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Test drove a GT3 - what else do I need to know?


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Today was a strange day. Until now the only Porsche I had driven was a 964. Today I test drove the 997S and the 996GT3 and it took all of my self control not to make the most expensive decision of my life so far on the spot...

The 997 was a great car and I loved it, then I tried the GT3 (04 model) and frankly I still have the same stupid grin on my face 9 hours later and my old car (of over 9 years - a BMW) felt utterly wrong when I went to drive it home. I guess you guys already know how that feels.

Anyway, before I decide whether or not to take the plunge I wanted to get some thoughts from those who (i) live with these cars day to day and (ii) don't have any vested interest in selling me anything.

Firstly Ceramic brakes - good idea or not. The car that I am thinking of buying has these and my main consideration is : if I wear them out/kill them/damage them then they seem to be pricey items to replace. Does anyone know exactly how much a pair of PCCB disks cost (in the UK), and whether I am even likely to wear them out and need to replace them (car has 12000mi so far. I do plan occasional light track use in the future but not a huge amount of it, and I only cover at most 5k miles a year of normal driving. Car is from a Porsche UK dealer). If I did need to replace them, how practical an option would it be to replace with steel? Or are they really as great as my dealer would have me believe, likely to last me another umpteen thousand miles and I am just being paranoid?

Next ground clearance - how much of a consideration. Seemed okay to me when out driving, but it does look very low on the road. Does anyone have any torrid stories about "traffic calming" features or car parks with GT3s? Can you safely clear any size of sleeping policemen (for non-UK readers who may not be familiar, these are large humps that local councils install on roads to encourage parents to buy SUVs for the school run and create extra business for the shock absorber business) without worrying about anything? Is there anything to worry about with multi-story car parks or anything like that?

Finally - how are they to live with? This would be my only car (though I could borrow something with 4 doors on exceptional circumstances) but I don't drive to get to work (foot, train and underground) so we are talking about every other day use at most - generally short hops with occasional road trips. A more specific question is how far can you drive in the bucket seats comfortably? I have slight reservations about them, and my dealer has said they will swap them for conventional sports seats if it is a deal breaker. Is that something I should consider or does everything think they are fine for driving a couple of hundred miles at a stretch...

Just trying to play devils advocate with myself - what does everyone think. Is a GT3 a day to day car or should I be looking more directly at the 997S?

Thanks for any comments.

Colin

:rolleyes:

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1st. Go with the car that gave you the stupid grin - that's the emotion you'll capture every time you're out.

2nd. Ceramic brakes are probably overkill for a car predominantly used on the street. One of the car magazines here in the US had a 996 C4S as a long term test car - they had 40,000 miles on it when they turned it back in to Porsche - they looked at brake wear on a normal set of iron rotors - the result was that the brakes would have lasted to about 80,000 miles..........under normal driving conditions. If the car has ceramics on already, you pretty much have a bullet proof braking system for the life of your car

3rd. Ground clearance can be an issue regardless of which model - the published clearance is around 4.3" - so not much to play with in either car.

4th. As for day to day, many scribes in automotive circles rate any 911 as the everyday supercar. The GT3 has a different engine to the 997S - it essentially has the Turbo engine - minus the turbos, and a few other things - but the engine architecture is the same. Lighter rods in the GT3 to enable it to rev to higher limits than the 997/S engine. There have been Rear Main Seal (RMS) leaks as an issue on 996 and 997 cars - which has not been an issue with the GT3/Turbo engine.

With regard to the seats - it is totally up to you - your back and bum will steer you to the right decision.

Good Luck!

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I have owned a 2004 GT3 since November 2003. I still have the same grin on my face every time I sink into the drivers seat (which is every day since I use it as may every day driver). I have owned Porches for the past 25 years and can positively say that no other model has even come close to the 996 GT3.

