Porsche 911 GT2 996.2
A ferocious performer, the 996 GT2 is a blistering 911 that still flies relatively under the radar. Total 911 presents your complete guide to buying one
Written by Kieron Fennelly
Photography by Ali Cusick
Porsche Turbos have an illustrious record in motorsport. The 934 and 935 dominated sports car racing in the 1970s and when Group C took over from Groups 4 and 5 in the 1980s, Porsche’s 956/962 ruled the roost until the factory withdrew after six victorious seasons. A new category, the BPR championship, revived GT racing that had been in danger of fading out. Once again Porsche fielded a works model initially based on the 964 RS – the RSR – but for the 1995 season the factory entered the GT2 class with a turbocharged racer based on the new 993 Turbo, converted from all-wheel to rear drive. Some 240 road-going versions of the 993 GT2 were built.
Despite 600bhp, the competition GT2s didn’t achieve the dominance of their predecessors in the face of increasingly competitive midengine rivals.When the 996 replaced the 993, Weissach elected to switch its motorsport focus to the GT3 category This had the advantage of being substantially cheaper, which would attract more customers. It was also an imaginative way of maintaining a competitive presence on the much-reduced motorsport, severely pruned by Wiedeking to pay for Cayenne development costs. After some brief testing at the Nьrburgring, Porsche knew that a 996 GT2 wouldn’t be fast enough against more agile Ferraris or thundering seven- and eight-litre Corvette Vipers. Series production of the 996 GT2 would nonetheless go ahead because, as Porsche put it, there was always a demand for an even faster 911 Turbo.
Five hundred-plus horsepower 911 Turbo offerings from both Ruf and TechArt also suggested the tuning fraternity was ready to oblige if Porsche did not and naturally, Weissach would hardly turn down this challenge. Launched to the press near Venice in February 2001, the GT2 was differentiated visually from the Turbo by its deeper, purposeful-looking front splitter and bonnet vent panel; a Clubsport cabin as on the GT3 was a no cost option. Under the engine cover, a larger intercooler and turbochargers, and a bespoke air-induction system contributed to an output of 462PS and 457lb/ft, which rose to 482PS and 472lb/ft on the Gen2 car in 2003. The GT2 kept the Turbo’s 9.4:1 compression ratio, used the GT3’s shortshift manual gearbox and was rear drive only. Its throttle was manually actuated, dispensing with the Turbo’s fly-by-wire control, and Porsche’s new ceramic brakes were fitted, but beyond ABS and a limited slip differential the GT2 had no PSM or traction control. This approach left a remarkable level of responsibility in the hands of the driver. The GT2 was all about performance and Porsche used Auto Motor & Sport’s 317kph (196mph) to proclaim this was its fastest production car yet.
Autocar found the 996 Turbo was 0.1 second quicker to 60mph thanks to its better traction, but from that point on the GT2, weighing 110kg less and packing 50 more horses, streaked away.Testers discovered that so colossal was the GT2’s torque that traction of the 315 section rear tyres was easy to break even on dry roads. Such was the ferocity of acceleration that Car & Driver advised drivers to think before using anything like full throttle during overtaking.
The GT2 handling surprised and disappointed the magazines. In the absence of electronic safeguards, to offset the classic 911 tendency to oversteer (exacerbated here by the GT2’s immense power), Porsche appeared to have configured the GT2 to understeer. This was not to the taste of serious racers such as Steve Sutcliffe in particular: understeer on the wet Italian roads of the press launch that he attended for Autocar was worrying. Ride quality was also odd, being neither very firmnor especially compliant.
Autocar thought that the relatively soft rear suspension was an attempt by Porsche to make the GT2 a car for all seasons. However, for some testers the 996 felt strangely uncontrolled through fast sweeping bends. The hydraulic steering also seemed to have been muted to reduce feedback and the overall result was a model which, in Karl Ludvigsen’s words, was as schizophrenic as any car Porsche had offered. The GT2 was originally created with competition in mind, but finally turned out, it seemed, as a heavily uprated Turbo lacking the security and usability of the all-wheel-drive 996 Turbo, this was a 911 for special occasions.
The 996 GT2 was launched at a UK price of Ј116,000 in 2001, followed in 2003 by the Gen2 model at Ј126,000. Set against the Ј86,000 of the Turbo, to many commentators this seemed steep and the GT2 would depreciate more at the rate of the 996 Carrera than a top-of-the-range model. The lowest point was reached in 2008 at about Ј50,000 and the market generally went through an uncertain period until values started to increase from 2011 to 2012.
The high point in Porsche pricing was reached around 2016 when the Gen1 GT2 changed hands at around Ј135,000, with the Gen2 some Ј20,000 more, falling back subsequently to today’s Ј115,000 to Ј135,000 levels. Mark Sumpter of Paragon is surprised that current pricing has remained static for as long because it’s compared with the rise in values of other Porsche models. The first consideration is accident damage and repair quality. The absence of traction control and PSM caught out more than one driver, especially in the early career of these models.
One man who knew the GT2 well was Andrew Mearns of the now-defunct Gmund Cars, which for years specialised in uber-Porsches. Speaking to Total 911 in 2008, five years after 996 GT2 production ended, Mearns opined that perhaps 30 per cent of the 130 RHD GT2s imported to the UK had suffered accident damage and that some would have been written off. Undoubtedly, many cars were company purchases acquired for the badge cachet and used with all the disregard this often involves. In the ensuing years, the attrition rate was significantly lower, with second and third owners far more likely to be enthusiasts with a genuine interest in the car.
However, with perhaps 40 per cent of the UK GT2 contingent having suffered damage or worse, chassis and body inspections as well as the usual verifiable history should be an essential part of any transaction. Paragon’s Pete Twyman advises for example looking for signs that the chassis has been bent around a lamppost at some point. The engine and gearbox rarely give any trouble in service and the Mezger flat six has none of the sensor failures that are a feature of the more complex 991/981 flat six generation. If the turbos go wrong the problem is usually rusting of the casing or wastegate arms, which corrode and seize or fracture. The 996 GT2 is a rare Porsche. Around 1,200 were built, and made in two batches; the Gen2 was the less numerous.
For comparison, 1,590 2.7 RSs were made and their rarity has made them essentially collectors’ 911s. Mark Sumpter points to the GT2 models that succeeded and preceded the 996: the 997 GT2 RS that now commands upwards of Ј300,000 and the 993 GT2, the Evo version of which has reached seven figures. While no one would predict such an explosion for the 996 GT2, a carefully chosen second-generation example is likely to appreciate gently while remaining eminently usable, unlike a 993 GT2 (or RS 2.7).
“A carefully chosen second-generation example is likely to appreciate gently while remaining eminently usable” Much like the 964 RS was damned 30 years ago for offering less equipment, largely the same performance, a bone-shattering ride and all for £6,000 more than the 964 Carrera, the 996 GT2 received the same cold shower.
Yet a decade later, even as they were dismissing the 996 GT2, those same critics were also singing the praises of the 964 RS that was finding its métier as the trackday 911. Opinions had clearly changed. In 2007 when GT2 values were reaching their lowest, a feature in Total 911 explained that the model had inspired this negative reaction because the critics’ received idea of what it would be, turned out to be so different when they tried the car itself.