At some point we all grow up. Back in 2001, super-dreamy Paul Walker was a callow 28-year-old when he first played Officer Brian O'Connor in The Fast and the Furious. As he enters Fast Five, however, he's now a mature 38-year-old fugitive from the law headed for Rio. And when you get into your late 30s, you start wanting a Porsche. So in Fast Five, super-dreamy early-middle-ager Paul Walker drives this 2001 Porsche GT3 RS.
OK, it's not really a GT3 RS. It's actually just a 996-series 911 Carrera 2 with a graphics package and new wheels. But it's still a Porsche. No, it's not the first Porsche in the F&F series, but it's the first one driven by a male character.
By the way, Vin Diesel will turn 44 in July. And his character is still driving that old Charger.
"We didn't really have to do anything to the 911," says Fast Five Picture Car Coordinator Dennis McCarthy. "It had plenty of power to do what we wanted. We welded up the spider gear in the rear differential so it would be locked...and that was about it."
Visually, all McCarthy's crew had to do was paint the two 911s the production acquired the same, add the same rear wings, and throw on the "GT3 RS" script along the sides. The 18-inch diameter wheels are made by CCW and the tires are Continentals.
Inside, the 911 is finished with a custom-fabricated roll cage painted the same shade of blue as the car, a pair of narrow Sparco driving seats and an NRG steering wheel. Otherwise it's just like any other decade-old 996.
"Actually we did do one cool thing with the 911," McCarthy adds. "We built the other car with right-hand drive and kept the left-hand steering wheel aboard. That way stunt driver Rich Rutherford could be driving the car from the right-hand side and Paul could be sitting in the left-hand driver's seat pretending to drive. With the camera aimed at Paul, you'd never know it wasn't him doing the driving and drifting."
Still Good Enough
It took some squeezing, but finally some of us squeezed into the 911. It was all familiar appearances and familiar sensations as we turned the key and the 3.4-liter flat-6 spun to life. The 996 may never be the most beloved of Porsches, but it's still a sweetheart. In most ways this car felt as tight as the day it was new, despite a decade and 100,000 miles of civilian use before its repurposing and abuse as a movie car.
"It drives exactly like what it is," said Josh Jacquot, Edmunds.com's resident master of the incredibly obvious. "It's a 10-year-old Porsche 911 and 10 years ago Porsche 911s were pretty good."
The locked rear end, combined with the nearly bald tires, does make drifting around corners more of an inevitability instead of something that needs to be induced. But otherwise, this is pure used Porsche. It's the sort of Porsche you buy for $30,000, keep for three years, then trade in for a new 911 when you get promoted to Vice President of Financial Treachery at some bank. Think of it as a starter Porsche.
As Edmunds.com's day with the Fast Five vehicles at the Streets of Willow was coming to an end, Jacquot took the 911 out for a few last sideways passes. As he screamed across the skid pad, suddenly there was a thumping sound from the left rear tire. Exactly the thump-thump-thump sound that a tire makes when it has developed a tread tumor the size of a grapefruit.
Did that stop Josh? Nah. This car was built to be hammered on.
So, right in the middle of a sweet smokey arc...BLAMMO! The left rear blew out with all the drama of a shotgun blast in a Brooklyn convenience store.
Not a bad way to end the day.
NBC Universal loaned Edmunds.com this vehicle for evaluation.