Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2

Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2

Not all Porsches are created equal and not all Porsche buying experiences follow the same pattern. We catch up with Def Leppard guitarist, Vivian Campbell, and explore the story behind his personalised 2018 991 Gen II GT3...

Words Dan Furr

Photography Chris Wallbank

Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2

Buy with your head, not with your heart. That’s what we’re told, isn’t it? Well, yes, and this advice may well be easy enough to observe if you find yourself shopping for a car to serve simply as a means for getting from A to B, but unless you’re on the hunt for a Cayenne or Macan, it’s unlikely you’re buying a Porsche with a focus on the weekly shop, the school run or carting dogs for walkies. Porsches are more than lumps of metal to take care of commuting (although it should be noted, even the most mundane of motoring feels special in a Stuttgart-crested sports car). These machines have a spirit. They feel special. They get under your skin. As a consequence, it’s easy to dismiss the rules you’d apply to the purchase of a ‘regular’ car when buying a Porsche.


Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2


This applies even to those who have plenty of practice in the art of acquiring four-wheelers from Zuffenhausen. Take Def Leppard and Last in Line guitarist, Vivian Campbell, as a case in point. Across the course of the past few issues of 911 & Porsche World, we’ve showcased a selection of cars from his carefully curated collection, including his 1956 356 Type 1 coupe, 1958 356 Type 2 Speedster, 1967 911 S, 2004 996 GT3 RS, 2011 997 GT3 RS and his 2016 991 GT3 RS. He’s also the proud owner of a 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and has not only a Singer Vehicle Design 964 restoration in build, but also an Emory Motorsports 356 Outlaw due for completion in the coming months. All were considered purchases, and though the custom trim of his 2018 991 Gen II GT3 could well be described as a masterclass in restraint, the process of personalisation was very much driven by emotion.

Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2


“I remember the day vividly,” he tells us, fresh from the latest leg of Def Leppard’s current mammoth tour of the world’s stadiums. “It was 25th August 2017, my fifty-fifth birthday. The second-generation 991 GT3 had been unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show six months earlier. I was keen to secure a built slot, which I soon discovered was like pulling teeth unless you were prepared to pay crazy money above list price. Despite the fact I was living in Los Angeles, staff at Porsche Centre Columbus, Ohio, were hugely helpful and managed to get me a place in the queue. The only downside was the wait for the factory Paint to Sample window to open, something I was keen to exploit.”

Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2

An invitation to meet with Porsche Cars North America’s Vehicle Personalisation and Accessories Manager, Philip Mauney (now the company’s Senior Manager of Experimental Marketing), followed. The meet took place at Porsche Experience Centre Los Angeles and gave Viv the opportunity to not only look at a selection of Paint to Sample colours, but also to evaluate the custom interior options available for his new GT3.

“I knew I wanted the car finished in Irish Green,” he confirms, “but I hadn’t decided on any other elements of personalisation. Philip kindly spent the day showing me leather samples and discussing various options for individual equipment. My visit came hot on the heels of unwelcome personal news. This, coupled with the fact it was my birthday, encouraged me to throw caution to the wind and specify the car exactly as I wanted it, no compromise, and certainly no concern for the cost of extras.”

Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2

The bad news concerned Viv’s health. In March 2013, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, an uncommon form of blood cancer, where the body makes too many lymphocytes (white blood cells), causing the immune system to work inefficiently. According to Anthony Nolan, a registered charity established to save and improve the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders, around 2,100 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK every year. “I was quite naïve about my condition,” Viv admits. “I began a six-month course of chemotherapy and lost all my hair, but I reasoned this was the beginning and end of the situation. I reckoned I’d be able to return to normal life as soon as the treatment ended. My oncologist was less optimistic. He was right to exercise caution, as demonstrated when later scans revealed the lymphoma had returned.”


Another round of chemotherapy followed. “That didn’t work, either,” Viv sighs. “Consequently, I engaged in hardcore chemo in readiness for a stem cell transplant.” In short, the treatment involves replacing blood stem cells with new, healthy stem cells from a suitable donor. Thereafter, the new stem cells will attach to the patient’s bone marrow (a process referred to as engraftment) and start to make new blood cells. The success of a stem cell transplant is influenced by a variety of factors, including the patient’s general health, but due to today’s better understanding of what makes a good match, plus ongoing development of improved treatments, recipients are generally living longer than ever before.

Personalised 493bhp 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 991.2

As you’ve probably guessed, the bad news immediately preceding Viv’s visit to Porsche Centre Los Angeles concerned his stem cell transplant. “My doctors told me it hadn’t been successful,” he sighs. As a reaction to this bombshell, he was determined to tick a stack of boxes when it came to configuring his GT3. Consequently, the car was specified with extended leather, comprising sumptuous Mahogany hide for the lower dashboard, door handles, centre panel, seat bolsters and head rests, which are embossed with the Porsche crest. The door cards and rear quarter panels were optioned with a mix of Mahogany and soft black leather. The same treatment was lavished on the storage bin lid.

Irish Green was carried over from the exterior to various cabin components, including the air vent housings. The car’s carbon-fibre buckets, meanwhile, were specified with Pepita ‘houndstooth’ inserts. On each side of the body, the Porsche logo features in bright yellow lettering, sandwiched by light grey stripes. Rounding out the updates, the sill kick plates are finished in brushed aluminium and illuminate in a fetching shade of green (option 3630-76, fact fans).

“It took what seemed like forever for the car to arrive,” Viv recalls. In point of fact, despite being ordered in the summer of 2017, his GT3 ended up being a late 2018 build, delivered early 2019. Negative news concerning failure of the stem cell transplant obviously had him gagging to get behind the wheel, but notwithstanding huge demand for the 991 Gen II GT3, the Special Wishes options he’d selected lengthened the build timeline. The delay was, however, worth the wait. “Of all my Porsches, this is the car I’ll keep for as long as I’m alive,” he grins.

