All entries for Sunday 30 April 2006

April 30, 2006

Seven–Car Dream Garage: The 911

Follow-up to A Dilemma from Semi-Perfectionism

After arriving home a while ago after another marathon library sesh, filling my head with the intricacies of group theory and topology, going through a million past papers and the like, I came home, turned on the PC and did the usual check of the internet to see if anything interesting had gone on in the world that day. Berlusconi still not accepting defeat? Bird flu may or may not be here? Pah...these all paled in the face of the first signs that Porsche are well and truly underway with the development of the new 911 GT2 and GT3 RS :–D. After a day of work, it was nice to have such a stark reminder of what's it all in aid of…get a good degree, get a highly lucrative job, and buy one of these. But, given the choice, would I really buy one of these for the dream garage?

It goes without saying that no decent car collection worthy of the name is complete without a 911 in there somewhere. Not only is it one of the best all–round cars that there has ever been, it is also well suited to being used as an everyday runaround. Indeed, since it’s the flagship product of what is essentially a manufacturer of mainstream supercars, if it gets bashed around in the daily commute, then that’s no problem. However, if a cyclist knocks off the wing mirror of your Pagani Zonda in the morning rush, then not only has a work of art been desecrated, you’ll have to deal with Italian bureaucracy to get it fixed. Rather you than me…

However, it would be careless to limit my selection of 911 candidates to this pair. The previous generation 911, known by geeks as the 996, was without doubt the class–leading product of the period. It spawned some truly epic 911 derivatives as well; in particular the Turbo and GT3 RS. Although this pair were, technically, inferior to the 996 Turbo S and GT2 models, with the GT2 being the ultimate version of the 996, they still make it onto the shortlist. For unquantifiable reasons, the Turbo S and GT2 leave me cold, I have no idea why, and hence they don’t make the cut.

I shall also, perhaps controversially, rule out all of the pre–996 911s…simply because I don't like them; again for no real reason. The 996 was the 911 of my youth, so in the same way that people's favourite Bond is usually the first Bond you saw (although Brosnan is my favourite, which kind of screws that theory), the 996 is what I consider to be the benchmark 911. I have some friends who I'm fairly sure would happily murder anyone who would even dare to suggest that the 'old' 911s are a bit pants; but happily my life has been spared on many occassions by the fact that modern society would consider that to be a bit of a social faux pas

Moving back to the future, there are two more candidates. These are the recently unveiled Turbo and GT3 versions of the latest 997–generation 911, both of which move the game on considerably from their 996–generation predecessors. So, the candidates, in chronological order of release:

911 (996) Turbo
This monster was the first (and only, alas) 911 that I've had the pleasure of driving. Shortly after turning 18, I was fortunate enough to see 130mph whilst at the wheel of one these…which is a bit limp considering I was driving round Thruxton at the time, the fastest circuit in the country :D. However, it still made an impression; you've got to love a car with 70mph marked not even 30 degrees from the bottom of the speedo. I was never a fan of the 911 up until the point that I sat in it for the first time. I was under the impression that its German teutonic–ness made it a bit too clinical. On the contrary. That's what I love about it…the teutonic–ness means that this car is about delivering the goods with no fuss, none of this exposed metal gearshift gate and offset pedal–box rubbish. Consequently I almost feel obliged to let the 996 Turbo into my dream garage, and with them being total bargains on the used market, there's no reason not to have one.

996 Turbo

911 (996) GT3RS
This is a proper car. If it wasn’t brilliant, then you know Porsche wouldn’t have gotten away with that outlandish sticker/paint job. And you didn't think that I'd have a rubbish car in my blog banner, did you :–p!? They were/are very rare, I think only 25 made it into the UK for every year it was on sale, and indeed, they appreciated nicely until the 996 was killed off. However, they were most noted for being brilliant on the track…a bit twitchy, probably a bit rubbish on the road, but still…just look at the paintjob. And the wheels…the wheels are nice.

