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A bolt -- an important bolt to be sure, but just a bolt nonetheless -- is all it took to terminally scuttle the dreams of the 785 (admittedly spoiled rotten) folks who had taken delivery of the latest version of Porsche's GT3.
A connecting rod bolt loosened, "damaging the crankcase" (Porsche's words; that's code for the connecting rod letting go big-time and poking a big hole in the flat six's engine pan) and causing a fire (that'll happen when you dump 10 litres of oil, again, from that big fat hole in the crankcase onto a hot exhaust system) that consumed two early versions of the GT3.
If it all sounds a bit unusual for typically over-engineered Porsche, then the company's response has been nothing short of exemplary. Rather than just retrofitting the existing cars with an upgraded bolt, Porsche is installing new engines in all cars already delivered to customers.
Skeptics -- and if you Google "GT3" and "connecting rod" you will find a few of those -- may postulate that there's more to these flailing connecting rods than Porsche is letting on, but the company's reaction has been letter perfect, being both immediate and complete. A few car companies -- I am looking toward Detroit as I write this -- could learn a lesson here.
Blown engines aside, though, everyone wants to know whether this latest GT3 is worth the (now extended) wait. After all, this is the most serious of street-legal 911s and the car true Porschephiles covet even more than the Turbo.
One reason for all that coveting is that, despite its lack of turbocharging, a GT3 makes tremendous power. The 2014 model, for instance, boasts 475 horsepower, not far off the 520-hp a base Turbo claims, all, again, without a turbocharger (actually two). Wringing 475 ponies out of just 3.8 litres requires serious tweaking, and redline on the new GT3 is 9,000 rpm, about 3,000 rpm higher than when the Turbo starts running out of puff.
The 911s always sound magnificent, but the rasp of a big Boxer six spinning 9,000 rpm is nothing short of maniacal. Punch the GT3's throttle in any of the first few gears and the tires start slipping, the tachometer needle starts its manic little dance and you can't stop grinning like an idiot. That Porsche claims the GT3 is but an eye blink in arrears in acceleration (3.5 seconds versus 3.4 for the Turbo) is just further proof that those GT3 fans -- obsessed anoraks they may be -- might be right about the Turbo comparison.
The chassis would appear to be up to the challenge. I didn't get a chance to flog this latest version, but it's got all the requisite equipment -- carbon-ceramic brakes, revised electromechanical steering and a new computer-controlled rear-wheel steering mechanism -- to be a racetrack weapon. The tires -- super grippy Michelin Sport Cup 245/35ZR20s in the front and equally tenacious 305/30ZR20s in the rear -- are more than up to the task.
To paraphrase the immortal Michael Buffer, "The connecting rods are ready. The engine is ready. The Porsche GT3 is (finally) ready to rumble."
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