It’s easy to see why he’s so enthusiastic about the gorgeous green machine. Following on from the first-generation 991 GT3, the Gen II version received significant changes, allowing for a 9,000rpm redline from the GT3 R-derived four-litre flat-six, which generates a purposeful 493bhp and 339lb-ft torque in standard trim and delivers noticeably improved throttle response. The model’s rear wing is almost an inch taller than that of its predecessor and hangs further back, creating enhanced grip by way of what Porsche claims is a massive twenty percent increase in downforce.

Changes to the 991 Gen II GT3’s suspension were roundly celebrated by the motoring press, but the reintroduction of manual transmission (absent from the first-generation 991 GT3) excited 911 enthusiasts more than any other menu items. “In Los Angeles, a car like this is ideal for taking on empty canyon roads with long sight lines, which I enjoyed prior to relocating to New Hampshire,” Viv tells us. “Here on the eastern seaboard, my 911s are used almost exclusively on trackdays, not that I ordered my Irish Green GT3 with circuit action in mind — by the time of my meeting with Philip, I already owned a couple of Rennsports. That said, I’ve driven this GT3 at my local track and I’m pleased to have been able to match the lap times I set in my PDK-equipped firstgeneration 991 GT3 RS. Even so, I’d shed more tears if I had an accident in the GT3. For this reason, plus being acutely aware of the fact I push harder every time I take one of my cars to a track, I don’t anticipate punishing the GT3 any more than I already have.”

Doctors suggested aggressive radiation treatment as an available follow-on from the failed stem cell transplant, but Viv was far from eager. “Instead, I joined a trial for a then new experimental immunotherapy drug named pembrolizumab, now sold under the Keytruda brand. Designed to treat cancer of the lung, neck, head, stomach, breast and cervix, the drug also treats melanoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. I was an early candidate for trial. Thankfully, the treatment worked very well. I’m lucky insofar as my cancer was diagnosed early, meaning I haven’t been playing catch-up at any point while living with this condition — I’ve been able to manage the illness on my terms. Moreover, Hodgkin lymphoma is a form of cancer which tends to respond well to treatment. Be that as it may, I’ve been using Keytruda for a long time and it has begun to lose its efficacy. As a result, from November of last year to April of this year, I’ve been on a cocktail of pembrolizumab and chemotherapy.”

He has a fresh round of scans scheduled to take place not long after this issue of 911 & Porsche World goes to print. “The biggest problem has been how treatment interferes with my busy work schedule,” he continues, strikingly matter-of-fact about his situation. “I’m in two touring bands, both engaged in regular studio work. When I’m feeling tired or nauseous after chemotherapy, it can be difficult to do my job. Fortunately, for the most part, I’ve been able to schedule the treatment itself around tour dates, which has been hugely helpful.”

As the process of ordering his GT3 illustrates, cancer has given Viv a new outlook on life. “I remember how anxious I was buying my first Porsche,” he remembers, referencing the Grand Prix White 964 Carrera 2 he bought not long after joining Def Leppard in 1992. “It wasn’t a new 911, but I still considered it a car commanding a considerable sum of money. Having said that, the 964’s asking price was eclipsed by the cost of my first new 911, a purchase which made me very nervous. I also felt apprehensive when paying for my first Porsche GT car. Following the proverbial kick in the balls from news concerning my failed stem cell transplant, however, when it came to tailoring my Irish Green GT3 to personal preference, I was totally cavalier in my approach. I wanted this 911 to be perfect. To hell with the cost!”


Though the updates applied to the car are purely cosmetic — Viv’s Paint to Sample 997 GT3 3.8, on the other hand, features a wealth of engine and chassis upgrades courtesy of technicians at BBi Autosport in Huntington Beach, California — this is every inch an utterly awesome GT3. “I need to get out and find a selection of great driving roads where I now live,” he shrugs, acknowledging how all other 911s on his fast fleet are used hard at the track, but how the green machine’s future is to be played out on the public highway. “If I don’t, there’s a good chance I’m not going to be putting many miles on this Porsche. I’m fairly new to the area and heavy touring means I haven’t yet had the opportunity to go exploring.”

Def Leppard hits the road again in early August, continuing the band’s world tour with a string of dates across the USA before Viv teams up with his Last in Line bandmates and plays a series of rather more intimate shows throughout September. Audiences in Japan and Australia await the Leppard crew in November. In between, we hope Viv finds the time to stretch his GT3’s legs on New Hampshire’s rural twisties, although the green wide monster has stiff competition for his affections — his 996 GT3 RS, bought in 2021 but yet to be driven in anger, is now ready to roll following recent recommissioning at Seacoast Specialist Cars, the independent Porsche maintenance and repair shop showcased in last month’s issue of 911 & Porsche World. A 911 not homologated for sale in the United States, the 996 GT3 RS is seldom seen in this part of the world and therefore garners special attention. Of course, having the luxury of jumping between one amazing 911 and another is an enviable position to be in. Deciding which Porsche to take for a spin can therefore only be a matter of the heart.

Above Of all Viv’s 911s, this is the one he’ll never part with Facing page Special Wishes options include pairing Irish Green paintwork with gorgeous Mahogany leather, which is joined by Pepita bucket seat inserts

Above and below Viv is looking forward to exploration of New Hampshire’s many rural backroads.

Above Driving his GT3, Viv has matched the lap times he set with his PDK-equipped 991 GT3 RS.

Below On stage with Def Leppard in Mexico City earlier this year

Facing page Viv took delivery of his personalised GT3 in 2019, despite placing his order in 2017

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