1. I cannot comment on the Ceramic Brakes as my car has the standard steel set up.

2. The ground clearance is tight but perfectly manageable on city roads. I must admit to having scraped the rubber lip a few times in the early days, but some very fine sandpaper and Armorall soon repairs the damage. The road humps in Dallas are no problem as long as they are taken slowly. The same can be said about parking lot entrances but if you are worried I would do the practical thing and take another test drive which includes the daily obstacles.

3. The GT3 has given me no trouble at all other than having to replace the rear tires every 6-7,000 miles (a direct result of a heavy foot and a function of exhilaration). I cannot imagine that you will drive the car every other day. It will suck you in!

Good luck mate.

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I've owned my '04 GT3 since July 04 and drive it every day (21K miles now). I, too, get that grin every day when driving to and from work, and on the several long trips I've made. Tires do wear out quickly (why? remember that grin??) but seem a small price to pay for the fun. I've replaced the chin spoiler/splitter once after the original finally hit too many driveways and parking curbs. As for PCCBs, volumes have been written here and on rennlist.com. My opinion is that for street and autocross usage they are fine, and when they do wear out it is straightforward to replace with stee.

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GT3. An incredible car you just can't go wrong with. As for the ceramic brakes, they don't really reduce your stopping distance, but can provide reduction in fading for the days they are heavily used (track days). Save your money and get something else. As for the seats, I have the upgraded Sports Seats with lumbar this and that, they're nice. But I'm 6'2'' 220 and no fat with broad shoulders and they make me feel a little cramped. Try them out and don't be sold on what the dealer tells you, trust your instincts and the people on forums like this that own the cars and drive them day in and day out. I have a 997S Cab that I wouldn't trade for anything. Go for the car that stirs your soul!!!

Edited by happy911
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Today was a strange day. Until now the only Porsche I had driven was a 964. Today I test drove the 997S and the 996GT3 and it took all of my self control not to make the most expensive decision of my life so far on the spot...

The 997 was a great car and I loved it, then I tried the GT3 (04 model) and frankly I still have the same stupid grin on my face 9 hours later and my old car (of over 9 years - a BMW) felt utterly wrong when I went to drive it home. I guess you guys already know how that feels.

Anyway, before I decide whether or not to take the plunge I wanted to get some thoughts from those who (i) live with these cars day to day and (ii) don't have any vested interest in selling me anything.

Firstly Ceramic brakes - good idea or not. The car that I am thinking of buying has these and my main consideration is : if I wear them out/kill them/damage them then they seem to be pricey items to replace. Does anyone know exactly how much a pair of PCCB disks cost (in the UK), and whether I am even likely to wear them out and need to replace them (car has 12000mi so far. I do plan occasional light track use in the future but not a huge amount of it, and I only cover at most 5k miles a year of normal driving. Car is from a Porsche UK dealer). If I did need to replace them, how practical an option would it be to replace with steel? Or are they really as great as my dealer would have me believe, likely to last me another umpteen thousand miles and I am just being paranoid?

Next ground clearance - how much of a consideration. Seemed okay to me when out driving, but it does look very low on the road. Does anyone have any torrid stories about "traffic calming" features or car parks with GT3s? Can you safely clear any size of sleeping policemen (for non-UK readers who may not be familiar, these are large humps that local councils install on roads to encourage parents to buy SUVs for the school run and create extra business for the shock absorber business) without worrying about anything? Is there anything to worry about with multi-story car parks or anything like that?

Finally - how are they to live with? This would be my only car (though I could borrow something with 4 doors on exceptional circumstances) but I don't drive to get to work (foot, train and underground) so we are talking about every other day use at most - generally short hops with occasional road trips. A more specific question is how far can you drive in the bucket seats comfortably? I have slight reservations about them, and my dealer has said they will swap them for conventional sports seats if it is a deal breaker. Is that something I should consider or does everything think they are fine for driving a couple of hundred miles at a stretch...

Just trying to play devils advocate with myself - what does everyone think. Is a GT3 a day to day car or should I be looking more directly at the 997S?

