT3? Depends how much shouting you like to do. If the answer to that is 'a lot' and you don't mind not having the option of a manual gearbox then it would probably be the RS. If you're happy just to be the owner of one of the finest driving machines ever built, then a straight 991.2 GT3 should do you very nicely. On public roads at least there's very little discernible drivetrain difference between these two. Your choice may boil down to something as trivial as the visual drama of the RS, or the relative lack of it in the GT3. Either way you end up with a mind-blowingly good car, a true great in fact. It's what's underneath that counts.
On that subject, here's another brilliant plus point on all 991 GT3s: they don't seem to break down. The internet is full of 'five things I hate about my Huracan' or 'ten things that suck on my Chiron' videos, but you'll struggle to find anything like that on the GT3. The extra 10-year engine warranty Porsche restrospectively bolted onto them in 2017 was a powerful demonstration of Porsche's determination to limit the reputational damage caused by its unfortunate early problems.
It was actually better than Porsche's own approved used warranty which covered the car for 50,000 miles after purchase or up to 100,000 miles on the clock, whichever came first. Looked at another way, you could well see the supplementary warranty as the best reason ever to spend as little as £80,000 on a 991.1 GT3 now, in 2020, when even the oldest car will still have three years of engine backup on it.
Servicing is not Micra-cheap, obviously, but the GT3's excellent reliability record means there's a good chance that the price you'll see on the wall of your OPC or independent will be the actual money you'll pay, with no unexpected additions. Porsche will quote around £900-£950 for an intermediate service including brake fluid, the actual amount depending on whether the OPC you go to is a 'participating centre' offering a fixed price service menu (which isn't every OPC). Obviously independents will be somewhat less. The GT3 is on a 2-year/12,000 mile schedule, so if you're not piling on the miles you'll make savings there.
Convinced yet? If so, here are some choice GT3 picks from PH Classifieds. The lowest priced car at the time of writing was this 2013 (gen-one) 31,000-mile 3.8 in white with a full history, Sport Chrono package, iron brakes and an approved used warranty running to the end of next year. Yours for £81,995.
The vast majority of GT3s are white, but for around £93,000 you can stand out from the crowd with this anthracite 16,000-miler sporting fixed-back bucket seats and the Clubsport package.
Manuals didn't arrive until the 991.2 cars of 2017, so are relatively expensive not just because they were a niche choice but also because they're more recent. This silver 8,000-mile 991.2 will cost you a fiver short of £120k.
There's not much price difference between 991.2 manuals and PDKs. Here's a Lava Orange PDK with carbon brakes and seats at £123,850.
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