Andy Preuninger curating his 5 favourite Porsche 911 GT automobiles is like Paul McCartney choosing his prime Beatles tunes. Preuninger is the director of the GT mannequin line, which implies he is the person liable for a few of Zuffenhausen’s most memorable observe instruments. While chances are you’ll not agree with every of his picks, you’ve obtained to respect a playlist when it’s penned by the person who made the music.
In anticipation of the upcoming Porsche 911 GT3, Preuninger’s picks—a number of the most coveted 911 fashions in historical past—had been air-freighted from Germany to Southern California. Lined up within the paddock of the Porsche’s Experience Center in Carson, California, the automobiles encourage a childlike surprise at how such distinct personalities can emerge from a shared heritage. Their rarity additionally made the insurance coverage certificates’s quarter-million Euro-per-vehicle valuation appear conservative.
Here’s a breakdown of the GT fashions we spent 4 hours flinging round Porsche’s 1.6-mile circuit.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS (996)
Off-the-rack 996 GT3s had been as soon as the underdogs of the observe world, however their ugly duckling standing later dissipated when their analogue traits turned endearing to Porsche hardliners.
Now that values of those first-of-the-liquid-cooled GT automobiles have gone the best way of Apple inventory, take into account this little bit of unobtanium: The 996-series GT3 RS, of which solely 682 had been constructed between 2003 and 2005. You may have it in any shade (so long as it was white), and a selection of purple or blue trim in homage to the O.G. Carrera RS 2.7. More essential, this punchier iteration shed 110 kilos due to its carbon-fiber hood and polycarbonate rear window, amongst different bits.
Sharing suspension geometry and hub assemblies with its race counterpart, the 996 GT3 RS is powered by the identical Mezger 8200-rpm 3.6-liter flat-six from the usual GT3. But this leaner, meaner model was by no means accessible in U.S. or Canadian markets attributable to its commonplace roll cage, additional cementing its mystique to stateside fanatics.
This very particular 996 ideas the scales at a claimed 2998 kilos absolutely fueled, and was working on fumes after we sampled it as a result of it wasn’t allowed to fly with a lot fuel in its 23.5-gallon tank. That sensation of lightness is palpable by the Alcantara wheel, which rotates with reassuring accuracy and hyperlinks to a suspension that’s taut, exact, and managed. Though potent for its time (and deliciously high-revving), the 375-hp powerplant can’t compete with the later, blindingly highly effective RS automobiles. However, the true gem right here is the chassis, which was remarkably stiff for its day and boosts confidence in high-speed corners.
The 996 doesn’t provide the final word grip of later automobiles, partially since its Michelin Pilot Sport N4 tires lack the stickiness of newer compounds. But as a pure driver intent on carving apexes and delivering palpable driver suggestions, the 996 GT3 RS is a deal with to pilot at velocity due to its trustworthy underpinnings and seat-of-the-pants simplicity.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 (997)
The 997-series GT3 RS 4.0 is arguably probably the most particular automobile on the grid, and never simply because manufacturing was restricted to 600 models worldwide. The naturally aspirated 4.0-liter engine was the most important powerplant in a 911 up to now and packed a plethora of metallurgical exotica from titanium connecting rods to a crankshaft yanked straight from the 911 GT3 RSR race automobile. Weight was trimmed with carbon-fiber bodywork and seats, whereas aero was aided by Porsche’s first use of aero flicks on a manufacturing automobile and an enormous rear wing that helped produce 426 kilos of downforce at 193 mph.
Some GT3 911s get misplaced within the combine, however the RS 4.0 was all the time revered by lovers for its hardcore repute, which helps clarify the tulip craze phenomenon which has pushed its sale value to as excessive as $750,000.
While Porsche’s 997 sequence earned a repute for on a regular basis drivability, the GT3 RS 4.0 feels fairly the alternative—from its hair-trigger throttle response to its short-throw shifter and stiff, grabby clutch. That edginess would make your morning commute demanding, however turns into sharply satisfying on the observe the place its motorsports roots make the license plate simply above the centrally mounted exhaust all however incomprehensible.
The RS 4.0’s tightly wound persona comes throughout robust by its ironclad suspension, which helped it obtain a Nürburgring Nordshcleife time of seven: 27. But probably the most outstanding a part of the equation is the free spinning flat-six, which doesn’t produce its peak 500 horsepower till a dizzying 8250 rpm. Even extra, the engine’s featherweight reciprocating mass allows lightning-quick rev climbs and equally snappy drops; few automobiles are tougher to correctly heel-toe, however even fewer are as splendidly gratifying to get proper.
Porsche 911 GT2 RS (997)
The religious predecessor to the 997 GT2 RS was the 996 GT2, one of many final licensed widowmakers produced by Porsche’s mad scientists due to its whippersnapper enhance and lack of traction management. This time round, the GT2 RS climbed to a surprising 620 horsepower routed to the rear wheels and superior stability and traction management techniques which could possibly be simply disabled through dashboard buttons.
