If you are looking for the wildest street legal original Porsche 911 ever built then you would probably go for the fast, noisy, hardly compromised limited edition 997 GT3 RS 4.0, right? Well, there is one car that is even more brutal, less civilized, less compromised and also built in more limited numbers. That car is called the 996 GT3 RS Road Challenge. Only ten were built, in the back is a real racing engine and driving them is one of the scariest but also most satisfying experiences ever. In this Registry we will dive into the background of this fantastic driving machine from Weissach that makes one of the most glorious engine noises ever produced. The best part is: you could drive it every day – if you dare.
For five decades, the 911 has been the iconic Porsche and since its debut as the Type 901 at the International Automotive Show in September 1963, more than 820,000 Porsche 911s have been built. Its one of the most successful sports cars in the world and as the legend Ferry Porsche once said “The 911 is the only car you could drive on an African safari or at Le Mans, to the theatre or through New York City traffic.”
Porsche is always known for their engineering ability and especially back in the day when these cars were hand built. Many of the ideas and technologies that made their debut in the Porsche 911 were conceived on the race track. Motorsport is therefore Porsches most important test lab. The stats read well, nearly two thirds of Porsche’s 30,000 race victories to date were notched up by the 911. And there is no denying that Porsches victorious journey all over the world started with 4 wins on the Monte Carlo Rally.
Londoner and racing legend ‘Quick’ Vic Elford took the first Monte win in 1968, but Porsche also won 3 more, the following two years 1969, 1970 and 1979 and also the European Rally Championship in 1970. However, in the 1971 season, Porsche ‘got duffed up’ by the Renault Alpine A110 and this led the Stuttgart minds to believe that the 911 was just ultimately too big to be a huge rally star so they pretty much walked away from rallying to concentrate on the circuits.
In 1984 Porsche were back, this time entering three cars into the renowned Paris Dakar Rally taking the overall win with the 953 a four wheel drive 911 driven by René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne. This car was designed purely for the Dakar and was essentially a test bed for the Rothmans 959 which replaced it only 12 months later. Porsche returned to the Dakar with the 959 in 1985 but huge disappointment struck as all of the three cars entered failed to finish. The following year they were determined that their new model would succeed and this time they took no prisoners with a solid 1-2 finish again driven by René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne.
When it comes to series production, the Werks rally 911 has nevertheless been a fairly rare occurrence. After the handful of rally cars from the sixties and the SC-RS from the eighties – which was built in an edition of 20 copies – it took until 2004 before another series of Werks Rallycars was built.
In 2004 ten cars were specially developed for the Future World team in Belgium in collaboration with former race manager Hartmut Kristen by Porsche Motorsport in Weissach under the name RS GT3 Road Challenge. The basic car is a GT3 RS chassis and at Porsche Motorsport it was built into a full fledged rally car, for then only the Belgian Rally Championship. Gérard Magniette, owner of the Future World Rally Team still owns the first car. All in all the 996 GT3 RS Road Challenge is probably the smallest Porsche-production series ever made. Even the rare 1968 911R was produced in larger numbers.
The Future World Rally Cars are said to have their origin in the GT3 that was driven as ‘Vorausfahrzeug’ at the Deutschland-Rallye in 2001. Driver was Walter Röhrl, his former co-Pilot Christian Geistdörfer was on the passenger seat. The crowd of 100.000 people were delighted to see Porsche back in rally. This car was in fact a Porsche factory car that debuted two years before as the first Porsche 996 GT3 ever. The car was yellow originally and the license plate S-GT-408 can be recognized on the cover of Christophorus back in 1999. So this was not the first Future World car, just the inspiration for the whole project.
After that a prototype was released. This car is now part of the Porsche Museum. Then the production of ten cars was started at the factory. The plan was to sell the rally-cars to wealthy clients. The 996 GT3 RS Road Challenge cost 125.000 euros each and they would race each other. Running the cars would cost 35.000 euros a year. Everything was included for that money: servicing, dinner, drinks. So all the owners had to do was show up in their race suit and drive the car. But clients were reluctant. It took quite some time before all cars were sold and the long awaited championship of ten equal rally-cars racing never happened. After the 2005 season the ten Future World Cars were sold to third parties. One car drove several World Rally Championship stages. One car was driven by people like Colin McRae, Sebastien Loeb and Sean Alesi at the Race of Champions in december 2005. McRae won the ROC in Paris that year in car number 003. Nine months later he was killed in a helicopter crash. One car was crashed and re-shelled. And one car seems to be missing (number nine).
It’s only ten years ago but chances are small that we will see official Porsche 911 factory rally cars being produced in the future. At the last Rennsport Reunion in California we asked Mr. Andreas Preuninger – chief GT-cars at Porsche – about the possibilities of a new series of 911 Werks rallycars. “I would love to do that and so would our clients, but the 991 Porsche 911 has become too big”, he says. “The 996 was just small enough to make it as a rally car.” Preuninger recalls the Future World Program very well. “I also worked for that program in those years. They were fantastic cars. Too bad those rally-times are gone when we could hear the cars come out of the woods with their fantastic sounding engines.”
There’s also two quite good copies of the Future World cars. One is the so called Reiter Nachbau and there’s the car that Jan Nijfof built for mr. Temmink in the Netherlands. This is an exact copy of a Future World based on a ‘normal’ 996 GT3.
In this Registry we are trying to get to know the whereabouts of all 10 cars, so if you have pictures or stories on one of the cars, please let us know at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erik Kouwenhoven. Owner of car number 003.