Courtesy of Bonhams

Starting with the 2.7 Carrera RS, “RS” variants of the 911 have become coveted for their track readiness, precision and power. Throughout the succeeding generations of 911s, the RS badge remained reserved for only the most hardcore, purpose-built road cars in Porsche’s portfolio and has become highly coveted.

With a giant rear wing, large intakes, graphics and a wide track, the 991.1 GT3 RS certainly looks the part. The naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine motivates the GT3 RS to 60 in three seconds flat — impressive, but this car is about track performance and handling.

It also has stiff springs, solid mounts, and many manually adjustable settings to tune the car to suit the task at hand, one of very few road cars allowed to have these race-derived refinements. Adding to the manual adjustments, trick technology like an electronically locking rear differential and rear-wheel steering transform the GT3 RS into a formidable track weapon, lapping the Nürburgring in 6:56.4, faster than the venerable Porsche 918.

This 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS bears the distinction of having been first delivered to Mr. Jerry Seinfeld. As Mr. Seinfeld is a true lover of the famed manufacturer from Stuttgart, it should come as no surprise that this example was furnished with an expansive list of wonderful options. Most obvious is the splendid paint-to-sample Liquid Chrome Blue Metallic exterior. This RS features several more Porsche Special Wishes and factory options which include an axle lift, carbon-ceramic brakes, sport chrono pack, LED lighting, navigation, and a larger 23-gallon fuel tank. In total, more than $250,000 worth of options and Special Wishes were fitted to the new Porsche, resulting in a sticker price of nearly $450,000.

SCM Analysis

Detailing

Vehicle:2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Years Produced:2016
Number Produced:4,520
SCM Valuation:$212,500
Tune Up Cost:$2,250
Chassis Number Location:Label on driver’s side and passenger’s side B-pillar, under windshield driver’s side bottom
Engine Number Location:Laser-cut on case bottom; must remove undertray
Club Info:Porsche Club of America
Website:http://www.pca.org
Alternatives:2020 Nissan GT-R NISMO, 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, 2015–20 Ferrari 488 GTB
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 104, sold for $356,400, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Supercars on Sunset sale on April 10, 2021.

For the past 12 years, cars owned by Jerry Seinfeld have overachieved at public auctions. Not only is Jerry a celebrity, but he is also appreciated for his automotive enthusiasm and his passion for Porsches. However, in this case, a car for which Seinfeld spent $449,890 was resold (but not directly from him) for about $100,000 less than he paid. Why?

Behind the label

The 1973 911 Carrera RS was a seminal model that captured the imaginations of Porschephiles worldwide. Interest was obsessive in the U.S. and Canada, where the cars were forbidden fruit until the early 1980s when NHTSA’s “once-in-a-lifetime exemption” let the cars in. The RS was an almost-perfect blend of power, handling and appearance. And it was rare, with only 1,525 units built. The RSs that succeeded it continued along the same lines and added to the legacy.

Every RS model below was not imported to the U.S. when new, which added to their allure:

  • The 1974 RS 3.0-liter was a purebred race car for the street and the homologation base for the very successful 1974–75 RSR. Everything the 1973 RS accomplished, the 1974 did 25% better. Because they also qualified as Group 3 race cars, many 3.0s were used and abused on hillclimbs, rallies and road races such as the Tour de France and Tour Auto. Only 52 were made. Today, many examples are rough and some have been re-tubbed or replicated.
  • The 1984 SC/RS was a homologated competition car based on the just-discontinued 3.0-liter 911 SC. Only 21 were made. Rothmans cigarettes worked a deal with Jürgen Barth’s Customer Racing Department for a low-cost rally car. About 10, heavily modified, competed successfully in Group A European and Middle East Rally Series. The unraced SC/RSs are the most difficult RSs to source.
  • The 1992 964 Carrera RS was built in three variants: 1,910 Basics (Lightweight), 290 N/GTs for BPR and ADAC racing, and 76 Tourings, fully optioned examples.
  • The 1993 964 RS 3.8 was another race car for the street, built in 55 examples. It was the homologation base for the 964 RSR and is much more of a beast than the 1992 3.6-liter examples.
  • The 1996 993 Carrera RS 3.8-liter was a more well-rounded, less-raw RS model; some even had a/c. There were 1,114 built, including 200 Club Sports for track days and amateur racing.
  • The 2004 GT3 RS is another homologation car, with 682 units built. It is on the rough-and-ready end of the continuum. Available for reasonable prices overseas, they are now frightfully expensive to convert to meet EPA requirements. It’s better to buy one that is here and already federalized.

