Porsche 911 Carrera S
Straight-line pace stuns us
In a future issue of Autocar, I’ll be writing a story about how the performance of certain modern, quick but still essentially everyday road cars compares with that of certain far more exalted brethren from not long ago. And, as we have so many times in the past, I toddled along to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground to find out more.
The 911 was not taking part in the test – it just took me there – but if you had such a car and a runway long enough for a 747 to land with space to spare, could you resist a quick trot along its length? Me neither.
Besides, I was curious. I can remember being here 21 years ago with a whole load of cars to see which was quickest and one of them was a 911 GT2. To give you an idea of how special the 993 generation of GT2 was, the vast majority of the 192 that got built were full Le Mansspecification race cars. Porsche made just 57 road-going cars, of which a mere 13 were right-hand drive, of which just six were to UK specification. Last year, RM Sotheby’s sold a left-hand-drive car for – wait for it – £1.85 million. The car we had was a UK right-hooker, its list price was £131,000, and if I think too hard about what it might be worth today, I have to go and have a little lie down.
Anyway, with a great deal of determination, whichever one of us was driving, it reached 173mph before their nerve failed. So what would a completely standard 911, of which tens of thousands are made each year, manage today?
The tests were not directly comparable: the old GT2 had the advantage of having only one person on board, while I needed our intrepid Mr Papior next to me to photograph the speedo reading; back then, the driver also had a bit more runway because today they cone off the far end of the runway to force a safety margin upon drivers. Also, instead of taking it very seriously, using every inch of the available space, finding and marking the optimum braking point and having many warm-up runs as we had with the 993, I literally just jumped in, nailed
the throttle and braked with an enormous safety margin.
As you can see, it indicated 180mph, which is a true Gpscorrected 177mph. If it had mattered, a genuine 180mph would undoubtedly have been possible. Most impressive was just how utterly undramatic it was, and the way that, unlike the 993, which accelerated hard until it hit a brick wall of draginduced aerodynamic resistance, ‘my’ 911 just kept on smoothly accelerating, piercing the air until it was travelling a mile every 20 seconds. Which is quite rapid when you think about it.
And then, of course, it took me equally smoothly home again, where the 993 would have kicked and bucked and, had I chanced across a tight corner and misjudged the boost at the exit, thrown me into the countryside.
I say all this now not to disrespect the 993 GT2, for it is one of the world’s great cars, but merely to provide a small slip of evidence to show how far we’ve come in the past couple of decades. Shortly, I’ll be providing a whole lot more.
GT2 was part of an Autocar speed test (far left); our 911 hit 180mph