How Did the Porsche 911 GT3 Get Its Name?

Porsche 911 GT3 history article highlights:

  • The Porsche 911 GT3 was originally a homologation car for the company’s GT3 race car, hence the name
  • Although it’s no longer a homologation race car, it still offers a racecar-like experience and features
  • A new 911 GT3 starts at $170K, while even the cheapest used ones cost around $100K

Getting the keys to any Porsche 911 is a major occasion. But even within this rarified sports car family, there’s one member that stands out: the 911 GT3. Whether it’s the ‘standard’ version, the road-oriented Touring, or the hardcore RS, the GT3 seemingly reigns supreme in the Porsche 911 line. At least as far as fanbase devotion is concerned. And that has to do with how it earned its name.

The Porsche 911 GT3 is inspired and driven by racing

Porsche’s history is full of racing, and it sprinkles references through its lineup. Sometimes, the references are limited-edition trims with historic liveries. Often, though, the racing tie-ins are straight-up product names. The base 911, the Carrera, is named after the Carrera Panamerican race, for example. And while the Porsche 911 GT3 isn’t named after a specific race, it is named after a specific kind of racing.

If you think race cars are too far removed from road cars, GT sports car racing might be for you. Although GT racers aren’t street-legal, they are based on road-going cars. And the ones that race in the most popular class, GT3, come closest to their street-legal cousins. This brings us back to the 911 GT3.

In the late 1990s, Porsche wanted to enter the contemporary 996-gen 911 in the GT3 class. But before it could legally race, Porsche had to sell some roadgoing homologation cars with similar features. In the first-gen model’s case, they included sportier suspension, shorter gear ratios, and a Mezger-designed flat-six with lighter internals and the 911 GT1’s dry-sump lubrication system. And because Porsche is nothing if not logical with its titles, it named this GT3-inspired 911…the 911 GT3.

Initially, Porsche didn’t think it would sell enough 996.1 911 GT3s to meet the minimum 500-unit requirement. However, it ended up selling 1856 of them. Then, when the 996.2 version debuted—because the GT3 RSR racer needed some updates—it, too, sold like an iPhone made from hotcakes. And by the time the 997 version came out, the ‘race car for the road’ GT3 had firmly cemented itself as a Porsche icon.

It’s not the fastest Porsche, but it is the purest

A blue 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 driving down a desert canyon road
2022 Porsche 911 GT3 | Porsche

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These days, the Porsche 911 GT3 doesn’t need to be a homologation car. However, its design is still inspired by racing. As Porsche GT car director Andreas Preuninger told Road & Track, “’The core mission of the GT3 is to deliver impressive track performance and, perhaps more importantly, to thrill drivers on any road, and reward them with an engaging, characterful, and unique experience.’

 In theory, any GT3 owner could take their car to the track and set a competitive time while having a blast and then go home. All in the same car, by the way. And because of this race-car-like ethos, the 2022 GT3 stands even further apart from its Porsche 911 siblings.

Firstly, the 2022 911 GT3 is the only modern 911 without a turbocharged engine. Instead, like all GT3s before it, it has a naturally-aspirated flat-six with a sky-high redline and genuine racing technology. Secondly, while it’s not the only 2022 911 with a manual, it’s the only one with a six-speed rather than a seven-speed one. Furthermore, its six-speed manual isn’t just the seven-speed one with one less gear: it’s actually derived from the 911 R’s transmission.

In addition, although it doesn’t legalize a race car, the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 does have race car parts. Besides the engine components, the latest GT3 has completely different front suspension than the standard 911, which it gets from the 911 RSR racer. It also has standard rear-wheel steering as well as the first functional rear diffuser ever on a roadgoing 911. And not many road cars have swan-neck rear wings.

The 2022 911 GT3 is not the fastest Porsche 911 or the most expensive. Both honors go to the Turbo S. But the Turbo S isn’t “the heart of the brand,” R&T notes. That’s the GT3, the zingiest, most focused, most special of the 911s. It’s not a race car, but it feels like one. And it makes you feel like every drive is a victory.

How much is a Porsche 911 GT3 worth?

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Predictably, the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 still isn’t cheap. Whether you go for the winged version or the subtler Touring, prices start at $169,700. And while official GT3 RS pricing isn’t available as of this writing, it likely starts at roughly $200,000.

Used GT3s, though, are almost depreciation-proof, especially the rare 997 GT3 RS 4.0. Admittedly, you can still find solid 996-gen cars for around $80,000-$90,000. However, even the cheapest 997-gen examples start at roughly $120,000 these days. And if you want a manual 991 GT3, you’ll pay close to $200,000.

That’s the price of a race car for the road, I guess.

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