Porsche 911 GT3

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As with Porsche’s 911 RS models, the GT3 was devoid of any unnecessary items that would add weight to the car. Sound deadening was almost completely removed, as were the rear seats, stereo system, sunroof, and air conditioning, although automatic air conditioning and CD/radio became no-cost optional add-ons. In addition, Porsche offered a no-cost option called the Clubsport package. This option replaced the standard electrically adjustable leather front seats with manually adjustable racing buckets finished in fire-retardant fabric, bolt-in half-roll cage, 6-point drivers racing harness, fire extinguisher (mounted in the front passenger footwell) & preparation for a battery master switch. The Clubsport option was never offered to US customers ostensibly due to the additional DOT Crash testing that would have been required to allow US sales.

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To bring the vehicle’s track-prowess to the maximum level, Porsche endowed the GT3 with enlarged brakes, a lowered, re-tuned suspension system, lighter-weight wheels and a new front bumper with matched rear spoiler to help increase downforce, thereby increasing grip.

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Most important of all is the engine of the GT3. The GT3 engine, although it shares the same basic 3.6 liter displacement of the standard 996 type 911’s so-called “integrated dry-sump” flat-six engine, is actually based on the original air-cooled 911’s versatile, true dry-sump crankcase (with oil tank external to engine).

In GT3 configuration, this so called “split” crankcase (meaning the parting line of crankcase is on the crankshaft centerline) uses, instead of a fan and finned cylinders, separate water jackets added onto each side of the crankcase to cool banks of 3 cylinders with water pumped though a radiator. Thus, the GT3 engine is very similar to the completely water cooled 962 racing car’s engine, which is also based on this same crankcase. The 962 differs, however, by using 6 individual cylinder heads while the GT1/GT3, like the air and water cooled Porsche 959, uses 2 cylinder heads, each covering a bank of 3 cylinders. The GT3 engine could thus also be thought of as similar to a 959 engine, but with water-cooled cylinders.

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Up to early model year 2004 GT3 production, the basic casting used for the crankcase of the GT3 was exactly the same as the air-cooled engine and one could see the “964” casting number on the bottom of the crankcase and areas normally machined in the air-cooled application that are not machined for use in the water-cooled application. The crankcase casting was changed in mid-2004 to a “996” casting number crankcase to eliminate these external air-cooled remnants, but internally it is the same.

This engine gives the GT3 a distinct racing heritage that dates back to the Porsche 904/6 of the mid-60’s and also includes the 906, 910, 911R, 911ST, 911RSR (2.8,3.0 & 3.8 liter), 911SCRS, 934, 935, 936, 956, 962, GT1, GT2 as well as the Carrera Cup and 997 Super Cup and RSR racing cars of today.

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Because the 911 air-cooled crankcase uses the Porsche 356 engine to transmission mounting flange configuration, the GT3 uses a gearbox also of air-cooled 911 heritage. This gearbox has interchangeable gear ratios and is more durable making it more suitable for racing than the standard 996 type 911 gearbox.

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Porsche made significant updates to the GT3 for 2004, the first year the car was offered to US customers. Horsepower was raised to 381 horsepower and torque to 284lb.ft, 80% of which was available from a mere 2,000 RPM. The braking setup was upgraded, now featuring 6-piston calipers on the front (rears remained 4-piston), and the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake system was offered as an option. The new car also was updated to the 2002 911 facelift including headlights that were differentiated from the Boxster.

In track testing by American automotive journals, the GT3 managed a 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds and a quarter mile time of 12.3 seconds at 118 miles per hour. During skidpad testing the vehicle posted 1.03g. Porsche introduced a revised 911 GT3 RS to the European market in 2003, marking the last revision of the 996 platform car before its discontinuation in 2005.

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Porsche’s official test-driver Walter Röhrl completed the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes 50 seconds with the 996 GT3 and 7 minutes 43 seconds with the 996 GT3 RS. Cited in an interview with Mr. Röhrl by Swedish sports car magazine Automobil 5.06.

In February of 2006, Porsche revealed the latest street-legal version of the GT3, now built on the new 997 platform; the car had already been in active race use for several months. In addition to a new, 415 horsepower 3.6 litre flat-six engine the vehicle features “zero lift” aerodynamics, meaning the car creates only aerodynamic downforce but no “lift”, which pulls upwards and away from the road surface and affects overall grip. The vehicle now makes use of a modified, track oriented version of Porsche’s active PASM suspension and stability control system, making this the first of Porsche’s RS/GT3 911’s to feature an electronically adjustable suspension system. Also available are a navigation system and Porsche’s “sports chrono” gauge package, making this the most “friendly” lightweight track car the company has ever produced. The car will go on sale in the summer of 2006 and have a starting price of 106,000 USD. The RS will be released in Europe in October 2006 and in North America in spring 2007.

Although independent track testing has yet to be performed, it is thought that the vehicle should be able to go from 0-60 mph in under four seconds (Road and Track produced a 3.9 second time with the heavier, less powerful 997 Carrera S) and hit a top speed approaching 320 km/h (200 mph); Porsche’s factory performance claims indicate a 193 mile per hour top speed and a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds (these figures, like most of Porsche’s, are probably modest).

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Scribbled on June 10th 2007 in Pictures, Porsche
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