By on June 18, 2021

It’s a headline that sounds ready-made for outrage-clicks from both the #savethemanuals 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]

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24 Comments on “Stop the Porsche Panic: The Stop-Sale of Manual GT3s in California is No Big Deal...”

  • avatar

    California governs in a manner that is hostile to vehicle enthusiasts.

    Unfortunately California does have exemption to set emissions standards that are different than national standards. End CA exemption! Unify.

    • 0 avatar

      By this logic, if Mississippi decided to have less stringent regs than the rest of the country, then that would also be unacceptable. Correct?

      • 0 avatar

        “if Mississippi decided to have less stringent regs than the rest of the country”

        I actually read the 1966 statute a while back, I believe it allowed the states to be more stringent then the Federal gov’t but not more lenient than the Federal standard.

        I think the LA Basin had unique needs and the California Republic used its growing clout in the 1960s to address this. If you look at data, CARB really did do a lot of good for the nation overall but once it hit its target it needed to be dismantled. Like anything in government, something which was once good can do the exact opposite once its outlived its usefulness. So Sacramento continued to use it to project power over certain industries of the nation, and as a state agency it runs into the state’s rights vs Federalism black hole.

        Probably the only realistic thing to do would be to force CARB to only allow changes every ten years and before hand those have to be argued in a Federal court outside of the Ninth Circuit. I would also alter the statute so states except California must follow the Federal standard. This would allow CARB to continue to rule with an iron fist within its own borders and give industry a decade to come up with a way to meet their demands. It would also prevent other states from being coerced or even controlled by elements of the PRK, because what’s good for them is not going to necessarily be good for nearly any other state.

        • 0 avatar

          Ok, but the original poster’s beef seems to be against California for having unique regs, when the fact is that all states can have unique regs.

          So he wasn’t really making a valid point…just wanted to pwn California.

          • 0 avatar

            Perhaps, but his first sentence suggests California pwns the nation (in terms of CARB type things) though technicalities and he is correct.

          • 0 avatar

            But other states can only have unique regs, as long as those regs are like California’s regs: More “restrictive” than Federal ones.

            Which makes all the sense in the world, as long as cars can be driven across state lines; since that would be the only reason why The Feds would have regulations to begin with. Precious few, if any, pollutants travel far enough for Mississippi cars to cause issues in California.

            But from a State’s Rights and Liberty POW, it’s a bit backwards; as states are supposed to be able to allow more “freedoms” than The Feds, not more restrictions.

          • 0 avatar

            A quick time-travel trip to Southern California in 1973 and you would be very grateful to those fine folks at CARB for fixing a very nasty, toxic and ugly problem.

            Keyboard warrioring is way too easy and all too often, misled and misleading, to put it kindly.

        • 0 avatar

          States that have adopted the CARB standard to address serious pollution in their own cities aren’t going to want to go back to the federal standard.

          This will all be moot pretty soon anyway as many of those same cities will be the first places to ban ICE cars within their limits.

  • avatar

    You do realize, of course, that following such well meaning advice will seriously cut into the output of some of this site’s most prolific contributors. As well as muting the outrage that seems to be such an important part of their postings.

    Gawd, a polite, rational site. Could we stand it?

  • avatar

    “It’s just a quirk of bureaucracy”

    You misspelled tyranny.

    • 0 avatar

      Methinks you are overreacting a bit.

    • 0 avatar

      There has to be SOME sort of legal restrictions on noise. Sticking Concord engines on the back of ones Porsche, is a bit crazy.

      Or I suppose there doesn’t have to be. But then there really can’t be legal restrictions preventing those bothered by the racket, from simply blowing the jalopy to smithereens, either.

      Which is definitely a workable arrangement. But not one most mealy-mouthed descendants of people who once schlepped it out West without a single ambulance chaser nor apparatchik around to “protect” them, seem to fancy anymore.

      Of course, one could also argue that noise isn’t unreasonable enough for any government to interfere, unless it is sufficiently obviously so, so that the Feds would object as well.

  • avatar

    For the circa 1990 964 version of the Porsche 911, the same thing happened. Swiss noise limits were being exceeded. Porsche responded by restricting air flow through the air filter box worldwide. The fix in the more permissive US was to drill holes in the plastic air box. According to Porsche Panorama magazine, that added 7hp to the claimed 247hp. I didn’t notice, but I sure noticed that it got louder and sounded much, much better. Don’t know that fix would work in this case, but it may also be fixed with a tweak to the muffler/resonator. Porsche could do a run of these to cover anticipated CA sales, charge a few K more for their efforts and not have to worry about rust out or other failure. These things seem to be driven very sparingly – often just a few k miles per year as befits a ‘collectible’. Why bother to have a car you don’t drive? I drove my old one 70K miles and enjoyed very mile. But then, mine certainly wasn’t a $200k car.

  • avatar

    Anyone know if Cali *really* enforces noise regs. Here in HNL we have noise and tinted glass regs which are regularly ignored by the cops, who of course ignore red lights and think just a flash of their blues is enough of an excuse.

  • avatar

    If you have the means to afford a $200,000 GT3, why not order it from a Vegas dealer and register it back at home in Orange County or from whatever exclusive community you come from? I think it would be like the same of getting a non-California emissions compliant car in another state and registering it in CA when you move there.

  • avatar

    I’m not surprised that Porsche ran into difficulties. The 991 GT3 was so loud that it didn’t seem like it should be street legal, and I’m sure the 992 is the same. In general it seems like performance cars are just getting louder and louder from the factory.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Get a Nevada mailbox like most people in Palm Desert/Springs do.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If I were that concerned about being able to buy and drive a manual in California then I would join the hordes of Californians with their Uhauls and leave the state. My wife’s nephew is a native Californian and is leaving California to move to North Carolina. There are plenty of other places much less expensive with much less regulations. California is the place to leave and not to move to especially if you are young and want to buy a house. Let California do whatever California wants to do and if you don’t like it leave. At one time I wanted to go to California and at the time (40 or more years ago) that would have been a good move but California is not the place to move to anymore–it is the place to leave.

  • avatar

    I was just wondering: On vehicles with bumper-mounted license plates (all full-sized pickups, among others), would a trailer hitch with some sort of mascot covering it render a traffic camera ineffective–at least for those states with rear-plates only? Just asking. Thanks.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.]

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