20 Years Of The Porsche 911 GT3 And It’s Still Hot! Here Are The Highlights…
Believe it or not, the Porsche 911 GT3 is 20 years old. Named after a class of endurance racing, the GT3 was designed for on-track performance and an intense driving experience on the road. The first 911 GT3 model, introduced in 1999, became one of the first production cars to officially lap the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in under eight minutes, with rally legend Walter Rӧhrl achieving an amazing 7:56.33 minute lap.
It looked different from the rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera, sitting 30mm lower, with new front spoiler, side skirts and rear wing designed to reduce lift while still achieving 0.30 drag coefficient. The angle of the rear wing was adjustable for track use. Its naturally-aspirated 3.6 liter flat-six engine was derived from the Le Mans-winning Porsche 911 GT1 race car and revved up to 7800 rpm, producing 355hp through the six-speed manual transmission from the 911 GT2 (993 generation).
This first 911 GT3 (above, red) had a top speed of 187mph. It featured 18in wheels and tires, larger brakes compared to the 911 Carrera, a limited-slip differential as standard and upgraded suspension that with adjustable anti-roll bars and geometry set-up. With the deletion of air-conditioning and rear seats, the 1999 911 GT3 weighed just 2976 lbs (1350 kg).
The second generation GT3 (above, white), introduced in 2003, was the first to be offered for sale in North America, and was based on the facelifted 996. Power was up to 381hp, torque from 273 to 285 lb-ft. Also, it revved even higher, to 8200rpm thanks to longer titanium connecting rods, lighter pistons, VarioCam variable camshaft adjustment system, and lighter intake and exhaust valves. That gave it a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds and top speed of 190mph.
This second-gen car kept the six-speed manual transmission, but came with wider front and rear tires, larger front brake rotors, up from 330mm to 350mm, and six-piston calipers. Carbon-ceramic brake rotors were available for the first time in the GT3, taken from the 996-generation 911 GT2.
In 2006, along came the third-generation car (above, white), this time based on the 997. Still a 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated flat-six, but power had risen to 415hp, revving up to 8400rpm. The 0-60 was 4.1 seconds and top speed 193mph. The six-speed transmission gave 15 percent shorter shift throws and the suspension featured divided control arms giving greater adjustment of camber angle. This was also the first GT3 with standard Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), traction control and Sport button for the exhaust, reducing back pressure (and improving the sound!). Wheels were up to 19in.
It wasn’t until the 2010 model year GT3 (above) that the engine grew from 3.6 to 3.8 liters, endowing it with 435hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, revving to 8500rpm.The 0-60 was down to 4.0 seconds and top speed up to 194mph. Electronic stability control (ESC) complemented the traction control system, and there was an optional front axle lift system for the first time to clear driveways and speed bumps. It lapped the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in just 7 minutes and 40 seconds.
In 2013, along came the 991-generation 911 GT3, complete with controversial seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (PDK). Power was up to 475hp from the 3.8 liter flat six—which featured direct injection for the first time and revved to 9000 rpm. Top speed was 195 mph and the 0-60mph was down to 3.3 seconds. Wheels were 20in diameter, and rear axle steering was added as standard for the first time on the GT3. Th brake rotors grew to 380mm front and rear, or with the optional carbon brakes 410mm up front and 390mm at the rear. The 991-gen GT3 weighed in at 3153 lbs, and lapped the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 25 seconds.
And what about the latest GT3 (above)? It’s claimed by Porsche to be 45 seconds quicker on a lap of the Nordschleife, and it’s powered by a new 4.0-liter, 500hp flat-six that makes 346 lb-ft of torque. Downforce is up 20 percent compared to the previous model, and top speed is 198 mph. Best of all, there’s a six-speed manual transmission as a no-cost alternative to the standard seven speed PDK, which is lighter than the PDK at 3115 lb (3152 lb for PDK) but not quite as quite on the 0-60mph, at 3.9 seconds instead of 3.4 seconds. We think we’d sacrifice the 0.5 second…
So, which is your favorite?
Images courtesy of Porsche