World’s first man­ual 991 GT3 RS

Porsche re­leased its 991 GT3 RS as a Pdk-only car, but that hasn’t stopped one owner from re­al­is­ing his dream to give the lat­est 911 Rennsport a proper gear-shift ex­pe­ri­ence…

Total 911 - - Contents - Writ­ten by Kyle For­tune Im­ages cour­tesy of Web Shoot­ers Inc

How one man’s mission to have a man­ual shifter in his 991 RS turned into a breath­tak­ing re­al­ity

“You could call him an RS en­thu­si­ast,” says John Tecce, owner of Florida Porsche shop BGB Mo­tor­sports. Tecce is used to deal­ing with un­usual re­quests from cus­tomers, but ad­mits the call from Robert Janev nearly had him falling off his chair. Janev had an idea, and he wanted Tecce to make it hap­pen.

That idea? A man­ual 991 GT3 RS. Janev, a se­rial owner of 911 RS mod­els, wanted one. He ex­plains:

“I was kind of bent out of shape when I heard that they weren’t mak­ing the 991 RS as a man­ual.” So he called Tecce and floated the idea of cre­at­ing one. BGB Mo­tor­sports has a long his­tory of rac­ing Porsches, and Tecce has knowl­edge of putting PDK ‘boxes into full­blown rac­ers, but no­body had ever asked him to swap out a PDK for a man­ual be­fore. Janev did, and was in­sis­tent. Tecce ad­mits he was ini­tially slightly re­luc­tant, say­ing he didn’t want to get part way down the road with a quar­ter­mil­lion-dol­lar car be­fore find­ing out that it wasn’t pos­si­ble.

The idea grew though, and the an­nounce­ment of the R helped. Tecce says: “I rung around and I’ve spent enough time around the cars, so I was pretty con­fi­dent I could make it work with the cod­ing and ev­ery­thing, and find­ing a way of go­ing back­wards and mak­ing it all happy if we used R parts.”

He tasked Janev and BGB of­fice man­ager Wray Gil­lette with com­ing up with a list of parts, which is ex­actly what they did. Over five pages long, Tecce says they got 98 per cent of it, the odd piece not ar­riv­ing via the Porsche deal­er­ship and need­ing chas­ing, but they got there.

“There was a gen­tle­man I was speak­ing to at the Porsche counter at one of the Porsche parts sellers over here in the United States,” says Janev. “I call him for all my cars, I get pieces here and there for when I work on them, and he knows me. I kept on ha­rass­ing him for the 911 R ‘box for months, and he asked ‘what do you want it for?’, and I said, ‘keep it se­cret, we’re go­ing to do a man­ual swap’, and he started laugh­ing. He said the part num­ber was not avail­able yet. He then emailed me on a Mon­day say­ing the parts had been pop­u­lated on the sys­tem, and I called him and asked if it was avail­able. He said there was no VIN re­quire­ment to get it, so as of right now we could or­der it and it’d be about six weeks, shipped from Ger­many. That’s when I jumped all over it, went ba­nanas, called John and said, ‘let’s do it!’”

“God bless John for tak­ing on the project, be­cause it was just a silly idea over a year in the mak­ing. When I orig­i­nally had the idea I didn’t even own the car,” says Janev. “I think he ini­tially kind of blew it off think­ing I was crazy, and said it wouldn’t be worth the time and the money.”

Janev ad­mits his in­volve­ment was very small oth­er­wise, chang­ing the clock clus­ter, in­di­ca­tor and tachome­ter, the some­what sym­bolic re­mov­ing of the pad­dles from the steer­ing wheel and other mi­nor stuff. He dab­bles be­cause it in­ter­ests him, as he ex­plains: “I tin­ker on my own cars, but this was be­yond my tech­ni­cal level and realm of un­der­stand­ing, so John pretty much han­dled it from there. John is an en­thu­si­ast, so much more than just a shop; he was just as fa­nat­i­cal about it as me when we got into it.”

