all-new 911 GT3
has already caused quite a stir on PH and we haven't even driven it yet. Brace yourself for another round of
Ahead of that we thought we'd take a look back and swot up on the previous 911s to wear this most esteemed of badges. Armed with this information you may well be tempted to dip into the classifieds and go tyre kicking - to assist you with that we've got a full model-by-model market watch story coming too.
But first a bit of a history lesson, and much more interesting than the ones you ever had at school.
996 GT3 first-gen
The first 911 GT3 arrived in 1999. As with the
, its origins belonged in motorsport, with Porsche eager to homologate the 911 for GT racing off the back of its success with the 911 GT1 at Le Mans. The dry-sumped GT3 used the block and titanium conrods from the GT1 engine, a common feature in every GT3 until the new 991. It allowed for 100hp per litre and a voracious appetite for revs; peak power of 360hp was developed at 7,200rpm, with the GT3 spinning to 7,800rpm.
But as with any Porsche GT model, the engine was only the start of the modifications for the 996 GT3. Inside, the rear seats of the standard Carrera were ditched and the front pair replaced by two bucket seats, saving 28kg in all.
Porsche also offered the no-cost Clubsport option for the 996 GT3 (yes, really, a free Porsche option!). It comprised a roll cage, six-point harnesses, a fire extinguisher, a battery kill switch and the deletion of the side airbags. Clubsport cars also featured a lighter single-mass flywheel to help that flat-six spin up even more sweetly. For the GT3's brakes, Porsche upgraded the Carrera's discs to larger, thicker items (318x34mm at the front, 330x34mm at the rear) that used aluminium four-piston calipers.
The suspension wasn't so much upgraded as totally overhauled in the transition from 996 Carrera to 996 GT3. Adjustable anti-roll bars, a 30mm centre of gravity drop, extended geometry adjustment and racing springs were included. Lighter 18-inch alloy wheels were shod in 225/40 profile tyres at the front and 285/30 behind.
The cumulative effect of Porsche's work with the 996 GT3 was a car capable of a 7:56 Nordschleife lap time, 187mph and a 0-100mph time of 10.2 seconds. Porsche produced just 103 cars for the UK, and it cost £76,500 new.
Based on the facelifted 996, the second generation car introduced a wide range of tweaks to the GT3 recipe. Weight was up 30kg to 1,380kg but the Mezger flat-six now produced 381bhp and another 11lb ft, up to 284lb ft. Those outputs were produced at 7,400rpm and 5,000rpm respectively, with the maximum engine speed now 8,200rpm.
These gains were thanks to the introduction of Porsche's Variocam valve timing technology and a reduction in the engine's moving masses. Top speed was up to 190mph, and the 0-100mph time was now 9.4 seconds.
Changes elsewhere included larger front brakes (increased to 350mm in diameter), now with six-piston aluminium calipers. The PCCB carbon ceramic brake option was also introduced for the second-gen 996, although finding a car with them today is hard as it was an expensive and relatively unknown option at the time. However, they do contribute to a useful 18kg weight saving.
The second gen 996 GT3 was also homologated for US sales, which predictably contributed to more sales globally. Whilst just 103 first-gen cars found UK buyers, Porsche sold 246 of the later 996 GT3s here.
The early 2000s were a great time for road-racer specials; along with the Ferrari 360 CS and
BMW M3 CSL
, Porsche reintroduced an RS model, a name unseens since the 993 RS of 1993.
The 996 RS was produced in response to changes in the international GT racing criteria. It adhered to the traditional Rennsport formula of reduced weight and greater focus to deliver an even more intense GT3 experience.
All 996 RS models were white, with either red or blue wheels. A roll cage was standard, whilst the polycarbonate rear window, rear spoiler and carbonfibre-reinforced bonnet were straight from the 911 Cup car. The suspension was also pure racer, with divided front-and rear lateral control arm and 'optimized rear-axle geometry'.
The result was unashamedly hardcore; the 996 RS was a tough, focused road car that really shone on the track. It didn't fulfill the dual-purpose role of the later 997s but its scintillating abilities round a circuit arguably compensated for its on-road drawbacks.
997 GT3 first-gen
The 997 brought some old 911 styling cues back but underneath the traditional exterior lay a host of new tech. For the 2006 GT3, changes to the intake manifold, a larger throttle butterfly, revised cylinder heads and a redesigned, lighter exhaust boosted the 997's power output by to 415hp. Still displacing 3.6-litres, the 997 could rev to 8,400rpm had a specific output of 115hp per litre. On the road, this meant the 997 GT3 could hit 100mph in less than nine seconds and onto a 192mph top speed.
The 997 generation introduced Porsche's PASM active suspension with a standard and sport setting. This partly contributed to the 997's more forgiving and (relatively) relaxed demeanour, making it a more viable everyday proposition than the 996s. Traction control with two controls maps from the Carrera GT also helped here.
