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Porsche Special Models and ‘GT’ Cars Are No Longer Special

I think it’s finally happened. We first got the Porsche 911 GT3 in North America in 2004 — and ever since then, there’s been an ever-expanding lineup of GT cars from Porsche: the GT3, then the GT3 RS, then the GT3 RS 4.0, then the GT2 RS, then the 911 R, then the GT3 Touring, and blah, blah, blah. Now there are so many GT cars that I don’t think they’re actually special anymore.

A few months ago, I was a guest on Matt Farah’s "The Smoking Tire" podcast and we were discussing Porsche models, and Matt mentioned to me that 40 percent of Porsche 911 sales in the preceding year were "GT" cars. Forty percent. I can’t verify this number independently, but it seems completely accurate, just based on the sheer number of these things I see driving around. And not just driving around — also at Porsche dealerships, waiting to be sold.

Yes, that’s right: there are now "GT" models at Porsche dealerships, unsold. In the past, these ultra-limited-production GT cars were special-order only, or at least hard to come by, and you often had to be selected to purchase one among many other people vying for a GT vehicle. No longer. Right now, as I write this, there are 113 brand-new 911 "GT" models currently listed for sale on Autotrader, unsold, sitting in inventory across the country. You can walk into a dealership and buy one of these right now, no wait.

But you wouldn’t be special. Let’s pretend Matt Farah’s number was wrong and even just 20 percent of 911 models sold last year were GT cars. That still means one out of every five 911 models that leaves the dealership is a GT3, a GT3RS, or one of the other "special" vehicles. The 911 R, the GT3 Touring, the GT2 RS … there are so many variants now that it’s almost impossible to keep track of all of them. And that’s because Porsche has realized this is where the money is, and where the sales are, and so they’re pushing out as many of these as they can to satisfy demand.

But the problem, of course, is that this is a bit of a short-term strategy. One of the primary reasons Porsche buyers are attracted to these GT cars is that they’re special, they’re unique, you don’t see a lot of them on the road. You can roll up in a GT3 RS pretty much anywhere and be guaranteed to one-up a guy in a regular 911 Carrera S who just can’t hang with your coolness.

Except that’s becoming less and less true. I live in San Diego, which is a bit exceptional in terms of cool cars, so the frequency with which I see "GT" models is probably a bit inflated compared to everywhere else. But a GT3 RS no longer inspires a head-turn from me. A GT3 goes unnoticed, unless it’s an actually rare earlier model like a 996 or a 997. These cars have just become common.

And, as a result, they just aren’t special — not like they used to be, when they were true track cars, built in small numbers for people who would add a roll cage and lightweight wheels and go racing. Now these GT cars are toys for people to one-up people with lesser toys, all the while patting themselves on the back for buying a car that isn’t losing any value. I can’t tell you how many more conversations I’ve had with Porsche enthusiasts about vehicle values, rather than driving experience, in the last few years. Or conversations about how to make the cars even more "special" with paint-to-sample or unique stitching, or some other option that will distinguish one special car from an increasingly wide array of other special Porsche models out in the world.

I suspect the whole market will start to go soft as Porsche continues to overproduce these cars — and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same eventually becomes true with models like the Boxster and the Cayman, which seemingly have unending "special" versions of their own, from the Cayman R to the Boxster Spyder to the GTS to the GT4 to the GT4 Clubsport, and on and on.

Indeed, when it comes to sports cars, Porsche has found their niche: building "special" models for people who really want a special Porsche. But as production has increased, and as the number of "special" versions has followed right along with it, I’m starting to realize these things just aren’t as special as they once were — and I suspect others will follow suit sooner or later, too.

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