If Mr Spock had seen a Porsche 911 in 1964 and then returned again for a bit of R&R in 2007, he would have no difficulty in recognising a Porsche 911 as being….. well, a Porsche 911! The 2007 GT3 is no different, and carries the lineage of the original 1973 Ducktailed Carrera RS, complete with THAT rear wing!
The first roadgoing version of the GT3 was built in 1998 (The very year that Ferdinad Porsche passed away). This, the first of the water-cooled 911’s sold well, by Porsche standards. But with plenty of styling cues and mechanical components shared with other models, it never felt the love from Porschephiles. But with the 997, the GT3 was about to don the crown as the Uberführer of the brand.
Riding low to the ground on one-piece, nineteen inch aluminium wheels, Our GT3 in Carrara White, reminds you of a Detroit Rapster; and with all the ducts-for brake cooling, ram-air engine intake, and aerodynamic efficiency, it carries more scoops than a F15 fighter. While from the rear, the central duel exhaust outlets disappear into obscurity, dominated by the adjustable rear wing, which could easily support a fully laden 747. Porsche claims the integrated Gurney flap generates 25 Kg’s of downforce. The only problem is that you have to be rocketing along at a speed of at least 290 Kph to suck up every last gram.
The cockpit layout is standard teutonic 911, which is sort of business suit; comfortable, understated but classy. The Alcantara trim on the steering wheel, gearshift lever, and assorted interior surfaces break what would be a monotonous sea of dark grey leather. Airconditioning, a CD player, and six air bags come standard; with the nav system optional. At first glance the instrument cluster is a bit like a TAG Heuer watch, with ALL the functions. But get a bit closer, and the functionality is obvious. True to Porsche, the focus is the large central Rev counter, with two secondary gauges on either side; to show water and oil temps, oil pressure as well as a speedo and fuel gauge. One of the best devices ever installed in a car, is the PERFORMANCE button. Not only does it stiffen up the suspension to full race, but unleashes another 14 Kw. How I love electronics!
Our GT3 was born as a Carrera 4 body-in-white on the assembly line in Zuffenhausen. The space meant for the front axle is used to hold a 67-litre fuel tank. Some structural modifications were also made to accommodate the different engine, transmission, and oil reservoir. Put on a strict diet of aluminium (mainly trunk lid and doors), the GT3 weighs in at a muscular (Rather than athletic) 1396 Kg’s. Being muscular doesn’t ensure longevity, unless the heart is suitably exercised. Each cylinder head is cast integrally with three cylinders, then bolted to a split crankcase housing an eight-bearing crank. With all that rocking & rolling, dry-sump lubrication and exotic weight-saving components like titanium rods, forged pistons, sodium-filled valves, and hollowcast camshafts are also used, to ensure the internals remain internal up the 8,400RPM bloodline. This provides the 3,797 cm³ watercooled, flat six a very healthy workrate of 320 kW @ 7,600 RPM, while with 430 Nm at 6,250 RPM the GT3 could comfortably be used to plough a whole field of Bavarian Hobs. From the firing of starter’s pistol, these attributes will see 100km/h flash by, in an official 4.1 seconds with a top end of 312 Kph.
The GT3 is the road-going basis of the world’s most popular race car (more than 1500 have been built since 1998). But a good racing car usually means a ride that requires a full-time chiropractor and hefty kidney belt. To solve this Porsche have given Dr Jekyll the Porsche Active Suspension Management to ensure he drives to the party as Mr Hyde. The PSAM allows drivers to alter the dynamic character of the car by pushing a button to vary the shock valving on the three-way adjustable Bilsteins. The training of the GT3 was overseen by none other than ex Rally star, now full time Test driver, Walter Röhrl, and as can be expected behaviour on the road is exemplary. So much so that it was crowned “the best handling car in America” by Motor Trend. A far cry from the very early 911’s that were corner balanced before they left the factory – just to get them to handle on the road!
Carried away by the race pedigree and all the accolades I almost forget that this is the real world where nothing’s perfect. So the question: If I had to drive a 911 everyday of my life, would I pay an extra $40,000 for the wing and bling, and a 30% increase in power, over a basic Carrera?
I think the answer is this: At half-trot, it’s just an expensive Porsche. But provoked to the limit, it changes into Dr Jekyll, becoming one of the best over the counter track cars available. And honestly, that’s what the GT3 is built for. On the street, it lacks the visual drama and cultural cachet of a Ferrari, to justify the premium over a run-of-the-mill 911.
This athlete is most at home being thrashed through the twisties of a mountain pass or tyres squealing, on the edge, through the Corkscrew; Listening to the feral growl of the trick exhaust with the butterflies open and gases routed directly to the muffler, somehow raising the hair on the nape of your neck.