1998 Porsche 911 GT1

From any angle and at any speed, it is the perfect picture of what a modern sports prototype should look like

After its 1994 Le Mans victory with a decade-old design, Porsche needed a new long-term strategy for its international sports car competition. Enter the 911 GT1.

Keeping to the spirit of the regulations, Porsche used an existing 911 road car, the type 993, for the body shell. It was stiffened by a substantial roll cage that also supported the engine, gearbox and suspension. In line with 911 tradition, the motor was a horizontally opposed six cylinder, but it was mounted ahead of the rear axle line rather than behind it like the road cars. The 3.2-liter, four-valves-per-cylinder “boxer” was water-cooled and turbocharged with a pair of intercooled KKK turbos. Maximum power of 600 hp was developed at 7,200 rpm and transmitted to a six-speed gearbox equipped with its own oil cooler.

A strong visual association with the 911 road car was necessary, so several subtle styling cues reinforced the link, but otherwise the GT1 looked every inch the purpose-built racer it was. From its huge “shark’s mouth” front air intake to the high full-width wing at the rear, there was no question what the car was designed for. Beneath its predominantly carbon-fiber skin, the GT1 incorporated a number of advanced technical developments, including antilock brakes, carbon brake discs and built-in air jacks for speedy wheel changes. Power-assisted steering helped minimize driver fatigue.

In 1997, the “Evo” GT1 saw changes that improved aerodynamics, as the race car gradually morphed away from its production-based origins. The visual connection with the production car was maintained by new kidney bean-shaped headlamps like the ones on the recently introduced type 996 production car.

Still chasing that next elusive Le Mans win, the Stuttgart firm produced a new GT1 for 1998. The car was completely redesigned with a carbon-fiber body tub, the first Porsche to use this method of construction. The gearbox was redesigned, incorporating an F1-style sequential shift mechanism. Despite facing increased competition from faster entries fielded by Mercedes and Toyota, Porsche triumphed in its 50th-anniversary year.

Regulations for the GT1 category stipulated that to be eligible, cars must be capable of road use. In developing the road version of the GT1, Porsche met the most stringent EU requirements-the first car completed in January 1996 was used for compliance testing. Although there would be no series production of the GT1, the factory did produce a handful of road-going models for select customers. The road car’s 544 hp and dry weight of 1,100 kg produced shattering acceleration: 0-100 kph (62 mph) in just 3.7 seconds.

Delivered new to Germany in May 1998, this 911 GT1 road car has not been used for any form of motorsport. Unmodified, it has covered a mere 4,400 km from new and is presented in outstanding condition throughout. If super exclusivity appeals to you, forget the Carrera GT. This is the 911 GT1 for your collection.

Jim Schrager

Jim Schrager - SCM Contributor

Jim wrote for the 356 Registry and SCM for over a decade, was a Contributing Editor for Porsche Panorama (the magazine of the Porsche Club of America), and wrote for Excellence and the Porsche Market Letter. He has written two popular books on vintage Porsches: Buying, Driving, and Enjoying the Porsche 356; and Buying, Driving, and Enjoying the Early Porsche 911. He owns about 20 vintage Porsches, which he attempts to keep on the road through all kinds of weather. He is a clinical professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he teaches a popular course on strategy. He actively races his family’s 41-foot sailboat with his two boys on Lake Michigan.

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