Stop the Porsche Panic: The Stop-Sale of Manual GT3s in California is No Big Deal

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

It’s a headline that sounds ready-made for outrage-clicks from both the crowd and those who dislike too much regulation of autos: “Porsche 911 GT3 Manual Can’t be Sold in California.”

Some outlets used some variation of that wording when reporting the story. A story that sounds like a case of overbearing regulators killing the fun by meddling in the free market. Add in the California factor — remember, it’s the only state that can set its own emissions standards — and feel the blood boil.

Truth is, the story is a bit more mundane than all that.

To be fair, many outlets did get at the truth in their subheadlines and/or in the body of their tweets. And even those who used the headline construction above weren’t technically wrong. Nor can I say for sure that they were intentionally omitting detail to increase clicks. You can even argue that since the headline is technically accurate, it’s not shady to leave out detail in order to get dem clicks — I am sure we at TTAC have pulled similar maneuvers.

Whatever — the point of this story isn’t to accuse our competition of “ clickbait“, but to point out that the actual story of why Porsche can’t sell manual GT3s in California, at least for the moment, is really no reason to panic if you like three-pedal machines.

Car and Driver has the skinny, even though their story doesn’t mention the reasons for the manual ban in the headline or subhead.

The stick wasn’t banned by the fun police or because of some emissions thing — it’s all about noise. For reasons laid out by Road & Track, the manual GT3 is louder than the two-pedal version. And it doesn’t pass the test procedure for exterior noise, last revised in 1998. There is a newer standard, and Porsche almost certainly designed its car to meet that newer standard, but for whatever reason, Cali is still using the old one.

Again, we aren’t going to accuse our competitors of using misleading (though technically accurate) headlines for “clickbait” for the reasons listed above. But it’s a reminder that when you see headlines like that floating around Twitter, it’s best to actually read the story before letting your outrage get to you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Twitter can amplify minor stories and take them out of context and thus stir silly debates that aren’t even rooted in fact — discussion about Twitter’s ability (and social-media’s ability in general) to distort our discourse has been a topic of interest lately — and based on a few tweets I saw, this story appears to be an example of that. It’s really a mundane story, and there’s a good chance the regs are updated soon, but a few folks choose to rail against California rules, or how California is no longer a great place for car enthusiasts, or whatever their particular hobby horse is, using this story as a jumping-off point. Never mind that there probably isn’t any deeper meaning here other than maybe bureaucracy being slow. Oh, and that you shouldn’t panic if you like manual Porsches, even if you live in the Golden State.

Yes, I get it. It’s annoying if you live in California and want a GT3 manual or already ordered one. And it is a newsworthy story, though a mild one. But here’s the truth: It’s just a quirk of bureaucracy meeting a quirk of engineering, and either California will fix the rule or Porsche will adjust, the stick-shift will likely eventually be sold in California, and life will move on.

It’s easy to be outraged by a headline or a tweet — or a tweeted headline. Indeed, outrage has occasionally driven journalism, in at least some form, since the trade began (headlines designed to play on emotion pre-date the Internet, so it’s not like “clickbait” is some new concept). It’s not even necessarily unethical for outlets to use outrage to get attention — as long as the headline is accurate and fair.

What’s harder is taking the time to actually read the story. Even those outlets who listed the noise-regulation as the cause of the stop-sale in their headline weren’t able to go in-depth until the actual body text. Headlines, by definition, cannot and do not tell the whole story.

So the next time you panic about some state regulation or some OEM doing something that might kill your car-enthusiast fun, give the story a read before you let your emotion compel you into sending a rage retweet.

[Image: Porsche]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jun 21, 2021

    There is no difference in the two as the intake and exhaust are identical, but CA noise regulations require full throttle tests in a manual in 2nd or 3rd, but with an auto or DCT you can't push the throttle far enough to engage a kickdown to lower gears so the two vehicles are tested at different throttle positions.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jun 21, 2021

    How does Tesla get around California's noise regulations? [However they do it, it's probably pretty shady and very likely deserves the Indignation Treatment from TTAC's current Managing Editor.]

  • Slavuta Why America needs school buses altogether? When I was in school, I rode on a regular city bus
  • Jeff Buy whatever works for you if you own an EV and are happy with it good, if you buy a hybrid or plug in hybrid and it works for you good, if neither and you like your ICE the way it is that is also good. I believe over time EVs will get better and have a larger segment of the market.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Is New Jersey better than Old Jersey?
  • Tassos Jong-iL Looking forward to buying 2 of these with all of those Rubles we have been earning lately.
  • Dartdude I have a 17 Ram 1500, love the dial and took to it right a way. don't have a lever blocking the dash panel or taking up space on the console.
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