The curious case of the missing Porsche 911 GT3 – evo Archive

The keen-eyed will have noticed a mysterious empty spot on the cover of the 2006 evo Car of the Year issue. Henry Catchpole reveals all

Did you ever notice there was a car missing from the cover of the 2006 evo Car of the Year issue? Looking at the image now (below), you can clearly see where the seventh contender should have been – a space that on the cover of issue 099 we obscured with a couple of strategically placed orange tags.

But the 997.1 GT3 is nowhere to be seen. It got a puncture, you see, on the third day of the test, just before it had its solo static shot taken – and taken from low down so that you couldn’t see the slightly odd stance created by a deflated nearside rear. Not that we like to apportion blame, but Roger Green was the one who failed to avoid the blindingly obvious sharp stone in the road. The sealant in the boot was deployed, but only resulted in another sticky mess in a lay-by. 

> Porsche 911 GT3 2021 review – has the 992-gen now peaked?

Anyway, Jethro Bovingdon sent out the SOS for a new, N-rated Michelin Cup and, after the only one in France was located, a plan was hatched to unite car with tyre at Porsche Marseille. The following morning Jethro and I set off before dawn to collect the GT3 from said dealership. We took the Mégane R26 – which had just finished second in the ‘real world’ first half of eCoty ’06 – and it was a memorably purposeful drive down through the Verdon Gorge. Jethro drove like a local (if Jean Ragnotti were a local) with the Renault’s Darth Vader soundtrack waking wildlife (some of which was inadvisedly slumbering on the warmish tarmac of the road) and the lights piercing the darkness as we dodged more rogue rocks from the towering cliffs.

We needn’t have rushed. We arrived before the dealership opened, and I spent the whole day there twiddling my thumbs. First there was a tyre but no car. Then, curiously, a car but no tyre. What was worse was that I spent my time sitting on a showroom sofa looking at the taunting, tantalising shape of the dealership’s 997.1 GT3 demonstrator. And no, apparently we couldn’t have had the tyre off that one.

At about 5pm both car and tyre were finally run to ground. Two youngish lads from the workshop fitted rubber to rim and then said something about needing to ‘go round the block to check the diagnostics’. About an hour later they returned with the biggest grins in Marseille and told me: ‘C’est incroyable!’ Diagnostics check, my arse…

A phone call confirmed that the cover shoot was long since over (just as significantly – to my mother – I’m not in the team photo on page 141 either), so all that remained was to drive the 600 miles back to Stuttgart. I loved the GT3 already but there’s nothing like cold Cup rubber on a soaking slip road and hitting 300kph for the first time on an autobahn to cement a relationship. By the time I reached the factory I was sure that nothing could stop another Porsche eCoty victory. But the Ferrari 599 took the title that year. Was this because the 911 wasn’t in the cover photo? Is it curious that the final scores weren’t published as per usual? Let the conspiracy theories rage…

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