When Porschephiles are asked to list their favorite modern Porsche street cars, the 911 GT3 is usually near the top of the list. According to many Porschephiles, the 911 GT3 is the ultimate Porsche 911 due to its racing pedigree, the horsepower / torque, and the handling.
The Porsche 911 GT3 began its limited production run in Europe in 1999. The 911 GT3 was conceived as a homologation special for racing. According to the rules of the various sanctioning bodies around the world, such as the FIA and ACO, there must be a minimum number of factory produced street cars made in order to race in certain classes.
The Porsche 911 GT3 was not sold in the U.S. until 2004. In its limited production run in 2004, Porsche allocated a block of 750 cars to the United States. The 2004 GT3 was the last year of model 996 911 production before Porsche moved onto the next generation of 911, called the 997. The 2004 GT3 was a lightweight machine, not having amenities as a sunroof or back seats. A racing package, which included bucket seats and a rollbar was also an option. Buyers could only get a 6 speed manual as the only transmission option. According to Road & Track, the 2004 996 911 GT3 made a peak of 380 hp.
Beginning in 2006, the 997 GT3 was not as ‘race-car’ like as the 996 GT3. The newer GT3 had a sunroof, and Porsche Stability Management, or traction control, and its options included a navigation system. One could still get the racing package, which included a rollbar and bucket seats. One could also order carbon-ceramic brakes as an option. Road & Track states that the newer car made more horsepower, 415, as opposed to the previous car.
When Porsche released the new model of the 911, internally called the 991, Porschephiles knew that a new GT3 was in the works. The new 991 GT3 is more refined than the previous model. Road & Track states that the new model uses a brand new engine, which has 475 horsepower, and a redline of 9,000 RPM. The new model is a technological wonder, because it uses a specialized variant of the PDK, or Porsche’s dual-clutch auto-manual transmission as the cars only option, as opposed to the 6 speed manual that was used in previous models. The deletion of the manual transmission, in a car that was designed for racing homologation has upset some sports car purists. They believe that a proper sports car, especially a homologated race car, should only use a manual transmission. One of the reasons for this, is that a dual-clutch auto-manual transmission can make it easier for drivers of lesser skill to have excellent lap times.
According to Porsche, in addition to its transmission, the new 911 GT3 has 4 wheel steering, which is used to decrease the car’s turning radius and improve handling on the race-track. The car’s engine was also moved a little forward, at the rear of the car, to improve handling. The new car also has the options of a navigation system, Sports-Chrono Package, and carbon-ceramic brakes.
The 911 GT3 has gone through slow and incremental changes throughout its life. It began as a street legal race car with few features, and is not a high performance street machine that can pull double duty as a weekend track car.