Porsche GT3 and Porsche GT3 RS

Think back to the early 1970's (if you can) and the birth of a Porsche legend, the 911 RS. Stripped out to achieve minimum weight and sporting " RS" decals, these rare cars achieved exalted status as classics towards the end of the 1980's, commanding extortionate used prices.

Following that philosophy 30 years on, Porsche took its first steps to revive the legend in the form of the latest GT3, a no frills but plenty of thrills version of the latest 996 model range. Although now trimmed and well equipped, the Porsche GT3's emphasis is still on lightness. Even the rear window is made of acrylic material.

Additional power comes, not from turbo charging but by VarioCam variable valve timing and lighter engine internals. The GT3's 3.6 litre flat-six engine now produces 381BHP, giving a top speed of 190mph. 60mph from a standing start comes up in 4.3 seconds, going on to 100mph in 9.4 seconds. Stopping power comes from larger, more powerful brakes, including ceramic composite discs as an option, again minimizing weight with increased effectiveness - important in a car as potent as the Porsche GT3.

On the aerodynamic side, increased down force and drag reduction is brought about by a new unique rear wing, nose and sills, giving the GT3 a unique appearance compared with other 996 models. Chassis and suspension components have received upgrades. The GT3's transmission now has oil cooling and injection oil lubrication, as well as getting a general 'beefing-up' to cope with the increased stresses likely to be encountered when the car is close to the limits.

Lighter, wider wheels and tyres add to the GT3's performance potential and again enhance this Porsche's already aggressive stance.

Whilst this all clearly makes the GT3 an outstanding road car, Porsche have completed their revival programme with the introduction of the new GT3 RS. Debuted at The Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2003, this is a homologated model designed to compete in the new international GT race series, motor racing being seen as the core reason for producing this car. Porsche need to produce and sell 200 such models to be eligible - no problem finding customers by all accounts!

The car is the 8th Porsche to bear the RS tag. The colour scheme echoes the original 2.7 Carrera RS of 1973 and is available only in white with either red or blue decals and colour-coded wheels.

Even driver and passenger side air bags have also been cast aside to further lighten the competition version of the GT3.In all, weight savings amount to 50 Kilos compared with the standard GT3, whilst a full roll cage comes as standard.

However for all this there is, on paper at least, little performance advantage over the standard GT3, with 0-62 time down by 0.1 seconds and 0-125 time down by 0.3. Top speed is only 1 mph faster too!

So what is all the fuss about? Well as you might expect from a car essentially bred for the track, it's the way this car delivers and handles the available power. For example, Porsche have fitted an air collector under the rear wing. This utilizes the built-up pressure in that area to supply additional intake air to the engine at higher speeds. This, in turn enables the GT3 RS to reach it's peak power output more quickly.

Anticipated to become a modern classic, the Porsche GT3 RS is perhaps the ultimate Porsche aficionado's collector's piece.

A Williams, 6 February 2004.


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