The GT moniker is one reserved for Porsche's go-faster 911s, and throughout its long usage there have been some truly standout models. Here are our favourites.
The first - 996 GT3 (1999)
Back in 1999, we couldn’t figure out why Porsche didn’t call the first 996 GT3 the ‘RS’.
We didn’t know it was being saved up for something else. What we did know was that this 355bhp road and track star was a pretty convincing answer to all those who’d wondered what form a water-cooled 911 created purely for driving would take.
It wasn’t any lighter than a standard 996, which may also explain Porsche’s reluctance to use the RS badge. But it had the Mezger engine, so it sounded heavenly, performed with distinction and was also far more reliable than the new flat sixes developed for the 996.
But really it was its handling that sparked our interest. While standard 996s seemed somewhat sanitised relative to their air-cooled brethren, the GT3 was still safe but far sharper and more responsive.
Today, the first GT3 seems a little conservative, but at the time Porsche wasn’t sure how such a car would be received. In fact, the GT3 sold out almost at once. Soon there would be no limit to the extent of thefirm’s ambitions for its new GT sub-brand.
Porsche 996 GT3
0-62mph 4.5sec; Top speed 190mph; Kerb weight 1350kg; Engine 6 cyls horizontally opposed, 3600cc, petrol; Power 355bhp at 7200rpm; Torque 273lb ft at 5000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual
The worst - 996 GT2 (2001)
It seems a trifle churlish to call any Porsche GT car ‘the worst’ at anything, but the first water-cooled GT2 (let us not forget the rare and scintillatingly scary air-cooled 993 GT2 of 1995) was the least satisfying to drive and the most flawed.
It didn’t lack power, even though the 456bhp delivered by its twin-turbo 3.6-litre engine is bested today by the normally aspirated 991 GT3. What was missing was focus, which seems a strange thing to say about any car sporting a GT2 badge.
But it was true. For all its performance and hunkered-down looks, the GT2 was a touch too civilised for its own good. It didn’t sound as good as we’d hoped and it was surprisingly comfortable, which would have been fine had the car been a hero on the track.
But it wasn’t. It was tricky, and not in the finely balanced, edge-of-oversteer way of some of the more challenging 911s, but the slightly too soft, imprecise, will-it-won’t-it way of a 911 on compromised suspension settings with rather too much turbo lag and not enough throttle response.
Porsche 996 GT2
0-62mph 4.1sec; Top speed 196mph; Kerb weight 1440kg; Engine 6 cyls horizontally opposed, 3600cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 456bhp at 5700rpm; Torque 457b ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual
The fastest - 997 GT2 RS (2010)
Porsche will tell you sub-optimal track conditions are the only reason why its brand-new GT3 RS has not yet posted a faster Nürburgring lap time than the 997 GT2 RS. Be that as it may, right now the GT2 RS remains the quickest road-going production Porsche GT car and, by some margin, the maddest.
Porsche never intended it to have 611bhp, but the race engine was happy to take it. The effect of such an output was impressive, but nothing like as memorable as that resulting from 516lb ft at 2500rpm fed to the rear wheels alone. The resulting car was a pure weapon, frightening to those who understood what it was capable of and dangerous to those who did not.