The Geneva Motor Show happened this week, and every year it’s like Christmas has come for the car industry.
Here are the highlights for me, and my thoughts on each…
Ferrari 812 Superfast
The front-engine V12 Ferraris are by far my favorite Ferraris. They have always been the ultimate expression of what a grand touring car can be, and their lineage goes all the way back to the beginning of Ferrari road cars in the early 1950s.
The 812 Superfast takes the insanity of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and takes it up yet another notch. With damn near 800hp on tap from its still-naturally-aspirated-V12 engine, the 812 Superfast is now the ultimate GT car (really more of a supercar) that money can buy. I also think it looks absolutely manic, yet somehow still in an elegant sort of way.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid
Do you think anyone ever imagined this when the Toyota Prius first came out? Hybrids were once pathetic little econo-boxes, but here is a 680hp Porsche Panamera with a hybrid system developed from the 918 hypercar. This is exactly how hybrid technology should be used. I want a 680hp bullet that can still get decent MPG when I’m not thrashing it. If nothing else, isn’t technology all about having your cake and eating it too?
Porsche has finally done it, they’ve brought back the manual GT3 and have given it the 4.0L engine to boot. It’s basically the Porsche we’ve all been dreaming about, and it’s the car Porsche once said they’d never build again. Right after Porsche said the days of manual GT3s were over, values of 997 GT3s immediately went through the roof. It became abundantly clear that Porsche was making a mistake, and this new 991.2 GT3 is here to set things right.
But what’s going to happen to the values of all of those 997 GT3 models that skyrocketed in the last few years? This new 4.0L GT3 with a manual is pretty much an attainable version of the coveted 997 GT3 RS 4.0 or the mighty 911 R, and with PDK it’s a little too similar to the much-inflated 991 GT3 RS.
With pricing starting from $144,650, and surely going up to cross $200,000, loaded with options, why on earth would you want to buy a 997 GT3 or RS for the same money? And can the PDK-only 991 GT3 even have a prayer? How about the 991 GT3 RS?
The 991.2 GT3 is about to make things very interesting in the Porsche market, and not everyone is going to be thrilled about it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be the guy who just dropped $200,000 on a 997 GT3 RS, or $175,000 on a 991.1 GT3.
My parents are moving down to their place at the shore full time soon, and of course they’re taking their cars with them. They’re only going to be 2 hours away, but driving-wise the shore doesn’t hold a candle to the back roads of Bucks County, PA. The topography at the shore is all flat, the back roads barely curve at all, and the main roads are so crowded, and so heavily patrolled by cops, that there’s nowhere to really let the car run free. I may get to drive the 996 a few times when I visit, but it will never be like it was up here, with old our colonial roads that snake their way endlessly through the forest.
I had to take the Porsche for one more solid drive up here to say my goodbye, of sorts. So one night, after work, I spent 2 blissful hours in it out driving a greatest hits tour of my favorite roads.
It’s amazing how much the right color can add to the impact a car has on the world around it. The Porsche 918 Spyder has a ton of presence to begin with, but in this molten orange it seems like it can stop time itself.
People were pouring over this thing in Scarsdale, especially little kids, who must have been totally transfixed . Even with all of the other insane machines around it, this Porsche had it’s own special sort of gravity.
In addition to it’s spectacular paint job, this 918 Spyder was also fitted with the coveted Weissach Package. That made it extra cool for me because it’s actually the first Weissach-equipped Porsche 918 I’ve laid eyes on in person.
Enjoy the gallery!
The new Porsche 991.2 GT3 is rumored to be essentially like the previous 4.0L RSs, with Porsche’s mighty 4.0L flat six, around 500hp, and a choice of two or three pedals. Meanwhile, the new 911 RSR racecar is a mid engined now. So the next 991.2 GT3 RS finds itself at a fork in the road. Should it stay as the ultimate rear engine track crusher? Or should it be based on the new mid engine RSR, staying true to form as a racecar for the street?
If the new 991.2 GT3 RS were to be based on the mid engine RSR, it could create a break-point between rear and mid engine 911 models, which would amount to the line between sports cars and supercars.
The rear engine 911 is a great sports car, maybe the greatest, because it offers a totally unique driving experience. However, Porsche clearly knows they’re pushing the boundaries of what a rear engine layout can do. The fact that the new 911 RSR racecar is blatantly mid engine just makes it obvious, but Porsche has been pushing the 911’s engine more and more forward of the rear axle with each new generation. At this point, the current 991 is extremely close to technically being a mid-engine car.
