Manufacturers love to claim their stripped-out, powered-up track-day specials are "race cars for the street." Street-legal cars like the Dodge Viper ACR and Nissan GT-R Nismo are indeed both extremely capable and sometimes viciously uncompromising, but they still have enough road car roots running through their carbon-fiber veins to fit the bill of nothing short of a weekend track-day toy. If you truly want an actual race car with competition pedigree to pop down to your local frozen yogurt shop, RM Sotheby's is offering a street legal 1997 Porsche GT1 Evolution at their 2016 Monaco sale.
Back in the 1990s, things were different. Automakers interested in motorsport competition at the highest level were required to spit out homologation specials that resulted in bonafide Le Mans racers making their rounds on public roads. Cars like the GT1, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, and Nissan R390 were offered in extremely limited quantities for exorbitant prices for street use. At the time, global restrictions on safety and emissions for new vehicles were usually limited to functioning headlights, airbags, windshield wipers, and emission limits.
Designed to compete in the GT1 racing series in the late 1990s, the Porsche 911 GT1 was a full-blown endurance racer. Following homologation requirements from the FIA, Porsche created 25 street legal variants of the GT1, called the "Strassenversion" GT1. Considered to share the title of a Porsche supercar with the 959, Carrera GT, and 918 Spyder, each Strassenversion was a slightly detuned variant of the full-fat race car, with 537 hp pumped from the mid-mounted, water-cooled 3.2-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine. This allowed the road-going GT1 to rocket to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 191 mph.
The GT1 offered at the Monaco sale did not begin life as one of the softer Strassenversions, but instead as a bare tub from Porsche to replace a damaged 1996 GT1. The mechanical internals and go-fast hardware were transferred over to the new 1997 chassis, and upgraded the car to GT1 Evolution specs. This upgrade pack included primarily a modified aerodynamic package to remain competitive in its class. This GT1 Evo enjoyed a lengthy and successful racing career, including a showing at the 2001 24 Hours of Daytona and claiming three Canadian GT championships.
From 2014 to 2015, the car was restored at a cost "in excess of" $430,000. Now, it remains the only street-legal race-spec GT1 Evo in existence. Because of the race specification, the engine pushes out a more potent 592 hp.
The car is registered for street use in the U.K., but is likely illegal to drive on U.S. streets due to the country's strict compliance laws. However, the car is eligible for historic races around the world, and will perhaps make the world's craziest track toy for an enthusiast with deep pockets.
The 1997 Porsche GT1 Evo goes up for sale May 14, with the high pre-sale estimate pegged at $3.4 million.
All photos by Tim Scott for RM Sotheby's
Source: RM Sotheby's