996 GT3 RS

911 (997) Turbo
The 996 Turbo was still top of its game when the 996 was killed off, so Porsche can't fail to make the 997 version into a star performer. I'll be astonished if it's not once again the benchmark car for sub–£100,000 Grand Tourers. The 2+2 seating configuration means you can sling the kids in the rear until you've saved enough pennies for a Cayenne (err…hopefully by then the Panamera will be in the dealership, although a Turbo S would suffice…), and lots of clever tricks in the engine department mean you'll have no trouble in provoking motion sickness. However, the 997 Turbo looks a bit…fussy. Nice details round the front, but it doesn't seem cohesive. Hmm.

997 Turbo

911 (997) GT3
Although down on power compared to the Turbo, the GT3 has its heart set on being a track hero. First reports from the motoring press claim that the 997 GT3 is even better to drive on track than the 996 GT3 RS, which is an excellent start. Even better news is that is it's also apparently considerably better to drive on the road as well…maybe sufficiently so for it to be an everyday car. It looks better than the 997 Turbo too…but, if I had one of these…would I feel robbed, knowing that, ultimately, my 911 isn't the mightiest 911 of them all?

997 GT3

On a slight tangent, the clever Porsche 'Origin Motorsport ' web special for the GT3 is an example of internet advertising at its best. It shows you everything you want to see, and tells you everything you need to know, without upsetting the ASA. Apparantly they get a bit bitchy about TV advertisers even hinting that their cars could possibly be used as a tool for minor entertainment on the road, so this nicely sidesteps that problem. And the legendary configurator has got to be up there with the greatest procrastination tools of all time…well worth a gander.

911 (997) GT3RS
What can be said about this. It's like a GT3++. Since the car has only recently hit the test tracks, there's not much to comment on apart from the mere prospect of the car. If it can improve on the GT3 without being excessively compromised, which is extremely unlikely, then it's a strong choice. And just look at the rear wing…wow. I cannot recall another production car this side of a Subaru Impreza with such a big, aerodynamcially–useful wing as this.

997 GT3RS

911 (997) GT2
evo ran a headline a while back asking whether the 996–generation GT2 was 'the last scary 911', a bit of a widowmaker that would happily throw you into the scenery if you got a bit carried away. This contrasts with most contemporary performance cars, which are engineered to be able to save an overenthusiastic driver from their own stupidity. I'd be surprised if the 997 GT2 keeps that violent reputation, considering it's supposed to be good for at least 200mph (and, bizarrely, becoming the first production 911 to be able to do that), which will make it just as quick, on paper at least, as a Carrera GT. Consequently I imagine that Porsche will make the 997 GT2 a bit more benign that it's predecessor, else the potential for some severe carnage is quite plentiful. This is good, since I don't really like the prospect of facing death every time I go out in the car to purchase some milk. However I do like the prospect of being able to go out in the car to purchase some milk from a newsagents 100 miles away, and still be able to return within the hour (not that I can officially condone that sort of reprehensible behaviour) :–D

997 GT2

Meh. Face it, if you had any of these cars, you’d be extremely pleased unless you were an ardent environmentalist/communist–type person. I guess we can rule out the 997 GT3…why settle for that if the GT3RS is up to scratch? Similarly for the 997 Turbo. Provided the technically superior 997 GT2, which is based on the Turbo, isn’t liable to kill you, then you’d take the GT2.

So we now have the 996 Turbo, 996 GT3 RS, 997 GT3RS and 997 GT2. Since the latter two cars haven’t even been released yet, I think that for now, the 996 Turbo gets the nod. Although in this kind of situation there’s the potential for the grass to always be greener on the other side, if you did see a GT3 RS coming up in the rear–view mirror of your Turbo and started to feel a bit jealous, you could always rest safe in the knowledge that given a nice bit of disused runway, you could comfortably out–accelerate it all day long. Which, I believe, is a fact.

However, there would be no harm in putting your name down on the list for a GT2 whilst we wait for Porsche to put it into production ;)


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