Ah yes, the Porsche 911. For so long as I can remember, I’ve always had a thing for Porsches. Maybe it goes back to my father and grandfather owning them, or perhaps it’s even further embedded into my DNA, but there’s something about the silhouette of a 911 that has, and probably always will, make me weak in the knees.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that I was rather excited when Rod announced that we would be running a Porsche theme this week. We’ve been planning it for a few months now and I wanted to make sure I had something extra special to share. I think this incredible 993 fits the bill rather nicely.
There are a number of things that make this car quite special, but let me first start with the unexpected place I discovered the car – Gatebil. Gatebil has quickly become a name synonymous with Speedhunters, particularly after we dedicated a whole month to the geographic region of Scandinavia, so I’ll presume most of you are familiar with it.
But in the off chance you just got the Internet yesterday, I’ll do a rapid summary. Gatebil is an event where nothing is at it seems. It’s survival-of-the-fittest contested by machines, and that has caused all sorts of mental genetic mutations – like a 2JZ Lancia, a BMW-powered FR Beetle or a Lotus that is scarcely a Lotus at all.
If you somehow find yourself in the vicinity of a Gatebil event you will inevitably eventually succumb to what I call ‘The Gatebil Effect,’ where you start presuming every car is a tube chassis something-or-other with one-trillion-billion horsepower. Therefore, it’s deceptively easy to write off what appears to be a 993 GT2 Evo 2 as anything but.
You start rationalizing what it could be instead of taking it at face value, and it’s shocking how quickly this delusional concept of reality takes over. You start to think, “maybe it’s a 996 Boxster with a ton of bodywork,” or “perhaps it’s just a mental one-off garage tube build.” The craziest thing is that you can actually sense yourself thinking in this manner and you start to wonder if you’re going insane.
It’s a fabulous form of culture shock, and here in your newly Gatebil-skewed brain soup is the perfect place for an authentic racing car to hide in plain sight. Fortunately this year at Mantorp Park, Paddy, Dino and I were on a mission to leave as few cars un-featured as possible, which gave me the motivation necessary to really give this car a good second look. Thank god I did.The proof is in the pudding
There’s an old idiom for deductive reasoning called ‘the duck test’ which I employed. For those of you unfamiliar with the technique it goes something like this: if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s probably a duck.
It certainly looked like a duck. Of that much I was sure from the start…
Out on track it also swam and quacked exactly like you’d expect from such a bird… I was intrigued.
But I wasn’t about to make such a bold presumption in the land where all the ducks are actually geese. Instead, I went straight to the source. I introduced myself to the car’s owner and driver, Vidar Frogner, and began to ask some questions about the car. Sensing my enthusiasm, he told me briefly about the cars history and that it was in fact an authentic Porsche Motorsports GT2 Evo 2 previously operated by Alzen Motorsport!
Vidar later sent me some really interesting literature to further support his claims, including the original Wagenpass FIA vehicle inspection sheets. As you can see, the original owner (Fahrzeugbesitzer) was Jürgen Alzen, the older brother of DTM driver and Le Mans winner Uwe Alzen. Mental.
There was also some really interesting documentation of the races the car competed in while piloted by Alzen. Names like Hockenheim, A-1, Spa and Nürburgring need no introduction. In all, this particular duck competed in 62 races from 1998-2006 before being sold.But what does it all mean, Basil?
So there I was, standing face-to-face with a genuine GT2 Evo 2. It left me no choice. I had to shoot it.
While I could spend hours just staring and gawking at just about any 911 around, there’s something extraordinary about the factory racers. Porsche always seems to find a way to make the racing versions wider and more aggressive without losing sight of the original body lines. I think you can see where Nakai-san found the inspiration for his 993 flares.
Around back the carbon flares are even more massive, allowing perfect fitment of the thirteen-and-a-half-inch wide BBS wheels. Although in this case form is definitely following function, the lines are often blurred between the two.
But it’s not just the outrageously aggressive bits that have been treated to a diet. In fact, just about every panel on the car save for the rear quarter has been replaced with some form of carbon.
Even the doors are featherweight, but fit perfectly – a testament to the quality fit and finish of a factory-built racer.
Powering this beast is a 3.6-liter lump that’s been upgraded with a pair of modified K24 turbos from Norsk Turboservice. Teamed up with some custom cams, head work and aftermarket pistons and rods, this engine cranks out just over 700hp, which is actually quite tame by Gatebil standards.
In recent years I’ve grown rather fond of the high-pitched scream of modern N/A Porsches, but there’s something undeniably badass about the quack of this turbo monster. Huge manifolds, plus huge turbos, plus huge straight exhaust, equals maximum exhaust tone.
Since this car was originally spec’d for 24-hour races it’s been fitted with a massive endurance fuel cell. Totally overkill for the Gatebil Extreme sessions but too awesome to replace.
Though I’m not entirely certain what all has been changed out under Vidar’s ownership, the cockpit seems to be primarily original with the exception of the lap-counter, steering wheel and bucket seat. It’s a fairly spartan cabin compared to modern 911s with virtually nothing at all below the knee-pad region.
It’s sort of weird seeing a 911 cockpit without the hallmark switch panel that I’ve become familiar with in recent times. The 993 was very much a machine on the cusp of a simpler time, when most of the car’s handling prowess was determined by these three pedals.
Indeed the 993 is a rare breed – it represented a very small blip in the 911 timeline but is a pivotal turning point in the story. This chassis signifies the end of the air-cooled 911 but it brought with it the GT2 moniker that is now synonymous with top-of-the-line-turbo-power, and we have the racing versions like this very car to thank for this.
Due to FIA homologation rules, Porsche was forced to build and sell road-going GT2 variants which are now some of the most highly sought after 911s around, with only a few hundred examples built worldwide. But as scarce as the road cars are, the race cars are even rarer still. So rare, in fact, that I’ve only seen a handful in person including multiple trips through Germany, a visit to the Porsche Museum and a weekend the largest gathering of Porsche race cars in the world – Rennsport Reunion IV.
Given the scarcity and value of such a car, it may seem unthinkable that Vidar is willing to risk everything on track with some of the most bonkers, ticking-time-bomb-shed-built-monsters that Gatebil is known for. But he not only races against cars that weigh half as much and produce double the horsepower, he usually wins.
At the time I photographed the car, Frogner had completed 43 races between Gatebil Extreme and Porsche Cup Norway events. Of those 43, he won 31, securing Gatebil Time Attack overall champion in ’11 and ’12, Gatebil Racing overall champion ’11 and ’12 and Norway Porsche Cup overall champion in 2012. It wouldn’t surprise me if he earns those titles again this year.
I guess in closing, what I find so romantic about this car is that in a realm where there are no holds barred and everything is pretending to be something it isn’t, somehow a car that is damn close to how it left Porsche over 15 years ago manages to continue to do what 911s do best – win. Perhaps the reason I find these cars so appealing has something to do with the fact that the 911 has a reputation unlike any other car. One the grew organically in the Porsche way by racing, not posing. It’s great to see people like Vidar that aren’t simply storing these legends in a garage somewhere but are enjoying them where they belong – on the race track.