The 993 GT2 Clubsport may be widely considered the ultimate in driving ecstasy, but what about a GT2 with ‘Evo’ modifications? Buckle up! We drive one of the purest 911s, ever...
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
Images: Charles Russell
I think it's only appropriate to start this feature with the comments first muttered to me by this car’s custodian at the time, a Porsche collector and racer. “It is the purest, most brutal, rawest production Porsche I have ever driven in my life,” he said, and I couldn't wait to find out if he was right.
This particular example started life as one of those original Clubsport versions, and as you’ll now know, the Clubsport is stripped of any unnecessary interior comforts. There are no carpets, air conditioning, or sound deadening to speak of. The interior and roll cage are painted the same colour as the exterior, while safety equipment includes a driver’s harness, a battery kill switch and racing bucket seats. In place of the dual-mass flywheel, the Clubsport came with a clutch disc with torsional dampers, reducing weight even further.
Other standard GT2 fittings include the race-inspired, three-piece, magnesium five-spoke Speedline alloy wheels. Bending down on my knees, I place my thumb between the extended wheel arch and the tyre, and it’s a snug fit – that’s how much clearance there is. The 993 GT2 also featured power steering, but Porsche gave it a more direct ratio, which we will discuss shortly.
Up front, the suspension towers are connected with a strut brace, needed to keep this car stiff for the track, while the battery is mounted as low down as possible to reduce the car’s center of gravity. Yet, as this is supposedly also a car "for the road", there’s a space saver spare fixed to the floor!
However, the single most important fact about the Clubsport is that the shell was the same as used for the GT2 race car. And as we mentioned earlier, this is no ordinary Clubsport; the first owner, who was a regular client of Porsche at the time, specified some Evo modifications to his car. This particular specimen was ordered with the high rear wing and with an adjustable front anti-roll bar mounted beneath the front seats, rather than under the bonnet.
Of course, the true 993 GT2 Evo was offered from 1996 for customers with GT2 racing cars. This improved racer featured aerodynamic, software and mechanical updates. Of these options, the owner opted for the Evo front bumper (with more vents offering better cooling) and a new splitter to improve air flow control, as well as the all-important suspension modifications. These are made up of fully adjustable Bilstein shock absorbers, with the rear suspension rebound adjusters being accessible from the cabin compartment.
As the owner drives the GT2 up and down the mountain pass for photography purposes, I immediately pick up the turbo whistling sound from the engine. Later, I will discover that you can hear none of it while driving the car. Meanwhile, I try to understand and anticipate how a morning with such a unique 911 and its owner would pan out, but the car surpassed any preconceptions I might have had in the weeks leading up to this event.
The moment I grip its door handle, I sense that this is no ordinary 993 door, or 993 GT2 door, for that matter. It is featherlight, while the black door trim stands in stark contrast to the blood-red metal interior. Because the roll cage, entire body and Schroth seatbelts are red, it is the black dashboard, seats and Momo logo on the three- spoke steering wheel that actually stand out.
Ingress is best executed by stepping in with your right leg first and then sliding off the roll cage’s cross member into the seat. Immediately, you have a sense of being in a secure and safe environment. The bucket seat supports you from your upper thighs right up to your shoulders. To eradicate any possible frontal movement, I get all the straps of the four-point harness in place and click them into the central mount which is resting on my stomach.
The main part of the dashboard will be familiar to any 993 owner, but that is where the similarities with a standard 993 end. The lower part of your eyesight is bombarded with the red hue in the footwell from the painted metalwork. I also notice a 962 gearknob, which I find out was fitted by Porsche as a first-class gesture to the owner, as they still had some parts remaining from their 962 programme.
Settling into the seat, I feel ready for the task at hand. I spar the gearlever through the box, just to get a feel for its throw before I set off. It is a straight, 6-speed H-pattern gearbox with reverse gear hard left and up. It goes easier through the gates than I expected.
The moment I turn the key, the engine catches, and the rawness of an engine on solid mounts fills the cabin. Not only is it loud; I have never before had the sense that an engine is so specifically connected to the chassis as in this 911, especially for a road car. However, the moment I engage first and depress the clutch, a new, mechanical, ear-bleeding sound engulfs the cabin.
It actually suppresses the engine sound! The whine from the straight-cut gears (fitted by the previous owner for club racing purposes) would probably have most people jumping on the brakes, so harsh and broken does it sound. This racket slightly dissipates as you press the throttle pedal, but the moment you get off the throttle, the intensity of that gearbox whine returns. Owners and drivers of Cup cars will feel quite at home here...
A very brief drive a few weeks ago in the car in preparation for this photoshoot had readied me in some way for today, but I never came close to the redline on that occasion, and barely nudged the boundaries through a bend. This morning, things are different though. The owner has driven ahead in a different car, leaving me with the best part of a mountain pass, and this fiery GT2 Clubsport – with Evo modifications – to myself. Pleasingly, there’s no chaperoning here.
I quick-shift to second gear, and with 2 000rpm on the tachometer I put my foot down and the car starts pulling – there’s no turbo noise, only that gearbox, followed by the engine coming alive as I pass 3 000rpm. The needle picks up speed, and the following 3 000rpm pushes you back in your seat with a level of vigour not unlike that of some serious modern sports cars. Although there are still a few hundred rpms left, I shift at 6 000rpm and the onslaught continues. It’s a short joy though, as I slowly need to press the brake pedal. I’m not hard enough into the corner to need a heel-and-toe execution, but I blip the throttle before I depress the clutch and pull the gearlever across the gate into second. The brakes scrub off the speed, but I should warn anyone climbing into such a car after me to be careful for camber changes or braking when there is lock on the wheel – you can get into trouble if it catches you out.
Having read about how notorious these 911s can be if you don’t respect the far right pedal, I can’t help but marvel at the way this engine hides its turbo lag. For a 20-year-old Porsche, I expected more of it, but once you are driving the car as it is meant to be driven, high in the rev range, you will hardly notice it.
The steering feel is a potent characteristic of this GT2. Owing to the car’s track-orientated ‘Evo’ setup, the front wheels show a permanent hunger to dive into the next corner. In a straight line the car is stable, but the slightest change in the camber of the road filters through the wheels to the steering wheel. Yet, with the slightest input, the 993 GT2 will oblige like no other 911 I’ve driven, perhaps with the exception of a Cup racing car. It is as if the moment that you guide the car into a corner it is at its happiest. I already know that there is no body roll to speak of – not under braking, not under acceleration, and not when turning the wheel. This only means that you need to anticipate any possible movement from the rear axle. The experience is mind-blowing – what a car!
The GT2 was the peak of 911 developments in the nineties. For air-cooled fanatics, it is the peak of 911 development. Without question, it is the most hardcore road car Porsche has ever built. Will we ever see another pop-riveted GT2 or GT3 model again? Highly unlikely, I would argue. Since the 993 GT2, Porsche has never gone to such lengths to offer such a raw driving machine. That’s what makes these cars so very special. And, as if the GT2 Clubsport wasn’t special enough, a Clubsport with Evo modifications in a road-legal Porsche is just about as raw as it gets for the wonderful 911.
1996 Porsche 993 911 GT2 Clubsport “Evo”
Weight: 1 295 kg
Engine: 3.6-litre, flat-six
Power: > 335 kW at 5 750rpm
Torque: > 584Nm at 4 500rpm
Top speed: 293kph
0-100 km/h: 4.0 seconds
Gearbox: six-speed, manual, RWD