I’ve driven Porsche’s before. I’ve driven lots of Porsche’s before. The 914, the 928, the 944 (Turbo, S2, and I own a naturally aspirated single cam), my son will take over the very 924 that I personally learned to drive a manual on. I’ve been sideways in various Boxter’s (2.5, 2.7, 3.2 liter “S”), I’ve even driven the wonderful Caymen R (Thank you, Ken!).
The 911 has always held a spot in my heart that no other car can occupy. Not that there isn’t a better car made (The Mclaren MP4-12c is maybe the most perfect car that I have driven....yet), it’s just that no other car is or can be a 911. By all rights, it shouldn’t work as well as it does. Its iconic, easily recognizable shape is dictated by its physics-defying oddity: The engine hangs out past the rear axle... ‘nuff said. This car shouldn’t work as well around corner’s as it does. Apparently, nobody told the 911 this, and it continues to captivate not only this writer, but legions of rabid loyalist the world over. Its combination of unique styling, sonorous flat six, and handling that requires your full attention makes this car an experience... not merely a drive.
But that’s normal 911’s.
This is no normal 911.
This isn’t even a car.
This is crack cocaine.
Welcome to the 911 GT3 (991 Chassis). It’s the Saber-Toothed Tiger to your tabby cat. It’s the Super Bowl to your Pop Warner football league, It’s the F-22 Raptor to your Cessna crop duster. Hyperbolic speech notwithstanding, the GT3 stands very near the top of the 911 food chain. Definitely at the top of the naturally aspirated 911 food chain (That is, until its even more brutal 4.0 big brother... the 911 GT3 RS bows in next year). We won’t discuss the turbo cars because, well...., take your “Saber-Toothed Tiger”, and raise it by a factor of Godzilla.
The aforementioned natural (see also: no turbo’s or supercharger’s for you non-car guy types) 3.8 liter flat six develop’s 469 hp. Stop. Let that sink in for a moment. I could stop there, go home and call it a day with that fact alone. For the technical: that is 123 hp per liter.... its got 3.8 of those said “liter” thingy’s. That is nearly 500 ponie’s from a SIX CYLINDER. Spencer’s wonderful supercharged GT500 made 500.... and had more of those liter deals.... and some un-natural aspiration.....and a couple more cylinders to boot. Apparently, this engine was co-developed with Keebler Elves, this is the only way that I can explain the magic that is happening under the hood to make that kind of power. We’ll come back to that “hood” topic in a moment.
My arm was twisted to drive the car. “Here! Take the keys!”, exclaimed the owner of the car. “I can’t take your car, sir,” I said. “Listen, you’re a friend of Rob’s, you track a Porsche, you are driving this car!” “Ok.... but you can’t make me like it!!!” I never said that last part, but it sounded good.
The first thing you notice is the large center-lock wheels framing gigantic 16.1” Carbon Ceramic brake rotors and six piston calipers. This is not a normal street car.... the center-lock wheel is formula car type stuff. You approach this car with the same respect as when you approach anything that is muscular, and intimidating. Not intimidating like it’ll beat you up (although, it might), but with the type of trepidation that says, “now.... you know you can’t replace this, right?” Things become predictable for a moment: The left of the steering wheel ignition switch, the strictly business... almost stuffy, german buttoned down interior. You can almost see the never-smiling engineer deciding where this stuff should go on the dash. The attention to detail is typical of this brand. I did enjoy the Alcantera bits on the shifter (PDK is the only option, by the way. A hearty “SHUT UP” to the purist who whine about the lack of manual.... you will drive it and you will like it. That is all you get.).
In the moments needed for your brain to fire off the electrical signals that tell your left hand to twist the key in the ignition, I reflect on the fact that I have made some really right decisions in my life that have led me to this moment. I work at the right place, I am friends with the right people, and have obviously said the right things that have led the owner of this car to not only give me his keys, but say that he is not going with me. He wants me to be relaxed while driving his prized possession. Ignition brings the animal to the surface. An almost alien cacophony. Its familiar to me... distinctly Porsche. The clatter of drivetrain, the baritone exhaust pulse, a quick snap of the throttle creates a sharp bark from the pipes. This is a violent symphony.
Moving through traffic makes you eerily self-conscious. Your both trying to not attract attention to yourself, al the while driving a car that screams for looks. Do not pick your nose in this one. Authoritative stomps on the accelerator force the monster to switch modes in the exhaust. Moving from a subdued rumble, to a Supercar worthy shriek. This car rockets to the 9k RPM redline. Its one of the best car noises that I have ever heard.
Be on your game, though. The car forces you to drive it. It is not just a pretty face. Grab a gear, get a gear with the PDK paddle shifter. I have yet to experience a faster shift. Borderline telepathic. Seven speeds... exotic car stuff. Acceleration? Have you ever had a bucket of ice cold water dumped on you un-suspected? Same reaction. Surprise, and deep gasping breath. You turn off the stereo in this car. Who cares about that crap. you are in control of the tempo and tone of some of the best music that you have heard. You are the conductor in this concert.... controlled by your foot that is mashing the large peddle on the right.
Handling is immediate. The brakes are the equivalent of warp.... in reverse. The car seems to yell back to you that it is more capable than you are. Levels of grip are insane. Was it the fact that this car is north of $100k ($130k... BASE, to be exact) that I didn’t explore the upper-room limits of this one? I can’t deny that was a factor. Curbs come your way quick with this one. I don’t even want to know the cost associated with repair here. Remember: You approach this animal with respect. This was an unexpected gift today, and I’m too chicken when driving cars in this tax bracket.
My only gripe? You can’t see the blasted engine. Open up the hood (the “trunk” in most cars), and you are greeted by two small cooling fans. Thats it. I would want to see the face of the magician that launches this car forward. Its a slight that I would happily live with. I will forever be a fan. I am not worthy..... you probably aren’t either.