The enlarged dimensions of the 997 meant the GT3's tyres, brakes and wheels grew as well over the 996. The discs were up to 350mm all-round, with the PCCB option taking the front diameter to 380mm.
Despite concessions to the everyday enthusiast, Porsche still offered the 997 GT3 with a Clubsport option.
997 GT3 RS first-gen
The RS arrived in the same year as the standard 997 GT3. It was distinguishable by its rear arches, swollen by 44mm to accommodate a wider track. The weight of the extra bodywork was negated by a carbon rear wing, plastic rear window and the lighter bucket seats offered on the GT3 Clubsport. Overall, the RS was 20kg lighter than a regular 997 GT3, at 1375kg, with the engine carried over unchanged.
Like the previous RS, the 997 homologated the contemporary 911 Cup, sharing parts such as carbon body panels, the complete wheel support subframe as well as the split track control arms on the rear axle.
Whilst the second-gen facelift for the 911 brought direct fuel injection (DFI) engines to the rest of the range, the GT3 continued with the Mezger powerplant. It was now producing 435hp thanks to a rise in swept capacity (up to 3.8-litres due to a cylinder bore increase from 100mm to 102.7mm), a higher rev limit (now 8500rpm) and Variocam on the outlet camshaft (rather than just the intake).
These tweaks saw the GT3's 0-100mph time drop to 8.3 seconds, two seconds faster than the original 996. The top speed grew by the smallest of margins to 193mph. The changes also allowed the second-gen 997 GT3 to meet Euro 5 emissions regulations.
Porsche offered the facelifted 997 GT3 with a previously unprecedented level of driver configuration. The latest version of PSM (Porsche Stability Management) allowed for the traction and stability controls to be disabled independently of each other. Furthermore, the PASM had evolved to produce a more compliant road setting with a stiffer track configuration. The anti-roll bars, camber and track were also adjustable.
Centre-locking alloy wheels, fitted to a GT3 for the first time, were 3kg lighter than the first-gen rims. Behind the new wheels sat lighter, larger brakes (the front discs were now 380mm) with PCCB again optional. The carbon-ceramics used an aluminium cover to shed further weight; the saving over the iron setup was 20kg. Even with the iron rotors, the second-gen 997 weighed 1395kg.
A pair of new options for the 997 second-gen GT3 aimed to make it both more habitable everyday as well as increasing its dynamic ability. The latest Porsche acronym in 2009 was PADM, or Porsche Active Drivetrain Mounts, which used a magnetic fluid in the engine mounts and an electric field to vary their viscosity. When sensors detected harder driving, the mounts would stiffen to prevent the pendulum effect often associated with the 911's idiosyncratic weight distribution.
The second new option was a front axle lift, which raised the car by 30mm to negotiate bumps or driveways below 32mph.
997 GT3 RS second-gen
Unlike previous 911 GT3 RS models, the facelifted 997 boasted more power than the regular GT3. Still displacing 3.8-litres, maximum output was now up to 450hp, meaning 118hp per litre.
Wider front and rear tracks were another first with this RS, affording the fitment of 245/35 profile (front) and 325/30 (rear) tyres. The standard wheels were 19-inch diameter.
Elsewhere, the second-gen 997 RS came with a titanium exhaust and the option of a lithium-ion battery, the latter saving 10kg.
997 second-gen 4.0 RS
Even with the arrival of the 991 GT3, the
997 GT3 RS 4.0
will remain the most powerful naturally-aspirated Porsche 911 ever produced. Increasing the stroke with the RSR's crank accounted for the jump in swept capacity, the 500hp total equating to a specific output of 125hp per litre. The Mezger flat six was going out in stunning fashion.
Even compared the 997 second-gen GT3 RS, the 4.0 was on another plane. The first five gear ratios were lowered by 11 per cent and sixth by eight per cent over a GT3 to improve acceleration. A single-mass flywheel was 8kg lighter than the standard dual-mass item and reduced engine inertia. New aerodynamic features such as the front vanes contributed to 190kg of downforce.
Moreover, the weight-saving measures employed for the 4.0 RS were fairly drastic to give a dry weight of 1280kg. The front wings and bonnet were carbonfibre, the rear screen and side windows were polycarbonate and the lithium-ion battery was standard. How much weight deleting the cupholder saved is unknown...
The results were sublime. Porsche claimed the GT3 RS 4.0 was capable of a 7:27 Nordschleife lap and a flood of glowing reviews came pouring in. The 991 has quite some legacy to follow.
911 GT3 timeline:
1999-2000 - 996 GT3
2003-2005 - 996 GT3
2003-2005 - 996 GT3 RS
2006-2008 - 997 GT3
2006-2008 - 997 GT3 RS
2009-2012 - 997 GT3
2009-2011 - 997 GT3 RS
2011 - 997 GT3 RS 4.0
1 / 9