SIMPLY THE BEST THE GREATEST 911s

PORSCHE WOULD NOT BE PORSCHE WITHOUT THE BACKBONE OF ITS BRAND – THE REAR-ENGINE 911

BY MOTOR STAFF

01 SIMPLY THE BEST

THE RS 2.7 REPRESENTS THE CLASSIC ‘BIG ENGINE IN APPROACH

911 CARRERA RS 2.7

The sharply focused lightweight coupe that kicked off the enduring 911 cult

A DECADE AFTER the 1963 Frankfurt show debut of Porsche’s new sports coupe, the model that came to be regarded as the definitive 911 arrived, born out of motorsport homologation.

The Neunelfer (nine eleven), had evolved from sketches done by Ferdinand ‘Butzi’ Porsche in 1959 and was intended as a larger, more powerful 356 successor. It soon established a reputation as one of the world’s most successful racing cars.

The 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 reprised the badge from the 356 Carrera, which was named after early ’50s successes in the gruelling Mexican Carrera Panamericana road races.

RS stood for the German Rennsport (‘racing sport’) and the Carrera 2.7 was homologated for the FIA Group 4 Grand Touring category, which called for the production of 500 cars. Based on the contemporary 911S, the RS 2.7 is the classic ‘big engine in a small car’ approach to building a racecar for the road.

Quick Specs

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7

YEAR 1973

PRODUCTION 1580

ENGINE 2687cc flat-six, rear-mounted

POWER/TORQUE 154kW/255Nm

TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual

DRIVE rear 0-100KM/H 6.3sec

PRICE AUD$27,000 (new, approx)

A fibreglass front bumper/chin spoiler and rear ‘ducktail’ spoiler/engine cover created the unmistakable RS 2.7 silhouette and broader wheel arches allowed an increase in rim size and larger disc brakes. Revised, stiffer suspension lowered the RS’s centre of mass.

Completing the power-to-weight puzzle is a 2687cc, Bosch Kugelfischer mechanically fuel-injected flat-six (346cc larger than that of the 911S) producing 154kW.

In ‘M472’ RS Touring form the Carrera weighed just 1075kg, but the ‘M471’ Sport Lightweight option trimmed a whopping 100kg. Gone were underbody coating, sound insulation, rear seats, passenger sun visor, coat hooks, clock, door sill trims, door handles, glovebox lid and carpet and the windscreen was made of thinner glass.

Early RS 2.7’s also got slightly thinner 0.8mm gauge steel in the body instead of the 0.88mm steel used in later cars.

Porsche initially took orders for just 51 Carrera RS 2.7’s when it was shown at the 1972 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, fueling concern about selling a stripped-out racer as a road car. And could they shift all 500 without the key US market where the RS did not meet emissions legislation?

But the first 500 sold and Porsche learned that buyers will pay extra to join an exclusive club. Still, nervousness about the bare bones RS was obvious because the more richly upholstered 911S interior and luxuries like a sunroof and electric radio antenna were options. A total of 1580 RS 2.7’s were built and today the 200 lightweights command top dollar.

Yet they were basic transport, and there was a distinct lack of equipment in the black-on-black RS cabin, just a thinly padded bucket seat, plain four-spoke steering wheel and a simple spherical knob topping the gear lever.

However, a twist of the key brings that evocative, guttural exhaust note and the sound of a belt-driven fan whirring away behind the cabin, keeping the engine cool.

At speed there’s an unmistakable rear-engined feel to the RS 2.7’s handling that demands a different driving style. A judiciously timed lift on corner entry to shift weight forward and provoke oversteer, sets up the car to hit apexes in style.

The flexible flat-six generates surprising mid-range acceleration, aided by the car’s low weight. Power out is modest by modern standards and you must use momentum to unstick the rear before adding throttle from the apex to maintain cornering attitude and power out in a gentle drift, inside front wheel cocked as the RS squats on its outside rear.

In funky, bright ’70s colours with classic Fuchs wheels, duck-tail spoiler, and (optional) Carrera decals, the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 is a pure driver’s car and the quintessential 911.

