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Manual Porsche 911 GT3 Will Be Sold in California After All

Earlier this month, we reported on a curious case surrounding Porsche’s new 911 GT3. The new car would be available only with the PDK gearbox in the state of California, with the manual model unable to pass the required noise test to go on sale. Now, we have word straight from Porsche that the issue has been solved, and residents of the sunny state will be able to purchase whichever GT3 takes their fancy.

The news comes to us direct from Frank Wiesmann, Manager of Product Communications for Porsche in North America. In the last week, the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol worked to find a solution to the issue, and have “helped to identify an appropriate regulatory path forward,” according to Wiesmann, who stated “When the first cars arrive in the fall, they can be legally registered and driven in all 50 states.” Welcome news for fans of the stick shift, then. 

The original problem came down to California’s antiquated testing procedure for noise output, SAE J1470, according to reports from Road and Track. The test specifies different procedures for manual and automatic equipped cars. The former test requires a car like the manual 911 GT3 to perform a full-throttle run from 50 km/h up to the engine RPM at which it produces peak power. Obviously, flooring it in third to near redline is a noisy proposition. The latter test, however, requires the driver of the automatic car to rapidly push the accelerator down as far as possible without causing the transmission to kick down to first gear, and to hold that position until the end of the designated testing area. First gear in a 911 GT3 goes up to around 80km/h, so a deft foot is required to avoid kicking down and letting the loud out. Thus, in the testing regime, the automatic vehicle never actually hits full throttle and the car comes in much quieter.

The basic story was that the manual test produced enough noise to push the new GT3 over the decibel limit, while the smoother, quieter automatic test didn’t. Newer testing methodologies exist, which are more relevant to modern cars, their power outputs, and gear ratios—such as SAE J2805, from May 2020. However, when notified on June 11 that the California Highway Patrol could not find a procedure that would allow for the new testing method to be used, the automaker was forced to announce that only the PDK gearbox would be available in California.

Since then, the procedural issues have apparently been solved and Porsche was able to get the new 911 GT3 approved for sale. The exact legal wrangling that went on to allow the car to pass testing is not yet clear; we’ve reached out to the California DMV for comment and will report back with anything that turns up.

California has always taken noise seriously, so we’re not surprised to see this coming to a head on this occasion. Regardless, it’s a day for the three-pedal fanatics to celebrate, for California still loves the manuals. 

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