A Brief History of the Porsche 911 GT3

The Porsche 911 is an automotive legend.  The Porsche 911 GT3 is iconic for its tremendous performance.  This is a brief history of the Porsche 911 GT3

In the 50+ years of the Porsche 911, several high performance derivations have come to market that have gone on to become legendary in their own right.  There is the Porsche 911 GT2, which is essentially a racing version of Porsche’s iconic 911 Turbo.  Then, there is the Porsche 911 GT3 that descended from the 1973 Porsche 911 RS.  This is a brief history of the Porsche 911 GT3.

Both the Porsche 911 GT2 and GT3 are held in very high esteem and coveted by collectors. A 993 Porsche 911 GT2 recently changed hands for $2.4 million and an concourse example of a 1973 Porsche 911 RS 2.7 will command close to $900,000.

High Performance versions of the Porsche 911

Both the Porsche 911 GT2 and GT3 are high performance versions of the legendary Porsche 911.  While the Porsche 911 GT2 has a twin-turbocharged engine, the Porsche 911 GT3 is running a normally aspirated engine.

Built to compete in the Federation Internationale d l’Automobile (FIA) Group GT3 Class, the Porsche 911 GT3 was first produced in 1999.  Since that time, a number of road and racing version numbering 14,000 units have been produced over the years.

The Porsche 911 GT3 has had a very successful racing career.  There is the Porsche Carrera Cup and GT3 Cup Challenge series in addition to the International Porsche Supercup.  It has also won championship and endurance races including the GT class of the American Le Mans series, first overall in the 24 hours of Daytona and first overall at the 24 hours Nurburgring six times.

The 996 Porsche 911 GT3

First produced in 1999, the Porsche 911 GT3 was based on the Porsche 996 and was designed as a race car.  As a result, it followed Porsche’s race proven formula for success, a high performance racing-tuned engine combined with a lightened body.

Weight savings in the road-going Porsche 911 GT3 were achieved by doing away with any unnecessary weight to the car.   This includes sound insulation, the back seats, rear speakers, the sunroof and air conditioning.  However, the latter two items were made available as options available at an added cost.

Where the Porsche 911 GT3 really shined was with its engine.  The 996 Porsche 911 GT3 ran a dry-sump flat-six boxer engine known as the ‘Metzger’ engine.  The engine, like all GT3 engines was normally aspirated and based on the same engine that powered the Porsche 962 and GT1 race cars.  It used the original air-cooled Porsche 911’s external dry-sump crankcase incorporating an external oil cooler.

Whereas the stock Porsche 996 produced 300 horsepower, the 996 Porsche 911 GT3 produced 360 horsepower.  The engine was similar to the Porsche 959 in that it ran two cylinder heads, each covering a bank of three cylinders.

To deal with the added performance of the 360 horsepower 3.6 liter engine, the manual gearbox was upgraded to incorporate interchangeable gear ratios.  This increased durability and made the engine more suitable to racing.

To make the first generation GT3 more suitable for track use, it incorporated a lowered, race-tuned suspension system and larger brakes.  It also had lighter wheels and a new front bumper designed to increase downforce, and thus grip.

A ‘Clubsport’ package was made available worldwide but not in the United States.  The Clubsport package optimized the GT3 RS for track use.  It featured racing bucket front seats instead of the fully adjustable, leather trimmed bucket seats that came in the regular 918.  It also featured a bolt in half roll-cage, 6-point driving harness, and fire extinguisher.

In 2004, Porsche made some significant upgrades to the 996 Porsche 911 GT3.  Output was raised 21 horsepower to 381 horsepower at 284 lb-ft of torque.  Braking was also upgraded by incorporating 6-piston calipers up front with 4 pots in back.

The 996 Porsche 911 GT3 was able to rocket from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and run the quarter mile in 12.0 seconds at 118 miles per hour.

Production of the 996 Porsche 911 GT3 ended in 2005 but not before an RS version of the GT3 could be released.  Introduced in 2003, the 996 Porsche 911 GT3 RS was a more “hardcore”, track-focused version of the GT3.  It had incorporated additional weight saving measures over the GT3 such as a polycarbonate rear window and carbon fiber front and rear deck lid.

Differences between the GT3 and GT3 RS extend to the engine as well.  Reshaped intake and exhaust ports increase output of the GT3 RS to 400 horsepower.  Slight suspension modifications to the RS work to make it the ultimate track beast putting down a 0 to 60 mile per hour time of 4.3 seconds accelerating all the way through to 190 mile per hour.