911 930 TURBO

Forced induction turned a normal 911 into the fastest car in the world

THERE WAS ONLY ever meant to be 400. Not 80,000 and counting. What began in the 1970s as a limited production project to satisfy motorsport homologation rules, ended up creating a monster that has roared mightily for 43 years.

Back in 1973, a new Porsche 911 appeared at the Frankfurt auto show. It had a 3.0-litre flat-six like the Carrera RS on which it was based, but bolted to that was a turbocharger borrowed from the 917/30 which dominated the 1973 CanAm series. At Le Mans that year and a 911 RSR version hit 315km/h on the Mulsanne Straight before it blew up.

When the production Type 930 debuted at the ’74 Paris Auto Salon it was the fastest car in the world, but it was in the middle of the oil crisis. Crude prices were going through the roof and legislators were regulating performance cars and gas guzzlers out of existence. Porsche only needed to sell 400 in 24 months, and every one after that was a bonus. From 1975-77, it sold seven times that number and the legend was born.

That 1974 show car surprised pundits who were expecting a stripped-down homologation special. Instead, the 911 Turbo was relatively luxurious, with air-con, a stereo, electric windows and leather seats. Most of the ready-to-race mods were underneath and behind the occupants. The front guards were flared, but not as much as the hugely pumped rears which were so wide they needed stone shields to protect the paint.

The 911 Turbo sported a massive rear spoiler, which quickly earned the ‘whale tail’ epithet. This aerodynamic aid had two intake channels, one for the engine fan, the other for air-con. Below the whale tail was the 911 Turbo’s crown jewel: an alloy 3.0-litre flat-six with Bosch injection and KKK turbocharger, boosting outputs to 193kW and 350Nm.

Porsche went with a beefed-up four-speed manual for the 911 Turbo because the five-speed used in other 911s of the era couldn’t handle the Turbo’s prodigious outputs. Suspension was uprated and bigger brakes added to slow the beast down.

It took a special driver to get the most from this difficult car and its bipolar power delivery. Lethargic below 2500rpm, when the turbocharger finally awoke, all hell broke loose – quickly followed by the rear end. Should one happen to be mid-corner and pushing on at this time... it took a very skilled driver to catch a sliding 911 Turbo.

Despite that reputation for recalcitrance, the Type 930 Porsche 911 Turbo was a huge success. More than 2800 were sold in the first three years, prompting Porsche to commit to the 911 Turbo for the longer term.

In 1978, the Type 930 was upgraded with a bigger 221kW 3.3litre six, now with an intercooler which required a redesigned rear wing. This took the 930’s brutal performance to new highs.

Porsche would continue to update the 930 throughout its long life, before eventually succeeding it with the 964 Turbo in 1990. By then Porsche had sold more than 21,000 Turbos.

But for many, the first 930 Turbo is the one to have despite its demanding nature. It is one of the greatest Porsches of all time because if it had not succeeded, the legendary Porsche 911 Turbo would not be with us today.

The bloodline the 930 Turbo sired is still the highly desirable, incredibly potent driver’s car of its day.

02 SIMPLY THE BEST

IT TOOK A SPECIAL THE MOST FROM THIS DIFFICULT CAR AND ITS BIPOLAR POWER DELIVERY

Quick Specs

Porsche 911 930 Turbo

YEAR 1975-'77 (3.0), 1978-'89 (3.3)

PRODUCTION 2873 (3.0), 18,716 (3.3)

ENGINE 2993cc/3299cc flat-six, rear-mounted

POWER/TORQUE 191kW/329Nm (3.0), 221kW/412Nm (3.3)

TRANSMISSION 4-speed manual

DRIVE rear 0-100KM/H 5.5sec/5.3sec

PRICE AUD$40,000 (3.0, new, approx)

911 996 GT3

Its day job was as a road car, but the GT3 was bred for the racetrack

03 SIMPLY THE BEST

THE GT3’S GROUND-HUGGING STANCE AND MASSIVE SPOILER WERE EXTROVERT IN 2000

PORSCHE HAS ALWAYS made racing specials of its regular road cars, but what cements the 996 GT3’s place here rather than, say, the 964 RS or 993 Carrera RS, is that it started a dynasty. Its release in 2000 began an unbroken run of excellence that culminates today with the 991.2 GT3 RS.

