Here at Car Autance we’re very pro-996 911. Well, at least half of us are. Not exactly to a cult-status degree, but we genuinely dig it for being the first water-cooled 911, a very overall nice-looking 911, and at the moment, the most affordable 911. There are two things about the 996 that people love to diss it for: The M96 engine’s pesky IMS bearing issue, and its two versions of headlights affectionately dubbed its “runny eggs.” But these same individuals who detest the 996 absolutely love the late-’90s Porsche 911 GT1. Show them a photo of one of these beasts ripping around Le Mans or Road Atlanta back in the day, and they’ll go on and on about how cool they were. Though apparently they never look hard enough; the GT1 was the first Porsche to sport runny eggs!
To bring everyone else up to speed, the 911 GT1 was Porsche’s entry into 1990s GT1 racing. This was a short-lived class in international racing that featured similarly wild platforms from other makes, such as Mercedes’ CLK GTR. Big aero bodywork, roof scoops, carbon fiber everywhere, loud exhaust notes, long wheelbases, center-lock wheels, the works. The 911 GT1 made around 600 horsepower from its twin-turbo, 3.2-liter flat-six engine and weighed around the same as my Mazda2 (2,300 pounds). These things were absolute-monsters.
Quick, funny bit of trivia: Porsche didn’t base the GT1 on the 911, but rather built the GT1, and then built 25 barely street-legal versions to satisfy the FIA’s requirement for it to compete.
The 911 GT1 was only slightly related to a street-legal 911. I think just the headlights were the only link between the two? The biggest difference by far was mid-engine, instead of rear-engine like any lower-tier 911 race car or road-going variant.
Porsche actually produced two different faces for the GT1; the earlier model was 993 911 “based” with round headlights, then in late-1996 the brand came out with the Evo refresh that had, you guessed it, runny eggs! Oh, by the way, the 993 “based” one had a fully-water-cooled engine as opposed to the actual 993’s air-cooled engine. So if you find yourself engaging in verbal fisticuffs with an air-cooled snob about air-cooled versus water-cooled, say something to the degree of “but the 993 was the first fully-water-cooled 911 though!” and watch the veins appear on their forehead.
Show a photo of the GT1 Evo in its runny egg-spec to any Porsche aficionado, general car enthusiast, whoever, and ask them how good and badass it looks. They’ll confidently nod and say something to the degree of “oh hell yeah dude those things are so friggin’ cool!”
Show them an original press photo of the 996 911 Carrera, and there’s a good chance they’ll say something like “oh boy, a 996 with a ticking time bomb in the back and those ghastly headlights.”
Going one further, here’s my further defense of runny eggs: since the GT1 is by far the wildest water-cooled 911 ever made, everything about it is peak 911. Flat-six, water-cooled, runny eggs, the lot. Any knock against any bit of its aesthetic, power, whatever, is a moot point. Even considering the fact they only changed up the front-end as a way to market the upcoming, brand-new 996, it was still the first Porsche to do real Porsche things (do race car things really well) with runny eggs on its snoot.
It is peak Porsche, it is peak water-cooled 911.