Porsche 911 GT2: Everything You Need to Know While Celebrating 25 Years of Brutality
Tracking the history of the king of all Porsche 911s.
Remember how shocked we were when the 911 GT3 turned 20 last year? Now imagine how we felt when we realized the Porsche 911 GT2 just turned 25. Yes, Porsche's most hardcore, focused, hair-ripping, face-melting, wallet-busting 911 is a quarter-of-a-century old this year, and seeing as Porsche fastidiously maintains its classic archive, this is as good of an excuse as any to pore over images and details associated with the rarest of the production "GT" badges—GT1 notwithstanding. Let's start from the top.
Honor Your Ancestors: Special 964 911 Turbos
Courtesy of RM Sothebys
Prior to the 993-generation Porsche 911 GT2's debut in 1995, the 911 Turbo—as the name implies—was the only way to step into a turbocharged 911. Barring special order one-offs or extremely limited-production roadgoing RS models, a Turbo was usually the most powerful, expensive, and fastest thing on a Porsche dealer's showroom floor.
Of course, a regular Turbo wasn't enough "car" for some over-moneyed, hard-eyed, amphetamine-addled enthusiasts. For those with healthy connections to Stuttgart and a brimming bank account, Porsche surreptitiously released a series of hopped-up Turbos during the 964-generation 911's run. The most widely known of the special 964 Turbos is the 3.6 and the rare Turbo S 3.6, but the 1993 Porsche 964 Turbo S "Leichtbau" (Lightweight) is the closest to a 964-generation GT2 as there ever was.
Next to the standard 964 Turbo 3.3, the Lightweight cut a shocking 400 pounds compared to the regular car, leaving out heavy stuff like the air conditioning, power steering, rear seats, insulation, sound deadening, and radio. Thinner glass was installed, along with aluminum doors (compared to steel), and both hood and trunk were made from carbon-composite.
Powering this hardest-of-hardcore Turbos was the same 3.3-liter turbocharged flat-six engine found in the aforementioned Turbo 3.3. Modified intake runners, fuel injection, ignition timing, camshaft profiles, and higher boost resulted in 376 horsepower and 375-lb-ft of torque, all on-tap through a five-speed manual transmission. A 0-60-mph sprint of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 180 mph were spectacular for the era.
Sound like your dream 911? Hope you manage a hedge fund or recently sold off a tech company, because if you somehow find one of the 86 produced up for sale, expect to pay more than $1 million for the privilege.
Proto-GT2: The 964 911 Turbo S LM-GT
While road-bound Porsche superfans ripped around in their hot rod Turbos, the factory developed a motorsports program of 964 Turbos that essentially evolved into the subsequent 993-generation Porsche 911 GT2. The so-called Turbo S LM-GT for the 1993 race season made its debut at the 1993 12 Hours of Sebring, packing a 475-hp 3.2-liter twin-turbo flat-six. After a relatively unsuccessful season, the LM-GT returned in 1994 with a 3.6-liter turbo mill yanked from the nascent 993-generation 911 program. It was highly successful, winning almost every race it entered. This provided a testbed for Porsche to develop …
The GT2 is Born: The 1995-1998 Porsche 993 GT2
Courtesy of RM Sotheby's
Like many of the greatest sports cars in history, the Porsche 911 GT2 was born entirely out of the necessity of FIA homologation. That is, if Porsche wanted to use the newly developed 993 platform for the highest echelons of GT racing, it had to produce a set number of roadworthy cars to qualify for the starting grid.
Fundamentally, the 993 GT2 set the standard for the rest of the GT2 lineage going forward. Visually, it was the most aggressive street-legal 911 made up until that point, with bolt-on plastic wheel arches accentuating the Turbo-esque widebody, fitted with a thin body-hugging front splitter and a massive rear wing. See those triangular inlets on the outside of the rear wing? Those are partial air intakes for the 993 Turbo-based 3.6-liter twin-turbo flat-six under the rear decklid.
