Porsche 997 GT3 RS 3.8: ultimate guide
When the GT3 appeared in 1999, there was no RS version. This turned out to be as much a question of timing as anything else, but it did leave enthusiasts wondering whether the original lightweight concept had disappeared with the demise of air cooling.
However, the original 996 GT3 was built to Euro 2 emissions levels only, so all production had to be registered (for European markets) before January 2001, and is also why the model was not offered in the USA, where EPA requirements were ahead of Euro norms.
Given the major development programme at Weissach with the Cayenne and the next Boxster/911 generation in the pipeline, it would be three years before Porsche was ready with an updated GT3.
The strength of demand for this model, as well as its predecessor, convinced Porsche that even with the 997 launch only a year away, there was a market for a more obviously track-orientated 996 GT3, which in the hallowed Porsche tradition was duly called the RS.
In the days of air cooling, RS denoted a significantly lightened car. The original RS 2.7 was homologated at 975kg when the production 2.4 S weighed 1,080-1,100kg.
The 1991 RS 964, that exemplar of weight saving, was 140kg lighter than the 964 C2. But in the 21st Century, the need to meet crash requirements meant that taking weight out of a car’s structure became more difficult.
There was initially disbelief when Porsche revealed that the first 996 GT3 was 30kg heavier than the base Carrera until it was understood that the GT3 used the more substantial Carrera 4 bodyshell, which had greater torsional rigidity.
Only the wholesale use of exotic materials such as carbon fibre could reduce its weight significantly, as McLaren’s F1 demonstrated, but this was not practical in a production car selling at roughly a sixth of the price of the boutique-volume F1.
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