Back in 2003 I was working for a well-known national motoring magazine. It was my first job writing about cars full-time and I loved it.
Well, when I say writing about cars, what I really mean was writing about the things that bolt on to cars. You see I was employed as the gadget geek, spending most of my time rehashing press releases about wiper blades instead of playing in supercars at a test track.
You can probably imagine it got pretty dull at times. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good gadget – still do – it was just penning piece
after piece on polish got a little trying. So, much to the annoyance of my superiors, I’d try anything to get out on a road test.
One particularly dull Wednesday I got wind of a feature the road test desk were concocting – I can’t quite remember the premise, but it involved pitching a kart against a Caterham and a Sinclair C5 (which was spectacularly crashed. Yes, that is possible…) versus something so dull I can’t remember. But the one that pricked my ears up was a 911 GT3 versus a Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike. Being as mad about bikes as I am about cars this was close to being a dream day out of the office. Somehow – and I still can’t quite see how – I managed to wangle myself along.
The test was held at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, a former American airbase for long-range bombers, where we had access to a two-mile runway. The idea was to max the GT3 and the bike and see which was faster. Tough job, but someone had to do it… As the only mentalist on the staff with a bike licence stupid enough to pin the thou in the damp I trundled out on to the concrete track, nailed the throttle and gripped for dear life. As the speeds rose above 150mph, the sidewinds whipped the bike from side to side with such violent force I swear I saw Death himself. Eventually the amber Gixxer topped out at an incredible 187mph and I got off – shaking.
Being the bike pilot for the day meant I had few chances to try the other cars, so it wasn’t until the pictures were in the can that I managed to snatch the keys to the Porsche.
Stepping off the bike, it was hard to imagine anything with four wheels could feel as quick. But the GT3 did. Coming out of the long, sweeping right on to the runway the Porsche was pulling like Calum Best. In seconds it had cracked 125mph – the mark one GT3 covers a quarter mile from rest in 12.3 seconds and hits 60mph in four dead. It wasn’t long before silly figures were registering on the digital speedo: 164mph, 179mph, 184mph… and then, at full steam ahead, 1-9-2mph. Unbelievable.
What wasn’t made clear to me before jumping in was that at those sorts of speeds, fuel economy is, well, pants. The GT3 was draining its tank at a fair old rate, but I was having too much fun to notice the tell-tale coughs and splurts… As the power was suddenly sapped while attempting my third ‘v-max’ halfway down the runway, it quickly dawned on me I’d run out of fuel. Feeling a bit sheepish the car limped to the side of the runway and I waited for the wrath of the road testers (fearsome) – but that still couldn’t stop me grinning like an idiot.
It’s only cars like the GT3 that can have effects on you like this. So, when CLUBGT – a supercar members’ club that takes the hassle out of owning these exotic machines in exchange for an annual fee – called and offered the chance to relive that memory, I jumped at the chance.
CLUBGT’s Porsche, like the one below, is a stunning example. Despite 50,000 probably very hard miles under its belt, it is in beautiful condition – the interior still fresh and the driving experience as raw as I remembered it.
Porsche introduced the GT3 to give petrolheads an undiluted driving experience like never before. Pretty much all luxuries were junked; as was most of the sound deadening and even the rear seats. Buyers could even choose a no-cost Clubsport option that added a roll cage, fire extinguisher, and six-point harness to the bucket seats – this was, without doubt, a full-blown racer for the road.
Driving the GT3 on the road for the first time is an incredible experience. It’s small, ultra low and packed with explosive power. Some 385Nm of torque is available from just 2,000rpm with peak power an incredible 381bhp. And that stomp is truly intoxicating.
Threading the Porsche through the arterial roads that bisect the heart of Hampshire is an experience that came very close to matching that first Bruntingthorpe encounter. It is ferociously quick and devastatingly effective travelling at speeds that could put you in prison.
This is a car for the track, but still thoroughly enjoyable on bumpy B roads. It’s here that it’s alive, steering wheel jiving around in your hands, with every bump felt through the seat of your pants.This is a driving experience that’s raw – steak tartare raw – and all the more delicious for it.
Every month this Cult Cars column shows how you can fund machines like this using Bridford’s financial services. However, it wasn’t until I saw this month’s figures (below) that I seriously considered selling the house and spending the mortgage payments on one of these instead.
However, if you’d like the chance to experience a GT3, as well as a host of other equally amazing machines like the Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari 355 or Lancia Delta Integrale, contact CLUBGT on 020 7935 8485. Membership starts from £4,675 per year and for a limited time the £500 joining fee has been wavered. See page 68 for the details. Right, I’m off to contact estate agents….
by JAMES BAGGOTT