Compared to Porsche’s latest winged warrior, the original GT3 looks more meek than monster. It’s much narrower than its wide-body successors because it uses the standard Carrera 2 body. A stripped-out cabin dropped weight to 1380kg and an optional Clubsport pack shed more kilos by replacing the seats with racing buckets, but an extinguisher and half cage added some. Air-con and a stereo were no-cost options.

The GT3’s ground-hugging stance and massive spoiler were reasonably extrovert in 2000, but what truly made it special was a production version of the 3.6-litre dry-sumped ‘Mezger’ flat-six, variants of which had powered Porsche’s endurance racers for years, most recently the Le Mans-winning GT1.

It thrived on revs, an 11.7:1 compression ratio delivering 265kW at 7200rpm, 370Nm at 5000rpm, and a 7800rpm cut-out. Incredibly, the latest GT3 has just 400cc extra displacement, yet delivers 103kW and 90Nm more. Still, the 996 could do 100km/h in 4.8sec, 200km/h in 15.6sec, and hit 306km/h.

A six-speed manual, different from the Carrera’s, was the only ’box available, the Clubsport pack also replacing the standard dual-mass flywheel with a lighter single-mass version. Porsche boasted of the ability to quickly change gear ratios and worn parts like synchros, evidence of the car’s intended purpose.

Anti-roll bars were adjustable, springs could be swapped for racing versions, and lowered suspension dropped the centre of gravity by 30mm. Brakes were 330mm rotors with four-piston calipers, while 18-inch wheels wore 225/40 and 285/30 tyres.

Porsche proved the GT3’s prowess at the ’Ring, with Walter Rohrl setting a time of 7min56sec and becoming the first to lap a standard production car there in less than eight minutes.

The 996 also introduced Porsche’s mantra of continual evolution and four years later the 996.2 GT3 arrived, based on the facelifted 911. Its upgraded six received VarioCam variable inlet camshafts, boosting outputs to 280kW at 7400rpm and 385Nm at 5000rpm and raising the rev limit to 8200rpm.

Wheels were a half-inch wider (18 by 8.5, 18 by 11.0), with 10mm wider tyres. Front rotors were 350mm with six-piston calipers and carbon-ceramics were optional. Weight rose to 1380kg, but the 0-100km/h time dropped to 4.5sec and v-max increased to 306km/h, despite shorter fifth and sixth gears.

For the 996-gen swansong, Porsche combined its new motorsport badge with its old one. The GT3 RS was an even more finely honed version, its 50kg diet so severe even badges made way for stickers. The engine was rated the same as the GT3’s, but ram air ducts were said to lift power closer to 300kW.

Extra power and less weight cut 0.1sec from the 0-100km/h time and the 0-200km/h time was now just 14sec. Retuned suspension dropped the ride height by 3mm and increased bump and rebound rates by 10 and 15 per cent respectively. Fewer than 700 were built, only around 140 in right-hand drive.

Each subsequent GT3 has been more powerful, faster and yet more liveable, but those who have had the privilege to drive all the generations back-to-back suggest the original is as good as any of its successors when it comes to driving thrills.

Quick Specs

Porsche 996 GT3

YEAR 2000

PRODUCTION 1868

ENGINE 3600cc flat-six, rear-mounted

POWER/TORQUE 265kW/370Nm

TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual

DRIVE rear 0-100KM/H 4.9sec

PRICE AUD$224,600 (new)

04 SIMPLY THE BEST

A SUB-7MIN NURBURGRING MACHINE HAS NEVER WORN NUMBER PLATES WITH SUCH NONCHALANCE

997 GT3 RS 4.0

Ultra 911 weighs the same as a VW Golf, but can storm to 310km/h

WITH A BIGGER atmospheric induction flat-six in a body pared of unnecessary luxuries, the parallels between the 2011 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 and 1973 Carrera RS are unmistakable. As significant variants of Stuttgart’s evergreen sports coupe go, Porsche’s final 997 had it all.

