Saturation has made it very easy to be blasé about the Nurburgring, about the claimed lap times and about what it takes to triumphantly get round there. In 2019 so many very quick cars exist, claiming seven minute this and new record that, all with accompanying videos that make it look so easy, that anything lapping in more than eight minutes looks a bit sluggish. When it most certainly is not.
Combine all that with various theories about hooky tyres, sped up footage and the sheer irrelevance of it all, and what was once seen as a staggering technical achievement for a car is now regarded as little more than a willy-waving PR exercise. There are now hundreds of very fortunate people in the world in possession of cars that can lap the Nordschleife in less than seven minutes. Which is bonkers.
It wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, before YouTube and Gran Turismo, the Nurburgring was a mystical, unfamiliar place; a racetrack of great infamy that precious few knew about. And anything that lapped the track in less than eight minutes was truly a mad machine indeed.
Step forward, then, the Porsche 911 Black Snake. Now, we're all well aware of the innumerable examples of 911 capable of going very fast around you-know-where - a GT2 RS Manthey is the quickest production car there and even a 992 Carrera S will do 7:25 - but the Black Snake was a new one on us.
Devised by SHK Motorsport in the 1990s, it took a 993 Carrera RS - already a very focused 911 - and swapped its engine for the twin-turbo flat-six as found in the GT2 Evo. The gearbox and four-wheel drive system were from a Turbo, the outrageous arch extensions pinched off an RSR and all unnecessary weight jettisoned: the windows were Lexan, the interior stripped and the wheels swapped for these gorgeous Cargraphics cross-spokes. The ad claims the Black Snake was less than 1,400kg at the kerb - and when you bear in mind that an outgoing 991 Turbo S was officially making 580hp, as well as weighing another 200kg, you get some idea of just how stupendously rapid a Black Snake must've been.
In 1998, with sportauto legend Horst von Sauma at the wheel, the Black Snake lapped the Nurburgring in 7min 46sec. Says a lot of what we've come to expect now that it doesn't sound all that fast, but bear in mind this was with the tyre, suspension and brake technology of the mid-1990s; a set of stickier tyres - like the Pirelli Trofeo Rs it now has, in fact - and more modern brakes would surely make the Black Snake quicker still.
Well, that's what you'd assume anyway. But for one reason or another, the car is now running a 530hp version of that GT2 engine and while the tyres no doubt improve cornering performance, it seems a shame that they can't be combined with the full fury of that Evo motor. Perhaps something for the next owner to investigate...
They'll need a quarter of a million quid for the privilege, the Black Snake currently for sale at £244,950. Obviously it's being suggested as a worthwhile addition to a collection, though the temptation to experience just what a 650hp 993 is like must surely be great. Even more so when a regular 993 Turbo can now command more than £200k - yes, really - and the sole GT2 on PH is currently the best part of £1.5m. Given this car is unique, has a fascinating back story and looks - let's be honest about this - absolutely bloody fabulous, that initially alarming asking price does look like rather better value.
Prospective buyers are surely in a win-win situation: for those that want to drive it, this is potentially the fastest, most focused 993 out there (definitely so with 650hp back in business). For the collectors, this is a genuine one-off; not a Porsche one-off, granted, but unique nonetheless. And never underestimate the appeal of exclusivity in the classic car market.