Cult Car Central status report- Porsche 993 GT3 mk1

CCC STATUS REPORT ON PORSCHE 911 GT3 MK 1

HISTORICAL FACTORS

It took Porsche 7 years to come up with another special 911 though not quite in the same vein as the 993 RS. The GT3 is a homologation special for the FIA GT3 races and though Mk 1 did not have a RS version it came in comfort and club sport versions.

It is not really a RS like the 993 RS and 964 RS as it did not get the strengthening and lightening treatment. It does have the GT1 derived race engine and not the new all alloy 3.4-litre engine which was specifically developed for simplicity of production and is not as robust as the Motorsport developed 3.6-litre engine which would become the de facto base for all high-powered Porsche engines.

REVIEWS

read the latest on 911 GT3 mk1

read the original review 

read the review on the GT3 mk2

read the review on the 997 GT3 mk1

FORM FACTORS
The frumpy styling of the 996 does this GT3 no favours. However the rear sculptured spoiler is a work of art and is the defining show piece of the GT3. The all new body is significantly larger than its forebear and stronger too.

The wheel design is unique to the GT3 but many an ordinary 996 have a set and some even ordered the rear wing. The aerodynamic skirts and front spoilers set it apart from mundane machines. Since it is not that attractive its other attributes hold greater sway.

The inside is pure 996 and is a bit messy but also manages to age well. More dials have been squeezed into view and is cluttered. The standard seats are meant for comfort and is out of character with the GT3.

The optional sport seats are the business though being both comfortable and supportive and a must have item. An optional rear roll cage provides rigidity and mounting points for the 5-point harness which is a pain to use on a day to day basis.

MECHANICAL ATTRIBUTES
The GT1 derived Motorsport engine is strong enough to withstand up to 500 bhp with minor changes and is safe to spin to 8000 rpm. In the GT3 mk1 the engine pumps out 360 bhp but a very eager 360 bhp we must add.

At this point Porsche or any German marque has not grasped the art of tuning the intake and exhaust for a melodious tune and so sounds more mechanical than anything else offering that characteristic Porsche thrum in mitigation. (some of that old air-cooled charm?)

The revised 6-speed gearbox is the only gearbox specified and is in keeping with its purist theme. The GT3 remains RWD and does not have any traction or stability control system. The steering is a quicker Motorsport rack and is very quick and for at first acquaintence is just too quick though one gets used to it eventually. It does make for slightly nervous high speed travel though.

The 996 bodyshell with 30,000 Nm per degree of torsional stiffness was deemed sufficient enough to abandon the time consuming rewelding of the body in white and this allowed the entire GT3 to be assembled on the main production line saving time and cost not to mention freeing up the poor motorsport technicians for more important chores.

Suspension-wise the GT3 gets a fully adjustable fixed rate system that can alter camber, castor and toe. It is a trifle stiff but in such a rigid body it seems appropriate. Suspension drops the body by 20mm and feels as if it has no latency though it has bushings in the control arms.

The original Michelin Pilot Sport mk1 were standard and Pirelli also offered its P-Zero Asymmetrico. The better choice then was the P-Zero. PCCB were not featured on this car but it did get bigger 330 mm or 13.00”, cross-drilled and inner-vented, four pot brakes for the best stopping ability alongside the 996 Turbo of that era.

PERFORMANCE AND HANDLING CRITERIA
With a 0-100 km time of 4.8 seconds and a top whack of 302 km/h the GT3 mk1 is right up there with the big hitters. But its raison d'etre is its tack sharp trackday handling attributes. Of course that was then and now would be measured against many younger and cheaper upstarts.

Its slight nervousness and on edge personality meant it was not for everyone but it garnered a huge following of aficionados. But most importantly after a quick blast in this GT3 one gets (and still gets) that life affirming adrenaline rush that only this genre of car can deliver.

TIME AND MARKETING FACTORS
Porsche inexplicably made a limited run of 1868 units, of which only 250 were RHD (only 5 reached our shores). The clamour for more cars went unanswered for nearly 3 years when the marketing department eventually convinced production to cobble together the 996 GT3 mk2.

However, this first version was a pure engineering exercise to allow the motorsport guys a chance to let down their hair. It is the purer machine as this was not merely a marketing effort.

Over time the GT3 has depreciated with the normal 996 models but most got exported and just 2 remain with renewed COEs. The GT3 mk1 is slowly being recognised as one of the most focused 911s around though it did not get the RS treatment (which only arrived with the 996 mk2 GT3). Although it was a homologation special, it would require better tyres than the Michelin Pilot Sport I to survive a trackday.

Many want one but there are not many to go around and there are newer more enticing versions to attract buyers. The GT3 is built like a vault and should well stand the test of time.

Summary
Again, the numbers sold locally are so few by virtue of the limited production it is hard to determine if there is a cult following over here. However, world-wide, the GT3 was a huge hit and when the planned numbers were reached, the production of the GT3 stopped leaving a large following clamouring for more; the cultists were up in arms. Porsche's marketing arm took nearly 3 years to come up with the 996 GT3 mk2, ultimately sealing the mk1's position as a cult car.
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