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

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