For all its difficulties in the early 1990s, Porsche remained passionately dedicated to racing -- and to devising "race-and-ride" 911s capable of sweeping up trophies at the track, then hauling them home in reasonable comfort. A trio of 993-series models carried on this grand tradition. Though the Carrera RS, Carrera RSR, and 911 GT2 all came and went in 1995, well before the last air-cooled Porsche 911s were built, they were a dramatic climax for one of the great eras in automotive history.
The RS was basically a lightweight Carrera coupe with a big-valve, non-turbo Varioram engine bored out to 3.8 liters, good for some 300 horsepower. The body crouched an inch lower in front and 1.5 inches lower in back, necessitating Turbo-like flared wheelarches. Split-rim 18-inch wheels enclosed larger disc brakes with four-piston calipers and adjustable anti-roll bars appeared at each end.
Predictably, engineers removed weighty power accessories and most sound insulation. They also specified thinner glass, replaced the steel hood with an aluminum replica, ditched the back seat, and fitted lightweight racing-style front buckets. Thus stripped for action, the RS weighed just under 2,800 pounds, about 220 less than a stock six-speed-manual Carrera coupe.
Air conditioning and twin airbags were also deleted, though available as options. The RSR was even more extreme, equipped with a full roll cage, racing-spec front-strut brace, adjustable rear wing, six-point racing harnesses, and a fire extinguisher.
In Britain, the racy new Porsche 911 RS cost nearly $100,000 at the prevailing exchange rate; the race-ready RSR over $107,000. Georg Kacher thought both cars delivered too little for too much. Testing an RS for Britain's CAR magazine, one of his several outlets, he hailed the acceleration -- 0-60 mph in about 4.7 seconds -- pin-sharp turn-in, and arresting-hook braking power, but hated most everything else. "Nerve-wracking" noise and "restless" handling were his biggest beefs.
"Having been trained to deliver on the track, this car has yet to learn how to behave in a real-world environment," said Kacher. "It may be fractionally faster than its siblings in a straight line, but as soon as you throw in a few corners, dips and crests, the loud, noisy RS is fighting a losing battle against the pleasantly inconspicuous, near-perfect Carrera 2." No matter. Only 1,200 brave souls got the chance to buy this RS, a mere 100 owned the RSR.
Porsche built only 150 copies of the GT2, which was rather like an RS crossed with a 993-series Turbo, only with more pressurized power and no all-wheel drive. As the name suggested, it was basically a street version of Porsche's standard-bearer in the FIA's European GT2 racing series, a car that also finished fourth in the 1995 Rolex 24 at Daytona and sixth overall at that year's Sebring 12 Hours. The road car had about as much power as the later Turbo S but weighed just 2,844 pounds, a massive 463 pounds less.
The peripatetic Herr Kacher, reporting for Automobile, credited this svelteness to engineers "ripping out every convenience item they could find and by fitting thinner windows, aluminum doors, an aluminum hood, and a pair of desperately uncomfortable plastic bucket seats." Well, that and the hardware eliminated by using rear drive.
Visually, the GT2 was pure race car: ultra-wide bolt-on fender flares snugged closely to ultra-wide tires, a front lip spoiler with upturned ends, and an equally unique biplane spoiler with "shark" fins and functional forward outboard air ducts. The wing, in fact, resembled nothing so much as a jet fighter sans fuselage.
Alas, performance was a bit less than the looks implied. Kacher's Automobile report quoted the factory's claimed 4.4 seconds to 62 mph (100 km/h) -- call it 4.2 to 60, still a good 0.4 second behind the 400-horsepower stock Turbo tested by Road & Track.
On the other hand, top speed was "a breathtaking 183 mph," and the "arsenal of go-faster ingredients fails to destroy the ride, but it does push the door open to a new plateau of roadholding." Kacher observed, "On well-groomed blacktop, the GT2 achieves insane cornering speeds that make you wonder why the silly yellow safety belt isn't a full-blown five-point racing shoulder harness."
But as with the Carrera RS, Kacher was disappointed in this sports-racing Porsche, not least because of its towering $198,500 price. "Taking the GT2 to the limit requires skill, stamina and seriously fast reaction times, because this car does what it does without lengthy preludes or warnings. Be prepared for wheelspin in third gear, for serious understeer under braking, and for all kinds of directional instability -- especially when lifting off the throttle at midcorner. It's about the wildest ride Porsche makes. Maybe it's a good thing [so few of these cars are built]. There's a limited number of people who can take this much excitement."
Maybe, yet the very existence of such extreme cars only testified anew to the amazing adaptability of the Porsche 911 concept, not to mention the skill of Porsche engineers.
Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:
|Porsche 356 ||Porsche 911 ||Porsche 914 |
|Porsche 924, 944, 968 ||Porsche 928||Porsche 959|
|Porsche Boxster||Porsche Cayenne||Porsche Cayman|
For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see:
- Porsche new cars
- Porsche used cars
- 2007 Porsche 911
- 1999-2006 Porsche 911
- 1995-1998 Porsche 911