The GT3, although less powerful than the Turbo and GT2, was the most focused of 911s and the RS took that up a notch, while tipping its hat to the definitive early 911. The final 997 was the last 911 with hydraulic steering and a handbrake and history shows that each time Porsche removes technology – like air-cooled cylinders – collector interest spikes.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the RS 4.0 might be the 911 to drive (the ’73 RS being the one to own) balancing the nameplate’s old-world values with modern era driveability. The day-to-day sports coupe had never been so quick or, if you prefer, a sub-7min 30sec Nurburgring machine has never worn number plates with such nonchalance.

Porsche had to revive an engine line when the GT3 RS 4.0 was given the green light. Engineers slotted a GT3 R/RSR crank into the 3.8-litre block increasing stroke from 76.4 to 80.4mm which, with a 102.7mm bore, took capacity to 3996cc and created the largest 911 engine to date.

Beyond the capacity increase, development focused on improving airflow with a modified intake manifold featuring shorter runners, a variable induction system and variable valve timing, higher flow air filters in a carbon airbox, and a freer exhaust system with less restrictive catalytic converters.

The stroked six set a new high mark for naturally aspirated 911 outputs. The RS 4.0’s 368kW (at a dizzy 8250rpm) and 460Nm at 5750rpm (which told little of its low-end shove) made it the ultimate development of the original 911 block (now in water-cooled form). Seven years on, the 911 GT3 RS eclipses the 4.0’s specific power of 92kW per litre by only 4kW.

Light weight is that other RS fundamental, yet further kilogram reductions were not easily achieved on the RS 4.0 given the amount of pruning that had already been done on the GT3. Reciprocating mass was a logical starting point, and a single-mass flywheel and titanium connecting rods bolted to forged pistons lightened the load.

Shedding steel panels was next and Porsche replaced the front guards and front cargo compartment cover with carbon fibre versions, and ditched the glass rear quarter windows and rear windscreen for polycarbonate. One-piece seats weighing 8kg each and lightweight carpets saved more weight, which was somewhat offset by the mass of a half roll cage, although it increased the monocoque’s rigidity.

After all that the GT3 RS 4.0 had dropped just 10kg, however, its kerb weight of 1360kg – about the same as a Volkswagen Golf – gave it a power-to-weight ratio of 271kW/tonne.

Aerodynamic enhancements to the subtle 993-inspired 997 shape included front dive planes, or ‘flics’, to reduce lift and a large rear wing that kept the rear end planted. Downforce was a claimed 190kg at a v-max of 310km/h.

Suspension features unique spring and damper rates, specific toe and camber settings, and rose-jointed rear suspension links borrowed from the GT2 RS. Dynamic engine mounts controlled the mass of the flat-six. An optional pneumatic nose-lift did not improve track performance, but allowed the low snout to safely negotiate speed bumps on the street.

Porsche offered just two stark colours – black and Carrara white – but it was possible to order an RS 4.0 in any solid or metallic paint-to-sample shade you chose.

When it was launched, road testers revelled in the way the evolution from RS to RS 4.0 built on the qualities of the donor to make the 997 finale incrementally better by every measure. The attraction of increased displacement as a means to greater performance is that driveability benefits as much as outright acceleration, and the GT3 RS 4.0 was even more docile and flexible than lesser versions.

The advantages of a light body were evident everywhere too compared with a regular GT3, from sharper turning to more agile handling and more eager acceleration, and the suspension struck that unmistakable Porsche compromise of controlled-yet-compliant ride and handling.

Quick, yet unbreakably reliable, as satisfying to drive hard as it was to own and live with every day, the GT3 RS 4.0 delivered the essence of the 911 in highly concentrated form.

