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The Last Mezger: The 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0

While the IMS bearing looms over every 996-gen Porsche 911, two models escape it. One is the 996 Turbo, and the other is the non-US 996 GT3 RS. That’s because both of these cars’ powerplants have elements derived from Hans Mezger’s legendary Porsche racing engines. Sadly, he passed away in June 2020, having retired from the company in the early 90s. But as the ‘Mezger’ 996 models demonstrate, his ideas lingered in the sports car for decades. And they culminated in the 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0.

The 2011-2012 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 is more than a larger engine

The GT3 and GT3 RS models often serve as capstones for a particular Porsche 911 generation. Or at least part of a generation.

A gray 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS on a track
2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS | Porsche

For the 997.2-gen car, this capstone is the second GT3 RS model to make it to the US: the 2010-2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Automobile reports. Except it’s not. The 2011-2012 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 is the real swan song, both for the 997, and the Mezger engine, MotorTrend explains.

The rear 3/4 view of a white 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 on a track
2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 rear 3/4 | Porsche

Naturally, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0’s main draw is that engine. The ‘regular’ 997 GT3 RS has a 3.8-liter flat-6 rated at 450 hp and 317 lb-ft, Road & Track reports. But as its name suggests, the RS 4.0 has a 4.0-liter flat-6 rated at 500 hp and 339 lb-ft, thanks to parts borrowed from the RSR race car. It also redlines at 8500 RPM and sends power to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual. But the extra displacement and power aren’t the only things different about the 997 911 GT3 RS 4.0.

The RS 4.0 is wider and lower than the standard 997 GT3 RS, Roadshow reports. It has a different rear wing, a center-exit exhaust, and front-mounted dive planes; all to make more downforce. The 4.0 is also 22 pounds lighter than the 3.8 model, thanks to carbon-fiber bucket seats, front fenders, and front trunk lid, MT reports. Also, lighter carpets.

The 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0's red-and-black seats, white roll cage, and black dash
2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 interior | Porsche

European buyers could spec plastic rear windows to save additional weight, R&T reports, and a roll cage. US customers couldn’t, but they could get a lighter lithium-ion battery, Car and Driver reports.

The 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 might be “the best” Porsche GT car, MotorTrend says

The standard 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is already an excellent car, R&T reports. The single-mass flywheel means you have to shift quickly to keep the revs from dropping. But it handles extremely well, with a sharp front end and excellent steering. So, how does the GT3 RS 4.0 compare?

A white 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0
2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 | Porsche

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“Fundamentally,” R&T reports, it’s a grippier, faster, and more powerful version of the regular 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. And it shares the same 3.8-second 0-60 mph time. But that’s not the whole story. Especially because all those tweaks mean it’s six seconds faster around the Nürburgring, Excellence reports.

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MotorTrend, along with several other publications, recently spent some time with several Porsche 911 GT cars. And it ranked the GT3 RS 4.0 as the best of them, even over the 911 R. The steering is “perfect,” the transmission is extremely satisfying to shift, the brakes are “unflappable,” and there’s that “masterpiece of a screaming engine.” This is not a commuter car, Car and Driver reports. It’s a track car, pure and simple, one that demands a lot of its driver, but rewards them equally.

A fitting tribute to a racing engine designer.

It’s extremely collectible

Unfortunately, the 997 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 is the rarest of the modern Porsche 911 GT models. Porsche made just 600 examples, with 126 earmarked for the US, Car and Driver reports. And depreciate is the last thing they’ve done over the years.

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Originally, the 2011-2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 started at $185,950. Today, the car has more than doubled in value. $500,000 asking prices aren’t unusual, R&T reports. In August 2019 a 2011 example went for $665,000 at an RM Sotheby’s auction. In comparison, regular 997 GT3 and GT3 RS hover around $150,000 on Bring a Trailer.

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