THE 997 911 R THAT PORSCHE NEVER BUILT
By Al Khoury
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We’ve told the story behind Oloi’s 2014 and 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 coupes, and this month we are featuring something a bit different. This 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS has gone under the knife to essentially become the 997 911 R that Porsche never built. You might be tempted to call it a FrankenPorsche, but we prefer that you don’t.
The 997 generation was produced from 2004 to 2012, with the 997.2 being introduced for the 2009 model year. It wasn’t a major transition from the 996, with the base Carrera carrying over the M96 engine. The biggest apparent change for the 997 was a return to the traditional 911 round headlights.
Porsche continued selling some 997.2 models in 2012 alongside the new 991.1. The first-ever 911 GTS was offered for the final two years of the 997 series. The Carrera 4-flavored GTS models were the rarest of the bunch and came in both coupe and cabriolet form. Prices for a 2012 Carrera 4 GTS coupe started at $111,150.
The first GTS bridged the gap between the Carrera S and GT3 trims. It had the same wide-body chassis as the 997.2 RS models. Its naturally aspirated 3.8-liter flat-six engine produced 408 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices were a six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK dual-clutch.
The GTS had a bespoke suspension designed to make it more suitable for the streets over the GT3. It came with center lock wheels, unique bumpers, blackout trim, unique door sill plates, and side skirts from the GT2. Alcantara trim lines the steering wheel, handbrake lever, and shifter. The Carrera 4 designation added all-wheel drive to the mix, along with a reflective strip between the taillights.
Oloi founder and Porsche enthusiast Thomas Lee had big plans for his 911 Carrera 4 GTS:
“My intention was to create a 997 911 R that no one had ever built before,” Thomas said. “The way I built it is how I imagined Porsche would build it. And I know for a fact that this car might be the only one in the world that has all the proper modifications and installations. It’s the correct spec.”
The 911 R was introduced in 2016 for one single model year, with just 991 examples leaving the Stuttgart factory. It borrowed its 4.0-liter engine, suspension, chassis, steering, and brakes from the GT3 and GT3 RS. It also threw in a manual transmission, which wasn’t available for the GT3 at the time. Carbon fiber and magnesium body components and a lack of standard luxury and comfort features helped make this the lightest of all 911s.
Oloi’s GT Silver Carrera 4 GTS was sent to SP Motorsports in Hayward, California for its transformation.
“We wanted to keep the essence of this 997 GTS as a touring oriented car but with the aggressive accents of the 997 GT3 as well as handling characteristics,” the car’s build page reads. This was not a simple bolt-on project, but an intensive reworking of the car’s visuals and mechanical functions.
The stock bumpers were replaced with those from the 997.2 GT3, which required some engineering to accommodate the now centrally located exhaust port. An Akrapovic titanium center muffler was installed, which required custom fabrication of side delete muffler sections. The car’s comfort and sport modes were preserved thanks to the retention of the exhaust valves. Ceramic-coated black SPM GT3 exhaust tips peek out from the new bumper.
A larger GT3 radiator was installed up front and all the proper ducting and venting was reworked to provide full functionality.
Carbon sport bucket seats from the 997 GT2 were mounted on the inside, retaining access to the rear seats. Guards Red Porsche seatbelts brighten up the dark interior.
A Cobb Accessport Stage 1 Tune was implemented and BMC racing filters were installed. Combined with the Akrapovic center exhaust plus a PDK tune offering faster shifts, this GTS has become more in line with the 991 GT3.
“We were able to increase the powerband and make the PDK much more responsive,” Thomas said.
While the car’s performance and looks have become more aggressive, it was important to retain its street-friendly touring nature. Swift 350 and 450 lb./inch springs with custom front and rear OE strut mount adaptors were installed, along with a Tarett Engineering extended front drop link and rear drop link. Single-adjustable MCS 1WNR dampers from Motion Control Suspension and front and rear 997.2 GT3 sway bars complete this suspension setup. SPM describes the final result:
“With properly valved compression dampening matched with the spring rates, this car really does handle like a GT3, only better ride quality.”
This modified GTS coupe’s brakes were given just as much attention as the rest of the vehicle. Advance Friction Performance (AFP) Clubsport compound brake pads and Endless RF-650 racing brake fluid complement the OEM street brake package. Dust and noise levels stay low without sacrificing brake performance and feel for the road or track.
The silver Porsche RS 4.0 center lock wheels measure 19x8.5 inches up front and 19x12 inches in the rear. They are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
A KW HLS nose lift system protects this GTS coupe’s delicate chin from speed bumps and steep ramps.
“A few months back, another Porsche enthusiast took a 991.2 Targa chassis and modified it to a GT3 RS version without the wing,” Thomas recalled. “The way they approached it was similar to the idea I had. If Porsche was to come up a 911 R Targa, that is how they would have done it.”
This meticulously modified 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS is ready to carve canyons, attack the track, and cruise the town on nights and weekends.
“Most people, when they do installs, eliminate the mechanical side of it,” Thomas explained. “For example, they most likely would put a straight pipe instead of an actual exhaust, which saves a lot of time and money. The way I approached it, everything that’s being installed or modified works completely. Even the OEM buttons work. A lot of time and effort went into this vehicle.”