“The phe­nom­e­nal thing about Porsche is that you have these peo­ple that say ‘don’t touch it, there’s no way you can im­prove any­thing that comes out of Weis­sach’, but also oth­ers who say, ‘I know you can do it and make it feel like that,’” says Tecce. Janev very much falls into the lat­ter cat­e­gory. Tecce’s busi­ness, out­side rac­ing, has been all about that, cus­tomers who love their cars so much that they want to mod­ify and im­prove them. “In Rob’s case it was ‘I want an RS with a big wing, and I want it all as it’s sup­posed to be but I want a man­ual’,” says Tecce.

Tecce did face some chal­lenges with the parts, some so new they didn’t ex­ist at Porsche, and other bits that typ­i­cally wouldn’t be re­placed – even af­ter an ac­ci­dent. The fact BGB’S shop builds rac­ers and spends plenty of money on parts at the lo­cal Porsche deal­er­ship helped, though Tecce says he did worry when they were strug­gling to source par­tic­u­lar parts that ‘some alarm had gone off some­where, and some­one has said some­thing about what we’re do­ing’.

Tech­ni­cally, me­chan­i­cally at least, it’s a fairly straight­for­ward process. What caused the

“No­body has ever swapped out a PDK gear­box for a man­ual be­fore”

headaches was the elec­tron­ics, tak­ing over eight weeks com­pared to just a cou­ple for the hard­ware. “The first week back the guys had the trans­mis­sion, that stuff took about a week, got the gear­box in there, the clutch and the ped­als, change any clutch or shifter bits and the assem­bly. What took a lot of the time was lay­ing out wiring di­a­grams, com­par­ing and con­trast­ing, know­ing what we have to do to make things happy. I’ve some fairly eva­sive soft­ware that al­lows me to turn lights off that’s the mod­ern evo­lu­tion of putting black elec­tri­cal tape over the light, but I make it so we don’t have to use that stuff, be­cause it’s cheat­ing. Rob had said he wanted the rear steer­ing to work, I wanted all the stuff to work. It is all in the cod­ing, keep­ing ev­ery­thing happy and get­ting ev­ery­thing to work” says Tecce.

He spent some time look­ing at a cus­tomer’s R, say­ing they were baf­fled at how the clutch was so light. With the R, and the-then ru­mour that the Gen2 GT3 would be man­ual, Tecce did ask Janev whether he still wanted to go ahead with the project, and the an­swer was a re­sound­ing yes. How­ever, that and the GT3 Tour­ing in­evitably mean there’ll be less de­mand from own­ers to do what Janev has. Tecce says that he could do it now in a frac­tion of the time, though thinks it’s un­likely he’ll be asked. “It’s such a good story for us that a guy took a leap of faith and sent us his quar­ter-mil­lion-dol­lar car and en­trusted it with us. It con­tin­ues to so­lid­ify our rep­u­ta­tion: peo­ple do their home­work about us and see that we’re good peo­ple” says Tecce. For Janev, he’s got­ten ex­actly the car he wanted, how he wanted it.

“This is the best man­ual Porsche I’ve ever driven. It’s mind-bog­gling that Porsche didn’t make this car. For ev­ery eight guys who love it, there are peo­ple who bash me for it, say­ing it’s slower. It’s just not, it feels ev­ery bit as fast, it revs like crazy, it’s a phe­nom­e­nal car.”

Porsche’s back-ped­alling with man­ual on non-rs cars doesn’t phase Janev one bit, ei­ther: “I love it. Don’t get me wrong, the dual clutch is a fan­tas­tic trans­mis­sion, but Porsche bring­ing back the man­ual doesn’t bother me one bit. I think it’s awe­some, I think the Porsche crowd made it hap­pen –and I think they will pro­duce a man­ual RS. I hope so at least. I’d buy one!” And if he can’t, at least he knows some­one who’ll be able to build him a spe­cial one in­stead.

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