Thanks for any comments.

Colin

:rolleyes:

Colin,

I just came back from taking my '04 GT3 out and I still have that Grin on! Like the others that have commented I have owned my GT3 for awhile (Sept. '04) and love it. I do use it almost as a daily driver and there is no problem with ground clearance or driving. The only challenge is not to race every van and neon that thinks they can keep up with you. I have been in PCA for about 20 years and have owned 8 different Porsches. This is the best and the last one.

Good luck with a great car.

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  • 1 month later...
Today was a strange day. Until now the only Porsche I had driven was a 964. Today I test drove the 997S and the 996GT3 and it took all of my self control not to make the most expensive decision of my life so far on the spot...

The 997 was a great car and I loved it, then I tried the GT3 (04 model) and frankly I still have the same stupid grin on my face 9 hours later and my old car (of over 9 years - a BMW) felt utterly wrong when I went to drive it home. I guess you guys already know how that feels.

Anyway, before I decide whether or not to take the plunge I wanted to get some thoughts from those who (i) live with these cars day to day and (ii) don't have any vested interest in selling me anything.

Firstly Ceramic brakes - good idea or not. The car that I am thinking of buying has these and my main consideration is : if I wear them out/kill them/damage them then they seem to be pricey items to replace. Does anyone know exactly how much a pair of PCCB disks cost (in the UK), and whether I am even likely to wear them out and need to replace them (car has 12000mi so far. I do plan occasional light track use in the future but not a huge amount of it, and I only cover at most 5k miles a year of normal driving. Car is from a Porsche UK dealer). If I did need to replace them, how practical an option would it be to replace with steel? Or are they really as great as my dealer would have me believe, likely to last me another umpteen thousand miles and I am just being paranoid?

Next ground clearance - how much of a consideration. Seemed okay to me when out driving, but it does look very low on the road. Does anyone have any torrid stories about "traffic calming" features or car parks with GT3s? Can you safely clear any size of sleeping policemen (for non-UK readers who may not be familiar, these are large humps that local councils install on roads to encourage parents to buy SUVs for the school run and create extra business for the shock absorber business) without worrying about anything? Is there anything to worry about with multi-story car parks or anything like that?

Finally - how are they to live with? This would be my only car (though I could borrow something with 4 doors on exceptional circumstances) but I don't drive to get to work (foot, train and underground) so we are talking about every other day use at most - generally short hops with occasional road trips. A more specific question is how far can you drive in the bucket seats comfortably? I have slight reservations about them, and my dealer has said they will swap them for conventional sports seats if it is a deal breaker. Is that something I should consider or does everything think they are fine for driving a couple of hundred miles at a stretch...

Just trying to play devils advocate with myself - what does everyone think. Is a GT3 a day to day car or should I be looking more directly at the 997S?

Thanks for any comments.

Colin

:rolleyes:

Colin, Did you get the GT3?

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Colin, Did you get the GT3?

Sadly not :(

I didn't want to buy sight unseen (shouldn't be an issue with a dealer car I guess, but I had only driven a car with the Comfort spec [i.e. basic Porsche sports seats] and I wanted to be sure that the buckets would fit me before committing to buy - reserving the car would have taken a £2k NON-Returnable deposit). However someone else did a couple of days later while I was considering it, so it was sold by Porsche UK before it was even prepared to be sent out to the dealership.

Which leaves me in something of a quandry. I asked my dealer if they could get a car in from either the pipeline or another dealer (as I understand it, UK dealers are all owned by Porsche UK - they aren't independents like in the US). They said they would try and get something in and get back to me. That was over a month ago - I have had a little contact (there was another GT3 going through the pipe that they said they would try and get, but the Porsche car search on the web shows that car now at another dealer somewhat further out), but as far as I can tell they aren't going to make much effort unless I want to buy something without seeing it. This may well be how they operate over here, but I cannot say it leaves me as comfortable as I should be to spend what to me is a somewhat less than trival amount of money on a used car (over £60k).

