I know I’m about to go power nerd on you, but if you stick with me I promise this will make sense. In the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine 20th Century Fox introduced a bastardized version of the wildly popular comic book character Deadpool. He had Cyclops eyes, Baraka like blades that came out of his arms and his mouth was sewn shut. Anyone who was familiar with Deadpool was appalled by this depiction of the character. For starters the best thing about Deadpool was his wise-cracking nature. A trait that is hard to pull off when you no longer have a mouth! This mistake met with such visceral hatred from fans that it killed the potential Deadpool spin-off movie. A similar thing happened when Porsche launched the GT3 (and GT3 RS) version of the 991 911. Dispite being a hugely impressive car the 991 GT3 had one fatal flaw with Porsche fans, it only came with a PDK transmission. No manual option. No 3rd pedal. No rowing your own gears. This infuriated purists and 911 fans alike.
Like I said before the original movie interpretation of Deadpool pretty much killed the character’s chances of ever appearing on the big screen again. However fans wanted to see a true to form Deadpool movie. So fans flooded 20th Century Fox with letters and emails and notes tied to bricks and thrown through their lobby window, begging them to make the movie and make it correctly. Usually these pleas fall on deaf ears. But, with a little help from Ryan Reynolds who is a huge Deadpool fan in his own right, Fox changed their mind. Earlier this year we got the full Deadpool movie. Full of R rated, 4th wall breaking, hilarious awesomeness. Seriously, it is one of the best comic book movies I’ve ever seen. You don’t have to be a power nerd like me to enjoy it, so do yourself a favor and go see it.
Almost the same thing happened at Porsche. The 4.0 liter flat six from the 991 911 GT3 RS was never intended to come in manual trim. Porsche, being German, assumed that since the PDK shifted faster and was derived from racing that it was the only logical transmission. They thought what you are all thinking, only about 10% of all cars sold in the US are manual and PDK style transmissions shift faster and make it easier for Joe Everydude to get the most out of a car’s performance. However, all their German-ness they missed the number 1 factor in a sportscar, they’re supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to change gears yourself, sure it’s slower but on your favorite road there is no stopwatch, no tenths of a second to shave off your lap time. This is what the 911 was built for, it is supposed to have a manual. I’m fairly certain that it is chiseled into a cave wall somewhere. That and never ever under any circumstance move the engine or change the shape of the car.
If you are one of our younger readers or you stumbled across this because it had Deadpool in the title and you are an even bigger nerd than I am, you may be wondering why is a manual transmission so important? Here’s the short version. You always feel better when you do something yourself. We all get a sense of pride when we change the oil in our cars ourselves. Or, to use a non-car analogy: Sure you can pay someone to do work around your house, but should you take the time to do it yourself you can look at it when the job is done with pride. I did that, and it is awesome. You get a similar feeling when you drive a manual. Not during your morning commute of course but on the weekend when you take the long way to your friends house so you can enjoy the back roads. Nothing, NOTHING, is as satisfying as running through the gears perfectly. That’s why we enthusiasts swear by manuals. They’re not the fastest but that’s not the point. It’s about the sensation along the way, it’s about having fun. You just don’t get that sensation when a car has 2 pedals and you use paddles to shift.
This brings me back to Porsche and the 911 R. Like the Deadpool movie, the public reaction was so strong Porsche couldn’t ignore it. They listened to their fans, using parts from Porsche’s vast and incredible parts bin they developed the 911 R in a little over a year. The tires are from a GT3, the body shares elements from the Carrera 4 and GT3, and the front splitter is straight off a GT3 RS. The heart of the 911 R is a 4.0 liter flat six straight out of the GT3 RS. It still makes 500 horsepower and that all important manual was specifically developed for use in the R. That extra power meant that the rear spoiler also had to be developed for the R. It will deploy to a steeper angle, to handle the extra power of the RS engine. All of this was developed to make the 911 R a more street focused car. Sounds ludicrous to say, a road car designed for the street? But lets face it the GT3 and GT3 RS were built to be street legal but they were designed for the track. Being more street focused, where the 911 R will see 99.99999% of its usage means you will be able to enjoy it on a normal drive.
There is a very important lesson to be learned from both cases. Good car companies/movie studios will actually listen to their fans and their customers. Why? Deadpool is a runaway success at the box office, and I’m guessing the 911 R will be one of Porsche’s hottest selling cars. Why wouldn’t it? Its the perfect 911. It checks almost all of the 911 boxes. It’s the lightest 991 911. It’s High revving naturally aspirated flat six sounds amazing and produces plenty of power. It will get you to 60 in 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 201 mph. The looks are classic and functional. And most importantly, it has 3 pedals and a manual gearbox! What more do you want? I promise you, this will be an epic thing to drive. More car companies should take a page out of Porsche’s book. Just imagine how awesome a manual Mercedes AMG GT would be, or a manual Ferrari 488, or McLaren 650S and so on and so on. We the people demand more manuals. If it’s good for Porsche it should be good for the rest of you!