Weight-saving: A Porsche 911 history

The idea of a lightweight Porsche 911 is almost as old as the iconic flat-six sports car itself. In 1967, as the era of short-wheelbase 911s drew to a close, Zuffenhuasen created the 911R.

Initially intended for production GT racing homologation, only 24 (including prototypes) were built however, the necessary 500 examples were never made and the car was discontinued after the 1967 season.

Featuring just three of the famous five dials on the dashboard, a liberal amount of fibreglass bodywork and Perspex windows, the 911R weighed just 800kg, making the standard 911L look positively obese at 1,080kg.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS M471

The next lightweight 911 came some six years later with the introduction of the M471-specification 1973 911 Carrera 2.7 RS, again intended for motorsport. The lack of equipment in the ‘Sport’ variant reduced the car’s weight to 975kg, a 100kg saving over the 1075kg ‘Touring’.

While no car would ever match the 911R’s featherweight physique, the 1974 911 Carrera RS with its 3.0-litre engine would come close, hitting the scales at 900kg thanks to thin glass, fibreglass panels and a magnesium engine casing.

This was the last production 911 to leave the factory at under a ton, with the 911 SC RS and 3.2 Clubsport growing to 1,050kg and 1,160kg respectively, the latter featuring a relatively small saving of just 50kg over the standard 911 3.2 Carrera.

964 C4 Lightweight

Into the Nineties, the standard 964 grew to a hefty 1,450kg thanks to the introduction of a four-wheel drive system. However, under the guidance of Jürgen Barth, Weissach was able to strip that back to just 1,100kg in the super rare 964 Carrera 4 Leichtbau (‘Light build’).

The original 964 RS was a further 130kg heavier upon its introduction in 1991, though 20kg was saved as the 3.8-litre version slimmed down to 1,210kg in 1993, continuing the tradition of lightweight Rennsport 911s bred for the race track.

Even the 911 Turbo wasn’t averse to some weight loss during the 964 generation as the 3.3-litre Turbo S featured 180kg of shaved mass compared to its relatively heavy, 1,470kg 964 Turbo 3.3.

Porsche 964 Turbo S

The 993 generation pushed further skywards in terms of weights, before the 996 GT3 pushed through the 1,300kg barrier while signalling a new age of weight saving. No longer was it solely the remit of 911 RSs as Porsche expanded its racing-inspired road range.

From the 996 GT3 RS to the first generation 997 GT3 RS 3.6, the lightest 911 in the range grew from 1,360kg to 1,375kg, though the last two generations of Rennsport have seen the scales dip backwards, culminating in the 1,360kg Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0.

While the 991’s extensive use of aluminium has seen the Carreras loose weight compared to their 997.2 predecessors, the 991 GT3 has reached a hefty 1,430kg thanks to the PDK gearbox and increased platform size. Where does this leave us? We should find out next year with the release of the 991 GT3 RS.

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Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0

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