Porsche 911 GT3 (996)

The 911 GT3 arrived in 1999. One of the first production cars to lap the ‘Ring in under eight minutes (says Porsche), it got a 3.6-litre N/A six-cylinder engine that made just 360bhp. By today’s standards, not very much at all. It did rev to 7,800rpm though, and was paired with a most excellent six-speed manual gearbox carried over from the 993-generation 911 GT2. All-in, it weighed 1,350kg. This is nothing.

Porsche 911 GT3 (996.2)

Four years later the GT3 was updated, and offered in the USA for the first time. Now with more power – 381bhp – and an even higher redline (8,200rpm), it was still based on the 996-shape 911, but was more serious an item than ever. 0-60mph was dealt with in 4.3 seconds, and you’d see 190mph. This GT3 also marked the arrival of carbon-ceramic brakes – they were a rather pricey option.

Porsche 911 GT3 (997)

The 997-era GT3 was revealed in 2006. Though it was still powered by an N/A 3.6, power was increased to over 400bhp, and the redline to 8,400rpm. Porsche ‘Active Suspension Management’ was now fitted as standard, and the chassis honed to near-perfection.

Porsche 911 GT3 (997.2)

The 997 was updated in 2010, so the GT3 was too. Now 3.8 litres in capacity, the flat-six gave 435bhp and 317 lb ft of torque, meaning 0 to 60 mph was dealt with in 4.0 seconds flat, and you could run on to a top track speed of 194mph. The redline, meanwhile, climbed yet higher to an ear-damaging 8,500rpm. ‘Ring time? You’re looking at 7 minutes and 40 seconds. Serious stuff.

Porsche 911 GT3 (991)

Things changed for the 991. We waved goodbye to the manual gearbox and hello to Porsche’s admittedly excellent PDK dual-clutch auto, which was fitted as standard. There wasn’t even the option of a manual (at first…). But no matter – this was a tremendous car. As, indeed, all GT3s are. 475bhp, 9,000rpm redline, 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds (thanks PDK) and all-wheel steering meant the ‘Ring time fell to 7 minutes and 25 seconds.

Porsche 911 GT3 (991.2)

Today’s GT3 does it in 7 minutes, 12.7 seconds. Around 45 seconds quicker than the first-ever GT3. Progress. Its 4.0-litre engine, still N/A, makes 500bhp and allows for a 198mph top speed. The manual gearbox is back, too, and for the first time there’s a ‘Touring’ version that does without the massive wing. Looks ace, doesn’t it?