As far as I can tell, I need another dealer :(

According to the Porsche search and autotrader, my best options are currently in the North: a 350 mile round trip just to look at a car. There is another possibility (less ideal spec, price and mileage, but not out of the question) in London - closer but possibly the most car hostile place for a test drive I could think of. I have been a bit tied up with other things of late, but hope to be getting my arse in gear to go long distance shopping soon... The thought does occur that if I hadn't fallen for the GT3 and opted for a brand new 997S I would have got it next month - at this rate less time than a used GT3.

And I thought this would be quick and easy :(

Colin

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Wait for the 997 based GT3. More power, better interior in suede and more aggresive looks.

I did think about that. A lot. And given how much hassel I am having getting a 996 I am still considering it, but there are three obstacles I am struggling to get past. (i) I would have to wait over a year for it. (ii) It is a substantial slice of cash for something I haven't even seen in the metal, much less had a chance to drive. (iii) Given the second point, I am having serious trouble getting past the fact that a sensibly specified 997GT3 is the cost of a brand new Lexus (IS admittedly) _more_ than a 2 year old 996.

It is a big gamble - active dampers, variable ratio steering and stability control are going to make it drive a whole lot different (the difference in steering feel for a normal 997 vs 996 is way more than I expected, though it is less tiring to drive as a consequence so who knows which will be better. Walter Rohr does, but he will be biased :) ). Also, the ground clearance looks so low it my be an issue driving in my speed hump riddled locale. Waiting until I could test one would mean August, so with the waiting list that would make it the end of Next year before I would have it on my drive...

So I am leaning away from it, though feel free to try to change my mind.

Colin

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Wait for the 997 based GT3. More power, better interior in suede and more aggresive looks.

I did think about that. A lot. And given how much hassel I am having getting a 996 I am still considering it, but there are three obstacles I am struggling to get past. (i) I would have to wait over a year for it. (ii) It is a substantial slice of cash for something I haven't even seen in the metal, much less had a chance to drive. (iii) Given the second point, I am having serious trouble getting past the fact that a sensibly specified 997GT3 is the cost of a brand new Lexus (IS admittedly) _more_ than a 2 year old 996.

It is a big gamble - active dampers, variable ratio steering and stability control are going to make it drive a whole lot different (the difference in steering feel for a normal 997 vs 996 is way more than I expected, though it is less tiring to drive as a consequence so who knows which will be better. Walter Rohr does, but he will be biased :) ). Also, the ground clearance looks so low it my be an issue driving in my speed hump riddled locale. Waiting until I could test one would mean August, so with the waiting list that would make it the end of Next year before I would have it on my drive...

So I am leaning away from it, though feel free to try to change my mind.

Colin

Colin,

I have not bought a 911 without driving it first. The dealer let me take my current GT3 for as long as I needed. So your point of seeing it and driving it is valid. If I did not have the 996 GT3 I would be looking seriouly at the 997s. Good luck and let us know.

Regards,

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  • 3 weeks later...
Good luck and let us know.

I have just got back from a test drive at another dealer (over 50 miles away) where I put a deposit down on an August 04 GT3. Black with leather bucket seats with embossed crests, Xenon lights, 6300 miles. I'll be picking it up in about a week or so...

Suffice to say: can't wait.

:jump:

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts, encouragement and advice.

Colin

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

congrats colin a mint looking car. I know theres always the turbo and the gt3 camp and I am swaying towards the gt3 albeit i have driven a 996 turbo and that was one grin i couldnt get rid of for a day. Has anyone taken a gt3 and a TT for a test and what were your impressions..... this is the 996 model

on another note:

I have just received notification that we will be getting about 50 - 60 GT3's here in Australia by August....

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  • 2 months later...
Colin:

Nice - very nice GT3.... someday I'll upgrade from my Boxster 987.... to a Turbo Convertible :-)

Bapcha

Congrats Colin!

