End of Term: Porsche 911 (997.2) GT3 RS 

After 7 years, it was time for our red eared Porsche 911 (997.2) GT3 RS to head to a new home.  The GT3 RS was just the latest victim of our household rule that if you aren’t getting driven regularly, you lose your garage space.  In many ways though, the fact that the GT3 RS lasted 7 years is a testament to just how great a car it is.  If you had asked me how long I expected we would have kept the GT3 RS when it first arrived, I would have guessed around 2 years.  It had a good long run up until 2022.  It was the arrival of the McLaren 765LT Spider that year that first put the GT3 RS’s garage spot in jeopardy.  It’s the likely arrival of the SCG 004S later this year that finally cemented the decision. 

How we ended up with the 911 (997.2) GT3 RS is a bit of a convoluted story.  It really started off with a major misfire on trying to acquire a Porsche Carrera GT.  This was back in June 2014. I had located a 2005  Black/Grey Carrera GT with 8,200 miles at Porsche of Newport Beach in California. We had agreed a price, I had offered to wire over a deposit (which I was told was not necessary) and I was just waiting for them to send over the pre-purchase inspection report before wiring payment. After three days and no signs of the PPI nor any response to my emails, I finally called the salesman back and was told they had sold the Carrera GT to another buyer.  What made it even worse was the dealership manager wasn’t even apologetic about the situation and basically told me to go pound sand.  This basically put me off the Carrera GT option for several years.

 

All of this brings us back to the GT3 RS.  With the CGT out as a short-term option, I started doing a bit of research on the various GT3 variants as I considered that to be the next best thing.  A traditional manual gearbox was a must have which immediately ruled out the later 991.1 series.  I also reached out for input from Nick Trott (former editor of EVO Magazine & MotorSport) who is both a die-hard Porsche fan and has forgotten more about the different 911 models than I will ever know.  Originally, I had settled on 997.1 GT3 but after hearing multiple rave reviews of the 997.2 GT3 RS, I changed directions and decided that the rawer more focused car was a better fit to my personal tastes.  The .2’s also can be optioned with a front axle lift system, which in the area I live, is a necessity. The fact that the 997.2 GT3 RS also won EVO’s car of the year in 2010 didn’t hurt. 

 

From final decision on model to finding the right car happened very quickly.  It was four weeks from search start to deposit placed. I found the car via the Porsche pre-owned vehicle locator while sitting in a ski lodge exhausted at the end of a great day on the slopes.  The GT3 RS had been listed the day before and I immediately placed a call to the dealer, Porsche of Beverly Hills, as soon as I saw the listing.  A quick email exchange on the history of the car followed and the next day, New Year’s Eve, a deposit was placed.  Given the holidays, it took another couple of days to finalize the transaction but by the second week of January the GT3 RS was in route to the first of three different places it would live in our time together..  The positive experience with Porsche’s Beverly Hills dealership could not have been more different from the disappointing mess on the Carrera GT at the Newport Beach dealership. 

 

During the seven years of GT3 RS ownership, we have had several highly memorable trips together.  The first one that comes to mind was a two day trip with my youngest son (aka – Bad Driver) when we drove a pair of Porsches from Dallas, to what would become their new home for several years, to Montana.  Here’s a short summary of that drive:

This year I drove the Porsche 911 (997.2) GT3 RS up while Bad Driver followed in the Porsche Cayenne S.  In effect, these are the two extremes of the Porsche line up.  The quick agile truck and the raw focused track weapon.  Despite having owned the Cayenne S for 3 ½ and the GT3 RS for a year and a half, this was the first major long distant trip for both.  While I had no concerns on how Bad Driver would hold up for 1,600 miles in the Cayenne, I was concerned with the beating I might be setting myself up for in the striped down GT3 RS.  Little to no sound deadening, thinly padded racing buckets, and a suspension designed more for the Nurburgring Ring than the US Interstate Highway system is not a recipe for setting a new standard of comfort.

 

The trip started at 7:00 AM on Thursday morning. The targeted destination for day 1 was just north of Denver, a not insignificant 920 miles away. A further 680 miles would follow on day 2. This year we decided to take the longer way up through Oklahoma and then across via Kansas which would keep us on highways for almost the entire trip.  This routing avoided the back roads and small towns in Texas & Colorado which slowed our progress considerably when we did a similar trip last year in the McLaren 675LT Spider.   We were hoping the early-ish start would allow us to clear the Dallas before rush hour reached its peak and break out onto the open highway where more rapid progress could be made.  Other than one minor accident related traffic jam, the plan worked well and we found ourselves crossing the Oklahoma border in good time.  Our first, of what would be many, fuel stops came shortly afterwards.  While the Cayenne sported a range of 450+ miles, getting 200 miles out of the GT3 RS’s water bottle size tank was about the best we could do.  By the time we stopped for the night, we had toured five gas station forecourts across three states with a further four stops following on day 2.  On the plus side, it did give me the chance to get out of the GT3 RS about every 2 ½ hours to stretch my legs. 

