Tech Tips: 996-Chassis Porsche 911 GT3


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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.

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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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