The 997 Mk2 GT3 should come with the same rev counter as one of those classic 2 stroke GP motorcycles from the late 1970ies, where the needle of the instrument shows only revs starting from 4.000 rpm. This figure is the goal you should have when driving the GT3, a no-nonsense all out track focused 911. We’re enthusiasts of this model, having covered it quite a few times in EoW and there’s a reason for this: there won’t be cars like this anymore.
You see, the 997 is the last, pre “track-special-fashion” GT3, where all that mattered to those who bought it was not premium re-sale value, but how many seconds one could save on the track, first and foremost. It requires you to have a certain degree of knowledge of fast driving and a bit familiarity with the classic 911 way of behaving. The GT3 requires you to have at least the ability to read your butt-signals: going out in one when tires are cold means expecting understeer and snap-oversteer, while exiting a corner at full speed you shall understand when she has the maximum traction and she’s ready to slingshot out at full chat.
The 997 belongs to the generation of cars where you have to work your way around them to get the maximum pleasure: she’s not a car providing instant satisfaction and that extra dose of Instagram followers as soon as you drive off the dealership. It’s pure mechanical perfection and it’s not easy to master. Of course, the best place for a GT3 has and always will remain the track. It’s cliché but drive on track and you fully understand the car. On the road it’s great to drive just because the big brains at Weissach (thank you Herr Preuninger) have developed a great all rounder set-up which makes you get the most of the GT3 in the twisties.
So, we wanted to come to terms with the second to last “classic” manual GT3 the 3.8 the one that came before the almighty 4.0. As said before, after 4.000 rpm, the party begins with a radical change in sound and a vigorous acceleration. At 6.000 rpm is where fireworks start to happen: the car is alive, angry and eager to devour corners like a hungry lion. The GT3 is effective and capable to keep a steady pace at all times without loosing a beat. Tarmac surface is what you should always pay attention as it influences its behavior dramatically. The Maniva Pass road, our “personal” test track is great but offers conditions which can vary a lot from time to time, requiring to be even more careful with your driving. However, the satisfaction you get from getting this car right is immense, as it is with all cars which have more analogical things than electronics. The car is pliant enough for you to be confident in feeling that the tire is well on the ground and push it a little harder. Below 4.000 rpm is docile and gentle, while above it’s literally explosive. The pace you can keep with the 997 is phenomenal but it requires the road to be in great conditions: GT3’s do not like bumping around while driving as they become nervous and unpredictable. The gearshift should be the crown jewel of this car. It’s like a rifle lock and it’s devastatingly good under every situation, purposely made for performance driving.
Is this car what we imagine our ideal and only escape-mobile to be like? Yes. This is what could be found in our garages on any day: it’s the culmination of classicism and modernity all in one iconic package. It’s a great car for roasting every other keen motorist on the road and ideal to burn the back tires in seconds! If you drive properly, the only thing other will see it will be the smoke you’ll leave behind you at every corner. The 3.8 engine is magnificent and delivers the goods as a racing engine is supposed to be. The GT3 is the kind of car that connects all the dots for us: from beauty to sheer driving pleasure it is the car we’d like to see purring in our garage, waiting just to be taken out and driven to the mountains.
It’s a petrolhead’s idea of trekking and it’s perfect nonetheless. Sure, it’s not suitable for every road and it’s absolutely a focused machine: yet, we need to count the smiles she gives us… and those you cannot really count. So, the GT3 in all of its forms represents everything we like about cars.