An impressive 424 hp and 398 lb-ft spun only the rear wheels, as the Porsche 911 GT2 ditched the 993 Turbo's all-wheel-drive system on account of weight, though it retained the Turbo's beefy brakes and transmission. Most niceties were cut to shed 440 pounds compared to the Turbo, and other changes included aluminum front trunk lid and doors, thin glass, manually operated windows and mirrors, and removal of sound deadening. For those who intended to hit the track (or were particularly masochistic), an optional Clubsport package added a roll cage, six-point harness, kill switch, fire extinguisher, heavy-duty clutch, and upgraded race-spec seats.
With little to impede that turbo-six, the 0-62-mph scuttle took only 4.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 183 mph. Two years later, the Porsche 911 GT2 was updated with bigger turbochargers for a total output of 444 hp and 431 lb-ft, bumping the top speed to 186 mph. Porsche made only 161 roadgoing 993 GT2s, so expect to pay somewhere between $1.25- and $2-million greenbacks to park one in your driveway.
Wassergekühlt: 2001-2005 Porsche 996 GT2
In sharp contrast to the prior 993 GT2, the following 996-generation Porsche 911 GT2 was developed entirely as a road car, mostly due to Porsche turning its competition focus on the naturally aspirated GT3. Introduced in 2000 for the 2001 model year, the 996 GT2 retained the same essential ethos of the 993 GT2; hot-rod the 911 Turbo's engine, cut the all-wheel drive, and go on a crash diet.
For the 996, this meant Porsche augmented the 3.6-liter water-cooled twin-turbo flat-six from the aforementioned Turbo with more boost, free-flowing mufflers, and bigger intercoolers, resulting in a 41-hp bump to 456 hp and 457 lb-ft. Again, rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission were the only options, and all the standard GT-division upgraded suspension, brakes, aero kit, and weight-saving measures stiffened things up and pared 220 pounds when compared to the 996 Turbo.
Performance was stunning; 0-60 mph took 4.0-seconds, and the GT2 wouldn't stop pulling until it hit 195 mph. For the 2003 model year, power jumped to 476 hp and 472 lb-ft, while 0-62 mph took just 3.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 198 mph. According to Porsche, a perfect lap of the Nürburgring behind the wheel of a 996.1 GT2 would take just 7 minutes, 47 seconds—not even close to the top-tier sports cars of today, but quick enough in that era to dispatch supercars along the caliber of the Ferrari F430.
When production ended, the company had built 1,100 examples of the 996 Porsche 911 GT2.
Evolution: 2007-2009 Porsche 997.1 GT2
No surprises here. With the arrival of the 997-generation 911 eventually came a new GT2. The 3.6-liter twin-turbo flat-six is familiar, as is the lightweight rear-wheel-drive layout, but the 530 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque on tap is not. 0-60 mph is now well less than 4.0 seconds, thanks to newly developed launch control, with the time now rated officially at 3.6 seconds. Top speed also exceeds 204 mph, all thanks to a 6-psi increase in boost versus the standard 997 Turbo.
This is also the first generation to offer a full suite of active driving systems, including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), stability control, and traction control. With all of this extra power and sophistication, the 'Ring time drops to 7:32, a time Porsche claims is right on par with the Carrera GT.
Don't tell collectors, but this is also the generation of GT2 that time (and the market) forgot. The prior 996 GT2 has already hit the many "underappreciated" lists, and while the 997.1 GT2 is still close to or exceeds the $200,000 mark, it's got quite a way to go before appreciation peters off. Fill a warehouse with these things before it's too late. You don't have to hunt too hard to find the right car, either—Porsche built 1,242 examples between 2007 and 2009.
Exeunt GT2, Enter 2010-2012 Porsche 997.2 GT2 RS
From the moment the 997.2 GT2 RS replaced the 997.1 GT2, there hasn't been a "regular" non-RS Porsche 911 GT2 since. Considering the GT2 sits squarely at the top of the 911 heap, it only makes sense to skip the formalities and offer superlatives straight out of the box.
