Power515 HP / 331 LB-FT
0-60 Time3.3 Seconds (est)
Top Speed185 MPH (est)
Curb Weight2,600 LBS (est)
As Tested Price$220,000 (est)
I'm the lucky soul strapped firmly in the cockpit of the white-and-blue racecar. The tight carbon-fiber seat is cutting into my hips, the racket from the gearbox is making me deaf and a river of sweat is flowing off the tip my nose – blame the high ambient temperatures combined with the stress of driving someone else's expensive machine on an utterly unfamiliar circuit.
But don't expect me to complain, gripe or come into the pits early, as I'm having the time of my life – I've eagerly waited nearly half-a-year for this moment, and short of me blacking out, there's no way I'm cutting it short.
Belting into the driver's seat of an ANDIAL-prepared Porsche fulfills a personal dream that started decades earlier when I thumbtacked a picture of a white Porsche 935 on my dorm room wall, its colorful bodywork stenciled with "ANDIAL" along the bottom of the driver's door. In the 1980s, the name of the privately held racing company was synonymous with Porsche and victory – it's been said that ANDIAL-prepared cars and engines have claimed victories on every major racetrack in this country.
It's been said that ANDIAL-prepared cars and engines have claimed victories on every major racetrack in this country.
As its founders retired and the company focused on smaller specialty projects, ANDIAL's business model changed, but its relationship with Porsche remained strong. In early 2013, it was announced that the Porsche Motorsports North America, Inc. (PMNA) had purchased the brand – yet there was still no word as to how the famed ANDIAL name, an anagram made from the names of the founding members – the late Arnold Wagner (AN), Dieter Inzenhofer (DI) and former PMNA president and current consultant Alwin Springer (AL) would be used.
Some answers emerged in February of this year when I received a phone call from Porsche. The company offered to have me to visit ANDIAL's shop in Southern California, which is now operating entirely under the direction of PMNA. Entering one of the shop's bays, I found myself face-to-face with a lightly used 997 GT3 Cup racecar. The vehicle was in the early stages of a complete teardown and rebuild – in preparation for its rollout in traditional red, white and blue ANDIAL livery.
Klaus Viljanmaa is a Porsche aficionado by all definitions of the term. Born and raised in Finland, he moved to the States less than a decade ago after his family sold its ownership of the Jalas shoe company, which it had held privately for more than 90 years. Klaus' automotive passion led him to racing Porsches, at a club level, in the Midwest. After owning and competing in most of the automaker's late-model 911-based racecars, including the formidable GT3 RSR, he was seeking something new and interesting to feed his track passion. A conversation with Jens Walther, President and CEO of PMNA, introduced him to a small project ANDIAL was beginning to work on.
Porsche had plans to convert a very small number of customer-owned 997 GT3 Cup cars to ANDIAL specifications.
In a nutshell, PMNA had plans to convert a very small number of customer-owned 997 GT3 Cup cars to ANDIAL specifications – reincarnating the type of build programs that made ANDIAL a trackside name more than 30 years ago. Klaus eagerly placed his order for car No. 1 – securing the first of just five planned Porsche GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition racecars.
Klaus purchased a used 2011 Porsche GT3 Cup car, which was brought into ANDIAL's shop for a complete disassembly and inspection that was followed by a comprehensive reconstruction – if it couldn't be rebuilt to new standards, it was replaced with original Porsche parts.
While the chassis was undergoing its restoration, ANDIAL's engine shop was tearing the vehicle's stock 3.8-liter flat six apart so it could be completely rebuilt. The hand-assembled engine emerged as a 4.0-liter, boasting GT3 R internals and signature gold intake manifolds, with an output bumped to 515 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. The new redline was a stratospheric 8,500 rpm. The suspension was upgraded with two-way adjustable Motion Control Suspension dampers, the brakes were enhanced with an ABS M4 kit from Bosch Motorsport and the G97/63 six-speed sequential dog-type gearbox was fitted with a pneumatic paddle shift system from K-M-P. The completed car was delivered to Klaus in April of this year. Instead of locking it up as a museum piece, he immediately began successfully campaigning it on the track.
The hand-assembled engine emerged as a 4.0-liter, boasting GT3 R internals and with an output bumped to 515 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque.
After carefully following the build, I was eager get behind the wheel. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts kept me out of the car when it was in Southern California, so I flew to Tulsa, OK and made the 30-minute drive to Hallett Motor Racing Circuit for my date with the GT3. The track at Hallett is only 1.8-miles long, but its 10 varied corners and elevation changes make the course quite challenging, definitely enough to keep things interesting.
The TOPP Racing team has the car ready when I arrive, so following a briefing I climb into the driver's seat. After a few master switches are flipped to initiate power to the electronics, fuel and cooling systems, I press the ignition button and the 4.0-liter flat-six roars immediately to life and settles down to a turbulent and impatient growl. The clamor inside the cabin, which is devoid of any material even remotely resembling acoustic damping, goes from near-silent to rambunctious – loud enough to drown out all conversation with the outside world (I am wearing an earpiece, so I can still hear the pits). I resort to hand signals to communicate with the crew, which has assembled around the vehicle.
