Tech Tips: 996-Chassis Porsche 911 GT3

Photograph Courtesy Porsche

Meet Our Expert:

John Tecce
teambgb.com
(386) 265-1979

These are great cars out of the box. The 996 chassis represented the beginning of the era of extremely reliable Porsches. Quality control was very good.

With that being said, every street car needs brake and tire upgrades before going out on track. Both of these stock components get too hot, too quickly. These cars love softer R-compound tires.

I don’t think they typically came with braided brake lines. Installing some stainless steel braided brake lines is another big step forward.

Coolant pipes are an issue because they are glued in place. They degrade over time and have to be tacked back in place.

When it comes to upgrades, there are really three main modifications: exhaust, air filters and tune. That’s all you’ll need to achieve all the power you’ll require. An aftermarket exhaust can make or break this car. It can gain you some power and create a symphony of an exhaust tone, or it can make the car sound wimpy. Listen to other cars with aftermarket exhausts to find out what you like.

GT3 cars don’t gain too much from a tune, but if you can get a good tune, that’s the cherry on top. If your tune can raise the redline, that would be more helpful since these cars make power all the way up to stock redline.

The fuel pump on any car you buy today will probably need to be replaced if it hasn’t been before, especially if the car has seen any regular time on track.

Oil changes should come every 3000 miles for street cars, and every 1200 miles if the car sees track time.

IMS bearings do not tend to be an issue with the GT3 cars because they came with the special Cup engines. So sleep easy there.

Before you take your GT3 to the track, give everything under the car a once-over. The OEM equipment is not known to give out, but it’s always worth it to perform a good nut-and-bolt before going to the track.

Meet Our Expert:

Robert Overholser
Lüfteknic
lufteknic.com
(804) 343-3363

If I had to choose one thing to improve, it would be the dampers and basic handling. Damper technology these days is far beyond what was there in the early 2000s. The later GT3 RS uprights and other suspension parts can be retrofitted to help. Too much “development” parts thrown at an earlier GT3 can take the original spirit of the car away, so there is always a balance to maintain. Also, many get in trouble by carrying basic mods all the way to a “home-built” track car. If that is the direction, it would be smarter to buy a 996 Cup car that already has the proper engineering behind it.

The later exhausts are basically bolt-ons, and with the primary muffler bypass it takes about 30-40 pounds out of the back of the car. Aftermarket exhausts like one from Cargraphic also make real power. The proper HJS cats are a must.

Software yields a minimal improvement.

Look at the RS single-mass flywheel and clutch packages and couple with the appropriate front crank pulley if car is tracked. This package was originally used on the 964 RS and has been used on 993 RS/RSR and early 996 GT3 Cup cars. It fits a variety of 911 street cars from 964 to 997 GT3/TT. Proper knowledge to choose from a variety of pressure plates and discs will help with success on the street or track.

Bumpsteer correction by someone who knows what’s going on can change an undrivable car to “one finger on the wheel,” half-asleep confidence.

Fit two-piece lower control arms on cars not equipped. Wider track in the back can also be easily done with aftermarket links and axle spacers, among other items. Dampers: KW coil-overs, Moton and Öhlins are all good choices.

Common 996 issues also relate to the GT3: HVAC evaporator, ignition switch/assembly, coolant expansion tank, and front tie rod and control arm squeaks. The “soft touch” interior bits are always annoying, and oil coolers occasionally give problems. You need a knowledgeable specialist to help care for a car like this to give guidance and also help choose the appropriate parts and maintenance schedule. Be advised, the early 996 street cars are now 15 years old; this is an old car that needs age-related service.

Common maintenance items: clutches, water pump/thermostat, consumable brake parts, wheel bearings, tires, obviously. If it’s a regular track machine, then it needs to have a “race life” service regimen for components like dampers, suspension parts, fluids.

Engines are tough but need diligent service and more frequent spark plug changes; updated ignition coils are also smart.

The coolant water pipes are a must to have welded. Most still aren’t. The glue and pin trick is dubious. This also applies to the 996 and 997 TT cars; later Cayenne Panameras in the hot climates are also suffering similar fates.

LSD maintenance/upgrade, now due to many being timed-out, should include replacement of LSD due to diff body fractures. Gearbox inspection/service is also smart and should be based off number of events and hours it has been used.

Gearboxes can be re-geared easily, and tons of parts are out there in a variety of ratios. They are tough, but they can be really worn-out if it’s been a track car for years. 996 Cup car shift cables, and the latest 997 GT3 RS shifter, are great updates.

A brake fluid exchange before each event is also wise. Axles need regular service even if the boots are not torn.

Keep radiators clean.

Engines can be overhauled by specialists, and made into a 3.8-4.0-liter engine, or even larger, with proper knowledge. Bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to reliability.

Buy front spoilers in bulk.

Proper race wheels for cars used at the track are also smart.

