Some people swear by coffee; others vouch for less legal means of perking themselves up. Personally, I’ve never had a need for either, however, the automotive industry has – since the 1970s – preferred turbochargers as its means of giving petrol-powered cars a boost, with Porsche using forced induction to good effect on the 911 for over 40 years. From the standard Turbo to the simply crazy GT2s, turbocharging has helped define the performance Neunelfer.
More recently, forced induction has found its way onto the 911 Carrera for the first time, dividing Zufenhausen enthusiasts and causing naturally aspirated aficionados to grab their pitchforks. Despite this, forced induction has more than its fair share of fans, especially in the world of tuned Porsche 911s, where bigger turbines and remapped electronics can result in impressive gains without a significant amount of work. If you want to look for really big gains, you’ll need to start thinking about commissioning more extensive modifications in order to allow the Porsche 911’s flat six to handle the extra boost, without overstressing the internals.
Over the years there have been a number of specialists capable of carrying out such work, none more famous than German tuning house, Gemballa. After it was formed in 1979, Uwe Gemballa’s concern grew to prominence amid the modifying boom experienced across the car industry during the 1980s. His increasingly extravagant creations – originating with the 930-based Gemballa Avalanche in 1985 – were not just aesthetically radical renditions of Porsche’s 911 platform though. The mechanicals were suitably bolstered, too, the engine shop at Leonberg (near Porsche’s home in Stuttgart) turning out some ludicrous power fi gures thanks to the ever-more extreme turbocharging technology.
Gemballa’s pursuit of ever-higher power was reinforced by the dawn of the water-cooled Neunelfer at the end of the last millennium, the Porsche 996 package providing a more e cient base from which to work. The German team set to work quickly and, by 1999, had already launched the GTR package – a twin turbo conversion for 996 Carreras. Two years later, having also created a biturbo GT3 engine, Gemballa understandably turned their attentions towards the newly released 996 Turbo as the basis for their fastest ever car. The GTR 600 – as the name suggested – developed a heady 600bhp thanks to an extensively reworked version of the 996 Turbo’s 3.6-litre twin turbocharged Mezger engine.
In a to-and-fro battle with fellow tuning house, TechArt, and after even more development of the chassis, the GTR 600 was eventually able to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7:32.5. With long-time Porsche racer, Wolfgang Kaufmann – a personal friend of Uwe Gemballa – at the wheel, the GTR 600’s record run was so impressive that it wasn’t until the release of the Carrera GT that a stock Porsche was able to best Gemballa’s ef orts around the Green Hell. You may think it’s odd that I’m telling you all of this when the car before you appears to be nothing more than a 996.2 Carrera sporting a GT3 front bumper, however, this particular Porsche isn’t all that it appears to be. Despite its understated looks, Gemballa converted this 911 to GTR 600 specifi cation for its second owner in 2001 after the car had covered just 1,300 miles with its original keeper.