 

As a long-distance tourer, the GT3 RS is survivable.  The seats and driving position are quite comfortable, the controls all well-arranged and intuitive, and the sightlines are excellent.  The lack of sound-deadening coupled with the very firm suspension do cause a fair amount of brain and body damage over extended periods.  While the sounds system is not too bad when stationary, once you get moving a speed it has plenty of competition from the rear of the car.  Passing is almost too easy, drop down 2 gears, a bit of right foot and what was in front will now be firmly in the rearview mirror.  Below 3000 rpms engine grunt is pretty ordinary, north of 4500 rpms the GT3 RS comes very much alive.  This is a car that wants to be pushed hard and really driven.  Cruising is just not its thing.  

 

While day one was basically an uninspiring slog on dead straight concrete highways across the flatlands, day two was significantly more interesting.  Once we crossed into Wyoming, the speed limit increased to 80 mph and the quality of the roads improved dramatically.  While it doesn’t have quite the fun factor of a mountain pass, the 350 miles up through Wyoming are about as good as it gets on a US Interstate.  There is little to no traffic, the road is painted across the hills, and you have the Rocky Mountains to your west.  If there ever was a stretch of highway in the US that an autobahn approach to speed limits should be applied to, it is this.  Needless to say, we made rapid progress and the GT3 RS started to really come into its own.  Crossing into Montana, the roads got even more interesting as the hills grew in size.  For the first time in 1,220 miles, the gearbox started to get more of a work out as we powered up the hills and then down through fairly tight corners.  After another rapidly covered 250 miles, we were finally off the highway and headed up into the mountains.  The final 50 miles were on what is becoming one of my favorite pieces of tarmac in the US.  The two lanes of Route 191 are cut alongside the Gallatin River as it winds through a narrow valley with towering peaks on both sides.  It is challenging, beautiful, and unforgiving if you get it wrong.  As one of the key access routes to Yellowstone National Park, it also gets a fair amount of traffic which needs to be navigated in tight passing zones that are few and far between. 

 

While on the highway, the Cayenne S had little trouble keeping pace with the GT3 RS, however I lost “Bad Driver” almost immediately as soon as we headed into the mountains.  This was not unexpected as his last words to me at our final gas station stop were “I will see you at the house”.  Here the GT3 RS was completely in its element, the brain and body damage of 1,200 miles on the highway were washed away and quickly forgotten.  The more you push it, the better the GT3 RS gets. Hands and feet were plenty busy working the gearbox, navigating the corners, and dispatching slower moving traffic.  As my daily driver is a mid-engined car, the difference in weight distribution on the GT3 RS was quite discernable.  The fact that the engine is hanging off the rear axle is definitely noticeable, as is the more pronounced weight transfer when you mash the middle pedal.  If you want to keep the horizon in front of you, corners are definitely slow in, fast out.

 

After 1600 miles and twice that in dead bugs, we arrived at our destination. Over the course of two days, I finally really bonded with the GT3 RS.  In the last several hundred miles, I really started understanding the depths of its abilities.  Subsequent drives up through the mountains in the days that followed further deepened my appreciation of what Porsche created with the GT3 RS.  It’s a car that is now up in an environment where it can really shine.

As a car to own, from a maintenance cost perspective, the GT3 RS was quite reasonable for a sportscar in its class.  The only major unpleasant surprise came shortly after we acquired the GT3 RS.  It turned out that the power steering line was leaking, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you find out that the engine needs to be pulled to change the line.    While not quite as hard on the wallet as pulling an engine on a Ferrari F355, it was still a quite unpleasant surprise.  The rest of the annual services were all in the $800-$1,500 range with the only other significant expense being a set of new tires in early 2023.  Overall GT3 RS ownership was remarkably drama free.

 

I do miss the 911 (997.2) GT3 RS now that it is gone.  It was always such an engaging car to drive.  I loved the raw uncompromised focus of the GT3 RS but at the same time, that also was the cars Achilles heal.  While it was great to take on a blast up a mountain road for an hour or two, it was far too raw to ever get the nod for a weekend road trip with Mrs. SSO.  With it being relegated to a point A to point A car, it really was only a matter of time until its  “Use Case” expired with the result being it just wasn’t getting the regular use it needs over the last year and a bit.  Hopefully it has now found a new home where it will be both appreciated and driven with vigor regularly.

 

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February 2024

 

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2 Thoughts on End of Term: Porsche 911 (997.2) GT3 RS 
    John.
    12 Mar 2024
     7:28pm

    Sounds like the Newport Beach dealer didn’t want an inspection done on the car. They probably saved you from a worse experience by giving you a bad experience.

    I did have one dealer telling me how unreliable and how expensive their serving would be on a car I was desperate to test drive. Left the dealership disinterested in their cars afterwards. Probably a good thing for me, but one less sale for them.

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    Mark Norton
    25 Mar 2024
     2:00am

    Everything I’ve ever heard about the Carrera GT is how shockingly high the maintenance costs are. Those for the GT3 RS quoted here are small change in comparison. Personally, I don’t even like the look of the thing and when my fellow enthusiasts are cooing when one shows up, I’m just reminded it’s not for me.

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