Sub5Zero Fantasy Collection: Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 [w/ Video]
History is littered with moments in which things that were considered pure, sacred and perfect just the way they were were either desecrated or improved upon (depending on how resistant to change you are) in the name of a nasty little thing called progress: Boxers putting on big, poofy gloves. Bob Dylan plugging his new guitar into an amp. . And, of greatest interest to viewers of this website, Porsche introducing the 991-chassis 911 GT3. Oh, sure, it’s umpteen times faster and more capable than any car with a naturally-aspirated flat-six dangling behind the rear wheels like a musical metallic scrotum has a right to be but, to Orthodox Porschephiles (who pray facing at 3:56 and 9:11 every morning and evening), the latest GT3 – with its electrically-boosted four-wheel steering, mandatory PDK dual-clutch transmission and engine designed by someone other than – is only fractionally less blasphemous than, say, a 924 or a Cayenne. It is for these people (among others) that Porsche made the 911 GT3 RS 4.0.
Rewind your mind back to early 2011; the new 991-series 911 would be making its debut in a few months, meaning the myriad variants of the 997-chassis 911s were living on borrowed time. The company had already introduced a hardcore RS version of the GT3 with wider rear quarter panels shared with the 911 Carrera 4 and various weight-saving tricks like a carbon fiber rear wing, nylon straps instead of conventional interior door handles and – on non-U.S. models – a Plexiglas rear window. But Porsche engineers knew there was even more spunk to be extracted from the GT3 RS, and they knew exactly where to find it: Under the plastic rear engine cover/hood.
Engineers started by installing the 997 GT3 RSR racecar’s crankshaft inside the venerable Mezger-designed flat-six, which increased the stroke from 76.4 mm to 80.4 mm and bumped total displacement from 3.8L to 4.0L. Despite each of the half-dozen pistons having to travel that extra distance, Porsche engineers still managed to get the engine to safely reach 8,500 rpm, which is exactly 250 revs past where you’ll find the 500 horsepower peak. That was an improvement of 50 over the 3.8L GT3 RS, while max torque increased by 22 to 339 lb.-ft. As with every other 997 GT3 (and 996 GT3, for that matter), the only transmission offered was a 6-speed manual.
In addition to the embiggened engine, Porsche added other goodies based on ones that were fitted to the other noteworthy RS model that debuted around the same timeframe, the 911 GT2 RS. These included a carbon fiber front trunklid with a decal of the Porsche crest rather than an actual badge to save weight, while additional options like carbon-ceramic brake rotors and a lithium-ion battery trimmed even more mass away. On the other hand, aerodynamic enhancements like front dive planes and an adjustable rear wing (with the iconic “PORSCHE” lettering spanning the depth and breadth of the main plane) cause the car to place more downward pressure on its sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires (mounted on racing style center-lock wheels, of course) at extralegal velocities.
Naturally, if you were to ask anyone who has driven a GT3 RS 4.0 at anything above walking pace what they thought of it, chances are you’d get a lot of responses involving guttural noises expressing satisfaction and/or lower lip biting. The bark of the stroked engine, the hydraulically-assisted steering’s ability to tell you everything short of the color of each morsel of aggregate in the pavement, the sharp and predictable action of the gear lever, the perfect spacing of the pedals for hell-toe downshifts…all those things tell you that Porsche designed this car for drivers. When it was launched company executives admitted they could have installed the PDK trans because it was faster and more consistent but, probably because they knew what was in store for the 991 GT3, they stuck with the stick.
A mere 600 GT3 RS 4.0s were made, each finished in one of two exterior colors – white or black – and a rather flashy stripe and lettering package. But it won’t be their rarity that will cause them to remain desirable for years and decades to come; it will be the fact that it was the last truly analog high-po 911. Sure, there will always be air-cooled partisans (who are currently busy driving 964 and 993 prices into low-earth orbit via a speculative circle-jerk whose size and scope rivals that of the Dot-com Bubble) who will dismiss it merely for having radiators tucked away in the nose, but even they can recognize that it is extremely, extremely unlikely that any future extra-strength 911 will use such things as a manual transmission, hydraulically-boosted (or, if you’re super-duper hardcore, manual) steering or any other old school hardware. Hell, if you believe the rumor mill, naturally-aspirated 911 engines are on the endangered species list; if AMG and BMW M can go all-turbos-all-the-time, what’s standing in Porsche’s way?
The takeaway, children, is this: The 911 GT3 RS 4.0 is Stuttgart’s last and most heartfelt love letter to the mechanical aspect of driving and, simultaneously, a pair of upward-extended middle fingers directed at the relentless march of time. It’s the vehicular equivalent of Ringling Brothers putting on one last show involving elephants, but the elephants are climbing onto each other to form a pyramid while juggling torches with their trunks. It’s a way of saying, “You’ve beaten us, progress, but it doesn’t make you any less of a p*ssy.” Sounds like a Sub5Zero Fantasy Collection candidate to us…