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August 2011

GT3 SQUADRON Last of the road racers: amazing new GT3 RS 4.0 is the end of an era





£4.50 US$9.99 CANADA $12.95 No.209


It’s been a roller coaster ride but the era of the GT3 road racer is at an end. Sure there will be more with the new 911, but they’ll be some time coming. For now it’s the GT3 RS 4.0-litre that distils everything Porsche has learnt about the road racer in the last 10 years Words: Adam Towler Photography: Antony Fraser



ave expectations ever been any higher surrounding the launch of a new Porsche? The prospect of going one better than the 997.2 GT3 RS 3.8 seemed remote at best not very long ago, and then, amongst all the other limited and run-out editions that have arrived at the end of the 997’s life, came the news of a very special product from the GT department at Weissach. In essence, this would be the ultimate GT car with the Mezger engine, the final hurrah for a wonderful powerplant that has served Porsche so well over the past decade and a bit. Perhaps even more so than the GT2 RS, this car would be the summation of everything that has been learnt and achieved in recent years. What Porsche has given us is the RS 4.0 – a car that you rapidly sense was too good an opportunity to turn down. Andreas Preuninger, the head of GT cars, says with a sly grin that once upon a time he had to work hard to convince the accountants to produce these limited run ‘specials’, but these days they’re asking why they can’t

4.0-litre flat-six 500bhp @8250rpm 339lbs/ft @ 5750rpm Six-speed manual 193mph 3.9 secs

make more than the 600 4.0-litre models that will be sold worldwide. The project was given the green light at the Nürburgring 24 hour race last year, but was something that had been in the back of the engineers’ minds for some time. Both the GT3-class GT3 R and the GT2 spec RSR use a 3,996cc version of the Mezger engine in competition, so it was an obvious step to eventually go down this route for the road cars. Not long after the race weekend a genuine RSR crankshaft was dropped into a road engine and the test mule began its work, the increase in stroke (4mm) instantly increasing power from 450hp to 475hp. But Porsche wanted more. Nothing short of 500hp was deemed satisfactory, and beyond that the car would get the best of the trick parts that had been developed for the GT2 RS, and a few unique ones besides that. That’s the best way to picture this car in your mind: an amalgamation of GT2 RS and RS 3.8, with the ultimate NA engine slung in the rear.


GT3 SQUADRON Tracing the evolution of the GT3 RS we gather the four variants together for the ultimate group test. Hold on, it’s going to be fast Words: Adam Towler Photography: Antony Fraser


hen Porsche launched the 996, the course of the 911 was changed forever. This most radical of rebirths gave the car a new life stretching way into the future, but it also threw up some interesting questions. One of these was how would the company develop its more enthusiast-orientated models in the future. Having spent much of the 1980s chasing volume and ignoring by and large the needs of those who wanted a more specialist car – Club Sport excepted perhaps – the 1990s had seen the company re-focus on its founding principles and launch a string of RS models that today command very strong prices. If the 1991 964 RS quite literally shook up the establishment, for better or for worse, then the 3.8-litre cars culminating in the superb 993 RS allowed wealthy enthusiasts the chance to have their cake and eat it. And then there was the GT2, a car that re-defined aggression in a 911 and possessed the results on the track to underline this menacing aura. In the twilight of its career, the original 911 had enjoyed something of a purple patch. Come 1999, and the expectant audience were shown the GT3: a new name, and a new kind of sporting 911. Out with the RS badge went the traditional methods of weight loss – in fact, the car was slightly heavier than a contemporary Carrera – and in came a stunning new water-cooled Motorsport engine, the ‘Mezger’. Developed from the 911 GT1 engine, but with its roots firmly planted in the back catalogue of the air-cooled 911, the combination of this engine and superb chassis design, aerodynamics, braking and versatility more than won over those who drove it. Nevertheless, towards the end of the 996 model generation the RS badge was resurrected. But although that implies that this was some kind of run-out edition, which in some ways it was, it was also a homologation special in the traditional sense. At 50kg lighter than a Mk2 GT3 thanks to a serious diet and lighter materials in the body, it crucially incorporated a variety of strengthening and geometry changing parts in the suspension that were required for the 2004-spec race car, the GT3 RSR.


