Nine-eleven – a concept that in some mysterious way captured everyone’s imagination and ultimately determined its own destiny. That‘s something you‘ve got to get your head around: this little, headstrong sports car that started life somewhere between simply took off and shaped a future for itself that is unequalled. When engineers build a sports car today, then either they follow the popular mid-engined mainstream, or alternatively place a powerful V8 or V12 under an extended bonnet – nobody in his right mind would copy a Porsche 911. And of course nobody understands how Porsche could have ever got this curiosity on wheels to run at all. And above all, HOW it runs! It bends the laws of physics, ignores all the textbooks and simply takes your breath away... Sports car engineers who would like to pull a comparable design out of a hat today might just as well write their letter of resignation and attach it to the design drawings.
When you get down to the nitty-gritty, the fact that the Porsche 911 has avoided all the glamour of a glitzy sports car universe and has somehow remained as down-to-earth as it has always been, has given the car genuine icon status. In addition to the car’s characteristic features – typical humpback silhouette, engine in the rear, modest dimensions and pragmatism, instead of flashy, flamboyant looks –simplicity is a key element in the 911. And to make it perfectly clear – a current 911 Turbo S, for example, with dynamic engine mounts, rear-axle steering and turbocharger with variable turbine geometry is most certainly not a sports car extract reduced to absolute essentials – it has much more to do with attitude, sobriety, efficiency, and clarity.
And perhaps to remind itself again and again of this guiding principle of celebrating pure rationality with all its emotions, Porsche is building the RS models. Motor sports. Dressed for the occasion by Apex. Technology that matches the rhythm of a tool reduced to its essentials – only when the beads of sweat begin to appear is the level of spiritual understanding reached as to why an RS Porsche has to be precisely the way it is. And this is why all 911 RS models pulling at the reins to get on the racetrack. This is precisely the kind of biotope appropriate to the species, it is a place where the world is suddenly no longer too small. But then comes the moment when you have to return the 911 GT3 RS or the old 911 RS to the pit box, when the racing is over and all is quiet in the paddock. The passion, however, is still racing through your system, the car is at rest and the tyres have finally found the best grip. And then it can happen of course that Porsche 911 GT3 RS is cruising down the autobahn on its way to the Alps and the headlights of a 911 RS from 1991 can be seen approaching in the rear-view mirror. Going with the flow through the night to the foothills of the Alps, then roaring up the passes and over the peaks.
As we have said before, it is always criminal, as it were, to hammer in nails with a screwdriver handle. But it works. And oh how it works!
The amazing top end of a GT3 RS offers nothing more than a gentle suggestion, but even when keeping well to this side of the limit, the crisp transparency of a tool designed for the racetrack is a revelation. Those who have grown up with the 911 GT3 RS models, also gladly accept the slight unwieldiness and lack of comfort with a grin. Or they love it: those who have discovered that this harsh character trait is designed to transform the racetrack into a stream of liquid fire will also appreciate the honey-smooth resistance on public roads and narrow winding mountain passes as a seal of quality.
But then we still have the apparently unlimited creativity of the Porsche people, when they have harmonise the purpose for which the 911 was designed and the fine tuning required for every situation it may counter: as an animal between two worlds, a 911 R precisely fills the hairline gap at the transition from the 911 to the 911 GT3. With its 911 silhouette, the friendly 911 look and the fantastic details that make collectors go crazy, the 911 R is for many fans the unofficial crowning of the series. The Porsche engineers, however, do not stop there, they have also added a big GT3 injection model: engine, performance, character, brutishness and other-worldliness. No wonder the connoisseurs are lining up to secure one of the R models that will be available in a small series limited to 991 units.
When the CURVES family on a glorious day that is unlikely to occur ever again is flying over the mountains in a convoy of 911 GT3 RS and 911 Rs, it’s time to pinch yourself: it is an almost unbelievable site. Perfection.
(c) Ben Winter • Fotos:Stefan Bogner