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.
There was a time when all of Porsche’s mid-engined offerings came with the distinctive growl of a six-cylinder engine. However, with the 718 opting for a more economical turbocharged four-cylinder, some enthusiasts complain there’s something missing in the noise department.
While we already knew that the company is working on a new 4.0-liter flat-six for the returning GT4, rumors arose that the engine could make its way into less-hardcore variants of the 718 after a basic-looking Boxster was spotted during cold weather testing earlier this year. Porsche has apparently kept at it, as another 4.0-liter Boxster test mule was spotted at the Nürburgring along with a non-GT4 Cayman, according to autoevolution.
Introduced over the summer as a way of showcasing Porsche’s digitized rendering capabilities, the 911 Speedster Concept appeared in the flesh at the Paris Auto Show this week. It won’t remain a concept for much longer. With the 991 Series on its way out, Porsche has decided to make the Speedster its swan song, putting it into limited production early next year.
Styled to evoke nostalgia for the hunch-backed 356, the new Speedster is said to be limited to just 1,948 examples — a reference to the original model’s birth year.
If you want a good example of evolution, you don’t need to venture all the way to the Galapagos Islands. Simply look at the lineage of the Porsche 911 for confirmation of how a species evolves and adapts over time.
Not long ago, the mighty 911 Turbo was the only example of the breed with a snail attached to its rear-mounted engine. Now, with turbos pervading nearly the entire line, it seemed as if naturally aspirated 911s would disappear like the dodo bird. However, we’re now hearing rumours the GT3 may retain its non-turbo status … with a flat-six that screams its way to 9,500 rpm.
* for $450,000 or so.
Audi announced Wednesday that it would make available its race-winning R8 LMS GT3 car for anyone comfortable with its $443,348.12 price tag and access to the race series for which this car is appropriate.
For your cool half-mil you get the R8 LMS, presumably that wing, some spare parts and 585 of the loudest horsepowers you could imagine. Customers can order their cars starting today. (Take a check?)
Some ink has already been spilled on TTAC — and elsewhere — about the SCCA’s new Track Night in America program. I won’t rehash the the excellent overviews of the program that Jack and Bark M. have already provided, so any reader unfamiliar with the program should avail themself of the linked articles before diving into mine.
I picked up a 2015 911 GT3 in late June and resolved to put my new toy on the track, with some helpful nudging from my buddy Bark. Bark’s job brings him through Atlanta with some regularity, and we’ve met up every few months over the past couple of years to talk cars and eat overpriced Mexican food. Atlanta Motorsports Park had a Track Night event on August 4th, and Bark would be in town that day; I had no excuse not to go with him and try it out. You can read Bark’s thoughts on the day at Jalopnik.
Rather than begin in media res, let’s recap:
I sold my first Porsche 911 (a “993” as they call it, which means it was built sometime from 1995 to 1998 and was the last version of the 911 to feature air-cooling; mine was a 1996) to a nice guy in Minnesota.
The very next day, my second Porsche 911 (a “997,” which means it was built between 2005 and 2012 and was intended to fix the ugly looks and perceived dubious build quality of its immediate forebear — the “996” 911, which was the all-new car that succeeded the above-mentioned 993; my 997 was a 2007 example of the hardcore GT3 variant) met its end after a teenaged driver failed to yield immediately in front of me, resulting in a collision.
With no means of transportation beyond the shared mobility lifestyle or MARTA, it was time to start shopping for another car. I didn’t really have a defined budget, so I considered cars across a fairly wide price range.
Much has changed since I last had the opportunity to humblebrag on TTAC. My good friend Derek has monetized the skills he developed and honed here into an actual, real-life job in the automotive industry, and I’ve gone from owning two Porsche 911s to owning zero cars — at least temporarily.
19 months ago, the illustrious Jack Baruth wrote a brilliant op-ed painting the Porsche faithful akin to a battered spouse in a Lifetime film about empowerment. No, the other film about empowerment. No, the one with Tiffani Amber Thiessen. No, I mean the other one with Tiffani Amber Thiessen. Nevermind, it doesn’t matter
When it comes to Porsche, I am pre-empowerment Tiffani Amber Thiessen.
The last time my friend Derek allowed me to write for TTAC, I narrated a brief test drive of a Porsche 911 GT3 from the 996 generation, a a car that provided an intense and immersive driving experience, but that presented a heinous proposition as a sole car / daily driver, even for a young, single owner with a short commute in a sunny clime. Ostensibly, I had driven the car because I was considering replacing my old 911 with something more livable / less cantankerous / more rapid / etc. While that particular edition of the GT3 proved a poor match for my needs, I still resolved to join the 21st century by upgrading to a more modern car.
Over an uncharacteristically lazy Labor Day weekend, I found myself chatting with Derek Kreindler about subjects near and dear to the apex of TTAC’s masthead: semiotics, the musical oeuvre of John Mayer, and – briefly – automobiles. Given my mild disappointment with Porsche’s newest mid-engined cars, he suggested a Porsche 911 GT3 from the 996 generation, pronouncing it “certified badass.” I protested that they were quite rare, and I’d never had the opportunity to drive one, but I’d check local listings to pacify him. Lo and behold, there was a Speed Yellow example on a used car lot less than 10 miles away from me. I called and confirmed that the car was still available; I could test drive it provided I arrived at the dealer within 30 minutes. I was out the door before the receiver went dead.
Never one to shy away from expensive options, Porsche has announced that beginning in January 2010, a lithium-ion starter battery will be optional in the 911 GT3, GT 3 RS, and Boxster Spyder. Porsche is the first automaker to offer a li-ion SLI (starting, lighting ignition) battery, and given its cost, €1,904 (US$2,900), it may stay that way for a while. The new pack weighs 6 kg (13 lb), which is 10 kg or 22 (lb) lighter than a conventional 60 Ah lead battery. That works out to $132 per pound saved, based on European pricing. US pricing has not yet been announced. That sounds like a bargain compared to some of Porsche’s other pricing shenanigans. Ask the fellas in the paint booth to leave off the masking tape on a certain number of exterior and interior pieces to make them body colored, and they’ll ask you a mighty $13,545 for their (non)effort. Only a company that has the cojones to do that would to try to take over VW. I digress. More battery lightness after the jump:
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