As Rob mentioned in his Jade Green Targa piece the other day, we’re entering in quickly to auction season. Mecum, typically the purveyors of more muscle cars than European rides, nonetheless had quite an impressive lineup of signification Porsche race models that cover a few decades and many changes in the company’s history, so I thought it would be pretty neat to take a look at them. It’s very interesting to see over a relatively short period of time the many changes that Porsche’s motorsports programs have gone through.
Over the weekend I took advantage of some frankly great streaming video from the IMSA Racing application to view some of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. And the action was thrilling, with several classes being decided not in the last hour, but in the last minutes. Of particular interest to me was the GTLM category, where Porsche had been going round after round with team Corvette over the past few years. And while they weren’t challenging for the overall victory, it gave me pause to consider Porsche’s contribution to racing. You see, Porsche has recorded 22 overall victories at Daytona, but what’s perhaps more impressive is the claimed 77 class victories they’ve claimed. It wasn’t to be this year, but one of the 991 RSRs did make it to the podium. Fitting, then, that we should look at one of the more impressive and expensive variants of the 911 RSR; the 993 Cup 3.8. Only 30 of these racing variants were produced; less even than the road-going 3.8 Carrera RS with which it shared its name. Lightened, widened and with something like 400 horsepower coming from the race-prepared motor, these are still seriously potent track weapons today some 20 years later:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera Cup 3.8 RSR on Race Cars Direct
The number of Porsche 911 variants can be baffling. Just the other day, Rob and I were joking back and forth that at one point a few years ago, Porsche offered no less than 20 variations of the 911 model to the public. Not to be outdone, the current lineup has added one more and created a nice drinking game of “How many current 911 models could you name?” Add in the racing variants, and things get even more convoluted. Porsche’s top of the heap racing model has always varied, but when it came to the 996 Porsche went full-bore with the 911 GT3 Cup program and created a potent race car for pros and well-to-do amateurs as well. Indeed, the GT3 Cup program was the model for many customer-based race programs that exist in Audi, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Ferrari and the like today. But the lineage of the GT3 gets confusing, too. Launched in 1998, it was effectively a replacement for the 993 Carrera Cup model. Called the GT3 Cup, it was a stripped out factory built race car with a turned up motor and some trick suspension and wheels, along with a little added aero tweaks that would be the basis for the later road going model named after it – the 911 GT3. Confused? Well, in 1999 Porsche dropped the “Cup” from the name and added “R” to make race models distinct from road going models. Now, that’s easier. Then, they brought the GT3 Cup model back in 2000 with some mild performance upgrades. But things really started to get messy in 2001, when the company launched the GT3 RS model – not to be confused with the GT3 RS road going model, which wasn’t launched until 2003. Still with me? Well, then in 2004 they needed to differentiate the road and race GT3 RS, so with some more upgrades was launched the GT3 RSR. On the way from Cup to RSR, Porsche added more downforce, wider flares and more vents, along with more power and even wider tires. The 2001 RS model struck a balance between the Cup and RSR, with wider rear track and flared front fenders, but without the massive venting and sequential gearbox of the later model:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Porsche 911 GT3 RS on eBay
There has always been an allure about racing for actors, and some pretty famous ones have been associated with the Porsche brand. The list of famous movie stars that have piloted racing Porsches is pretty illustrious; Steve McQueen certainly made a splash, but then so did Paul Newman. Of course, James Dean is always linked with the brand. So does Patrick Dempsey belong in that storied group? You could argue that perhaps that wasn’t the case for acting, but in terms of passion for racing Dempsey has shown through his actions that heading to the track is a top priority for him. He even went so far as to say he’d quit acting if he could get a full-time racing ride. His exploits at Le Mans are at least on par with McQueen’s famous movie. And yes, you can say that too much has been made of it – but in my mind, Dempsey’s spotlight on the privateer competitions has only highlighted how fantastic the sport is, how diverse the drivers are, and represents the best aspects of the passion of racing. To prove that he’s serious, coupled with factory driver Patrick Long, Dempsey secured 2nd at Le Mans in 2015 and 3rd in the GTE Championship overall. That’s seriously impressive no matter how you slice it. Today, you can buy a piece of that Dempsey magic and plant your bottom right where Dr. McDreamy sat:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on eBay
Why would anyone even contemplate paying $35,000 for a 21 year old, complicated and turbocharged Audi wagon that you can’t register in the U.S. for 4 more years? Because of the badge that adorns the front – the magical “Renn” added to the S2 badge, along with the legendary name Porsche scripted below. That meant that this relatively unassuming Audi 80 quattro Avant had been produced in Zuffenhausen rather than Ingolstadt and had added a healthy dose of even more “Sport” to the small chassis. Ostensibly, though the Sport Quattro was the first “RS” vehicle, the RS2 was the first to wear the badge which has become synonymous with Audi’s speed department. For many Audi aficionados, though the RS vehicles have become much faster and more luxurious, just like the 500E and the M3 Audi has never made a car better in its overall execution than the original. Not that it was slow by any means; Porsche’s massaging of the inline-5 resulted in 311 horsepower – even more than the Sport Quattro had from essentially a very similar motor – so despite being much heavier than the Sport had been, the RS2 wasn’t much slower; sub-5 seconds to 60 and a top speed north of 160 mph. Along the way, it was capable of bullying everything outside of a supercar; yet this car also established the move from Audi’s 2-door “halo” vehicle to a long line of fast five doors. Porsche also upgraded the brakes and wheels with Brembo units and 17″ “Cup 1” wheels creating a signature link. So, too, was the color signature; original called “RS Blue” rather than the color name it’s often mistaken for – the later Nogaro – the bright blue is still the go-to shade for Audi’s fastest. Even within its fast contemporaries, this car was legendary, and the upgrades to the motors and wheels spawned an entire generation of enthusiasts to turn up their inline-5s stateside. Of course, the RS2 wasn’t imported here – nor were any of the S2s for that matter, or even the 80 Avant. That makes seeing one in the U.S. exceptionally rare (and, currently illegal….):