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Porsche 911 996 GT2 - The Neglected Second Album

Who doesn’t like sequels? In 2017 we’ll be watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers Infinity War, and Star Wars Episode VIII. Every few months friends, family, and coworkers gathered around a lunch table will have a neat topic of discussion for about an hour. That is, before they get back to their phone life. In those fleeting moments of shared interest we all agree it was worth our money and our time. $10 well spent.

But of course - it wasn’t always like this. Especially not in the early 2000’s. Some highly anticipated sequels have left us sorely disappointed, questioning why we even bothered going in the first place. With movies like The Matrix Reloaded fans found themselves polarized on its merits. On one hand it’s a technical marvel. Action sequences featured long cuts, fluid choreography, and slick visual effects. Parts like Agent Smith jumping from car to car on the highway showcased a welcome evolution in filmmaking for the new millennium. On the other hand its story and dialogue were chastised for its confusing direction and script. The disappointed half of the original Matrix fans grew weary of the characters and their constant need to deliver universe shattering philosophy. A movie that leaves people wondering if this was something they should even enjoy.

2003 Porsche 911 996 GT2

And that’s where the Porsche 911 996 sits. A flagship coupe built between 1998 to 2004 that lays at the bottom rung of resale values. At first glance this seems unfair. Especially considering its capabilities over its predecessor. This one is lighter, faster, easier to drive, and more capable of repeated track runs. It also generates less emissions despite making the same amount of power. But in doing so it became bulbous, ugly, and produces a worse engine note. Like the Matrix sequel, the 996 had technical prowess but it lacked the parts that made it special.

So what would happen if Porsche gave the 911 a GT2 treatment a second time?

Well, for the low price of $179,000 (~$244,000 today) you get basically the same kind of kit as the first one. Built from 2002-2005 the Porsche 911 996 GT2 is - again - based on the 911 Turbo platform. Under the hood is a beefed up 3.6-liter twin turbo flat six pushing out 456 hp @ 5,700 and 457 lb-ft of torque. 41 more horses than the Turbo. And like the 993 GT2 this one is also rear wheel drive only though it’s not built for race requirements.

The go-faster list goes on with variable camshaft timing, dry sump lubrication, improved aerodynamics, and an added air scoop at the base of a larger fixed rear wing. Keeping the car in check is an adjustable anti-roll bar, ceramic composite brakes, and wide 315/30 section rear tires. In true GT2 fashion this car only comes with a 6-speed manual option.

To keep pushing the boundaries of speed Porsche put the 911 on an intense workout program to reduce its overall weight by 220 lbs (99 kg) leaving a slim figured machine. However, it should be noted that most of the poundage left with the front wheel drive portion of the drivetrain. According to Porsche the 911 GT2 reaches 60 mph in four seconds and has a top speed of 195 mph (315 kmh). And thankfully this time Porsche remembered that people do occasionally need to drive these cars so its interior has leather covered seats, air conditioning, and a radio. Much better than the spartan desert provided in the 993 GT2.

Out on the road the 911 GT2 drives the same as the 993, if not a bit more docile. Even with wide tires and improved downforce the GT2 still easily overpowers its rear end grip causing panic, fear, and oversteer. Its clutch is heavy but manageable and clever engineering of the turbos results in a smooth power band all the way up to its 6,750 rpm redline. So it still wants to kill you, but not as hard as the older Porsches.

And for a short time that was fine. Car & Driver and Motortrend both found it to be an exciting new notch on the Porsche bloc. It was, after all, the fastest road going car they had ever built.

Until the Carrera GT came along. With this, not-even-as-limited-supercar for 2.4x the price of the GT2 you got a specially designed V10 engine, mid engine layout, gorgeously crafted bodywork, an exhaust note that will receive you in heaven, and an exquisitely designed interior. It also came out as a surprise in 2003, giving the 996 GT2 one year to enjoy its time in the limelight.

With the 911 996 GT2 there is no happy ending. Previous attempts to auction clean examples of the GT2 have ended in a failure to be sold. The ones that do get sold only end up in the range of $150,000. That may sound like a lot but for a race-spec limited edition Porsche made in quantities of less than 127 in right hand drive configuration that kind of price is quite low. It’s especially low considering how a 993 GT2 can go for $500,000-2 million and the Carrera GT usually sells for $700,000-$800,000.

So maybe people just weren’t ready for another sequel like the 996 GT2. Or maybe all the car design talent was preoccupied with the Carrera GT. Or maybe they were all working on the 996 GT3 RS instead. In any case, those who have the money could easily get their hands on one of the rarest Porsches ever built but they choose to spend it elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s a good thing. Not every car company can always make legendary hits. This is just the one to show the contrast. There’s still a chance this car might come back as a sleeper hit but for now it’ll collect dust in the memory of Porsche fans. Unappreciated. The neglected second album.


All photos by Tom Wood ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's