There is something so brutally functional about a car that doesn’t try hard to win people over. I’m sure you know what I mean. But at the same time, I feel that many contemporary sport cars are unnecessarily over the top for the sheer sake of it.
Take the Porsche 991 GT3 for example, which is unquestionably the modern day go-to choice for track car aficionados and for those that lust after the thrill of driving. In isolation, the 991 is the perfect supercar; it packs an almighty punch, follows the 911 lineage beautifully, and as of now is even offered with a manual gearbox.
Put it next to a 997.1 GT3 however, and things change.
By comparison, the 991 looks overly big and wide, almost to the point of being cumbersome. But I suppose that’s the thing with the evolution of cars, they grow, get laden with the latest equipment, and before you know it they’ve swelled in size and weight and are a different machine altogether. It seems somewhat counterproductive if you ask me, but that’s the way the game is played; competition between manufacturers grows fiercer and no one wants to be left behind.
When Luke Huxham of Huxham Creative Studio – a guy you may know as the creative mind behind some of the coolest automotive videos to come out of Japan in recent time – decided he needed a GT3 in his life, I was happy to hear he went for a 997.1.
The model may be 10 years old now, but it came at the end of an era where fast cars were still somewhat raw and mechanical, and in the case of the GT3, smaller, lighter and narrower. The 997 was the perfect fit for Luke, fun on the right roads, yet still able to be used as a daily driver negotiating the ridiculously tight streets of Tokyo.
Well, almost perfect anyway. In Luke’s eyes there were a few things that need to be addressed, starting with the wheels.
After researching the options, Luke decided to take the Japanese approach when it came to style, going for The Check Shop look with a set of Agio Competizione rims, an inch smaller in diameter than the 19-inch stock wheels, measuring 18×9.5-inch up front and 18×11.5-inch at the rear. The 2-piece rims are shod in Yokohama Advan Neova AD08Rs, 245/40R18 and 295/30R18 front and rear respectively.
Bilstein adjustable coilovers have replaced the stock dampers, and according to Luke have transformed the car without compromising drivability. Mechanical grip has noticeably increased too, something I also noticed having driven the GT3 before and after the changes. I didn’t push the car too hard so I can’t give you more on that aside from the fact that the steering feel seems to have better weight, is more precise on center and weights up beautifully around the corners. The tail still dances around if you provoke it which is one trait you’d never want your 911 to lose.
As a result, the car sits nice and square at a functional height to take advantage of the 997.1’s excellent chassis.
After an unexpected shunt with a BMW, Luke ended up opting for 997.2-look LED taillights and rear bumper with the added horizontal vent.
He also went for a Cup wing setup from The Check Shop with adjustable stays, which adds some real aggression to the rear end. It’s a bit too aggressive according to the Japanese police though, who recently stopped Luke and slapped a 故障 red sticker on it. Roughly translated, koshou means ‘out of order,’ and to satisfy the authorities the wing will need to be swapped for something a little narrower.
Part of the appeal of the 997 is the fact that the car came with the Mezger water-cooled flat-six, an engine that’s history can be traced back to the 911 GT1 Le Mans race car. Not only that, but the 3.6L iteration used in the 997.1 is said to be the strongest – the one you want if you’re planning big engine mods.
Luke isn’t sure what upgrades he might make to the engine in the future, but at least he’s go the right motor to base it all on. For the time being, he’s given the car a livelier exhaust note through headers, a cat-delete, and fitting a Cup rear section.
It all sounds pretty raspy once the revs start piling on, and anything above 6,000rpm is pretty much spine-tingling stuff. The next step is to fit an aftermarket intake and get the Cobb Tuning ECU re-flasher mapped to extract the most out of the mods.
The 997 interior is a nice place to spend time; it has that unmistakable simplicity and functionality of most Porsches with nice Alcantara-clad steering wheel, shifter and door cards to remind you this is a car that’s built to be driven properly.
There are nice carbon touches here and there too, including the kick plates on the sills …
And the trim panel over the transmission tunnel.
Aside from the Japanese 2DIN navigation unit, there’s a chronograph from the Sport Chrono package as well as a Speed Cat radar detector to inform you when you’re approaching a speed camera.
It’s all topped off with fixed-back Recaro buckets finished in Alcantara, which match in with the rest of the interior nicely. Unfortunately, they do not cater for bigger frames and I always end up shutting off lower-body circulation when I drive this car. No problem for Luke however, as he’s pretty much JDM sized.
The GT3 is just about to have its ceramic rotors swapped out for steel units as Luke doesn’t like how they feel during regular driving. Initial bite is just not there and they do take some proper use to warm up and perform properly.
We’ll have to catch up with Luke in due course to see how far his Porsche has progressed.
Dino Dalle Carbonare