The 911 GT3
Why it's so great, its predecessors and why some of them are REALLY sought after.
You probably know the Porsche 911 GT3 quite well by now, we've all read about it and seen it in countless videos. The GT3 in its various iterations always seems to win the hearts of those who drive them and those who dream of driving them.
For those who don't know, the GT3 is the rear-wheel drive 911 that is lighter and more powerful than the standard Carreras. It's the 911 for the track that can be used daily. The RS versions turn it up a notch making them even more track focused. Oh and you can still have them with a manual AND they all have naturally aspirated engines, no forced induction here!
For many these are the ultimate 911s. "What about the Turbo S or the GT2 RS?" you may ask, those are VERY fast indeed but the all-wheel drive of the Turbo S and its added weight hinder the driving experience. The GT2 RS is basically the ultimate 911 Turbo, getting rid of the all-wheel drive and some weight while keeping the power from forced-induction makes the fastest 911. But the 911 is not a supercar, it's not just about absolute speed, it's about a great driving experience and the GT3s with their high-revving naturally aspirated engines provide just that.
With each version better and faster than the last, Porsche's pursuit for the ultimate 911 actually began way before the GT3s. Here I will show you the GT3s, its predecessors and explain why some stand out more than others.
Carrera RS 2.7 - 1973
Look at that ducktail!
2.7L, 210hp, 1,075/975kg
The one that started it all. Porsche wanted to race their 911s but to meet regulations they had to produce and sell at least 500 (within twelve months) road-going versions of the racing 911s to homologate it. A total of 1,580 were made. The 2.4-litre engine of the standard 911 had its capacity increased to 2.7-litres, numerous changes were made to increase performance and it had a 'ducktail' spoiler. They came in 'Touring' and 'Lightweight' versions, the 'Lightweight' being approximately 100kg lighter than the 'Touring'. Only 200 of 'Lighweight' version were made and they can reach over €1,000,000 today.
55 out of the 1,580 were RSR 2.8 racecars which had bored out cylinders, this increased capacity to 2.8-litres, so it was more powerful and it was made even lighter than the 'Lighweight' version. The wider wheel arches to accommodate the wider wheels gave it a much more aggressive look. Depending on its racing history an RSR can easily go for over twice the amount of an RS.
Carrera RS 3.0 - 1974
Ducktail makes way for the whale-tail.
3.0L, 230hp, 900kg
The following year development continued and the new Carrera RS came out, this time with a 3-litre engine. Naturally it was more powerful and lighter. It used parts from the RSR 2.8, it even had brakes from the 917 racecar and instead of a 'ducktail' it had a 'whale-tail' spoiler. Expect these for over €1,000,000 too.
As an evolution of the Carrera RS 2.7, Porsche only had to produce 100 of them to meet homologation requirements. Only 55 RSs were made and a further 52 were RSR racecars. These RSRs can also be seen priced at over double the price of an RS.
The RSR also served as Porsche's turbocharging project. They fitted it with a turbocharged 2.14-litre engine and raced it in the prototype class at the 24 hour of Le Mans in 1974 achieving 2nd overall. It was known as the Carrera RSR Turbo 2.14 and it preceded the first road-going turbocharged 911, the 930 (launched in 1975).
964 Carrera RS - 1992
3.6L, 260hp, 1,240kg
After 18 long years the Carrera RS was back. The formula remained unchanged, more power, less weight. The standard 3.6-litre engine of the 964 generation was upgraded by about 10hp and weight was reduced by over 150kg. Aesthetically it remained largely unchanged when compared to the standard 964s.
It was originally only for the European market but to satisfy the American market Porsche created the Carrera RS America, it featured a 'whale-tail' wing but was heavier than the European RS.
964 Carrera RS 3.8 - 1993
3.8L, 300hp, 1,210kg
Now this one is special. The "3.8" suggests an enlarged capacity but that is only the beginning. Wanting to race the RSR 3.8 Porsche was forced to make the homologation special RS 3.8. The 3.6-litre engine was bored out to 3.8-litres producing 300hp and further weight reduction was put it place. It had the body of the 964 Turbo, meaning wider wheel arches, it borrowed parts from the Cup cars and had a MASSIVE bi-plane rear wing. It was barely road-legal, a real racecar for the streets. Like the original Carrera RS buyers could choose between a 'Touring' and 'Lightweight' version. Only 55 were built and they can now go for well over €1,000,000.
993 Carrera RS - 1995~1996
The Clubsport is the one in red in case you didn't notice its massive rear-wing.
3.8L, 300hp, 1,280kg
The 993 Carrera RS maintained the engine of the 964 Carrera RS 3.8 but introduced a six-speed manual gearbox, ABS and traction control. It was largely based on the Cup car and built for the homologation of the new RSR 3.8. It was also offered as a 'Clubsport' version which had the same power figure but was even more track-focused, it also had a bigger rear-wing.