The 997 GT2 RS definitely regarded the half when solely 500 specimens had been unleashed to the world in early 2011. It boasted a curb weight of solely 3085 kilos and aggressive visuals together with flared entrance wheel arches, a contrasting carbon fiber hood, and twin air intakes that seem like they had been ripped off a fighter jet. Better but, the GT2 RS appeased purists by mating completely to a six-speed guide. To many, this was the final of the actually small batch batshit RS automobiles.
What a distinction twin, variable-geometry turbochargers make. Climbing into the GT2 RS from the naturally aspirated GT3 RS 4.0, it’s all however inconceivable to not involuntarily gasp each time the tach climbs previous 3000 rpm and pegs you to your carbon-fiber buckets. The pull from this motor is immense, and the gearbox’s flat shift functionality means you possibly can mat the throttle in-between shifts for practically seamless, lag-free cog swaps.
It could not appear logical for a 3085-pound rear-drive turbo automobile to have balanced dealing with, however the GT2 flies within the face of typical knowledge. Turn-in is responsive, and following slight understeer in low-speed corners (which is attribute of its predecessors as effectively) the load-bearing Pilot Cup 2s claw into tarmac and ship robust traction, assisted by the engine’s rearward weight distribution. Counterintuitively, the GT2 RS turns into surprisingly manageable with all electronics off: Don’t do something silly, and its innate neutrality coupled with its outrageous energy made this one of the eye-opening revelations of the afternoon.
Porsche 911 R (991)
The 911 R’s debut on the 2016 Geneva Motor Show might need confounded the uninitiated, since its sedate, spoilerless appears to be like appeared to bely its $184,900 asking value. But the cognoscenti had the final chuckle: with solely 991 of those sleepers constructed, its specialness turned secured with exorbitant seller surcharges and rumors of some buying and selling arms at over one million bucks.
Owners reveled within the symbolism of the brand new automobile that tipped its hat to the unique 1967 911R, which battled at legendary street rallies just like the Targa Florio. Packing a GT3-sourced 500-hp naturally aspirated 4.0-liter, the 911 R weighed a mere 3042 kilos—about 110 fewer kilos than its big-spoilered GT3 RS counterpart. And whereas its seemingly innocuous appears to be like may not have turned heads at Monaco stoplights, drivers reveled in the truth that carbon-fiber physique panels and a magnesium roof made this a singular steed. Most memorably, the naturally aspirated 911 R with the guide gearbox was believed to be the final nice analogue GT automobile, till the later (however not so uncommon) GT3 Touring famously challenged its declare to fame.
Porsche 911 R (991)
While the gentlemanly idea of a spoilerless observe automobile implies a sure diploma of approachability (which this 911 most positively possesses), the sounds and sensations of its dedicated chassis douse it with a gratifying component of rawness. The din of the free-breathing flat-six escalates because it revs to the 8500 rpm redline (barely diminished from the GT3 RS’s 8800 rpm max), and the fantastic howl is complemented by the drivetrain’s imply, seat-compressing thrust. Press the Sport button on the sprint, and downshifts from the smooth-but-positive shifter are routinely rev-matched.
This is the primary automobile of the group that rotates simply in low-speed corners due to its rear-axle steering, which appears to defy the automobile’s pure path. That little bit of digital wizardry is countered by old skool tips like diminished sound insulation and shorter gearing to yield a centered driver that may be each fearsome on the observe and alluring on the street.
Porsche 911 GT2 RS (991)
If the supercar arms race towards Modena, Sant’Agata, and Woking did something to the workforce in Zuffenhausen, it helped forge superlatives just like the 700-hp 991 GT2 RS. Though its 3376-pound curb weight was the heftiest but for a Porsche 911 GT automobile, the GT2 RS additionally got here with a compendium of tech and tuning meant to make it faster round a race observe together with an electronically managed limited-slip differential, a water sprayer to chill the warmth exchangers, and a collection of driver aids meant to wrangle all that brawn routing to the rear wheels.
While the naturally aspirated 991 GT3 RS provided an arguably extra natural driver expertise, the GT2 RS earned final bragging rights for RS followers—to not point out Porsche, which claimed the production-car lap document on the Nürburgring Nordschleife with this automobile.
You’d assume climbing Preuninger’s ladder would end in a terrifying denouement, however the GT2 RS proves that outrageous energy mustn’t imply uncontrollable velocity. Sure, there’s aggro bits like light-weight Gorilla glass and a carbon-fiber roof. But there’s additionally a degree of precision and progressiveness to the ability supply that makes the entire demented bundle work surprisingly effectively.
This is the primary GT2 mannequin with a PDK dual-clutch transmission, not to mention a compulsory one. But when tasked with managing the lightning-fast spools of energy and freight-train-stopping deceleration, paddle shifters are the one smart answer for attacking a observe in anger. The GT2 RS can produce gut-wrenching G forces, as effectively it ought to: this can be a big slayer of a 911, the large dangerous wolf constructed for devouring enemy supercars from distant lands. But it’s additionally surprisingly, unexpectedly, a honey—a mischievous co-conspirator that has your again even when all techniques are off, so long as you respect its outsized capabilities. Chalk one up for mad engineering: Despite an formidable mission assertion, Preuninger’s 991 GT2 RS proves that science and cautious evolution of the breed can yield a beast that each booms and behaves.
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