Quick Specs

Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0

YEAR 2011

PRODUCTION 600

ENGINE 3996cc flat-six, rear-mounted

POWER/TORQUE 368kW/460Nm

TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual

DRIVE rear 0-100KM/H 3.9sec

PRICE AUD$409,100 (new)

911 GT2 RS

Utterly berserk rear-drive turbo 911 not for the inexperienced

PORSCHE TOOK a 911 Turbo, fitted a pair of larger variablegeometry turbochargers and upped the boost to 1.55 bar (22psi) to create a 3.8-litre flat-six engine with a 515kW output.

But then, in an apparently stark-raving-mad move – but one true to the DNA of this beastly machine – the engineers took out the front driveshafts so that the task of transmitting all that power fell only to the rear tyres. Presumably they then cocked their heads back and laughed maniacally.

They called their creation the 991.2 GT2 RS, not just the fastest production 911 in history around the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife (with a lap time of 6:47.3), but also the fastestlapping road-going Porsche road car ever around that circuit, quicker than even the 652kW 918 Spyder hypercar (6:57).

The 991.2 GT2 RS is the latest in a 911 dynasty that has earned a frightening reputation as “the widow maker” for combining truly enormous amounts of turbocharged power with rear-wheel drive. The first GT2, not an RS, arrived with the 993 in 1995, built as a homologation car for the GT2 category of motorsport. Just 57 were made, seven in right-hand drive, and these days command an awesome premium to own.

Two more GT2 iterations followed – 996 in 2000 and 997 in 2007 – until Porsche cooked up the first RS, in 997.2 guise, in 2010. With 456kW and 700Nm transmitted through two tortured rear tyres – this is an animal that would bite up to the elbow – the 997.2 GT2 RS stormed to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds on to a 330km/h top speed. All with a manual transmission.

For the 991.2 you see here, the latest in this line of wicked 911s, Porsche decided a manual transmission was too cuckoo and fitted the lightning-fast Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) twin-clutch transmission instead. Basically out of the 918, the beefed-up auto helps the latest GT2 RS hit 100km/h in 2.8 seconds, 200km/h in 8.3 seconds on to a top speed of 340km/h. Sub-10 second quarters? We’ve heard of this car doing them.

That’s thanks to launch control and fat, 325mm-wide gumball rear tyres (either Dunlop Sport Maxx Race 2s or Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s) and putting physics to work, the exaggerated squat of a rear-engine 911 pummelling the rear tyres into the bitumen the harder you accelerate. According to legend, allwheel drive was briefly considered early in development, but quickly dismissed, the inherently strong rear-engine traction considered sufficient.

Back behind those rear wheels, it wasn’t just bigger turbos and more boost Porsche used to get that epic power figure, but also lower compression pistons (by 0.5) permitting the GT2 RS to rev to 7200rpm. There’s also a reshaped carbon fibre air inlet, improved filter and freer-flowing ultra-lightweight titanium exhaust. A water-to-air intercooler set-up is complete with nozzles that spray the radiators to reduce charge temperatures by a further 20 degrees, supposedly a bit of a secret weapon for achieving that Nurburgring lap time.

Obviously the rest of the car has received the GT Divison treatment. Every suspension joint is solid mounted. There's rear-steering that subtly steers against the front wheels at low speeds for spooky agility; or with the front wheels at high speeds for a long-wheelbase-like stability. There are helpersprings on the front MacPherson struts and also at the rear, a signature Porsche GT-car upgrade. Suspension height and camber is adjustable, as are the anti-roll bars.

Plainly, this is a car that advertises its intent in the way it looks. The huge front bar openings are required to meet the equally huge cooling requirements. Bonnet NACA ducts send cool air to the front brakes. Grab the optional Weissach Package and you’ve got yourself the most extreme and focused 911 ever. Carbon fibre is everywhere, including suspension components, and forged 20/21-inch magnesium wheels from the 918 contribute to a 30kg weight saving. All a bit stark raving mad? Welcome to the GT2 RS.

05 SIMPLY THE BEST

DOING SUB 10-SECOND QUARTERS? WE'VE HEARD OF THIS