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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: 997 Farewell Tour

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On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 12:08PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: 997 Farewell Tour

The 996 Porsche 911 was considered by some to be a departure from the 911 norm. Not in a good way. The flat-six was water-cooled, total blasphemy to some, and the sinewy Coke bottle shape had lost its curves. To go with its newfound slab-sidedness, the 996 headlight came to a point, and the interior contained an amount of buttons unbecoming a Stuttgart thoroughbred. Porsche listened to its customers and addressed all of these issues (save the lack of air-cooling and the 'buttons' thing) in 2005, with the introduction of the 997 model 911.

A return to round headlamps, slippery curves, and a slimmer frontal area had Porsche loyalists rejoicing, and everyone else left slack-jawed. The new 911 was faster, sleeker, and much better looking, despite the radiators and the nav system. It has spawned countless variations and received thousands of improvements over its life cycle. Eventually no one will remember the annoying thumb controls that accompanied the first 997s to feature the PDK dual-clutch tranny. They will however recall the meteoric rise in horsepower that several models received, or the improved understeer control delivered by the Carrera and Turbo AWD variants.

The 997 is ancient by modern sports car cycle standards; though due to be replaced it isn't going down without a fight. The last three models added to the 997 line (so, that’s what, 85 variations now? Let's see what I can name off the top of my head: Carrera, CarreraS, Targa, Targa 4S, Carrera Cabriolet, GT3, GT3 RS, GT3 RSR, Turbo, Turbo Cabriolet, GT2, 911SC . . . I'm running out of space here . . . ) are all doozzies! The Speedster, the newest GT3 RS, and the GT2 RS are all the highest examples of the breed, all murderous in their intent. Hop inside the post for details on all three rear-engine menaces . . .

The Good: The 911 Speedster is supposed to hearken back to the original Speedster, the 356. The very car James Dean died in . . . or, died thirty feet away from. This car is legend, and considering Porsche AG's Disney-like penchant for reviving legends, it isn't completely unexpected.

To my eye the Speedster evokes the Speedsters of the late Eighties, or Carreras of the seventies. A widened track, chopped windshield, wild colors and black accents all help remind me of 911 models, more so the 356. They might as well stencil "Carrera" down the side of the thing in big black letters. The wheels are of a classic design, black with polished lips, fat spokes and Porsche crest end caps. The rear of the car displays blackish exhaust tips and a blacked-out "Speedster" badge. The only problem here is the awkward, double-hump cover affixed over the convertible top. It looks like a turtle shell, or a Space Marine's helmet. A little ungainly, but its relative evenness with the windshield renders it stunning from the profile view. A true "give and take" situation.

The only color available is a Speedster-only shade named "Pure Blue". The contrast of this blue and the black accents is a homerun. You will find plenty of the body's color inside the Speedster as well. Hand finished leather mixes with polished metal all drenched in the stuff. The interior comes with every 911 option available and a few touches reserved solely for the Speedster. The blue 'checkered flag' treatment on the seats is especially pleasing. The car comes with the paddle-operated PDK system, thumb-actuated buttons already becoming a thing of the past. The tactile tranny is attached to the rudest of non-GT3 flat-sixes, a 408 bhp 3.8 liter that is also shared with the 911 SportsClassic.

Don't get your hopes up if you plan on purchasing a 911 Speedster in the New World, there are only 356 examples of the Porsche Speedster (Porsche is also calling it the 'GTS') built. Considering the number of 911 Sport Classics that left Europe (that would beeee . .. none) we aren't likely to see a GTS running around our roads anytime soon. Pity, we lose out on all the steel-wheeled miscreants . .

The Bad: The 911 GT2 has always been bad. Downright sinister. Cheater-ass all-wheel drive, two rambunctious turbos and a lightened curb-weight add up to hoonage and mayhem, Stuttgart style. Until one day, foreign manufacturers discovered the Nurburgring, and began testing there. This led to foreigners actually beating Porsche's production records, the most well reported being the Nissan GTR's 2008 trouncing of the then new 911 Turbo. You don't want to make Porsche Angry. You wouldn't like Porsche when its angry . . .

Enter the GT2 RS, a car so devilishly powerful it turned a 7-minute, 18-second lap of the Nurburing, 4 seconds ahead of the current production car champ, the Dodge Viper ACR. Porsche had returned the 'Ring crown to the Fatherland, and they did it with one impressive beast.

620 bhp from the blown flat-six, retuned AWD, wider tires, roll cage, plastic windows, deleted back seat, radio, air conditioning. The 911 GT2 RS is the blitzkrieg by which all other sports cars must now be measured. Still stuck with the ugly 997 Turbo front fascia, the GT2 RS makes up for it with the coolest rear valance treatment this side of a 2009 Brawn BGP001. The extra engine snorkels are grayed out, the rims of the center-lock variety. This sucker was born to eat Nissans and Ferraris like the herbivores they are. Though only 500 will be made, it's slightly more likely that you may one day lay eyes on this, the most bad of all production cars.

The Ugly: Ugly only in its lack of images, the last 997, the GT3 RS will be the purest racer of them all. Fixed aerodynamics and center-lock wheels, shared with earlier GT3s are still in play, but the real update comes in the engine bay.

Though not matching the out-put of the GT2 RS, the GT3 RS is several leagues more interesting because of what it does without, namely two turbos. The GT3 RS will boast 500 naturally aspirated horsepower from its wailing flat-six, 20 more than the original 997 Turbo. Shrieking to an 8,500 RPM redline, the monster boxster rides within the most focused, track-ready 911 chassis to date, which is saying a lot! Active engine mounts, active dampers, active eye-watering skinny pedal, the GT3 RS will be the most raw, most intense 997 built, and, again, probably won't come to this side of the Atlantic.

Ugly only because we have to show you the old GT3 RS (look for pictures of the new model in the coming weeks leading the Detroit Auto Show)the GT3 RS should be the baddest 911 for all of about two weeks, when Porsche begins leaking details of the 997's successor. Blue-Bloods everywhere can hardly contain their glee . . .

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kenm0305 | 3:55PM (Tue, Nov 16, 2010)

What a great car. It will be missed.


Crystal920 | 3:42PM (Mon, Dec 6, 2010)

Dear Santa I have been and will be really good!

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