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Entertainment This was the most popular book the year you were born

17:57  31 december  2021
17:57  31 december  2021 Source:   stacker.com

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"You'll wind up backward in a ditch!" I don't particularly like A Christmas Story, but I've heard that line about older turbocharged 911s so many times now I can't help but hear it in the movie narrator's voice, the automotive equivalent of, "You'll shoot your eye out." Surely the final, most potent of Porsche's pre-traction control, pre-stability control goosed-up 911s would be every bit the widow maker the original Turbo was, but no, the 2004 Porsche 911 GT2 is a delight.

Looking Back

Way back in the 1930s, someone said, "You're putting the cart before the horse," in the presence of Ferdinand Porsche. He replied with something to the effect of, "You know, that's a good idea." Porsche's company then spent the next three or four decades asking itself how much more powerful the horse could be rather than asking if it was wise. Incidentally, at the same time Porsche finally got around to asking itself that, it also doubled down and gave the horse a turbocharger.

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It was that early 911 Turbo which gave powerful Porsches, especially turbocharged ones, their reputation. Driving a 930-generation Turbo is hysterical, with body roll that would make a modern Buick blush and an ingrained desire to punish your understandable reaction to it with snap oversteer. The difference between maximum cornering speed and the engine attempting to pass the front tires is measured in fractions of a mile per hour, and by the time you realize it, it's too late to do anything about the speed. Lift and, well, you'll end up backward in a ditch. You work the steering wheel like an actor pretending to drive in front of a green screen and hope you keep it together until you can get the car straightened out, physically and metaphorically.

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Subsequent 964, 993, and 996 generations of the 911 tamed this tendency with anti-roll bars made of steel rather than cheese, but physics was always threatened, lurking in the shadows, waiting for the uninitiated driver. It's readily apparent in our 2004 review of the 996 GT2, full of warnings to watch out for the car's vicious side despite MotorTrend road-test master Chris Walton's assurances that "it doesn't do anything other than what it's told to do" and "has no inherent bad habits, but will identify and exaggerate yours."

2004 Speed Yellow 911 GT2 014 © Manufacturer 2004 Speed Yellow 911 GT2 014

The 2004 Porsche 911 GT2

You can imagine some trepidation today, then, climbing into a 2004 Porsche 911 GT2 fresh out of Porsche's museum collection and pointing onto a racetrack. After all, this is a car that didn't have to follow anyone else's rules. The 993 Porsche 911 GT2 was built to meet racing homologation requirements, but by the 996 generation, priorities had shifted to the GT3 class and birthed the naturally aspirated sensation, leaving GT2 engineers to do whatever the hell they wanted.

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What they wanted, naturally, was more power, but also less weight so the extra juice would make even more speed; 456 hp was a good start (an additional 41 hp over the 911 Turbo). But the folks in Weissach wanted to go out with a bang, so this 2004 Porsche 911 GT2 is 477.22 pounds lighter thanks to ditching unnecessary things like the spare tire and rear seats.

The real party tricks, though, are the racing-derived carbon-ceramic brake rotors. The first production car fitted with a set of the original PCCBs (Porsche Carbon-Ceramic Brakes) wowed us at the time with the ability to stop from 60 mph in 107 feet. You know, the same distance it now takes a 2022 Subaru BRZ to do the same. Carbon-ceramic brakes are about repeatability, and that's what really impressed us 18 years ago. Eliminating brake fade is forever the goal of motorsport engineers because it means quicker, more consistent lap times for the duration of a race.

So obsessed were we with the GT2's then-incredible acceleration—0-to-60 mph in 3.8 seconds for the less-powerful 2002 model—that we didn't spend much time on the brakes that would become ubiquitous on supercars industry-wide. We called out their fade-resistance in our First Drive review, and later praised the rock-hard brake pedal because it required you to modulate stopping power with leg strength, not extension. The latter observation was correct, but it was also a product of the time when brake pedals were squishy, because resistance and modulation aren't necessarily correlated.

