Take Two

Also from Issue 172

  • Tuned: Two 997s vs. Cayman S
  • First Drive: 2009 Cayman S
  • Creation 901: Part 2
  • Insane 993 GT2 Replica
  • Driving a 550 Spyder
  • U.S. 968 Turbo S Replica
  • “Barn-Find” 356B
  • Targa Newfoundland 914-6
  • Market Update: 924, 944, and 968
  • Early 911S Man: Chuck Miller
  • Interview: Wolfgang Dürheimer
  • Porsche Icon: RSR Proto
  • The $23 Wheel Refinish
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Tuned 997S vs 997 GT3 1
Tuned 997S vs 997 GT3 2

We do prefer the 997S’s Toyo R888 tires to the GT3’s stock N-spec Pilot Sport Cups, but the bulk of the credit must go to the suspension system. There are a lot of GT3 bits in Jared’s chassis, but Synergy Racing’s alignment settings, spring rate choices, damper valving, and anti-roll bar settings are brilliant. The result is a car that requires more aptitude and attention from the driver than the GT3, but one that’s also sharper and more rewarding. Of course, Jared uses the car only for fast back-road fun and track days, affording a level of focus in its setup that no manufacturer can build into a series-production car.

Still, there’s a oneness to the GT3 that simply isn’t present in the modified 997S. From its still-refined interior to its near-perfect match of power to braking to grip, it’s a more complete, more cohesive package. As Chapman puts it, “The 997S feels more like a tool of the driver while the GT3 feels more at one with the driver.” For that reason, he prefers the GT3.

For me, it’s a close call. The GT3 is the better car, but in the end, I’d rather be behind the wheel of Jared’s 997S. While I can’t say that I like its flat six more than the GT3’s, its chassis and total experience shine more brightly. Its sometimes hairy, always alive nature will make a believer out of the purest of air-cooled purists. In the best sense, this is a fast, furious 911.

Of course, the 997S isn’t a logical pick. The GT3 is a factory car with a factory warranty — an especially appealing concept once things like superchargers are strapped on. It offers far better value, too. Synergy says it would charge between $30,000 and $35,000 to set up a 997S like this one, minus the supercharger and exterior bits. Add to that the price of a used 997 and you’re quickly getting into used GT3 territory, without GT3 looks or power. Finally, a GT3 will hold its value far better than a modified Carrera S.

We suspect few enthusiasts will cross-shop these Porsches. There are, however, existing 997 owners who may not want to deal with the secondary market in these tough economic times but may, like many 911 drivers before them, want a little more from the car they already have. For them, this “911S” ably demonstrates that hard-core brilliance can still be added after the fact — just as it could in the days of the first Porsche to wear that moniker.

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