Porsche is known for its sporty cars and the Porsche 911 GT3 is truly an iconic sports car. This year, the German brand is marking 20 years of the 911 GT3 which made its debut in March 1999 at the Geneva Motor Show. The GT3 displays all the characteristic elements of Porsche Motorsport and was developed by an experienced team that comprised two-time World Rally Champion Walter Röhrl, race engineer Roland Kussmaul and the Porsche Motorsport specialists from Weissach. The Porsche 911 GT3 proved to be a model that successfully transferred Porsche’s expertise on the race track to the road. Every variant of the 911 GT3 has proved to be faster, more precise and more dynamic than the previous versions. The Porsche 911 GT3 has proved to be a perennial favorite with those who love sportscars with its naturally aspirated engine, manual transmission and rear-wheel drive.
On the racetrack, the specially developed variants of the Porsche 911 GT3 have proved to be winners with countless class wins and plenty of overall victories in leading endurance races, including the 24 Hours of Spa, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours Nürburgring. The 911 GT3 was a seven time winner at 24 Hours Nürburgring. Porsche has always made it a point to incorporate the innovations that it has learned from the car’s experience on the track into development of the next road version. Hence, about 80 per cent of all the 911 GT3s ever produced are regularly driven on the race track.
The Porsche 911 GT3 with its advanced racing technology continued Porsche’s racing heritage that had started in the 1970s with the legendary Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7. It was for the first time that Porsche opted not to give the designation “RS” for Race Sport, but the name GT3. This was a reference to the GT class in which the motorsport variants of the model were to participate. The water-cooled 3.6-litre six-cylinder boxer engine of the new sports car had an output of 265 kW (360 PS). The new model made a splash at the first race it participated in, even before it made its debut on the global stage at the Geneva Motor Show. With Walter Röhrl as its driver, the new Porsche 911 GT3 completed the 20.8 kilometer Nürburgring Nordschleife in less than eight minutes, thus setting a new benchmark for road-going sports cars.
The first Porsche 911 GT3 was developed as a successor to the legendary 911 Carrera RS 2.7. It surpassed the level of performance achieved in other Porsche models, thanks to its lightweight design, race-proven boxer engine and a precisely tuned overall package that involved lowering the chassis by about 30 mmm and uprating the brakes. The six-speed manual transmission was borrowed from the Porsche 911 GT2. Motorists could change the gearbox ratios, axle geometry, anti-roll bars and springs depending on the circuit conditions. The fixed rear wing of the 911 GT3 clearly indicated that the car was heavily inspired by the racetrack. Customers also had the option of ordering a Clubsport variant of the 911GT3, which came with a bolt-in roll cage.
The first Porsche 911 GT3 came off the production line at the Porsche plant in Weissach in May 1999. The race variants of the new model also provided the foundation for the successful 911 GT3 Cup and the higher-positioned race versions — the 911 GT3 R and GT3 RSR proved to be winners in one-make and GT racing in the coming years.
New generations in quick succession
After the great success of the first 911 GT3, Porsche presented a new evolution stage of the road-going sports car with racing genes every three to four years. In 2003, the power of the boxer engine increased to 280 kW (381 PS) thanks to the use of the VarioCam continuously variable camshaft control system. The GT3 could also now be ordered with the ultra-high-performance Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system. The next increase in power, to 305 kW (415 PS), followed three years later. For the first time, the Porsche 911 GT3 featured an active suspension with the sporty Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). In 2009, the engineers increased the displacement of the six-cylinder boxer engine to 3.8-litres and the power to 320 kW (435 PS). The all new rear wing and full underbody panelling produced such a substantial increase in downforce that this was more than doubled in comparison to its predecessor.
For the 2009 model, Porsche increased the output of the GT3 to 320 kW (435 PS)
Porsche premiered the fifth generation of the 911 GT3 on the 50th birthday of the Porsche 911 at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The 2013 model had a completely new engine, transmission, body and chassis. The drivetrain comprised a 3.8-litre naturally aspirated engine with 350 kW (475 PS) that was paired with a Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual-clutch transmission for the first time. Also for the first time, this was complemented by active rear axle steering. The new 911 GT3 completed the Nürburgring Nordschleife in just 7:25 minutes, shaving over half a minute from the time the first 911 GT3 took for its record lap in 1999.
The latest version of the 911 GT3 made its debut in 2017 and the main area of focus during the development stage was on refining the six-cylinder boxer engine. In the 2017 model, the engine’s displacement was increased to 4.0 liters while its output jumped to 368 kW (500 PS). In this model, Porsche also offered a manual six-speed transmission as an alternative to the PDK. Another change was the offer of a Touring Package, in which an automatically extending spoiler replaced the fixed rear wing.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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