Since replacing the venerable 911RS as the ultimate Porsche road and track car, the 996 GT3 has gained phenomenal appeal. Few cars are as readily equipped for club racing than this lightweight factory-prepped racer. It's the car you can competitively track all day and then drive home afterward. Produced between 1999 and 2005 worldwide, only 960 examples were offered in the United States beginning in 2004 and all were immediately snatched up, usually fetching more than the $100,000 sticker price. This is a ride to kill for.
My appreciation for the car is much greater than the scratch I could scare up, so I decided on a different approach. Pre-owned GT3s are a bit more obtainable, but still out of reach for this lowly editor. On the other hand, I noticed 996s have suddenly become affordable. This deserved some deeper thought. After all, the GT3 is based on the same narrow-body 996. And unlike the Turbo or the GT2, the GT3 is equipped with a naturally aspirated engine, albeit a re-tuned 3.6-liter. I figured if I couldn't have the real thing, why not go with the GT3 look? Even better, I could tweak the car for better performance. Without further hesitation, I scoured the Auto Trader, Cars.com, automobile.com and other sources looking for the perfect specimen and at a price more in line with my meager budget. What I found was an abundant supply of 996s in virtually every color, with pre-facelift (1999-2001) models averaging $40,000 and some with higher mileage even under 30k. Yes, a Porsche 996 for under thirty grand. Why is a car that originally sold for roughly $70,000 netting a mere fraction of that amount six or seven years later? I certainly wanted to know and soon found a number of very reasonable explanations.
First, Stuttgart upped the production on 996s with a total of 68,299 units sold in America. Many of these cars were well cared for and later traded in on newer models, especially since the introduction of the 997. As a result, they have remained plentiful in the marketplace. Then there's the 993, the car many hardcore Porschephiles refer to as the last true 911. These cars have a passionate following and continue to stand strong in the used-car market, in some cases bringing in more than the superior-performing 996. As refined as it is, however, the 996 is not without fault and various mechanical issues, including oil and water leaks (from the main and intermediate shafts and radiator feeder pipe), which plagued early models also contribute to its depreciation. The good news is these issues have all been resolved in newer models and most early versions have been updated under warranty.
Fortunately, the 996 has found a nice resting place at its current market value, which makes it one of the best buys in town. Furthermore, they cost less to maintain than the 993. Taking all of what I learned into consideration, I was convinced that building my own GT3-look 911 was the way to go. I soon became the proud owner of a 2000 Porsche 911 Carrera, silver on black with a six-speed manual. It was perfect. Viewing its service history, we found the car did in fact have an issue with the intermediate shaft and the problem was remedied in the form of a brand-spanking-new 3.4-liter crate motor. The news was like winning the Lotto.
The one-owner car had been well pampered, appearing like new inside and out. All we had to do was sit down and formulate our project strategy. The game plan was simple: Turn a beautiful but otherwise bone-stock 996 Carrera into a GT3 head-turner. It didn't take long to determine such a project is best suited with genuine Porsche parts and accessories. Considering its pristine shape, having to change anything on the car was hard enough. Knowing that the parts were designed in-house by Porsche was reassuring and I knew everything would work as intended.
Although companies such as Anziano's, Better Bodies and MA Shaw offer complete GT3 aero kits, some even mixed with factory components, we decided to use nothing but original Porsche Tequipment, the manufacturer's own factory-engineered range of vehicle accessories. This meant there would be no change in quality and fitment. Plus, with the help of McKenna Porsche, our local dealer, all items will be installed by a certified technician to ensure this project maintains Porsche's exacting precision throughout. And for vehicles still under warranty, using a Porsche-trained tech also means that although the car may be modified, its original warranty won't be. Additionally, all Porsche Tequipment is warranted for two years, parts and labor. It can't get any sweeter than that.
While the GT3 body package will in deed create a more aggressive look, the project will encompass more than just an aesthetic transformation. Again, using Tequipment, we plan to address the interior and enhance road performance, as well as the overall driving experience. Over the next several issues, you will witness the car's complete transition from Carrera to GT3 beginning with the aerodynamics package. We won't bore you with a step-by-step documentation, but rather an illustration of what is taking place throughout the process. From there, we will tighten the suspension, add rigidity to the body, swap the wheels and tires and touch on a few interior items as well.
When complete, we still won't have a true GT3; however, the car will be clad with genuine GT3 components. So in essence, its the next best thing and at a fraction of the price. The great thing here is that anyone can do the same, providing you have a 996 to start with-and as I pointed out, there's no shortage. It's also nice to know that you can take the enhancing process to any extreme using only Tequipment, from the aero package to a full GT3 crate motor if you so desire. We like to think our project will be a little more indicative to what most enthusiasts would like do to with their cars.
We'll take it one segment at a time, and it can't happen soon enough. Stay tuned.