Throttle-Back Thursday: We drive the first U.S.-market Porsche 911 GT3

The 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 was the first of the line to go on sale in the United States.

Time flies: As we recently noted, Porsche has been building its remarkable line of 911 GT3 cars for 20 years. But to enjoy the very first of the line, you had to travel to Europe: Porsche didn’t bring its special blend of competition-inspired, high-performance 911 goodness to the United States until 2003.

But when the 2004 911 GT3, we were instantly impressed. We’ve stayed smitten ever since.

Though we had to wait a few years to get our hands on the model, it arguably came at just the right time: Remember, Porsche launched the Cayenne SUV in 2002, leaving many die-hards wondering if the marque had lost its way (it seems that we collectively ask that question every time Porsche shakes things up, and yet we keep coming back … but I digress).

The 2004 911 GT3 started at a not insubstantial $99,900, but for that, you got giant-slaying track capability and a 190 mph top speed courtesy of a naturally aspirated 381-hp flat-six, all wrapped up in a quiet, comfortable touring package. The best of all possible worlds? Maybe, at least until the next GT3 arrived, or the one after that. We’re always eager to get behind the wheel of a 911, but the GT3 cars are extra-special.

Read about the model that kicked things off, in the United States at least, in an excerpt of the March 24, 2003 issue of Autoweek below.

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