With 911 & Porsche World’s roving tyre kicker, Johnny Tipler
And here we have the bee’s knees, a sleek 996 GT3 gen 2, for sale at Williams Crawford, just across the Tamar from Plymouth, at Saltash in Cornwall. It is expensive, at £97-grand, but then it is almost unbelievably low mileage and in pristine condition. It was first registered on 2nd June 2004, a right-hooker supplied by Bristol PC, painted metallic Arctic Silver, with full leather interior including factoryfitted Recaro seats. It’s fronted by Xenon headlights with headlamp wash, and runs on 18in GT3 alloys.
In both gen 1 and slightly more refined gen 2 guise, the 996 GT3 is a perfect blend of road-going sports-car and track-orientated incarnations, epitomising Porsche’s design and manufacturing philosophy pretty accurately. Launched in 1999, the gen 2 GT3 appeared on the scene in 2004, and some say it was toned down to provide a contrast with the more hard-core GT3 RS. Check out the gen 2’s cup holders and go figure. The gen 2 presents several stylistic changes, too. The ‘teardrop’ headlights are sourced from the Turbo and replace the gen 1’s ‘fried eggs’, and the front and rear bumper panels have revised slope angles to the inlets and air ducts, with subtly different curves and splitter. Same with the back panel, too, which also displays revised contours, all a matter of taste, though there must be some practical substance to the alterations. The 18in ten-spoke wheels are simplified, side skirts moulded to enhance the aero, and the rear wing configured as a platform on a pair of struts instead of the gen 1’s elegant swan-neck biplane. It’s also 30kg heavier than its predecessor. In the performance stakes, power rises to 381bhp with torque up to 284lb ft, available from 2000rpm, and it’s also shorter geared in 5th and 6th. The suspension is lowered and firmed up, brakes beefier with six-pot calipers in front, while bespoke semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport N1 tyres were developed specifically for the gen 2 GT3.
It’s done 20,660 miles in the intervening 13 years, and one wonders what it’s been doing in that time. It certainly hasn’t been overdoing things. And this is the crucial thing for buyers wanting a car they can salt away for another decade as prices escalate. There are apparently two types of customer in the GT3 arena: the collector who wants as few miles as possible, and the punter who doesn’t care and because it’s a trackable car that’s required. Thus, there’s a wild disparity in GT3 values, as my colleague with the camera found out when he marketed his gen 1 model not so long ago: with over 70K on the clock it fetched less than half the sticker price of this particular beauty.
What does Adrian Crawford make of the current GT3 market? ‘‘It’s in its original first paint, exactly as it left the factory, so it’s a really good target if you’ve got an eye on investment or collectability.’ My problem with that car is that I think GT3S are built to be driven. ‘Yes, they’re on a desert island, washed off with no place to go, but it doesn’t seem to stop people with that investment head purchasing them. I’m with you, they’re to be driven and thrashed and enjoyed, but they’re the cars that people are putting in little bubbles, and that seems a bit back to front to me. You’ve got a racing car: guess what you should be doing with it? You should be out there racing the thing. But a lot of people are parking money, and they pick a low production, top spec car, whether that’s top technical spec or low production, and then they want every box ticked: history, provenance, condition, mileage, and if you can tick all those boxes they will buy that car. What I find with the collector category is that they’re very fussy, and so it’s got to have everything going for it: low mileage, what it’s done, first paint, all that stuff; and the other category is someone that fancies driving one, which is you and me, and it’s a completely different scenario where different values apply. That’s why high miles GT3S and ones that have been tracked tend to stick or command much lower prices. And that gap has got bigger, the gap between collector quality and the enthusiasts’ car that we’re going to use and enjoy, and rightly so. Because if you want to put chrome mudguards on your Raleigh Chopper, it’s your right to do as you like. The fact that you’re enjoying whipping around in your Boxster and getting more fun and enjoyment out of that in the next 12 months than the man that buys my GT3, that makes you the winner, because you are doing what you want to do with your car. So is he, but he’s just not using it.’
I know how these cars go, and how fantastic they are in any context, and it’s a real powerhouse, dispensing that throaty Mezger roar and depth of performance and tautness of handling that’s unique to the GT3. You don't need a trackday scenario to realise that, and in deference to its showroom status I limit my run out to nearby Pentille Castle, fervently hoping that it gets bought by someone who recognises the fabulous quality here and is glad to put it to use without worrying too much about knocking up the miles. PW