This Porsche Is A Highly Underrated Forbidden Fruit That The U.S. Never Got. Here's Why - story Go to full screen story Fullscreen

This Porsche Is A Highly Underrated Forbidden Fruit That The U.S. Never Got. Here's Why

Often touted as one of the most analog 911's ever made, find out why this track focused Porsche never made it Stateside

by Dimitar Angelov on July 9, 2024, 12:00

We can all agree that the 996 was the most controversial Porsche 911 generation. Yet, the 996 ushered Porsche into the modern age by being the first water-cooled Porsche 911 and the first (and last) to do away with the iconic, round headlamps. Like all 911 generations, the Porsche 996 had its fair share of hardcore variants. The most track-focused, naturally-aspirated Porsche 996 was the 911 GT3 RS, which was as close to a racing car as it could be. Sadly, the 996 GT3 RS was never offered in the US, and there is a good reason why.

Federal mandates meant the 996 GT3 RS was unavailable in the U.S.

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In the United States, Federal law requires all new cars built from September 2000 and onwards to feature ABS, in order to be road-legal. Since the 996 GT3 RS was introduced in 2003, it fell under these new guidelines. The Porsche 996 GT3 RS was a homologation special that allowed Porsche to enter the International GT racing series. As such, it was as close to the GT3 RSR and GT3 CUP cars as it could be.

Naturally, the car boasted a very different character than the regular Porsche 996 although this hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from attempting to make faithful GT3 replicas. In some ways, the GT3 RS was more hardcore because, unlike the regular 996 GT3, the GT3 RS did not feature ABS. Stability and traction control were also not available on the Porsche 996 GT3 RS, making it one of the most analog sports cars of the modern day.

Differences between the Porsche 996 GT3 and GT3 RS

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The differences don’t stop there. The 996 GT3 RS was extensively revised and features the following improvements over the standard GT3:

  • A track-optimized suspension with different mounting points

  • Weight reduction by 110 pounds (50 kg)

  • A full roll-cage (which came separately/ not fitted)

  • Lightweight, polycarbonate rear windows

  • Carbon-reinforced hood, rear wing, and mirrors

  • Low-inertia, single-mass flywheel (instead of the GT3’s DMF)

  • Racing clutch

  • Different engine intake-port design

Porsche 911 (996) GT3 RS performance specifications

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The Porsche 996 GT3 RS’s 3.6-liter, Mezger engine is almost identical to the M96.79 and even has the same designation as the regular GT3 engine, for 2004. Officially, they made the same power (unlike early 996 GT3 models, which made 360 horsepower), but some sources claim that the 996 GT3 RS actually made closer to 400 horsepower thanks to differences in the intake-port geometry, allowing for smoother airflow.

Engine Specifications
Engine 3.6-liter, naturally-aspirated flat-6
Power 376 hp at 7,400 RPM
Torque 283 lb-ft (385 Nm) at 5,000 RPM
Transmission 6-speed manual
Drivetrain RR, RWD
Weight 2,998 lbs
0-60 MPH 4.0 seconds
Top speed 190 mph (306 km/h)

Porsche 911 (996) GT3 RS Availability and price

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The Porsche 996 GT3 RS came out for the 996.2 facelift. Between 2003 and 2004, just 682 units were built. US fans of the Porsche 996 GT3 RS will be able to import one in 2028, under the 25-year rule. Looking at the Classic.com database, current 996 GT3 RS prices average $211,911. The most expensive sale was for $385,000 while the lowest - $117,677.

Once these cars become eligible for US import, I suspect we will see different price figures, likely resembling those of JDM icons like the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 NISMO Z Tune, which nowadays goes for over $500,000. That said, with the 2024 Porsche 911 GT3 RS having a $223,800 sticker price, it really is a better purchase than the track-focused Porsche 996, especially given the difference in performance.

That said, the lack of safety systems like ABS, ESC, and traction control means that the 996 GT3 RS is a modern-day widow maker that requires drivers to be at the top of the game. Moreover, while the 992 is, often, criticized for being too big, the 996 GT3 RS retains the classically correct, compact dimensions, akin to a classic 911. Perhaps cars like the analog 996 GT3 RS will be more appreciated now that Porsche has gone with a hybrid powertrain for the current 91. Perhaps purists will appreciate the analog Porsche 996 GT3 RS more now that Porsche has gone with a hybrid powertrain for the current 911.

Dimitar Angelov

Dimitar Angelov

Dim has been an automotive journalist since 2014. Although he is interested in all things automotive, his main interests revolve around, Asian, classic, and sports cars. He is particularly fond of Porsche sports cars as well as JDM classics from Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and others. Dim operates mainly from Bulgaria, but can, occasionally, be seen attending Europe's most reputable Auto shows, and events. Read full bio