The 997.2 911 GT2 RS turned everything we knew about Porsche and performance on its head. Again, that 3.6-liter twin-turbo flat-six was poked, prodded, and coaxed for more power—specifically with larger turbochargers with more boost, larger intercoolers, and forged internals that wound outputs to 620 hp and 516 lb-ft. Still, the only transmission option was a six-speed manual.
In typical RS fashion, everything was lightened, stripped, and sanded down. Porsche used carbon fiber for the trunk lid and rear wing, while lightweight door panels, battery, and flywheel helped cut a total of 155 pounds when compared with the preceding 997.1 GT2, down to an impressive 3,020-pound curb weight.
Of course, the RS also incorporated a reworked suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes, and a more aggressive aerodynamic profile that dropped the 'Ring time to 7:18. Zero-60 mph took only 3.4 seconds, and the top speed ticked up to 205 mph.
Aside from the original 993 GT2, the 997 GT2 RS is the rarest of the family, as Porsche only built 500 of these cars before production ended.
Today's New (For Now) 2018-2019 Porsche 991.2 GT2 RS
If you haven't seen the latest and greatest of the Porsche 911 GT2 family, you must have been living under a pile of discarded race slicks. The GT2 nameplate skipped over the 991.1-generation 911, instead landing like a cannonball on the supercar landscape for the 991.2. This was also the generation that broke with more than one long-held GT2 tradition: The twin-turbo flat-six out back is now 3.8-liters instead of 3.6-liters, and the manual transmission is out for good, with a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK sliding in as the only transmission option.
Well, now that there's 691 hp and 553 lb-ft to play with, we're not complaining. Those figures make this the most powerful 911, ever—a title it will likely keep until the 992-generation GT2 (or GT2 RS) makes its debut. Zero-60 mph takes a staggeringly quick 2.7 seconds, and the car tops out at 211 mph. Water injection to cool down inlet gasses debuts for the first time on a 911, so make sure to keep that water tank up front topped off.
But there is more than just power at play here. The 991.2 911 GT2 RS expounds on the very best aerodynamic cues from the prior 991.1 GT3 RS, incorporating an absurdly large rear wing and revised front and rear bumpers—the former featuring a splitter purloined from a GT3 Cup race car.
Following the precedent set by the 997 GT2 RS, carbon fiber is slathered over a significant portion of the body panels, including composite front hood, fenders, and rear wing. The ascetic weight-saving lengths Porsche went to is impressive; the 991 GT2 RS features stuff like lightweight carpets, wiring harnesses, intercooler brackets, and wing supports. Spring for the wild Weissach Package, and Porsche adds carbon-fiber front and rear anti-roll bars, carbon tie-rod end links, carbon shift paddles, and magnesium BBS wheels that cut an additional 24 pounds. For cars sold outside the U.S., the Weissach Package will also change the optional steel roll cage to titanium.
The sum of all this go-fast know-how is a record-setting 6:47.3 'Ring time, barely beaten a year later by the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ. A few months after the Italians claimed the title, Manthey Racing launched an aerodynamic, suspension, and wheel package for the 991 GT2 RS called the "MR" that cut seven seconds from the production Porsche 911 GT2 RS' time. Now, we're not saying the MR is an official Porsche product, but considering Porsche owns a 51-percent stake in Manthey Racing and bills Manthey "the most successful Porsche racing team in the world," we'll say the GT2 RS MR is just about the closest to OEM as possible without actually being so.
Looking over our handful of GT2 RS drives, it's safe to say we liked the 991 GT2 RS quite a bit; so much so, we named it one of our Automobile All-Stars when it was new. Hopefully, the next Porsche 911 GT2 will get a crack at the crown a few more times in the next 25 years.
Porsche 911 GT2 Fast Facts:
- First year of production: 1995
- Last year of production: 2019
- Least powerful: 993 GT2 at 424 hp
- Most powerful: 991 GT2 RS at 691 hp
- Most affordable: 996 GT2 at $100,000-$150,000
- Most expensive: 993 GT2 at $1.25 million-$2.0 million
- Editor's dream pick: 997 GT2 RS