The 997 Porsche 911 GT3

The 997 based Porsche 911 GT3 was produced between 2006 and 2011.  Four engine versions were produced over its production run: a 3.6 liter engine producing 415 horsepower, 2 3.8 liter engines, producing 430 and 450 horsepower, respectively, and a 4.0 liter engine producing 500 horsepower.

Several suspension modifications were made to the 997 Porsche 911 GT3 that improved handing on the track.  In testing, the 997 GT3 was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds accelerating to a top speed of 196 miles per hour.

An RS version of the first generation 997 GT3 was also produced incorporating lighter materials that amounted to a weight savings of 44 pounds over the regular GT3.

In 2009, Porsche released the second generation 997 that extended to the GT3 as well.  Key changes included a new engine with a 3.8 liter displacement, 0.2 liters more over the previous generation that increased output to 435 horsepower.

Engine upgrades extended to the GT3 RS as well increasing power output of the 997.2 Porsche 911 GT3 RS to 450 horsepower.

The fourth engine iteration for the 997 Porsche 911 GT3 was released in 2011.  A 4.0 liter six-cylinder boxer engine was offered producing 500 horsepower, the largest engine ever offered in a road-going 911.  This increase in displacement was partly accomplished through the use of a crankshaft from the Porsche RSR.

As with all high performance Porsches, weight savings were applied to the 4.0 liter 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS resulting in a curb weight of just 3,075 pounds.  This combined with the 500 horsepower output resulted in a power-to-weight ratio of 365 bhp per ton.

991 Porsche 911 GT3

In 2013, Porsche released the current generation of the GT3 at the Geneva Motor Show.  It featured a new 3.8 liter direct injection flat-six engine producing 475 horsepower, the first of two engine iterations offered in the 991 Porsche 911 GT3.  A 4.0 liter, six cylinder engine producing 500 horsepower is also offered.

While the GT3 incorporated many parts that were similar to the 991 Carrera S, the parts for the 991 GT3 were specially adapted to handle the stresses associated with higher performance levels.  This includes the PDK double-clutch transmission and four-wheel steering offered in the GT3.

The first generation 991.1 Porsche 911 GT3 was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds or less accelerating through to 202 miles per hour.  The quarter mile was achieved in 11.2 seconds at 126 miles per hour.

The GT3 RS version of the 991.1 Porsche 911 was released in 2015.  Key differences between the GT3 and GT3 RS are in the form of a different engine and several weight saving measures.

The 991.1 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is powered by a 4.0 liter six cylinder engine putting out 500 horsepower and 399 lb-ft of torque.   Putting the power to the pavement is a PDK double-clutch transmission that is available in the RS as well.  This is sufficient to rocket the 991.1 Porsche 911 GT3 RS from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds.  The 991.1 Porsche 911 GT3 has faster acceleration than the 991.1 GT3 RS.

Weight saving and performance modifications to the GT3 RS are in the form of louvers above the wheels and rear fenders that include intakes borrowed from the Turbo.  The roof is made from magnesium and the interior includes full bucket seats borrowed from the Porsche 918 as well as select interior inserts made of carbon fiber.

The Clubsport option of the 991 Porsche 911 GT3 RS includes a bolt-in roll cage, the infrastructure for a battery turn-off switch and a six point safety harness.

A mid-cycle refresh to the GT3 RS was released in 2018.  Dubbed the 991.2 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, changes included a new engine that added an additional 20 horsepower, increasing total output to 520 horsepower.  The engine redline was also raised as well to a screaming 9,000 rpm.

Secondary enhancements to the 991.2 Porsche 911 GT3 RS were in the form of suspension upgrades, lightweight glass and several carbon fiber interior inserts.

Porsche’s improvements to the 991.2 GT3 RS were sufficient for the vehicle to lap the Nurburgring in less than 7 minutes.  On April 18, 2018, a 991.2 Porsche 911 GT3 RS lapped the Nurburgring Nordschliefe in 6:56.4.  It is the third Porsche production vehicle to break the 7 minute barrier.  The previous sub-seven minute ‘lappers’ are the Porsche 918 and the Porsche 911 GT2 MR.

The 992.1 Porsche 911 GT3

At the time of this writing, photos have been published on the Internet of test mules of the upcoming 992 Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS.  I will update this post as more information become publicly available.


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