Thankfully, the track is wide open – Klaus has generously rented the entire circuit for the day – so I gingerly pull out of the paddock and onto the hot track. Still in first gear, I run the 4.0-liter up to redline and give the right paddle a sharp pull. Instantaneously, the sequential gearbox grabs its next ratio and the chassis lunges forward as if rear-ended by a tank. The forceful shift is much harder and quicker than expected (explaining why the pneumatic paddle shift upgrade shaves seconds off lap times), but the gearbox seems unruffled by the abuse. Undeterred, I keep my foot on the accelerator and increase my velocity as a 90-degree left hander looms ahead.
I keep my foot on the accelerator and increase my velocity as a 90-degree left hander looms ahead.
Entering the corner in third gear, I guide the Porsche wide to the right side of the track before dialing in a few degrees of left steering as I sight the apex. There is a slight imbalance coming through the three-spoke OMP wheel – likely rubber buildup on the slicks from a previous session – but the vibration and steering resistance is all part of the braille-like communication coming through the steering allowing my gloved fingertips to read the track's surface.
A massive rear wing, sticky tires and a low center of gravity ensure that the Porsche is more planted than the tall Blackjack trees that line the circuit's outfield. Its predictable mannerisms buoy my confidence and my speeds steadily increase. After several more reconnaissance corners, I am ready to push – so I open her up.
Pedal to the metal brings the ANDIAL 4.0 to life. It breathes deeply and returns a punch of horsepower that pushes me hard enough into the seat that the tightly cinched harnesses on my shoulders feel as if they have been loosened. The sound is deafening, but the commotion isn't coming from the twin exhaust pipes. Instead, there is an overpowering mechanical whine from the race gearbox that infiltrates everything, right down to the marrow in my bones. The wail rises and lowers with each shift, overpowering everything. From the driver's seat, there is no wind noise, no tire roar and no exhaust note – just the sound of the sequential gearbox howling away. It's nothing short of earsplitting.
The computer-controlled paddle shift system is bloody quick, but it adds a bit of brutality to the game.
With ambient temperature nearing triple digits, there is heat in the tires in short order. Once hot and gummy, they return enough grip to bruise both of my hip bones and cause the muscles in my neck and shoulders to be sore for days (earlier in the day, Klaus ran a dozen laps taking visible enjoyment cornering hard enough to lift the two inside tires over the many rises – mechanical grip doesn't seem to be an issue).
The computer-controlled paddle shift system is bloody quick, but it adds a bit of brutality to the game. A factory GT3 Cup with a traditional manual lever shifts rapidly, with an authoritative kick in the tail while under power. Yet the ANDIAL Edition takes it up a notch – from firm to fierce – resulting in a gear changes that rock the chassis as if a minor explosions are blowing off its tail. Noting that the ferocity of the shifts slightly unsettles the rear end while under power, and even during deceleration, this driver chooses to hold gears until the racecar is traveling in moderately straight trajectories.
As is often the case with racecars, I find the pedal effort on the brakes to be high. A very firm foot is required to bring the Porsche down from speed. The six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers are up to the task, but I am betting that Klaus is running a hard (endurance) pad compound. I normally avoid ABS levels of braking on a racing circuit, leaving the electronic nanny in my back pocket as a last resort, but I deliberately bash the center pedal to test the anti-lock system fitted to Klaus' car. Unlike some civilian systems, which prevent wheels locking at the expense of stability, the specially adapted ABS on the ANDIAL Edition is notable for its rapid actuation and being completely unobtrusive.
For someone used to driving supercars and exotics that weigh a half a ton more, Klaus' car feels light, agile and joyfully tossable.
Porsche estimates that the GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition weighs just over 2,600 pounds, which is about the same as the factory GT3 Cup offering. For someone used to driving supercars and exotics that weigh a half a ton more (Porsche's own 918 Spyder tips the scales at 3,692 pounds), Klaus' car feels light, agile and joyfully tossable. The reduced mass is most evident during the braking phase – despite its blistering acceleration and impressive cornering grip – as I continuously find myself bleeding off far too much speed before the next corner.
After a dizzying number of laps, I've got a routine going that allows me to focus on the engine. A professionally set-up racecar is a real jewel on a good track, but the naturally aspirated 4.0-liter ANDIAL, running without a restrictor plate, is the well-cut diamond that sets this car apart from its brethren. The engine build may be the best execution of Porsche's legendary flat-six that I have ever sampled – angry and powerful, with a chilling exhaust note – and I am plenty lucky to have experienced it mounted at the tail end of a masterfully tuned car.
This GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition is significantly more devilish than a factory GT3 Cup, with a distinctly evil personality, which is exactly what Klaus was seeking. Its deep-breathing 4.0-liter engine, taught suspension, firm brake pedal and lightning-quick reflexes deliver every challenge and ounce of performance an enthusiast could want on a track – but the motoring bliss doesn't come without a price. The ANDIAL conversion adds a hefty $95,000 to $120,000 above the cost of a suitable 997 GT3 Cup donor, plus several months for the build.
This GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition is significantly more devilish than a factory GT3 Cup.
But if its villainous racecar personality hasn't left you convinced, remember that this car results from a program that's a marriage of Porsche and ANDIAL, two names synonymous with motorsports proficiency and victory. Then ponder the exclusivity and potential collector value of just five planned cars, which have likely already been spoken for. Taking everything into account, my unlikely day in Oklahoma suggests the GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition is a racecar bargain.