I would choose the Mustang
I know between making videos for Tokyo Tuner and submitting content for Speedhunters full time, it has been quite a while since I added content resembling pictures and words to the site. Let me rectify that with this interesting experiment I did with Modern Air Cooled a few months back which lead me to this conclusion.
It all started during another trip back home to Houston, Texas. I was hang out with Jordan of Modern Aircooled, getting my mind filled with everything air and water cooled when one of his customers spotted us driving around and joined us for lunch.
In the middle of that conversation, Jordan customer asked me what car had I recently drove and what car I was looking forward to getting behind the wheel one day. For whatever reason, I haphazardly blurted out the Ford Mustang GT350R. Perhaps being in the Lone Star State made me say it but without missing a beat, Jordan customer looked at me puzzled and said he has one and he f****ing hated it! This peaked our curiosity and before I could ask why, Jordan had already beaten me to it.
You see, Jordan customer has a 997 GT3 that he absolutely adores and has taken it on a few rally races such as the Fuel Run Monterey. The idea behind purchasing the GT 350R was the high praises that the car received as a track going monster beating out a lot of its European rivals made it an interesting, and different path to take for someone looking to buy a car you could drive around during the weekday, and attack the circuits on the weekends.
For whatever reason after driving the GT350 R for a bit, Jordan’s customer was beyond disappointed. So much in fact he never even got the plates for the car! That got both Jordan and I thinking. If he was so crazy enough to loan us both of his cars for a day, perhaps maybe we could see why he hated the Mustang so much.
To our wildest amazement, he said as long as we didn’t do anything too stupid with the cars he would bring the cars to Modern Aircooled the next day and we could have them.
And that is how the next day I found myself with Jordan and Peter, Modern Aircooled GM, with a Porsche 997 GT3 and Ford Mustang GT350R.
After a quick rinse at the coin wash down the road, the game plan was to take the cars to a picturesque location in the heart of Houston for me to get to work. Then afterwards I would drive the 997 GT3 to another location where we hoped we could find some curves to throw the cars at in the concrete, and very flat city. I would switch cars to the GT350R and drive that for a while before once again hopping back in the driver seat of the GT3 to head back to the shop.
This was one of those best day in the office day.
Not being able to really take the cars track meant that we were going to look at this experiment in the lens of if you owned one of these cars, which one would be the better car to own during the weekdays – starting with the GT3
Behind the wheel of the GT3 you instantly get the feeling that this car is all business with everything being focused on track performance and helping the driver get the best lap times.
The seating position is excellent with a clear view of the road in front of you. Being the GT3 model means the rear seats has been removed in the quest of saving weight.
The steering feels a bit heavy but response directly to every input the driver (me in this case) puts in. There is no guess where the front of the car will point as you instinctively know where it will be. Same goes for the clutch and 6-speed manual transmission. With the gearing a bit shorter and a red line of 8,500 rpm means the car is constantly begging you to push it. At 4,000 rpm, the exhaust bypass opens up and you get a feeling that things are starting to get interesting. At 6,000 rpm I got the sense that the fun was done and that was all the 3.6-liter flat 6 had to offer until Jordan would yell at me saying I still had another 2,500 rpm to go! I realized I was short shifting and decided to see what 8,000 rpm felt like.
Really freaking good!
Being naturally aspirated means you can fully enjoy that mechanical scream all the way. The large Brembos do an excellent job of bring the chaos to order and I’m sure they would have no problems doing that over and over on a track. The centerlock wheels are a nice touch and give the GT3 that extra race car aura.
If I was to sum it up, this GT3 is on the verge of being perfect. You can hop into the GT3 and immediately feel comfortable behind the wheel of this car. It inspires drivers confidence and I’m sure on the track those feelings are only amplified. However, in the lens of owning and driving the cars on the weekday, that perfectness holds the simple issue I have with the GT3-
Once the chaos of 8,000 rpm subsides, you are left with a Porsche that feels like, well, any other 911 and if you are going to spend 6 figures on essentially a toy, one would think it would be a bit more special. Due to that instant comfortability the GT3 gives you, while driving on the road you tend to forget that you are behind the wheel of something truly special.
Not saying that I love bells and whistle and gadgets all over the place, but something would be nice to play with when you’re stuck in traffic. In the quest of making the car as track centered as possible, there is virtually nothing for you to do.
So what about the American option? Can the Mustang GT350R possibly be as refined as a Porsche GT3?
Hell no! There is so much American inserted into the GT350R’s DNA that there was never a chance that it would be as refined as a GT3. However as the GT3 is armed more towards overall track performance, so is GT350R .
So how would it be on the streets of Houston? Would it be more fun than the GT3 on the streets?
Before even turning on the car, I noticed a few downsides to the Mustang. The big one being the physical size of the car. After driving the GT3 where the car shrinks around you, you feel as if you are about to pilot a boat getting behind the wheel of the Mustang. The long snout blocks your view of the road and forces you to adjust your seat upwards to get the same visibility as the GT3 and amplifying that boat like feeling.