Applying the appellation

Porsche’s Management Committee rejected some appeals to use the RS label for cars that it did not deem worthy, such as the 1987–89 Carrera 3.2 “Club Sport” and various high-performance 924s, 944s, Boxsters, Caymans and Cayennes. The Marketing Department finessed in a couple of less-worthy, mostly “trim specials” such as the 964 RS America and the Boxster RS 60 Spyder. It didn’t happen often, and never since Andreas Preuninger took command of the High Performance Department.

Now we come to the more-modern GT3 RS models, all of which were imported to the U.S. and Canada. Opinions on which model should be preferred vary widely. These are the 2007–08 997.1 GT3 RS 3.6 (452 for U.S. and Canada out of 1,169 worldwide), the 2010–11 997.2 GT3 RS 3.8 (612/1,500), the 2011 997.2 GT3 RS 4.0 (157/600), the 2016 991.1 GT3 RS 4.0 (1,530/4,520) and the 2019 991.2 GT3 RS 4.0 (1,760/4,750). Some of these numbers are not “official,” but all are either correct or close.

Too much of a good thing

Historically in the collector-car hobby, around 1,500 units built is a demarcation line for collectible vs. probably not collectible. The 1,500 line applies to some noteworthy automobiles such as the Mercedes 300SLs, Ferrari F40s, 1973 Porsche Carrera RSs, and Porsche Carrera 4-cam 356s.

For the 2016 and 2019 GT3 RS models, Porsche at least tripled the production quantities of earlier RS models, to 4,520 and 4,750 units. How collectible can they become with those numbers extant?

Furthermore, starting with the introduction of the 991 in 2012, Porsche 911s got longer, wider and heavier — to the dismay of many enthusiasts. At the same time, Porsche’s engineering prowess added computerized features that helped the cars outperform earlier models — the PDK automatic gearbox, rear-wheel steering, more-sophisticated active suspensions, et al.

Fans say, “The new ones are faster, and easier to drive fast.” Detractors maintain, “They have lost their soul and the driver is not engaged.”

“Ex-Seinfeld”

Collectible or not, the fourth-generation GT3 RS is a fairly amazing modern automobile. An exotic build spec (a magnesium roof panel, carbon-fiber hood, front fenders, engine lid and wing) reduced weight to about 3,130–3,400 pounds, depending on options. Powered by a 4.0-liter engine making 500 horsepower and 338 foot-pounds of torque, performance is stellar with a top speed of 193 mph.

Against a base price of $175,900, Seinfeld ordered his GT3 RS with $39,125 in “normal” options, such as ceramic brakes ($9,210), front-axle lift ($3,490), leather interior ($3,480), LED lights ($3,110), and more. The big hit was $217,515 in Exclusive Department charges for the special metallic paint, the second tail — a custom ducktail à la the 1973 RS — and interior work. Seinfeld then spent $15k to airfreight it to the U.S.

He sold it in December 2019 through Bruce Canepa. That owner sold it in May 2020 on PCarMarket for $275,000. With the car now on its third owner, Bonhams did well to get $356k. A review of 19 recent public sales of 2016 GT3 RSs shows a range of $122,000 to $209,000. Mileage, paint color and options generate big differences.

Obviously, this car is special, and at least two bidders certainly thought so. In the end, it sold for far less than its new car sticker because it is now on its third owner, and some of the options Seinfeld paid dearly for did not help its resale value. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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