According to the fossil record, 66 million years ago dinosaurs roamed the earth and had evolved through natural selection to their greatest success and diversity. The Age of Dinosaurs and the Cretaceous Period of geologic time ended suddenly (geologically speaking) about 500,000 years later. Their demise was caused by a catastrophic climatic event widely thought to be either a massive asteroid impact on the planet, greatly increased world wide volcanism, or some combination of both. This event also initiated mass extinctions of many other reptiles, mammals, and plant life on Earth.

The Porsche 911 is the "dinosaur" of modern sports cars, yet it is not extinct-far from it, in fact! Since its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1963, the 911 has evolved continuously with the help of "natural enthusiast selection" to be one of the world's most successful and recognizable sports cars in history. With this article, the first in a new project series, we take the track-gobbling T-Rex of the 911 family, the new 2010 GT3, on a road trip into real dino-country. Our destination is Drumheller, Alberta, the self-proclaimed Dinosaur Capital of the World, located smack in the middle of western Canada's Badlands.

A brisk 90-minute drive northeast from Calgary gives you a much better insight into what the engineers had in mind when they designed this new machine. Over uneven, cracked, and bumpy open country highway, the new GT3 demonstrates its highly evolved poise and power. The ride is firm, yet never too jarring, and perfectly damped to keep the contact patch securely clawed to the tarmac surface. To enable this, the suspension components were completely revised with new PASM damping calibration, spring rates increased 12 percent in front while the rear remains the same (45 and 105 Nm, respectively), antiroll bars are from the now-dormant GT2 (25mm front and 23 mm rear), and the setup incorporates new front axle roll center geometry (again a la GT2). With Porsche's superb variable rate steering rack, the new suspension provides razor-sharp feel and handling straight from the factory floor unlike any stock vehicle I've ever driven.

On the power end of things, the resulting thrust and roaring sounds are scintillating for a normally aspirated engine of this size. Most European car enthusiasts are already well aware of the engine displacement increase from 3.6 to 3.8 liters for the new GT3, and the increased power generated, up 20 hp to 435. They are also likely privy to the facts that the latest evolution of this legendary Metzger GT1-based dry sump powerplant utilizes a new VarioCam system to control the exhaust valves, and that power is available right up to the 8500-rpm redline. The power achievements were also aided by re-working oil pumps, pistons, camshafts, exhaust system, A/C system, and the dual-mass flywheel for improved efficiencies and reduced weight.

In back-to-back runs with a 997 GT3 Mk1, the new 2010 997 GT3 Mk2 exhibits similar hair-raising thrills on the top end of the rev range, but the new car's extra power is certainly noticeable. Torque through the entire rev range however is greatly improved, which brings the fun factor up a couple of notches, something previously thought impossible. The outgoing engine is actually perceivably smoother, likely due to the new engine's increased displacement and more aggressive cams, which in turn give it a new, more fitting raw and nasty edge-just like T-Rex himself.

On the transmission side, a new short-shifter linkage is standard, along with a revised Getrag six-speed transaxle incorporating stronger steel synchronizers. This gives the shift action nice short throws with a slightly stiffened resistance, combined with a more metallic "notchiness" that most hardcore enthusiasts will love. The clutch action is solid and heavy and perfectly matches the suitably manly shift feel.

By Doug Neilson
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