Exploiting the rules to the full without breaking them; that’s what designing a successful racing car is about, right?
If you can find a loophole, one that your competitors haven’t, it’s even better because it increases your chances of winning.
That’s exactly what Porsche did in the mid-1990s with its FIA GT Championship contender. Entries in the GT1 class were supposed to be based on road cars being converted into racing cars. Porsche made a, let’s say liberal, use of the rules: it designed a racing car that also spawned a street-legal version.
The 911 GT1 that was launched in 1996 was a mongrel, featuring the front end of the 993 with the back end of the successful 962 Group C racing car, including its twin-turbocharged, four-valve per cylinder flat six engine. Next year, in order to fend off the new Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, the 911 GT1 Evo was developed, featuring better aerodynamics and the fried egg-like headlights that would be introduced with the 996 and Boxster.
Porsche rolled out 25 examples of the Strassenversion (that’s German for street version) with 544PS (537hp), a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 308 km/h (191 mph). Not much to write home about by supercar standards, is it? Ah, but the GT1 is a racer that has a number plate bolted on. As you can see in the video that follows, it doesn’t have to try very hard to make much newer machinery look almost tame by comparison.