Owned & Operated: Arnaud Deligny’s Porsche 911 GT2 & GT3

by Andrew Maness

This story originally appeared in Vol.5 “The Photography Issue”

In 1999, Arnaud Deligny’s father purchased his very first Porsche - a 996 3.4 C2 with orange tail lights and orange front turn signals. These are the 911s notorious for their propensity to blow head gaskets and eat the intermediate shaft bearing for lunch. Sure enough, Arnaud’s father’s car went through both of those issues but that didn’t dissuade him from falling in love with the Porsche brand and more specifically with the 996-generation 911.

As he recalls, “The first time I saw a 996 GT3 was on the streets of Paris. The car was Speed Yellow. The car was mean, the car was loud, the car made a statement. Keep in mind, in 1999 it wasn’t as common as it is today to see a track oriented car on public roads. The 996 GT3 wasn’t the first track oriented Porsche to be sold to the public, but it was the one that started a trend, a trend that was quickly followed by many other car manufacturers. So naturally when I got myself in position to acquire more than a daily driver, I came back to the origin of my passion, the 996 GT3.”

“I’ve had the good fortune to own many cars and I can’t recall one that feels like the 996 GT3. To me it’s the same feeling as wearing the original Nike Airmax. Might not be the most comfortable, but it just feels right. From the driving position, to the precision of the steering, and the brake feel, the communication between the driver and the road is top notch. The absence of driving assists only elevates the experience further and it all stems from that incredible Mezger engine. That naturally aspirated water-cooled engine is just never lacking for anything. It’s full of juice throughout the entire power-band, able to cruise in 6th gear at 1500 rpm and then easily able to accelerate without a downshift by applying full throttle. There are few non-turbo or non-supercharged engines that build power the way this does. I really never get tired of driving this car. I love the fact it has more than 75,000 miles and that I get to regularly add to them. It’s not a garage queen, it was driven and it will continue to be driven because that’s what it is for.” Although Arnauld’s love of the GT3 and it’s pure driving character is boundless, there was room in his heart (and in his garage) for another 911. When the opportunity to pick up a well-sorted 996 GT2 came about, he couldn’t pass it up. “The GT2 is an entirely different beast. It came to me three years after I bought the GT3. I was originally looking for a Turbo, but my mechanic told me about this car and after test driving it and realizing how completely different it is from the GT3 I decided to “accept the challenge”. A lightweight twin turbocharged 460hp 911 with no traction control? What could go wrong?

“From a driving perspective, I feel that you need to be much, much more alert when you drive it compared to the GT3. The turbo has this “ON-OFF” feeling that catapults its driver into illegality. But that engine tone is also very satisfying and it’s hard to deny your ears the pleasure of hearing it again and again. Chassis wise, I personally feel that the front is less planted than the GT3, but I run different tires on the two cars and the GT3 has a cup suspension. The GT2 is certainly the scarier of the two, but when you come to understand what it likes to do and what it doesn’t, the reward is worth the risk. It retains so much of the character that makes older model 911s desirable, but adds in just the right amount of crazy modern performance that was around in the early aughts before too much technology came into the picture.”

“The bottom line is both of these cars feel unique and very special. They have entirely different personalities and it would be hard to choose a favorite, I hope I never have to. However if I was in a situation where I absolutely had to, I would keep the perfectly balanced GT3 over the ferocious GT2.”

Deligny was also way ahead of the curve when it came to these two absolute gems, having owned both for over 4 years. I was fortunate enough to spend a good deal of time driving both cars when shooting the photos for this piece and I gotta say, they each exceeded my expectations and put my preconceived notions of a 996 out to pasture. Porsche may have made many compromises with other 996 models, but not the GT3 and GT2. Their distinct personalities grab your attention every time you get behind the wheel and don’t let go until the motor is turned off. They’re modern classics in every sense of the phrase and their constantly climbing values reflect that.