One-off Porsche 911 GT1 Evolution Auctioned For $3.14 Million
The only road-legal, race-spec GT1by Ciprian Florea, on
This weekend saw yet another batch of gorgeous classic cars cross the auction block at RM Sotheby’s Monaco sale. The most expensive model to find a new owner was a 1951 Ferrari 340 America Barchetta by Touring, which fetched a whopping €7.28 million (about $8.25 million,) but the sale also included a very rare Porsche 911 GT1 Evolution, which went under the hammer for €2.77 million (around $3.14 million).
Although relatively new compared to other million-dollar race cars, the GT1 has become rather expensive lately. The reason for that is that Porsche built only 41 examples, of which 18 were racers and 23 were street cars, but this particular model is a lot more special than the others. Specifically, it’s the only race-spec 911 GT1 that can be driven on public roads. It might not sound like much given that Porsche has also developed road-legal GT1’s, but this car has certain features you don’t see on the Strassenversion. The wing and the diffuser are different, while the front fenders are louvered, among other details. More importantly, you don’t get to go to the mall in a car that has seen more than four years of track action and won 13 races.
Another feat that makes this GT1 special is the fact that it is the only 1997 Evo sold new by the factory. It was purchased through Porsche Motorsports North America by Bytzek Motorsports in 1997, replacing one of the 1996 chassis models that was damaged. Raced until 2002, it captured the Canadian GT Championship between 1999 and 2001 and several other wins at Mosport (now the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park), Byztek’s home track. The car was fully restored in 2014 and 2015 by Lanzante Motorsports in the United Kingdom for more than £300,000 and was showcased at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed alongside the Porsche 919 Hybrid.
It also worth noting that it was a GT1 that scored Porsche’s last win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before the 919’s victory in 2015. There’s no information as to who purchased the car, but the new owner will also get a comprehensive file of restoration invoices and photographs, an extensive store of spare parts, and access to historic racing events such as the GT90s Series, the Daytona Classic, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
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Why it matters
Although it didn’t race at Le Mans and its only running at Daytona wasn’t exactly successful, this specific 911 GT1 has a lot of pedigree to brag about. It is part of a rare breed of race cars that won the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans and it is one of the very few track machines that managed to defeat the mighty McLaren F1 GTR. It’s also Porsche’s last non-hybrid prototype and top-tier race car that was sold to privateers. The fact that it is the only race-ready GT1 that can be driven on public streets makes the deal even better, even though it’s not the kind of vehicle one would drive around in the city. Granted, $3.14 million is a lot of dough and just about enough to buy a classic, 1960s Ferrari in good condition, but for that kind of cash, it’s the best high-performance race car from the 1990s you can buy.
With the revival of international sports car racing in the mid-1990s through the BPR Global GT Series, Porsche set out to return to top level sports car racing with a GT1 class car. But, unlike other manufacturers in this category who used modified versions of road cars, Porsche exploited the rule book further and did it the other way around. Specifically, the Germans developed a prototype for the track first and a homologation, street-legal version after that.
Dubbed 911 GT1, it had very little in common with the 911, sharing significantly more components, including the engine, with the Porsche 962. The 3.2-liter flat-six delivered almost 600 horsepower, which traveled to the wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. The GT1 went on to win the GT1 class (second overall) at the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans and took the overall win in 1998, giving Porsche its 16th Le Mans victory. The 911 GT1 remained Porsche’s final effort in top-level sports-car racing until 2014, when Stuttgart returned with the 919 Hybrid.
Raced between 1996 and 2003, the 911 GT1 attended 245 events, scored 47 overall wins, 38 additional podiums, and six class victories.
Read our full review on the Porsche 911 GT1 here.