Porsche’s 911R Proves That People Want Manual Transmissions, So Why Limited Quantities?

“This isn’t about lap times. This is about joy and experience. And oh my god, what an experience!” – Alex Goy

byBradley Brownell|
Porsche News photo

We have a problem with the 911R. Our problem isn't that the car isn't good because it genuinely is. The problem here is a manufactured scarcity driving prices sky high. When Porsche or Ferrari build an extremely low quantity of something they know will be a smash hit, and then turn around and sell them only to a privileged few preferred customers, well, we don't like it. In the case of the 911R, you couldn't buy one unless you'd already purchased a near-million-dollar 918 Spyder, making them impossibilities for the average 911 buyer to aspire to. Why should you need to be able to spend over a million dollars with a company to be able to experience manual transmission driving joy?

We've gotten to the point where we actually appreciate the 911R for what it is, but we still don't appreciate that name. The original 911R was an out-and-out racing machine crafted by shoving a 906 prototype's engine into the back of a super lightweight 911 shell. The car was built for hill climbs, rallying, and to a lesser extent circuit racing for the 1968 racing season. They were expensive, and only 20 were built and sold. If the modern 911R truly wanted to live up to the name, it would have been a GT3 Cup car that was eligible for street plates. A car you can drive on the street to your race weekend, race it, and then drive it home.

This car was Porsche's way of telling driving enthusiasts that they were listening. Putting a manual transmission in a car with that GT3 RS-sourced engine is a brilliant idea. But if they'd made them widely available to anyone who wanted one, they'd have sold probably as many of these as they did GT3 RS. They manufactured in greatness, but the manufactured scarcity made it so it was nigh impossible to purchase one. Maybe the upcoming GT3 will solve that problem. If it does, then what was the point of this 911R?