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Driving It Today

By today's standards, the 2004 Porsche 911 GT2's brake pedal is certainly firm, but it's not nearly as hard as we made it sound all those years ago. Yes, it's modulated by effort, but there's enough pedal travel to let you fine-tune your braking. More importantly, even after a dozen laps of the Streets of Willow racetrack, the bite remained as strong as the first stop.

Similarly, the GT2's "lower-boost power steering" is listed among its performance attributes, something that may have made sense to people who learned to drive on cars without power steering. Today, the steering is just heavy, making you work harder to hustle the car around a tight, technical circuit like Streets. Nearly two decades further removed from the hairshirt "a good sports car should try to kill you" nostalgia fostered by people whose first cars didn't have airbags or antilock brakes, we today prefer lighter steering that makes it easier to change directly as precisely as possible.

The 2004 911 GT2's clutch is heavy no matter the decade. Combined with the heavy steering, it makes leaving an increasing-radius right-hander a dicey proposition. You must move your left hand down the wheel so you have plenty leverage when you take your right hand off it to shift to third gear just after the apex, when there's still a fair amount of steering lock applied.

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The shifter, thankfully, is light. Unlike older 911s, it's precise enough so you can generally throw it in the direction of the gear you want and get into the gate without trying too hard. Compared to a modern Porsche the throws are long and loose, but hell, the 2021 BMW M4 wishes it had a shifter this good.

Then there's the engine the whole mess is connected to, the one we had so many dire warnings about. A 3.8-second 0-to-60-mph run is still damn quick today (and that was the 456-hp '02 model), and it was outright insane 20 years ago. A 2002 Ferrari 360 Modena needed 4.5 seconds; a V-12 Lamborghini Murciélago of the same year was only three-tenths quicker than the twin-turbo flat-six Porsche.

The 911 GT2 is still quick, but not until it's really on the boost. The relative responsiveness of the throttle off-boost was probably pretty darn good by 2002 standards, but the turbo lag is hilarious compared to today's engines. Back then we warned about not standing on the throttle exiting a corner if the revs were less than 3,000 lest the surge of power blow the rear tires off the car. Now? We can't imagine why you'd ever let the revs get that low in the first place. Sure, it's a bit thrilling to stand on the gas and feel the acceleration surge when the turbos join the party, but if you're looking to put together even a halfway decent lap, you need to keep the revs up. Doing so isn't especially difficult; the pedals are spaced perfectly for heel-toe downshifts, so you just need to put enough muscle into the brake and clutch to make it all happen.

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And what about the "you'll end up backward in a ditch" hand wringing? Don't worry too much about it. Despite our warning at the time of "easily provoked" oversteer, the 2004 Porsche 911 GT2 has a lot of grip by any day's standards, so you'd have to really try to induce the dreaded lift-throttle oversteer. If you don't know better by now, you shouldn't be driving a vintage Porsche. Even on a track with just the right kind of bend to trigger one, the GT2 feels planted. Its driver would need to massively misjudge a corner and yank their foot off the throttle to get the car to just pop loose.

Not So Scary, After All

Really, the 2004 Porsche 911 GT2 is so stable and so grippy for a car that's nearly old enough to vote, you don't miss the traction- and stability-control safety nets. It's neither a threatening car nor an evil one that lulls you into some false sense of security. It's very plain about how it'll respond to your inputs and, as we said nearly two decades ago, "just be sure you tell it the right things."

If anything, the GT2 is by today's standards a bit of a workout. The comparatively heavy steering, brake pedal, and clutch pedal make the Porsche physically demanding to drive quickly. It doesn't delicately dance through corners like a modern 911; the driver must put it there with some effort. In a way, though, that makes it even more satisfying. This car makes you work, makes you drive it the way it demands. It listens to no rules but its own, and when you comply, it's incredibly rewarding.

2004 Porsche 911 GT2 Specifications
BASE PRICE $191,700 (in 2003/2004)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Rear-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe
ENGINE 3.6L/477-hp/472-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve flat-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT 3175 lb
WHEELBASE 92.7 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 175.2 x 72.0 x 50.2 in
0-60 MPH 3.8 sec
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 14/22/16 mpg
ON SALE IN U.S. 2003-2004
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