The high-revving illustrious Porsche 911 GT3 is twenty years old and the lively German thoroughbred still looks fresh.
Spawned from its motor-sporting brotherly 911 variant some 20 years previous, the GT3 was named after a class of endurance racing, specifically designed for the road whilst boasting track performance and motorsport technology.
High-revving Porsche 911 GT3
The high-revving naturally-aspirated flat six engine closely related to the engine used in motorsports, rear wheel drive, lightweight construction, upgraded aerodynamics and track-focused suspension and brake systems have been defining characteristics of this model throughout its 20 year history.
Initially launched in Europe 1999, the first 911 GT3 was one of the first production cars to officially race around the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes, with rally legend Walter Rӧhrl going around the famous track in an impressive 7:56.33 minutes.
The car distinguished itself from rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera models through a 30 mm reduction in ride height, pronounced front fascia, visible side skirts and a fixed rear wing – all designed to reduce lift while still delivering a very efficient 0.30 drag coefficient. The angle of attack of the rear wing is adjustable for use on closed-course tracks.
Four years later
Four years later, the 911 GT3 received significant updates, and was offered in North America for the first time.
Based on the facelifted 996 generation 911, horsepower grew to 381, torque rose from 273 to 285 lb-ft, and the redline climbed to 8,200 rpm. This was possible by updating the engine with longer titanium connecting rods, lighter pistons, the variable camshaft adjustment system VarioCam, and lighter intake and exhaust valves.
As a result, the 2004 model year 911 GT3 accelerated from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds, and achieved a top track speed of 190 miles per hour.
Third generation of GT3 arrives
Based on the 997-generation of 911, a new 911 GT3 model was unveiled in 2006. Still powered by a 3.6 liter naturally-aspirated flat six, horsepower now crossed the 400 threshold, rising to 415. The engine was now capable of revving up to 8,400 rpm.
The 2007 911 GT3 sprinted from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds and reached a top track speed of 193 miles per hour. The six speed transmission offered 15 percent shorter shift throws and a reduction of ratios for gears two through six, pairing well to power delivery of the engine.
To make full use of the increase in power, the suspension was enhanced with divided control arms offering greater adjustment of camber angle. Additionally, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) was offered as standard for the first time on the GT3, offering the capability of electronically adjusting the dampers.
Wheel diameters grew to 19-inches, the size of the standard rear cast iron brake rotors increased to 350 mm, the optional PCCB rotors grew to 380 mm at the front axle, and Ultra-High Performance tires (UHP) were mounted to further increase grip.
The 997 became the first 911 GT3 model to be equipped with a traction control system (TC), which complemented the standard limited slip differential by giving the driver greater control, particularly on slippery surfaces.
The car was also fitted with a “SPORT” button for the first time, reducing backpressure in the exhaust and put the traction control system in a more dynamic mode. In spite of the added technology and safety equipment such as new Sport Seats with side airbags, the car tipped the scales at just 3,075 lb (1395 kg) thanks to new weight-saving aluminum doors and luggage compartment lid.
The 911 GT3 of the 997 generation was characterized by new styling, with cues such as the air outlet in front of the luggage compartment lid designed to extract air from the front center radiator and increase downforce at the front axle.
This was also the first model to feature center-mounted tailpipes for the exhaust. The interior offered new features such as a steering wheel, hand brake lever and gearshift lever covered with Alcantara.