Porsche’s 911 series is the definitive sports-car family and a legend in endurance racing. Many consider the GT3 as its crowning achievement. In the tradition of the Carrera RS 2.8, the 996-based GT3, introduced in 2000, was a street-legal homologation model — a raw, track-ready car with a highly modified 3.6-liter, liquid-cooled, flat-6 engine. Whereas the Turbo and the GT2 achieved their incredible performance with turbocharging, the GT3 was a visceral, naturally aspirated monster.

With 400-plus horsepower on tap, an 8,600 rpm redline, a close-ratio 6-speed gearbox and wider rear bodywork, the race-bred GT3 was the driver’s first choice. Competition variants, logically designated GT3 R, were homologated for FIA GT and IMSA American Le Mans Series competition. Featuring purposefully stripped interiors with full roll cages, racing seats, fire-suppression systems and other competition enhancements, these lightweight race cars furthered Porsche’s long-running dominance of international GT-class endurance racing.

Precious few racing-spec GT3 Rs were produced to meet FIA and IMSA homologation requirements. This car remains extremely fast and is an excellent choice for current Porsche Club of America races, Porsche Owners Club races and a variety of other vintage-racing events. This example is, therefore, not only very rare as a GT3 R model, but it is also very desirable with its Dick Barbour and Paul Newman history.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2000 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Years Produced:2000
Number Produced:66
Original List Price:Unknown
Chassis Number Location:Bottom of windscreen
Engine Number Location:Fan housing support, right side
Club Info:Porsche Club of America
Alternatives:2002 Porsche GT3 RS, 1996 Porsche 911 GT1, 1973 Porsche Carrera 2.8 RSR

This car, Lot 169, sold for $121,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Amelia Island, FL, auction March 9, 2013.

When I was assigned this Porsche for my June Profile, my editor allowed as how he and Keith Martin were “wondering what anyone could do with this car — besides take it to a track day or admire it in the garage.” The answer is: lots and lots — arguably even more than you could do with a heartthrob vintage Lister or Ferrari these days — and therein is the subject of today’s discussion.

Part of the answer lies in the evolution of road racing, and particularly vintage racing, in the United States over the past 30 years, and part of it is a function of the simple fact that this is a Porsche.

Let’s start with an overview of amateur road racing in this country. Traditionally there have been two major divisions: the serious SCCA National racing and what is generally called “club racing,” with vintage racing a third option that arrived as a serious contender in the 1980s. Each has — or originally had — distinct characteristics.

The most intense and goal-driven variation in the U.S. is the SCCA National circuit. It is by its own definition all about winning, and to make success as meaningful as it is important (i.e. you won because you were a better driver on an absolutely flat playing field), they have developed an extremely thick rule book and a suitable bureaucracy, both of which are religiously obeyed. It is designed for state-of-the-art race cars that have been developed to the allowable extreme and drivers who want that experience. It’s more about winning than fun.

This approach is not everyone’s cup of tea, so a less-stringent approach to the sport — what we refer to as “club racing” — evolved to meet the desires of people who wanted to go race their cars but not get too serious about it. The racing is real, and the cars tend to be contemporary and well developed, but the zeitgeist is much more relaxed. It’s about having fun racing your car. From the 1960s through the 1980s a number of regional clubs and promoters worked to fill this specific market niche, but in the past 20 years or so most of them have faded away.

Vintage racing springs to life

Along about the mid-1970s, Steve Earle and a few friends sought to create a third alternative — what we call vintage racing. Their idea was to replicate the established English tradition of competing in older racing cars that were maintained to their original specification, rather than being made as fast as new technology would allow.

At its best, vintage racing exists at the intersection of car collecting and racing — a genteel approach that places primary value on the cars and their history, with racing being simply the best and most appropriate way to enjoy and to honor them.

Vintage racing is a very relaxed and social variant of the sport, and it is particularly attractive to people who have fulfilled their ego needs elsewhere in life. A combination of serious growth in that demographic — and the explosion in collector-car values through the last part of the 20th century — caused the vintage-racing segment to become the most expansive in all of racing. New clubs and promoters appeared everywhere.

Limited number of cars

The problem with this is that the underlying supply of suitable vintage racing cars is limited, while the costs of putting on races and the expectations of the promoters keep growing, so there has been a strong need to expand the number of entries. As a result, although the popular image of vintage racing remains the Monterey ideal, with old Ferraris, Coopers and Porsches chasing each other around the track, the reality is that most operators have taken over the club-racing segment and retained little more than the illusion of vintage.

At a recent vintage race in Atlanta, a client’s Maserati 200S and my Elva Mk 6 were the only cars out of about 250 entrants that had “L-section” tires and drum brakes. Thus, much of “vintage” has become club racing with some vintage grids, and probably 60% of the events in the U.S. this year will have a suitable grid for our subject car.

Plenty of fun with Porsche

The second point is that our subject is a Porsche. Porsche Club runs its own series of over 30 races a year around the country, and anything Porsche built is welcome to run. The organization is relaxed and fun, the grids are large, and the racing is as serious as you want it to be. It all boils down to this: If your goal is to have fun driving a racing car, your opportunities are far greater with this 2000 Porsche than anything “vintage” could ever offer.

It is also far more cost effective. Start with the truism that the least costly thing you will ever do in automobile racing is buy the car. Assuming you were rational in the purchase and don’t destroy it, the car will always be worth some variation of what you paid.

What really costs in racing is the operating and maintenance, and few cars can match the 911-variant Porsches in cost-per-giggle value. This is not to suggest that racing this or anything is cheap — it never is — only that it is less financially terrifying than a similar experience in something else.

The primary operating costs for racing a Porsche such as our subject car are tires and brakes, with the engines generally being good for 100 hours between rebuilds. The primary costs for a vintage racer are tires and engine rebuilds on roughly 25-hour intervals. The rebuilds cost about $20,000 for either one, so the math is pretty easy as to which is cheaper.

The GT3 R market

With 66 cars built and most still around, there is a moderately well-established market for GT3 R Porsches, and it is the $100k–$130k range these days. Today’s

GT3 R was presented as an important — thus presumably collectible — racing car, with the estimate of $140k–$180k representing a substantial collector value premium over the underlying track-toy base. The car did in fact have a good history, with at least the suggestion of wrinkles in the seat from Paul Newman’s bum, but it didn’t seem to have much effect at RM’s Amelia Island auction.

The reality is that cars like this in today’s world are not collectible. They will sell for their value as toys or weapons to buyers who are going to use them. I have often argued that auctions are a terrible place to sell weapons-grade race cars — the things that matter to a racer, such as mechanical condition and race-worthiness, are very difficult to get comfortable with in an auction environment — but the hammer price was market-correct, so this time the magic worked. I expect the seller was a bit disappointed, but it did sell.

If the buyer was knowledgeable and had done his homework, he must have been comfortable that the car was as good as represented. And if he was motivated by a desire to buy a toy for club-racing pleasure, I suggest this car was fairly to well bought. ?

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)


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