Anyone with a penchant for lightweight, stripped down and focused sports cars will likely be well versed in the ways of Porsche’s RS division. A group of cars that have offered the world some truly superb driving experiences, dominated by agile handling, lightening-quick acceleration and motorsport DNA.
A recent weekend celebration of the Rennsport moniker at the fabled Laguna Seca Raceway in California saw a plethora of examples from the track, both classic and modern, with some driven by Porsche legends such as five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell. We’d like to have our own little testament to the RS name with five of the best models to ever wear those two special characters.
Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7
What is effectively genesis where the RS badge is concerned, the Carrera RS 2.7 arrived at the 1972 Paris motor show with all 500 initial examples of the lightweight 911 sold out a week before it had even made its international debut at the event. Demand for the car saw the Stuttgart manufacturer increase production by a further 1,080 cars. The RS 2.7 brought about one of the most classic forms of the 911, thanks largely to that ducktail spoiler and sideskirt decals.
The RS 2.7 not only started a long line of focused, hardcore 911s but also made for a defining model for the 911 lineage at the point of its conception. Porsche created the RS 2.7 with the intent to homologate the car for Group 4 racing requirements, but the car, fitted with its 2.7-litre 210bhp flat six, became an instant cult classic and has been deemed as the best car to have invested in over the last 10 years with an average price increase of 669%.
Porsche 911 (993) Carrera RS Clubsport
Produced in the model years of 1995 and ’96, the 993 RS was second only to the monstrous and original GT2 in being Porsche’s most extreme 911 of the time, with the Turbo close behind. However, this was bested by the stripped back RS Clubsport, which ditched creature comforts such as carpets, power windows, air con and the radio all in the name of creating the ultimate focused machine.
To complete the RS Clubsport, Porsche graced the car with an extravagant rear wing similar to that of the GT2’s to create a car that looked like it belonged on the track, with a bespoke front splitter also added. While the regular 993 RS saw a weight reduction of around 50kg, the Clubsport edition benefited from a weight shaving of double that, ensuring the 300bhp from its 3.8-litre flat six was more effective that ever before.
Porsche RS Spyder
Porsche has a history steeped in racing history and is the reason we are able to enjoy such models from the GT and RS lines, especially the latter, hence the Rennsport - Racing Sports - title. One of Porsche’s most successful and recent racing achievements was the magnificent RS Spyder, a car developed for Le Mans Prototype Class 2 (LMP2) and went on to win the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) three time before taking class victories at Le Mans itself in both 2008 and ’09.
Co-developed with the Penske Racing outfit, the RS Spyder was designed in-house and was given a rigid carbon fibre monocoque chassis, with the engine and transmission set up as integral stressed members of the layout. At the heart was a 3.4-litre V8 racing powertrain, producing 478bhp before regulations allowed for a 503bhp unit. Although left obsolete by subsequent regulation changes, the RS Spyder stands with the likes of the 911 GT1 and current 919 Hybrid as one of Porsche’s most successful and iconic racing examples.
Porsche 911 (997) GT2 RS
At its 2010 launch, the GT2 RS became the most powerful 911 model ever to exist and five years down the line, that statistic remains in place. Graced with an absurd 611bhp and a tarmac-tearing 516lb ft of torque, the GT2 RS not only set a new limit for the 911, but also stands out as the most outrageous RS model ever born out of Stuttgart.
Making use of different turbochargers, new intercoolers, new pistons and a new engine management system, the GT2 RS made the 0-62mph sprint in a mere 3.5sec and 0-100mph in just 6.8sec on its way to a rather silly 215mph top speed. Around the Nurburgring, the GT2 RS achieved a lap time of 7min 18sec thanks to both its incredible speed and the GT3 RS chassis on which it was based, adding a great dose of agility to the pot. Meanwhile, 70kg was lost over the standard GT2 thanks to efficient use of carbon fibre and plastic rear and side windows.
Porsche 911 (991) GT3 RS
To bring us right up to speed, the recently launched 991 generation GT3 RS has taken the world by storm in its short time in this world, blowing the minds of everyone that has had the pleasure of being at its wheel and getting critical acclaim in every publication lucky enough to test one.
The latest generation GT3 RS sees the engine output increased to 4.0-litres and the power to 493bhp, getting the car from 0-62mph in 3.3sec; meanwhile, thanks to its aerodynamics able to punch a whole through the air so efficiently, the GT3 RS offers 345kg of downforce at 125mph. Despite carrying on the PDK-only gearbox from the standard GT3, the new GT3 RS has been described as a marvel and testament to the Rennsport name after setting a new standard for cars of its ilk.