That new GT3 with the manual may be tempting, but there are cheaper alternatives out there.
The 991.2 generation 911 GT3 is a very special car. Not only does the new GT3 come with a 4.0-liter flat-six engine with 500 hp that can rev up to 9,000 rpm, it is once again available with a (no-cost) manual transmission. Unfortunately, even though the manual transmission doesn't add anything to the car's price, a nicely optioned GT3 can cost close to $200,000. Even the base $143,600 price isn't exactly affordable. That is why we came up with five cheaper alternatives that all offer a track-oriented experience with a manual transmission.
It has been a few years since Lotus last sold the Exige in the US, and prices have now become reasonably affordable. We found Exige S models ranging from 2006 to 2009 in the $50,000 to $65,000 price range. The Exige S was powered by a 1.8-liter Toyota engine that was supercharged to produce either 240 or 257 hp.
The car's curb weight was just over 2,000 pounds, which makes the GT3 seem like a heavy weight. It may not be as refined as the Porsche, but the Lotus is the most raw experience on this list.
Next up is a car that's extremely similar to the GT3 and one of the closest rivals to the 911 that has ever come out of America. The Corvette Z06 has been one of the top performing Corvette models in recent years, with only the ZR-1 model topping its performance figures. We recommend the C6 generation Z06 because it does not suffer from overheating issues on track like the latest, supercharged C7 model.
The C6 Z06 is also one of the best values in the used performance car market with plenty of examples for under $40,000. The C6 Z06 used a 7.0-liter LS7 V8 with a whopping 505 hp. That's more than the brand-new GT3.
The BMW M3 has long been a competitor to the Porsche 911. Even though the two compete at slightly different price categories, a lot of people do cross shop these two cars. Unfortunately, the US never received the true GT3 RS competitor, the M3 GTS. Instead, we received an equally orange special edition model called the Lime Rock Park Edition.
It may not be too mechanically different from a normal M3 with the competition package, but BMW only built 200 Lime Rock Edition cars and most were fitted with the seven-speed DCT. Manual models can still be found for less than $70,000, and could end up being valuable as a collector car in the future.
We have proposed three cars that would be fitting alternatives to a new GT3, but some people just won't settle for anything less than Porsche's best. Luckily, some used GT3 models are now relatively affordable. The most affordable GT3 on the market is the 996 generation. Many Porsche enthusiasts hate the 966 because of its strange headlight design and overblown IMS issue. Luckily, the GT3 did not suffer from this design flaw.
This generation of GT3 was powered by a 3.6-liter flat-six with 380 hp and prices have now sank to under $70,000 in some cases. There has never been a better time to buy an old GT3.
For those who just can't get over the design and poor interior of the 996, the 997 GT3 is also available for under $100,000. The 997.1 GT3 also used a 3.6-liter flat-six, but power was upped to 415 hp. Unlike the new GT3, you won't have to sort out the PDK models in your buying search because these were manual only.
We found prices starting at around $90,000. The 997.2 generation did get a 3.8-liter flat-six with a power boost up to 435 hp, and we miraculously found a few, higher mileage examples for just under $100,000.