The grin you talked about is an everyday thing with me. I noticed a lot of people debating between the GT3 and the Turbo. I used to own a 996 Turbo and as much as I LOVED that car, I can't live without my GT3. The difference is that althought the Turbo has a higher max horsepower rating, that horsepower is NOT available to you at all times. Even though the 997 TT is supposed to have a "preload" feature on the turbo that makes more power available without the turbo "lag", ALL 380 of the GT3's horses are ready to rock and roll as soon as you even THINK about going.

If you are a driving enthusiast, (club racer), the feel of the GT3 is the same as in the CUP racecar. You can practice your "heel toe" techniques and really get the feel of driving the race version. After I bought my GT3, I imagined that the ride would be too uncomfortable for everyday use on the parking lots (freeways) of Los Angeles, but the sheer, unadulterated, childish glee that comes from hitting triple digits (in third gear) on a freeway onramp outweighs any negative thoughts about it.

Oh, and the sound of 8000 rpm is like nothing you will ever experience in a turbo. Naturally, there is absolutely no comparison on the track. The GT3 is already a track car and will absolutely bury any Turbo in anything but a straight line. On most road circuits, the GT3 will be so far ahead of the turbo through the turns that by the time you both get to the straightaways, the turbo will be too far behind to catch up.

My best friend calls my GT3 the "smile-maker," because whenever I have had a bad day, I get into that car and end up smiling. On the negative side, the differential does make a very distrurbing sound at slow speeds (while turning) and the brakes squeal like stuck pigs. On those occassions when you want to listen to the stock radio, you better be in the parking lot (otherwise you won't hear it) and, of course, forget about talking on the cell phone. When I consider the negatives, all I can say is, "who the heck cares?!" HOW DARE ANYONE call me on the phone while I'm in the GT3!

All you have to do to forget the negatives is get on a semi-clear freeway, get it up to 75, downshift into third and stomp on the gas. Third will take you to 110 or 115 and then shift to fourth--by the time your brain registers the stupidity of what you're doing, you'll be doing 140! For those with a higher stupidity tolerance, fifth gear will take you somewhere so ridiculous that I can only guess (my "stupidity cut-off" switch kicks in at about 140--so I've never been there). I haven't felt acceleration like that since I flew supersonic jets in the Air Force. My turbo was fast, but it wasn't ridiculous. The GT3 is absolutely and positively RIDICULOUS. They should be outlawed!

Hey Colin, if you can stop grinning long enough, tell us what you REALLY think!

MB

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Hey Colin, if you can stop grinning long enough, tell us what you REALLY think!

The problem is that even now, several months down the line, thinking about driving the toy causes me to start to smirk. However, having lived with it for a while I can now offer a broader perspective. Not least because I am far too familiar with your comments about third gear (pulls on to bypass - NO other cars - result! Hold second, hold third, into 4th, check speedo - realise that you go to jail for less over here - and slow right back down to 85, hook 6th, calm down). Euphoirc feeling of adrenaline, rebellion, guilt and having got away with it then follows. After you stop, the enormous stupidity of what you just did registers and you wonder if the fact that you don't care [because the road was clear] makes you a bad person... :-)

The downsides for me are speed bumps (walking pace only), the occasional crunching noise as the front lip grounds out entering car parks, etc... and the fact that I have a very unhealthy addiction to the soundtrack when you put your foot down. I will be honest and say that I have had a couple of near misses when I simply didn't realise how much speed I had picked up - the brakes were thankfully just good enough. Remember that my last car had less than a third of the power - it is a dangerously steep curve, but I am getting there.

The cornering, however, is utterly sublime. There is nothing more certain to provoke a stupid cheesy grin than throwing it round a roundabout at over 50..... :-) [though only the ones that you can see over naturally].

One day I will grow up, but I think it has been set back about a decade...

Colin

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