The GT moniker is one reserved for Porsche's go-faster 911s, and throughout its long usage there have been some truly standout models. Here are our favourites. The first - 996 GT3 (1999) Back in 1999, we couldn’t figure out why Porsche didn’t call the first 996 GT3 the ‘RS’. We didn’t know it was being saved up for something else. What we did know was that this 355bhp road and track star was a pretty convincing answer to all those who’d wondered what form a water-cooled 911 created purely for driving would take. It wasn’t any lighter than a standard 996, which may also explain Porsche’s reluctance to use the RS badge. But it had the Mezger engine, so it sounded heavenly, performed with distinction and was also far more reliable than the new flat sixes developed for the 996. But really it was its handling that sparked our interest. While standard 996s seemed somewhat sanitised relative to their air-cooled brethren, the GT3 was still safe … [Read more...] about The first, worst, fastest and best Porsche 911 GTs
Insubordination and churlish
When something involves cars, cakes, music and general merriment, and is half an hour from my doorstep, it frankly seems churlish to not attend. Plus, my curiosity had been piqued by the ever-growing furore surrounding Chris Evans’ CarFest events, so this year I went along. There’s plenty about for the automotive obsessive. I particularly enjoyed wandering the car auction, with highlights from the Morris Mini Moke that featured in Prisoner and had clearly seen some neglect since, through to the usual auction exotica, including a rather lovely old Merc SL (which currently tops my personal list of appreciating classics to own one day) and a very retro-brown Land Rover Defender. Scheckter’s enthusiastic approach to the hill in a Merc A45 AMG, and the sounds and sights of all his F1 cars, were the real highlights of the runners up the hill, although it was a shame that you couldn’t get up close to them in the paddock. Still, while Goodwood FoS still gives free rein … [Read more...] about CarFest: What’s not to like?
This is by no conceivable stretch of the imagination a warts and all form of conclusion. In fact, it isn't even a conclusion at all. But seeing as how I've driven both the Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P1 now, well, it would seem churlish not to offer at least some form of opinion about how two of the world's three maddest hypercars compare with one another. So here are the facts, plus a bit subjective stuff thrown in for good measure. One, the P1 is faster than the 918. Everywhere. On paper it looks close enough for there not to be much difference in the real world. But in that real world the McLaren feels of-another-solar-system quicker the Porsche. It feels as fast as anything I've ever driven to be honest, including Honda's 2007 F1 car, whereas the 918 feels merely very fast indeed. Two, the P1 generates so much downforce in third gear and beyond when it's in Race mode that the 918 driver will not see which way it's gone around a circuit. They, McLaren, reckon the P1 … [Read more...] about McLaren P1 versus Porsche 918 Spyder – which is best?
Skids. Drifts. Oversteer. Churlish, childish stuff that is inefficient, irresponsible, wears through tyres and slows cars down. All true. A colleague came back to the office the other day and reported that an industry test driver had told him one of the “problems” with car journalists is their obsession with going sideways. True, too, perhaps. This driver, and the company he works for, likes cars that go fast. Flipping fast. If there’s too much lateral slip, too much looking out of the side window, too much smoking of tyre, with knuckles visible through the windscreen to amply demonstrate that you’re quite the helmsman, applying the obligatory ‘dab’, then you ain’t going as fast as you could be. And that’s wrong. Which may be kinda true as well. But what’s also true is that, frankly, oversteer is a giggle. A laugh. And, as one of our hired hands – who held a world record for doing precisely this sort of thing – says, you … [Read more...] about The school of sideways
Fernando Alonso's lingering bitterness towards the McLaren-Mercedes team spilled over again in Budapest over the weekend as he said he didn't think he would be allowed to win if he was still driving for the British squad as their whole approach was slanted towards supporting Lewis Hamilton's efforts. Alonso, who won the World Championship in 2005 and 06, was speaking on the first anniversary of his acrimonious split with McLaren in Budapest, a breach which ended with him rowing with chairman Ron Dennis and his right-hand man Martin Whitmarsh. McLaren sources have since revealed that the Spanish driver was almost fired on the spot after deliberately blocking Hamilton during qualifying for the 2007 Hungarian grand prix, earning himself a five place grid penalty which dropped him from first to sixth in the starting order. "If I was driving there for them this year it wouldn't make any difference because I would be in just the same situation as [Heikki] Kovalainen and not allowed to win," … [Read more...] about One year on, Alonso still feels bitter