Be aware: You can be at a track like VIR or Daytona and be going 150-170-plus mph in a Porsche street car with no cage these days. This is especially dangerous. Be smart.

“When it comes to upgrades, there are really three main modifications: exhaust, air filters and tune. That’s all you’ll need to achieve all the power you’ll require.”

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Comments
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AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/5/20 6:45 p.m.

"IMS bearings do not tend to be an issue with the GT3 cars because they came with the special Cup engines."

Pretty awful for an expert.  The M96 in the regular 911s has the IMS roller bearing and a potential issue.  Porsche did design a Cup car alternate engine based on the M96.  A lot of those parts later became part of the X51 power package.  

The GT3 engine is a Mezger engine.  It is actually based on the old air cooled engine design, which also has an intermediate shaft.  The IMS is supported by an oil fed plain bearing like the crank.  These engines are much more durable in this regard.  Suffice it to say the GT3 engine isn't really a special cup engines.

Normally I'd love to read a GT3 article but this stopped me in my tracks.  

My favorite 996 issue is that in '05, you could buy a 997 Carrera but all GT3s, turbos and the GT2 were still 996 based cars.  The GT3, GT2 and turbo all use Mezger based engines. You couldn't get a US spec GT3 until '04.  You could get a Ruf RGT in '00 or '01 which was a Ruf 996 chassis with a naturally aspirated Mezger in the US.  Reportedly only 17 were built and only half a dozen or so made it to the US.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/5/20 7:11 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

Yeah...GT3 and turbo engines technically have M96 codes, but are completely unrelated to the "normal" engines. No IMS troubles, real dry sump, air cooled case with water cooled cylinders and heads.

More fun facts: the overlapping generations isn't new for Porsche. In 1989 the 964 Carerra 4 was introduced, but all the 2WD models wre still torsion bar 911s. And there's probably some other examples too. The GT3 (and maybe Turbo?) release is always staggered a year or three from the initial model release. 

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
5/6/20 8:34 a.m.

Yup, 996 Turbo's and GT cars have the older Mezger motors.  That's why I bought a turbo...

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
5/6/20 10:29 a.m.

That's some pretty cryptic expertise.....

Also sounds like owning a early 2000s Porsche is a PITA. 

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
5/6/20 12:58 p.m.

In reply to DirtyBird222 :

Mine has been totally reliable.  I have friends with over 100k miles on their 996 Turbos and have had the same experiences.  Nothing beyond typical maintenance

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/6/20 3:14 p.m.
DirtyBird222 said:

That's some pretty cryptic expertise.....

Also sounds like owning a early 2000s Porsche is a PITA. 

It's far better than it seems.  You have to factor in that Porsche owners tend to be paranoid, neat freak, perfectionists.  Selling used Porsche's is brutal for this reason unless they are really old and priced accordingly.  It seems like every first time Porsche owner expects a "perfect" car and that creates a lot of the "issues."

As far as cryptic expertise, well that's largely due to how Porsche operates.  They just don't like to share expertise or information, so you have to get it first hand or second hand from someone that really knows.  There is a lot of 3rd and 4th party heresay that is just really bad info. 

Having taken a class taught by the guy who has rebuild the most M96 and M97 engines co-taught by the team manager for many Porsche Daytona 24 hour endurance races really helped.  Other guest instructors including the one reputable shop that rebuilds and repairs water cooled heads, the owner of the shop that sells the best aftermarket cylinders and pistons and Lake Speed Jr. of Gibbs Racing oils.  Now all of the class info is on video for purchase without the Q&A which I was lucky to benefit from. 

It's funny because the Mezger engines have a bullet proof reputation but the guys that rebuild them prefer the M96/7 platform with improvements.  Did I mention the owners wife holds FIA land speed records with a built M96 engine? 

Basically, the information is all out there, you just have to weed through a lot of other info to find the correct stuff.  It's not really even a matter of knowing it all, but knowing where to look and who to call when you need help.  I'm hoping to find a nice M96 3.2L or 3.4L 5 chain core oneday at a reasonable price and rebuild my own for performance and to always have a spare on hand.  I own two cars with 5 chain M96s.

I love the turbo 996s too, but don't think I'd ever buy one.  I would buy a 996 or 997 GT3 if I had the funds and found the right car for me.  It'd have to be certain colors, have certain options, and be in my price range..... so probably never. 

 

 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
5/6/20 4:03 p.m.
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:
DirtyBird222 said:

That's some pretty cryptic expertise.....

Also sounds like owning a early 2000s Porsche is a PITA. 

It's far better than it seems.  You have to factor in that Porsche owners tend to be paranoid, neat freak, perfectionists.  Selling used Porsche's is brutal for this reason unless they are really old and priced accordingly.  It seems like every first time Porsche owner expects a "perfect" car and that creates a lot of the "issues."