Saviours of the 996 engine as we know it, Autofarm have taken the M96 unit out to 3.9-litres and a healthy 385bhp. We try two variations on the the road Words: Adam Towler Photography: Antony Fraser


f you’re in the unfortunate position of staring at a dead 996 Carrera on your driveway right at this very moment, let us provide a tiny ray of sunshine. We can’t promise that your bank account isn’t going to take a significant thrashing in the weeks ahead, but we can offer a solution whose eventual pleasure may help alleviate a little of the pain. If the 996’s Achilles heel is the vulnerability of the M96 engine to a range of potentially drastic ailments, this is a mightily appealing long-term solution. Back in the May issue earlier this year we took an indepth look at the early water-cooled cars of the late 1990s, the 986 Boxster and the 996 Carrera. With the help of two typical examples on test, we spoke to a host of leading industry experts to try and pinpoint exactly what the issues in running one were, how you might avoid them in the first place, and if not, what you might expect if the worst did happen. The conclusion was that the cars offered excellent modern-era Porsche motoring at a bargain price, but that any

would-be buyer should tread carefully and do their homework – most preferably in advance. As part of that feature we talked about the work certain specialists had undertaken to rectify some of these weaknesses, and one such company was Oxfordshirebased Porsche specialists Autofarm. This firm has been offering its Silsleeve conversion for a number of years now, which aims to tackle once and for all perhaps the biggest weakness of these engines: the strength and stability of the cylinder bores. Just to recap, these are known to creep over time in many M96 engines, leading to cracked or scored cylinder walls with predictably dramatic ramifications. Why this should be so is attributed to a number of different factors including how the car has been driven, but the bottom line appears to be that the Lokasil bores themselves simply aren’t up to the task. To prevent this happening – and many is the 996 that has been through more than one exchange engine direct from Porsche – Autofarm machine out


ARTFORART’SSAKE Art dealer Kenny Schachter is so infatuated with his 911s he keeps them in his Shoreditch gallery Words: Johnny Tipler Photographs: Antony Fraser



t’s the summer of love, and the couple bonking in the Focus pause their exertions long enough to check us out. We’ve stopped our pair of dazzling flower-power 911s in Hoxton Square for a location shot – a flat-six bark at 6.00am on a Sunday morning is enough to grab anybody’s attention – so we give them a peace sign and get on with some true love of our own. Territorially, we have the prior claim. Our featured 911s belong to fine art dealer Kenny Schachter who has a gallery here in the heart of London’s trendy Shoreditch, and that’s where his cars live. Kenny’s a connoisseur, a big time operator in the international art world dealing in blue-chip paintings and sculpture. He’s a man with a penchant for Picasso and a passion for Porsches. In fact he’s so besotted with 911s that he even feels he probably looks like one – ‘I see myself as that snake that swallowed a mouse,’ cracks the New Yorker, ‘where you can see the

bulge halfway down its body – and physically I think I resemble the cars!’ He does himself a disservice: no question Kenny’s as personable as a Porsche, but his trim figure lacks the rotundity of a well-contoured 911. Upper East Side comes to Upper East End: Kenny arrived in London in 2003 and opened Rove Gallery when Shoreditch was on the up. Its name is suggestive of how the American staged exhibitions when he first came over – nomadically – a show here, an expo there, always transitory. ‘Rove is apt because in life you’re always moving around,’ he says. ‘The car is moving around, the art shows are moving around.’ He’s open to the public every day, and on the ground floor organic furniture based on flower heads shares space with these gorgeous 911 classics. They’re on the cusp of late-’60s B- and CProgramme cars with their longer wheelbase and gently flared wheelarches – the Bahama yellow one’s a 1969 2.0litre 911E and the Bahia red 2.2-litre 911T is from 1970. A

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