Even though slightly over 1,000 were made, around 200 of them being 'Clubsport' examples, don't expect them to be cheap, after all the 993 generation was the last of the air-cooled 911s.
996.1 GT3 - 1999~2001
The first GT3.
3.6L, 360hp, 1,350kg
So here we are, the first GT3. Its engine was based on the one used in the 24 hours of Le Mans-winning Porsche GT1, which was itself originally based on the 962 racecar engine (designed by Hans Mezger). Like its predecessors GT3s and GT3 RSs were produced to meet motorsport homologation requirements. It was around 60hp more powerful than the standard 996s with their 3.4-litre engines and for the first time in an NA 911, power output exceeded 100hp per litre. Due to the larger engine and efforts to stiffen the car it meant the GT3 was actually slightly heavier than the standard 996 but it still managed to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in under eight minutes, one of the very first production cars to do so.
'Clubsport' packages are available for GT3s and GT3 RSs which not only provided extra stiffness with a full roll-cage but also on-track safety as it adds, a six-point harness for the driver, fire extinguisher, etc.
996.2 GT3 - 2003~2004
3.6L, 381hp, 1,380kg
The facelifted 996 brought a new and improved GT3. Power was increased even further despite no change in displacement, it came with a new wing and for the first time, optional carbon-ceramic brake discs.
996.2 GT3 RS - 2003~2004
Only available in white but you could choose between red or blue wheels and stickers.
3.6L, 381hp, 1360kg
The first GT3 RS. Porsche claimed power remained the same as the standard GT3 but dyno figures surpassed the 400hp mark, it also saw a slight weight reduction.
Porsche did not intend to make the GT3 RS a permanent model in its line-up but its success meant that every new GT3 had a GT3 RS sibling.
997.1 GT3 - 2006~2009
Did you miss the round headlights?
3.6L, 415hp, 1,395kg
Back to round headlights. More tech in the form of electronically adjustable suspension increased weight, but to compensate power went up and aero was improved to eliminate lift.
997.1 GT3 RS - 2006~2009
3.6L, 415hp, 1,375kg
Power remained unchanged but it lost 20kg despite the wider body.
997.2 GT3 - 2009~2011
3.8L, 435hp, 1,395kg
An extra 200cc meant power went up by 20hp. Here we saw the first GT3 with centre-lock wheels.
997.2 GT3 RS - 2009~2011
3.8L, 450hp, 1,370kg
More power, less weight you know how it goes.
997.2 GT3 RS 4.0 - 2011
Is this THE one?
4.0L, 500hp, 1,360kg
Probably the most desirable modern GT3. Now a four-litre with 500hp, a power figure that would only be matched five years later and only surpassed by the current GT3 RS. The swansong for the Mezger flat-six, the engine block from the GT1 remember? With the help of RSR crankshaft 0-100kph is now under four seconds and Nürburgring time is under 7:30. Only 600 were made, this is the last GT3 with non-electric steering. Easily costs over €500,000.
991.1 GT3 - 2013~2016
3.8L, 475hp, 1,430kg
In came rear-wheel steering out went the beloved manual. Porsche's PDK dual-clutch transmission is among the best but not having manual was controversial to say the least. The new flat-six now revs to 9,000rpm!
991.1 GT3 RS - 2016~2017
4.0L, 500hp, 1,420kg
Increased engine size increased power but it no longer revved to 9,000rpm but it was close enough. Uses the Turbo body and various aerodynamic changes helps it develop plenty of downforce. PDK only.
Even Jeremy liked it and he hates 911s.
991.2 GT3 - 2017~2019
4.0L, 500hp, 1,430kg
The manual is back. After backlash from the enthusiasts Porsche heard their loud voices. The standard 991.2s came with turbos so when it was announced that the GT3 would have an NA engine we all let a huge sigh of relief. Porsche altered the engine of the previous RS, power remained the same but it now revs to 9,000rpm. Manual option saves a bit of weight, 0-100kph is half a second slower but top speed is slightly higher.
Also offered in 'Touring' form which removes the fixed rear-wing and is manual only, similar to the 991.1 911R. The 991.2 Speedster shares the GT3's engine (with an extra 10hp) as well as front and rear bumpers.
991.2 GT3 RS - 2018~2019
4.0L, 520hp, 1,430kg
The latest and greatest right? Now lapping the Nürburgring in under 7 minutes the current GT3 RS has more power and more aero, comes with a PDK only and is available with the Weissach pack. This package adds more carbon fibre, a titanium roll-cage, forged magnesium wheels, etc.
That is some rich history. Every single one of these cars is so desirable, no wonder people are asking exorbitant prices for some of them. I'd be happy with any of them...
GT3 and GT3 RS are like brands of their own now. Porsche knows this and they will keep working to make sure this brand image remains pristine. Expectations are always high but you can bet the next GT3 is also going to be spectacularly good. People who have driven the latest one will be scratching their heads wondering how they can make it better. As always we're all eagerly waiting for what's to come.