Porsche GT3: Conception to delivery
Monday, February 16, 2015
I first met my good friend Bryan on an excursion sponsored by the Porsche Club of America just weeks after he bought his 2011 Porsche 997 GTS. At the time I didn't think I had ever encountered anyone quite as passionate about cars, with such a particular allegiance to the brand.
We're both members of the PCA Riesentöter region, and having attended dozens of events together since, I've come to learn he's wired differently. Truly obsessed with how technology functions within an integrated creation, Bryan does not consider overengineering an extravagance. It's an obligation.
So the bond between Bryan and his car is not puzzling to me, as Porsche is renowned for tireless attention to detail in design and construction.
It therefore came as quite a shock when he told me at the end of last summer that he was considering a replacement. I could tell in subsequent conversations that (while the notion was still fresh), the concept, the details, the numbers and options had long been processing in his analytical head.
I could never imagine Bryan separating himself from his Porsche, and since few of us can fill our stables with cars of this caliber, I also knew that addition would only occur by subtraction.
With time to digest, I am now able to appreciate how he could part with what is universally known as one of the finest retail models ever made by the German marque. But Bryan came upon his GTS with the original intent of buying a 997 GT3.
He had been fortunate enough to attend a factory tour at the Porsche facility in Stuttgart in 2010, when a foursome of GT3 inventory making their way through the campus captured his attention. He stopped and studied in reverence as they disappeared into a neighboring building. This he recalls, was the moment of conception — the catalyst that developed into an infatuation with the Porsche GT3.
Bryan began his quest by pouring over data, articles and reviews, and he was surprised to find an overstock of low-mileage models. With reports of a harsh ride and rumors of dubious drivability for the GT3, he became convinced the GTS was a better compromise, a point with which he was forced to reconcile.
In hindsight, while thrilled to own and drive such an extraordinary car, concession is not in Bryan's DNA. The GT3 represents the pinnacle of the Porsche brand, and therefore the ultimate in supercar performance.
But less than a year after purchasing his GTS, Bryan attended the launch of the redesigned Porsche 991 GT3 at the 2013 New York Auto Show. Among the swarm of onlookers closing in on the stage, it was impossible to fully appreciate its magnificence surrounded by the crowd.
Bryan was immediately conscious of a universal appeal, which only served to heighten an already intense desire. He stayed for hours just to obtain a few uncluttered photographs. This experience served to rekindle the obsession that began in Germany.
It didn't help that friends fueled the fire by forwarding pictures, video links and reviews. It seemed everything released on the new Porsche GT3 was inspiring. Even motionless, it's possessed with a kinetic energy and looks more intimidating than a lightning blast. On the road or track the GT3 is nearly human — brilliantly alive.
But I'm not here to convince you this is an exceptional supercar. If you're an enthusiast, you've read the press and already know that. This is simply an accounting of my friend's journey to realize a dream.
The close of last summer brought with it a harsh reality. Production of the limited GT3 was reaching its conclusion, and so were his chances to obtain one.
At the urging of friends one Saturday, he reached out to Erik (product specialist at the dealership where he acquired his GTS), to take a look at a red 991 GT3 in their inventory. Unfortunately, it was sold before he got there.
That might have been a blessing, as a more subdued Agate Grey example was there in stock as well. This particular car was exactly what he was looking for. He circled and studied, sending me pictures so I could share in his delight.
Erik asked if he wanted to drive it, but Bryan refused. He knew that once he got behind the wheel, any sensibility would be completely compromised. With substantial restraint, he left stating only that he would call first thing Monday with his decision.
The drive home was unusually long. Able to rationalize from a distance, he valued the pros and cons. But what it really came down to was that the GT3 had been the barometer used to measure every other prospective option since his visit to the Porsche factory. This newly redesigned generation only intensified his desire, and now he had seen two of them up close and personal.
The decision was made.
But the next day, Erik sent him a text message that shattered his present state of resolved serenity. They had received a deposit, and that Monday morning the buyer's credit would be approved. There were no more dealer allocations.
Bryan was devastated. Fortune and fate can work in mysterious ways, however. Sometimes taking the hard road can help you to better appreciate the destination. If ever he had doubts that this was the car he'd always wanted, losing the sale made it crystal clear.
Later Monday afternoon, Bryan was heading to a client in Maryland when his phone rang. It was Erik. They had a customer change his mind, and an allocation was suddenly available. Was he still interested?
Over a period of less than two days, Bryan had experienced the extreme edges of his emotions. Interested? Elated, he pulled to the side of the road and began the process to close the deal.
Since his GTS was offered in trade, he would be Porsche-less until delivery. There was of course the excitement of building the car, but surviving the next few months with an empty garage bay would be torturous. Porsche offers an extensive amount of personalization, but there aren't too many boxes to check on a supercar like this.
Not surprisingly, he chose Agate Grey Metallic and then added red seatbelts with matching deviated stitching as well as the Sport Chrono package. Other noteworthy options selected were ceramic composite brakes, a larger fuel tank for added range, and the front axle lift system that raises the car with a press of a button to provide additional clearance for driveway aprons and road obstacles.
As the due date drew imminent, Bryan's communication approached a frenzy. When the day of delivery finally arrived, he could hardly contain himself. This experience had reduced an otherwise mature adult into the purest form of adolescence.
His eagerness and anticipation was not unlike a 5-year-old descending the stairs in the wee hours of Christmas morning, and the excitement of delivery itself as thrilling as the birth of a child. If you doubt this sincerity, appreciate that he was sending me pictures of the unloading as it occurred.
Bryan was initially prepared for any eventuality, including the January weather of the Northeast. And though he vowed not to permit exposure to the harshness of the winter roads of cinders and brine, he discovered quickly it is difficult to restrain a car like this to the protection of his garage where he had expected it would remain until spring.
So at the first sign of sun, the bay door rose, and he emptied into the neighborhood and onto the twisted county roads leading from town. Only the threat of a pending snowstorm kept him from vanishing into the horizon.
Will he race his GT3? Bryan is an experienced driver with a few racing schools under his belt, so I shouldn't have been surprised that he affirmed it will see some track time. As cautious as he is with any vehicle that resides in his garage, Bryan is the most pragmatic person that I know.
In order to fully understand the limits of both himself and the GT3, he will race it because it was designed and built for that purpose. And he will drive it hard on any track for the same reason.
For now, the winter gloom presents limited opportunities to meet, and much of it doesn't involve our cars. As spring approaches and the days become progressively longer, the PCA calendar fills with a variety of options, and we'll decide which ones to attend.
Bryan will then realize the dimension a car like this brings to an event, and because I know how much he enjoys talking with other motorheads, I'm guessing he can deal with the attention. For now, I can say that his long journey is finally over. But I also know the adventure has only just begun.
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