Look, whether it happens within the 991.2 generation or not, I think a mid engined 911 GT model, or lineup of models, is absolutely coming. People want what the racecar has, and now the racecar has its engine in the middle.
I do think the basic 911 Carrara up through GT3 and Turbo models should remain “rear engine” sports cars to stay true to form. After all, a rear engine is the defining feature of a Porsche 911. That said, I also think that opening up a range of mid engine 911 supercar models at the top of the range creates a healthy evolution for the Porsche brand. Okay, sure, maybe they might call the new mid engined cars by a name other than “911”, but they would essentially be mid engined 911s. For those of you scoffing right now, appalled at the idea of a 911 with an engine in the middle, just remember there’s already a major precedent for this from the late 90s; it’s called the 911 GT1.
What I think may happen here is the 911 GT3 and Turbo will be the top of the rear engined 911 range. Then the hardcore GT3 RS will kick off the new range of mid-engine, 911 GT1-style supercars derived from the RSR. The GT3 RS would have the rumored 4.0L+ naturally aspirated flat-six, as well as a host of track-ready features. Porsche should then offer turbocharged models of the mid engine 911 supercar, ready to compete directly with the Ferrari 488s, Ford GTs, and McLaren 650s of the world. Maybe that would be the “GT2”, and then have a “GT2 RS” with an upgraded turbo engine (a turbo 4.0?) and all of the trackday tricks of the GT3 RS.
Price wise, I picture it as follows: Rear engined 911 Turbo and GT3 models occupy the $150k-$250k range, as they do right now. The mid engine GT3 RS would come in around $300k, the turbocharged mid engine GT2 would run $350-400k, and the GT2 RS would be $500-600k and be built in limited numbers.
This is all just me pondering at this point, but if you remember back a couple years, there were rumors of Porsche wanting to develop a mid engine supercar above the 911 Turbo but below the 918. This would be that car, clear as day. Porsche had supposedly sacked the idea, but now they have a racing program with a mid engined 911 RSR?
It sure seems like they’re headed in this direction…
Porsche is moving the 911 forward with turbocharging and whatnot, but it’s great to see they still understand that much of their clientele still values driving purity. The 911 R is a Porsche purist’s wet dream, the lightest 911 available with the biggest, baddest engine, the 500hp 4.0L.
Base price for the 911R was under $200,000, but prices on the used market immediately shot up to more than four times that. Only 991 911 Rs will be built, but the car represents hope for us driving enthusiasts who crave the experience of a pure 911. We’re all praying that much of what has made the 911 R so desirable will find its way into the new 991.2 GT3, which supposedly will have a manual transmission as well.
You see, while cars have been getting faster in terms of lap times with paddle shift transmissions, they’ve also gotten duller in many regards. Some paddle shift gearboxes are fantastic, and Porsche’s PDK is one of the best, but it still can’t offer the depth of experience that a manual gearshift does. In the end of the day that shifter paddle is just a glorified button that tells a computer to shift a gear. You’re not actually doing it, and that does make driving less engaging of an experience. Faster be damned, fun is what matters most, especially in a road car.
The 911 R embodies the driver’s mindset in the modern era. It shows that a car can be modern, and still be extremely engaging. 911s aren’t transportations appliances, they’re sports cars, and it’s good to see that Porsche may be remembering that for the long run.
There were many other phenomenal cars that dropped this year, but for me, the 911 R hits at a deep ideological level.
What a color combo on this 1973 Porsche 911E! Plum purple over a black and tan interior, and with a child seat to boot. I love any car with a beautiful offbeat color scheme, and this is one of the prettiest old 911s I’ve ever seen.
Spotted at the Scarsdale Concours. Enjoy!
This is the second insane RUF I’ve seen for the first time this year. I caught a CTR3 at Greenwich, and then I found this RT12 S at Radnor Hunt.
The RUF RT12 S is based on the Porsche 997, but has been modified enough to be considered a new, non-Porsche car. It was available with a variety of options including various engine configurations, gearing, and a choice of RWD or AWD. Maximum power available was 685hp, and with the right gearing it’s capable of a staggering 225 mph.
We saw this thing accelerate hard as it left the show, and it was definitely tuned a bit rich because black smoke came out the tailpipes under full throttle. It’s a monster.
Enjoy the photos!
Matt Farah shows us this crazy custom Porsche.