The GT9-R is never going to be as refined as a Veyron. It is far more visceral and involving on several levels, and places you right in the middle of the proceedings. So while the Bugatti can be driven at normal speeds by a normal driver, only requiring an experienced hand at high speeds, the GT9-R requires a competent driver from the word go.
For instance, with no DSG gearbox, you still have to operate the clutch when you press the shift buttons on the steering wheel. With racecar features like a single-mass flywheel, it sounds and feels mechanical, raw and old-school. This is a serious driver’s car, and never pretends to be otherwise. The small band of hard-core enthusiasts who knock on 9ff’s door know this, and crave the experience.
If you want the same power wrapped in a more subtle and accessible package, look no further than the black 997 Turbo. The owner of this car wanted a stealth fighter that no one would suspect was anything other than a stock Turbo with a larger front spoiler lip and side skirts.
At a glance you would be hard-pressed to even see that it wears GT3-style wheels, as their black finish makes it hard to pick this out until you get right up close. Even the interior is bog standard, lacking even the optional factory sport seats.
Opening the engine cover however, reveals the crown jewel, as the 1,150-hp GT9-R motor stares you in the face. Yes, you read that right. 1,150 hp, 30 more than the normal GT9-R Stage 3 output!
The Turbo’s owner had asked to see what 9ff could get out of it as a one-off, and with a few further tweaks to the pistons, cams and combustion chambers along with a slight increase in compression ratio this is the result. The tighter packaging in the Turbo shell means that air-to-air intercoolers have to be used. As these are less efficient than the water-air intercoolers in the GT9-R, a higher boost pressure of 1.9 bar is required to achieve this power level, compared to 1.7 bar in the GT9-R installation.
Gearbox reliability becomes an issue when the engine tune exceeds a certain point, and the question is then whether to base your mods on a 996 or 997 Turbo box.
While many motorsport gearbox specialists produce alternative gear ratios for all six forward gears of the 996 box, the same is not true for the 997 gearbox. So far, only one or two companies make alternative 997 gears, and these are limited to taller Fifth and Sixth ratios.
However, the downside of the 996 gearbox is the fact that it only has double synchros for First and Second gears, and single synchros for the four higher ratios. The 997 gearbox has triple synchros on its first two gears and double synchros for four through six, making the shifting lighter and smoother. Since the Turbo’s owner intended to use the car as daily transport, he opted for the compromise of a superior gear change over perfect ratios. Even so, this is still the fastest 997 Turbo I have ever driven by a country mile.
To handle what is effectively more than double its original output, this ’08 997 Turbo has a height-adjustable Bilstein PSS16 suspension. It also features a front lift system that can raise the nose 50mm at the touch of a button to clear ramps.
A Drexler limited-slip differential makes the most of the Turbo’s all-wheel-drive traction, and behind the 8.5- and 12.5x19-inch GT3 RS alloys, shod with Continental Vmax rubber rated to 236 mph, the factory PCCB brakes are up to the task of stopping this manned missile.
With four-wheel drive and the chassis upgrades, the Turbo can deliver all of its power all of the time, underlining just how much of an aid to performance all-wheel drive is. The car simply squats down and launches itself off the line with no histrionics. And thanks to the slippery diff, the car rockets off into the distance arrow-straight as you punch through gear after gear.
So there you have it, two 9ff cars from opposite ends of the user spectrum, their common link being the same bombastic 4.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six. For me, experiencing the full might of their combined 2,270 hp in the space of a few hours really made it a day to remember.
Longitudinal mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
4.0-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve. Custom Garrett turbochargers, custom intercoolers, software
Six-speed sequential manual
Custom coilovers with H&R springs, JRZ dampers
Brembo six-piston monoblock calipers, 380/350mm rotors (f/r)
Wheels and Tires
9ff forged alloys, 8.5x19 (f), 11.5x19 (r)
Continental ContiSportContact Vmax, 235/35 (f), 325/30 (r)
1,120 hp @ 6400 rpm
840 lb-ft @ 5300 rpm
Longitudinal rear engine, all-wheel drive
4.0-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve. Custom block and heads, custom turbochargers, custom intercoolers, software
Six-speed manual, Drexler limited-slip differential
Bilstein PSS16 coilovers
OEM PCCB assemblies
Wheels and Tires
OEM GT3 RS alloys, 8.5x19 (f), 12.5x19 (r) Continental ContiSportContact Vmax