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Porsche 911 GT3 Has Been Defying Physics For 20 Years

Sports Car / 5 Comments

It's a beast on both road and track.

It all started back in March 1999 when Porsche unveiled a 911 unlike any other at the Geneva Motor Show. Bridging the gap between a road-legal and track-only 911, the GT3 was born, though its origins can be traced back to the 1970s and the iconic 911 Carrera RS 2.7. Although Porsche decided not to continue with the RS moniker, the GT3 and its even more hardcore cousin, the GT3 RS, have thrived.

Now that the 992 generation 911 has arrived, Porsche is already at work developing the next GT3 and GT3 RS, but it still wants to honor the past two decades of road and track madness. The original GT3 was based on the 996 911 and came powered by a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter flat-six making 360 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, all of which was sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

The legendary Walter Rohrl was at the wheel when it hit 187 mph during a lap of the Nurburgring where it clocked a time of 7:56.33. It was the first production car to break the 8: 00-minute mark. Porsche later updated the car with more power, 381 hp and 285 lb-ft, to be precise.

The 997-based GT3, which debuted in 2006, took things several steps further. Its 3.8-liter flat-six produced 415 hp and 193 lb-ft. Porsche added standard adaptive dampers and bigger brakes. Carbon-ceramic brakes were optional. Also new were center-mounted exhaust tips and airbags, which were legally required. Electronic Stability Control was also added and its Nurburgring time decreased to 7:40 – a full 16 seconds faster than its immediate predecessor.

In 2014, the third-generation GT3 premiered, based on the 991 911. Unlike its predecessors, it offered a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox instead of a stick shift as well as launch control. Its improved 3.8-liter flat-six, still naturally aspirated, now produced 475 hp. Another 15 seconds were shaved off the previous GT3's 'Ring lap time.

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Halfway through its production lifetime, the 991 (now 991.2) GT3 received a new engine, a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six with 500 track-smashing horsepower. Top speed: 198 mph. While the seven-speed PDK remains, buyers could now order a six-speed manual if so desired. Its official 'Ring time was clocked at 7:12.7 (with the PDK). Meanwhile, the GT3 RS did the same deed in 6:56.4. All the more impressive is that even with these big power and lap time improvements, weight gain has been kept at a minimum. For example, the original 996 GT3 tipped the scales at 2,976 pounds. Today's GT3 weighs 3,116 pounds.

So, when will the 992 GT3 debut? Well, given that it's the 20th anniversary of the nameplate and next month is the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, we remain hopeful Porsche has something special planned.