911 GT3 values strengthen – is a first-gen 997 the smart buy?
Launched in 1999, the 911 GT3 was a road-going Porsche with a direct bloodline to the firm’s racing history, thanks in the main to the legendary Mezger engine at its heart. This recipe has been updated for the current 991 GT3, now in its second generation and sharing the latest 4.0-litre flat-six with racing 911s from customer Cup cars to factory RSRs.
Here we’re looking at the first-generation 997 GT3, introduced in 2006. Although bigger and more complex than the 996, the 997 was considerably more potent. The 3.6-litre Mezger was carried over but power was up from 376 to 409bhp. This was due to a bigger throttle butterfly, increased compression, a new variable intake system and raised rev limit, the redline climbing from 8200rpm to 8400rpm. A new centre-exit exhaust improved breathing and cut 10kg from the car’s rear.
Variable PASM dampers were included for the first time on a GT3, the base setting equivalent to the passive set-up in the 996, while the Sport mode stiffened things up for track use. There was also more sophisticated traction control, inspired by the system developed for the Carrera GT.
Compared with more recent GT3 models, the 997’s looks are relatively downplayed. And compared with the 996 it has a broader range of ability, matching the circuit-ready poise and rawness of the original with greater refinement and usability. This brought new customers into the fold, the previous enthusiasts and track-day fanatics joined by those happy to use a motorsport-inspired 911 as their daily driver. One recently on the market had 149,000 miles on the clock, racked up at a rate of nearly 24,000 per year!
At road speeds the GT3 can trick you into thinking it is just another 911. But as the revs rise a whole different car emerges, the race-bred engine taking on a harder edge and erupting into a spine-tingling howl from 4000rpm towards that 8400rpm redline. Enthusiasts still rate the hydraulically assisted steering over the rear-wheel-steer-assisted electric system in the 991, the 997’s traditionalist handling balance more satisfying to some than the admittedly sharper responses of the current car.
For the second-generation 997 GT3, capacity increased to 3.8 litres and power to 329bhp while technology such as active engine mounts and an optional nose-lift system were added. But the first-gen car doesn’t lose much in performance, has a pleasingly understated look and can be up to £20,000 cheaper.
Price new: £79,540 Price now: £80,000-110 ,000 Rivals: BMW M3 CSL, Ferrari 430, Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Heritage: Desirable road car with a pure racing heart
SPEAKING TO OLIVER DAVIS
Analysis from the director of Pescara International, specialists in performance cars
It’s one of the very few modern-day cars that still feels analogue and I don’t think there’s much else out there that compares, certainly on a track. The second-gen 997 GT3 with the 3.8 does overshadow the 3.6 somewhat and the premium can be as much as £30,000, 3.8s now selling for over £100K. To an extent the 3.6 is undervalued slightly as a result – you can find them for £75,000-£80,000. With history, mileage isn’t a problem but a car with low owners and miles will be more attractive and ceramic brakes add face value. The Clubsport package is definitely worth a premium and will be important to investors.