TRIED&TESTED

With 911 & Porsche World’s rov­ing tyre kicker, Johnny Ti­pler

911 Porsche World - - Practical Porsche -

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

A fab­u­lous ma­chine in every re­spect – though some might pre­fer the slightly wilder man­ners and less for­malised looks of the gen 1 ver­sion.

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