The cabin is designed for only a passenger and driver both being held in place by custom Recaro seats designed for the R.
The carbon fiber wheels are the ultimate way of removing mass in a critical location and allows the car to accelerate, and corner better than any other pony car before it. With rotational mass to deal with, the large brembo brakes ensure the car will come to a halt in an orderly manner.
Then you press the little red button (I thought I was told not to press the red button) and the 5.2-liter flat plane V8 comes quite literally roaring to life. My first question I always had about the GT350R was answered – it sounds as ludacris as all the videos I’ve seen.
That is of course if you toggle a little switch that controls the amount of decibels that come screaming out the exhaust system. For our little experiment, we left that in ‘sports’ mode.
Compared to the GT3, the clutch on the R was incredibly light and springy. This worked wonders when stuck in traffic but left me missing that solid shifting feel that the Porsche provided.
Then there is probably the worst thing about the R which I think is why the owner truly hates this car – steering feel or lack of.
The R comes with the ability to adjust the steering feel from Normal, Sports, and Comfort mode with a press of a button. Why have a comfort and normal mode is beyond me but the comfort mode is horrific at best. NEVER USE COMFORT MODE. Normal is ‘ok’ at best but for the best response you will want to leave it in Sports mode. Even in Sports mode, it falls far behind in steering feel when compared to the GT3
The magnetorheological damper offer similar adjustment with a press of a button. Fortunately, those modes are light years better than the steering feel of the car with its softest mode gracefully absorbing the colossal bumps of Houston’s streets. Going over those same bumps in it’s sportiest setting is 10x harsher which leads me to believe that on the track, this setting would really make a difference in lap times.
Behind the wheel of the R, I never felt that I was in ‘just another car’ like I did behind the wheel of the GT3. Anything you do in this car is a special occasion. Even when stuck in traffic, we had people asking us about the car, giving us thumbs ups, or other fingers when the engine spun to 8,000 rpm. This car just begs you to to be a child at all times and enjoy the journey.
When was the last time you drove in an underground parking deck just to disturb the peace? I can’t remember either till I was handed the keys of the R.
After causing a bit of mischief, it was time to sit down with Jordan and Peter and decided what I thought about the cars and which ones I would pick. Knowing both bleed Porsche, I was afraid to hurt their feelings, but I was ready to give my verdict and explain how I got to it.
The Porsche GT3 inheart perfectness and driver confidence leads me to think that on the tracks, anyone could hop in and turn pretty fast times. It really is that good. However, on the road, it’s rather boring and leaves you with the feeling that you are behind the wheel of another car. Yes, you know in the back of mind that the performance potential is there but you rarely feel like exploring it. Even it’s looks isn’t that different from other Porsches besides the wing and centerlock wheels. YES, I know other Porsche fans will be able to spot the differences, but for the rest of the crowd…
Basically, the GT3 turns you into a gentleman (or lady) and makes you more refined
Where as the GT350R allows you to be kid and go batshit crazy. The R doesn’t inspire confidence as the GT3 does which would lead to poor lap times your first time with the car. However, as you get accustomed to it and grow with the car, I think that you could easily outrun and out handle a GT3 on a track.
Since I am far from a professional driver and we didn’t get the chance to take the cars to the track, that conclusion is only speculation and a conclusion that we came up with. So that leaves us with the weekday usage.
With that filter on, the GT350R is a far better car for daily use. Although the rear seats are deleted from the car like the GT3, the trunk space in the R is more than enough to be considered functional. The R might be full of gimmicks, you have to admit that gimmicks can be fun and useful. One being the hill assist function that gives you a few seconds to get off the brake, and drive off without rolling into the person who stopped to close behind you (Yes, I know this technology has been around for a bit but seeing that Projectrough is a 1999 and most cars I end up behind the wheel are lacking in.. lets say creature comforts, it’s a nice little thing to have!) Another fun gimmick is the Launch Control feature but that one should only be used on the tracks *wink wink*.
If you’re spending this kind of money for essentially a toy, one would think you want your toy to stand out a bit right? As I stated above, everywhere we went the R got some form of attention. Even in the park when we were thinking of our next plan of action and switching cars, a father and his two sons approached us to check out the cars because he heard the R coming long before he saw us coming.
The R is a celebration in being a bit brash, a bit chaotic, and a bit childish and I’m perfectly ok with that. Sometimes being a bit silly is what you need in your life and sharing that silliness with others can make their day as well. The R is a car that you can do that with and all the while taking it to the track and being seriously competitive. Its corks reminded us of a tuner car – not perfect by a long shot but something that you fall in love with and puts a smile on your face even when doing the simplest of task such as going to the store.
You could argue that the Porsche will be an investment piece as the value will more likely accumulate where as the Ford will depreciate. That probably is true.
Just turn the Mustang on once, revv it to 8,000 rpm with the sports exhaust on ,and you will realize that the Mustang is investment in happiness and smiles – not dollar and cents.
Thus, I’ll take a GT350R