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The Original Porsche 911 GT3 Was So Wonderfully Subtle

Apparently it’s time for my monthly rant, where I go off on a topic that makes me sound like an old person. Today’s rant is the Porsche 911 GT3, and how wonderfully subtle it used to look, and how truly and tremendously ridiculous it’s gotten today. See the used Porsche 911 models for sale near you

I’ll start by describing the very first Porsche 911 GT3 model sold in the United States. This was the 996 GT3, and it’s pictured above. It was a lovely car, particularly in this color. To create it, Porsche used the narrow-body 911 at the time (rather than the wide-body design from the Carrera 4S and Turbo), and they stuck on a relatively restrained wing and some minor ground effects, and that was the whole car. Of course, things underneath were stiffer, and refined, and tightened, and improved, but basically the entire car was just this slightly different 996 from the outside with only a few changes.

Can you imagine that today?

In 2017, Porsche now feeds into the Lamborghini-Ferrari-McLaren "gotta be ridiculous so it looks cool on Instagram" mantra, and the GT3 and GT3RS cars have absolutely gone off the deep end. The cars now feature massive wings, massive wheels and ridiculous exterior changes like those huge cutouts above the front fenders. They’re also painted in crazy colors like bright orange and bright green, and the interiors are matchingly ridiculous, with tight seats and excessive color-matching to the weird exterior colors.

In other words: The subtlety is gone. Very, very, very gone.

Now, I don’t necessarily think this is all a bad thing. I say this because, for one, much of that stuff has a purpose: Yes, the wing is absurd, but it adds downforce and keeps the car on the track; yes, the cutouts are ridiculous, but they help cool the brakes (or whatever they do). Also, the cars are certainly attention-grabbing, and there are some days when it’s fun to drive around as the center of attention.

But am I the only one who misses the Porsche models of yore, and specifically the GT3, which didn’t need all this stuff to stand out? One of the things I always liked about older Porsche models was that they did the job — the job of giving you a fun, exciting car — without showing off. You just showed up, drove your Porsche, had a huge smile on your face, and you didn’t need to deal with the ridiculous gas station "WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING"-type comments delivered by people stunned to see such a ridiculous vehicle.

The original GT3 was maybe the best extension of that "old-school Porsche" philosophy — a dedicated track car that never looked like anything more than a regular Porsche. That’s gone now, and I miss it. Even if admitting it makes me sound like an old, cantankerous codger. Find a used Porsche 911 for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I just love the way he compares the flashiness in one sentence: “Gotta be ridiculous so it looks cool on Instagram.”

  2. I totally agree, Doug. I love that the 996 GT3 was based on the narrow body car. This car speaks with its performance and not its looks.

  3. Huh?  The 991 GT3 doesn’t have wheel vents.  The 991 GT3’s wing is no more ridiculous than the wing on the 996 GT3.  And the 991 GT3’s wheels are only an inch bigger than those on a 991 Carrera S.  (The 991 GT3 RS has no relevance in this comparison unless we’re comparing it to a 996 GT3 RS, the existence of which I am not aware.) 

  4. Those front cutouts on the RS vent high pressure air out of the front wheel arches, greatly increasing front downforce without the added drag. The new design may look ridiculous, but it definitely makes for one hell of a track car.

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