GT3 Diaries

August 2019: truly the dog days

Is the GT3 a practical car?  

Relative question, of course.

The obvious and immediate answer should be “No”, and “Why would you ask such a question anyways?” The GT3 is the track-focused variant of the Porsche 911, the quintessential sports car; practicality shouldn’t even be a consideration of when it comes to these sorts of cars. You want something quick and fun to drive and also be able to serve double duty as a hauler of things? Go buy a fast wagon, rather than a super dedicated sports car.

But then you’d lose out on the joy of driving a 911, wouldn’t you?

Nevertheless, real life sometimes intervenes, and that entails going on grocery runs and running errands. Indeed, my GT3 is a weekend-only toy for the mountain roads, but being that it is my only car, there are moments where I have to take it to do the mundane duties of everyday life. That’s where the question of practicality enters into the discussion.

Unlike typical sports cars (my old Mazda MX-5 Miata, for example), where an utter lack of storage is the tradeoff you happily barter away for those sweet handling abilities and that smile on your face, the 911 is well-known for being somewhat practical. Though it is definitely not the nadir of its kind: the consensus most practical sports car is either the Porsche Cayman, or the Chevrolet Corvette. Like its 911 big brother, the Cayman has a trunk up front, but adds to that a useable rear trunk as well, space made available due to its mid-engine layout. Meanwhile, the Corvette’s rear parcel shelf is legendary for its ability to hold a set of golf clubs.

Good thing I don’t golf, and I really wanted the joy of driving a 911.

The key ingredient to the 911’s utility is the rear seats. Supremely small for anything larger than a tiny child, the 911’s rear seats shine for carrying non-human cargo. Once the seats are folded down, the rear passenger compartment acts as the de-facto rear trunk for the 911, able to swallow a surprisingly large number of things, like the set of golf clubs that fits in the aforementioned Corvette. Maybe I should take up golfing after all.

In GT3 trim, the rear passenger compartment is larger still than standard 911s, because there aren’t any seats at all. The lack of extra cushions and backrests means it’s even more practical and accessible, provided you don’t do the tacky thing and put a roll-cage back there (it does look awesome, I must say). It’s behind that seats where I usually store things, especially items that I’d want to keep cool.

Because the front trunk (frunk) can be best described as a hot mess. Cavernous and deep – an adult of smaller stature can actually fit inside and close the lid, the frunk of a 911 does the hard carry for the car’s overall utility quotient. But, there’s a problem: it gets stupendously hot. Nestled just in front of the compartment are the car’s radiators, and because of its high-performance roots, those heat-exchangers generate quite a bit of temperature, and it all gets permeated into the frunk. After a particularly spirited drive, the metal latch of the lid can actually get too scalding to touch.

It means only the sturdiest of items, ones that aren’t sensitive to heat, can and should be placed in the frunk. This immediately eliminates groceries of any kind (that ice cream you just bought will become milkshake by the time you get home), and electronics as well. I definitely don’t store my camera equipment in the frunk. Those go behind the seats inside the car, where it’s constantly air-conditioned to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Porsche really should have climate-controlled the frunk, though I guess that would go against the lightweight racing ethos of the GT3. I think the regular 911s with a grand-touring bent should have an air-conditioned frunk as an option.

It’d certainly make the food run much easier.

Right; highly non-perishable items in the frunk, and everything else goes in the rear compartment; I reckon the GT3 has got enough space for a weekend’s camping trip, if so desired (I don’t.) And, if you’re like me and a bit of an introvert, the empty passenger seat can serve up some additional carrying capacity. The standard glovebox (the MX-5 didn’t even have one) is a decent size, and the door pockets (MX-5 didn’t those, either) can hold about four smartphones on each side, or about 200 speeding tickets.

So the answer to the question is, for me at least: the 911 GT3 is a very practical (sports) car.

I’d written in the July update that August isn’t looking too good for lots of miles, and as you can see in the stats below, my prediction was correct. It was a busy month for me outside of any car-related stuff, so I only did the bare minimum and drove the GT3 only once a week, to get all the mechanical bits up to temperature (these cars really don’t like to sit for very long) and keep the battery in topped up. I knew there would be months were driving opportunities are few, but I’d never thought I would have two consecutive months of under 300 miles driven.

The GT3 is too good and too expensive of a car to allow that to continue. I aim to at least break 500 miles for the month of September.

During August I did get a chance to properly wash the car, after having not done so for more than eight weeks. I’ve really gotten lazy about upkeep ever since I found out from the GT3’s first owner that the entire exterior – including the wheels – has been ceramic coated. Dirt and grime hardly ever stick to the car, so most of the time I simply hose it off and be done with it. Alas, after a certain extended period, I still have to break out the wash bucket and microfiber towels.

I have to say it’s still somewhat awkward and weird taking the GT3 to the local coin-op carwash to spray it down. I’ve got to be one of the very few Porsche 911 owners who does this; the more typical profile is someone rich enough to pay a professional detailer, or at the very least, have their own garage space to do it themselves. Meanwhile, I’m not even rich enough to be able to park the car anywhere near where I live.

To those car enthusiasts in similar situation, who are buying cars that are considered out of your income range but you’re making it work because of the love and passion, I salute you.


Date acquired: January 2019
Total mileage: 27,512
Mileage this month: 265
Costs this month: $309.89
MPG this month: 17.2 mpg