As far as cryptic expertise, well that's largely due to how Porsche operates.  They just don't like to share expertise or information, so you have to get it first hand or second hand from someone that really knows.  There is a lot of 3rd and 4th party heresay that is just really bad info. 

Having taken a class taught by the guy who has rebuild the most M96 and M97 engines co-taught by the team manager for many Porsche Daytona 24 hour endurance races really helped.  Other guest instructors including the one reputable shop that rebuilds and repairs water cooled heads, the owner of the shop that sells the best aftermarket cylinders and pistons and Lake Speed Jr. of Gibbs Racing oils.  Now all of the class info is on video for purchase without the Q&A which I was lucky to benefit from. 

It's funny because the Mezger engines have a bullet proof reputation but the guys that rebuild them prefer the M96/7 platform with improvements.  Did I mention the owners wife holds FIA land speed records with a built M96 engine? 

Basically, the information is all out there, you just have to weed through a lot of other info to find the correct stuff.  It's not really even a matter of knowing it all, but knowing where to look and who to call when you need help.  I'm hoping to find a nice M96 3.2L or 3.4L 5 chain core oneday at a reasonable price and rebuild my own for performance and to always have a spare on hand.  I own two cars with 5 chain M96s.

I love the turbo 996s too, but don't think I'd ever buy one.  I would buy a 996 or 997 GT3 if I had the funds and found the right car for me.  It'd have to be certain colors, have certain options, and be in my price range..... so probably never. 

 

 

Do they give classes on a proper LSX swap? That seems more manageable than relying murky hearsay wink

I've looked into 996s in the past and enjoyed the ones I've test driven. I have gripes about working on German cars because of nightmares I've dealt with back when I was a tech. I bought an S2000 and an E36 M3 with that money instead. I have unlimited reliability and the ability to be frustrated by German nuisances all under the same budget. It hasn't stopped me from continually looking at 996s for future projects. 

 

mw
mw Dork
5/6/20 7:35 p.m.

I know it's only anecdotal evidence, but my 99 C2 has been trouble free for 6 years and about 55,000 km. Just oil changes and brakes and tires.  It just keeps working. It was cheap ($16k Canadian). I'm often tempted to replace it because ADD, but there's definitely nothing I'd prefer at a similar price. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/6/20 8:41 p.m.

Proper LSX swap and a 996 is a debatable topic to say the least.  Each swap is really a custom one off affair no matter what folks say.  You should look up SPEC 996 lap times if you think you need more power. 

 

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/6/20 9:52 p.m.
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:

Proper LSX swap and a 996 is a debatable topic to say the least.  Each swap is really a custom one off affair no matter what folks say.  You should look up SPEC 996 lap times if you think you need more power. 

Agreed, I'm not a huge fan of the M96 engine line, but it's nowhere near enough of a dumpster fire that anything but the most well executed and polished swap would be genuinely more trouble free. If you want a 911 with a V8, go for it. If you want a bulletproof and hassle free ownership experience, add up what you would have spent making the swap flawless, then go buy a 997.2 and probably have some money left over, not to mention a car with some amount of resale value.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
5/7/20 10:11 a.m.

I'd never do a non native swap again.  I put an LSx into my 951 and it was a tremendous amount of work.  Tyler Hoover of Hoovies Garage did an LS swap on his old 996 and regretted it. 

As much as I love the GT3's, I wouldn't want one for anything other than a dedicated track car.  They're just not great on the road, they're a thinly disguised track car.

dps214
dps214 Reader
5/7/20 10:53 a.m.

In reply to docwyte :

I wouldn't be surprised if you're right about the 996, but the 997+ GT3s with active dampers ride really well on the road. They can't totally cover up all the stiff rubber and metal bushings in the suspension, but they're far from uncomfortable. I've definitely been in more "normal" vehicles that weren't as comfortable on the road. Then all you're left with is the lack of ground clearance and awful fuel mileage, and you get at least one of those things with most any sports car. Though piling on miles is the one thing that depreciates GT cars, so I definitely wouldn't have one as a pure street car unless I was fully dedicated to keeping it forever.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
5/7/20 3:01 p.m.

In reply to dps214 :

I've driven a 997 GT3RS on the road but only briefly around a pretty tight neighborhood.  Not enough to get an idea of how it rode but the 996 GT3's I've driven are pretty brutal.  The clutch effort on all these GT cars is also in the 800lb gorilla level, 996 and 997 alike...

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/7/20 5:48 p.m.

If I had one, I'd be driving it primarily to and from fun events or the Hill Country or fun roads in OK and AR.  I don't care about ride quality for that :).  The 997 GT3s are moving into the world of possibility lately thanks to Porsche finally importing lots of GT cars into the US.  I will keep waiting.  Time is on my side.  I may never own one, but given the right opportunity, I'd pounce.

 

 

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