It's worth getting familiar with a little Porsche nomenclature before we dive into the history of the GT3. Back in 1973 Porsche launched the 911 2.7 RS (Renn Sport) starting a tradition of stripped out, lightweights 911s that were more at home on the track than the road. By the late Nineties, however, the Weissach company realised that there was demand for what was ostensibly a road car albeit with even sharper reactions than the standard 911. This formed the genesis of the GT3 and when it arrived, many were surprised that it was in fact 30kg heavier than the stock 911.
But what a specification! With an engine based on the block of the GT1 racing car, and displacing 3.6-litres, the GT3 had lighter pistons, titanium conrods, dry sump lubrication and a cable-operated six-speed gearbox with interchangeable gear ratios for the racers. Lower by 30mm, sporting heftier brakes and wearing an aero bodykit, the 360bhp GT3 debuted in September 1999, priced at £76,150 - just over £11,000 more than a 911 Carrera 2.
Demand was frantic and the GT3 was sold out almost before Porsche had officially announced its existence. The car continued to be built until late 2003 when the Mk II GT3 was launched. What changed? Apart from 21bhp of extra engine output, the engineers pointed towards things like beefier brakes with the option of ceramic brake discs and a more efficient aerodynamics package that reduced high speed lift. Moreover, the bodywork was derived from the stiffer 911 Carrera 4. Other changes included headlamps that were 911 Turbo style, distancing the car's front end from the cheaper Boxster model.
The GT3 RS model was also introduced in 2003, a car for those who really want a car that feels as if it's escaped straight from parc ferme at Le Mans. Offered in white with either red or blue decals, the lightweight GT3 RS featured stiffer suspension, carbon fibre parts and a revised aero pack. It marked the final hurrah for the 996 generation of the 911 before it was replaced by the 997 series car in 2005.