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Porsche 911 History

2002-2004 Porsche 911 GT2

After a seven-year absence, the turbocharged GT2 coupe returned to the Porsche 911 lineup, premiering at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show as an early 2002 model. AutoWeek aptly described it as a cross between the 996-series Turbo and the recently departed GT3, but it was really the Turbo's "evil twin."

No all-wheel drive or Porsche Stability Management to keep you out of trouble. No rear seats, power front seats, power sunroof, or movable spoiler to add weight. Even the spare tire was ditched, replaced by a hopeless "repair kit" (a can of sealant and a puny air pump). Less sound insulation, too.

But as project manager Hartmut Kristen told Car and Driver: "The entire philosophy of this [GT2] is different from the Turbo's. It's for the driver who wants to be able to take his car to its absolute limits on his own."

Porsche 911
The GT2's twin-turbo G96 engine packed a serious punch. Here's a 2002 model.

That was evident from the specifications. Start with horsepower: up 41 to 456 at 5,700 rpm, making this the most potent production Porsche ever. Torque swelled to a 457-pound-foot wallop at 3,500-4,500 rpm, up 42 pound-feet. Credit a massaged twin-turbo G96 engine with recalibrated electronics and a boost bump from 12.1 psi to 14.3.

Helping the cause was a new high-flying rear wing with additional air ducts for the engine, plus larger front intakes for the front-mounted engine radiator and oil/water intercooler. Automatic transmission? Nein. Just a fortified version of the Turbo's six-speed manual, driving the rear wheels via a special "asymmetric" limited-slip differential.

The new GT2 weighed a whopping 220 pounds less than a 996 Turbo coupe, thanks in part to lightweight Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes as standard (with antilock control, of course). Suspension was uprated with racing springs that dropped ride height -- and thus center of gravity -- by 0.78-inch, and various adjustments (antiroll bars included) allow chassis tailoring for different venues. Wheels remained hollow-spoke alloys, but grew a half-inch wider in front and an inch broader in back. Respective tires sizes were 235/40R18 and 315/30R18.

Mindful of the GT2's higher top-speed potential, Porsche took special care with aerodynamics. This involved a longer, specifically shaped nose with a central "air relief" slot above. Air channeled from the fascia intakes through the front radiators, then through the slot and up over the hood, creating positive downforce while reducing underbody airflow by 60 percent versus the Turbo.

The strut-mounted rear spoiler was tuned to balance the front downforce, and its distinctive drooping wingtips allegedly enhanced stability, too. The wing could be tilted by one to six degrees, another fine-tuning provision for weekend racers.

Not surprisingly, the 996 GT2 was a mind-bending experience. Even jaded road-testers fumbled for words. "Without even half trying, said Motor Trend, it "devours available space. Surrounding traffic appears to be going backward. And that's just leaning into the beginnings of boost."

MT reported 0-60 mph at just 3.77 seconds, 0-100 at 8.91, and a standing quarter-mile of 12.09 seconds at nearly 120 mph. Road & Track got even better numbers, respectively clocking 3.6, 8.9, and 11.9 at 120.6 mph. AutoWeek confessed that "the feel of going that fast is so unlike any other street car...that the brain has to recalibrate everything."

But it wasn't all about straightline speed. "Grip is prodigious," Car and Driver found, "but even so, it's gratifyingly easy for the engine to overpower the tires if and when the driver desires, something that's not true of the Turbo." R&T, after skidpadding to an impressive 1.02g, declared the GT2 was "for only the most serious Porsche enthusiasts. This car is fast. This car is edgy. It's not practical, and it's not trying to be." Price was certainly serious at $179,900 to start. Then again, this was the latest "ultimate 911."

But only until 2004, when Porsche upped the "fear factor" by extracting another 21 SAE net horsepower, bringing the count to 477. Torque was unchanged, but there were minor tweaks to the suspension and brakes, plus restyled wheels (unchanged in size) and a few new trim bits.

Base price was more fearful at $191,700, though essentials like manual air conditioning, power windows, and keyless entry were still included. But Porsche was only picking a few last nits here, as the GT2 would again depart after 2004, awaiting rebirth as part of the new 997-series 911 family.

Production for the 996-series GT2 was 400 to 500 per year, with about 40 percent earmarked for the United States. Needless to say, each one will be a gilt-edged collector's item for just about forever.

But 911 fans are not easily satisfied, and a good many still longed for the greater driving "purity" of the late 993-series GT3. Well, how about a new and improved edition? Porsche would have one for 2004. First, though, it made some significant changes and additions among mainstream 911s.

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

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