Words: Matt Master Photos: Richard Pearce
Ushering in our anniversary year is a tale of Porsche passion verging on addiction, of hard miles and magical memories – Club membership in a nutshell, you might say. Richard Higgins has arrived at Goodwood Motor Circuit for the final Porsche Club GB trackday of 2020, bringing with him not one, not two, but three 911 GT3 RS models spanning all generations and all bearing his name on the V5.
It’s a tale that reveals an almost feverish commitment to the Rennsport cause, and one with its fair share of trials and tribulations.
“I started with a gen 2 996 GT3,” Richard explains over the regular holler of flat-sixes wrung out towards Madgwick Corner. “About six months later I got a phone call asking if I’d like the first RS.
But I’d only just bought the GT3, specced exactly as I wanted, and I’d only done about 4000 miles in it. So I said no!”
Four weeks later, Richard had a change of heart and rang the dealership. His allocation was long gone of course, but as luck would have it, another buyer had just pulled out and a car was unexpectedly available. Collection was arranged for 13 March 2004, a day that marked the beginning of a very long and happy relationship.
Richard was already attending trackdays in his GT3, but the arrival of the RS dialled everything up a notch. He began travelling extensively around the UK and Europe, comfortably passing 12 trackdays a year and honing his understanding of the RS around the likes of Spa, Zandvoort
and the Nürburgring.
“The 996 was so direct and raw,” he remembers, “nothing like the newer cars. In terms of steering, nothing can touch it. It tells you everything that’s going on so clearly. It’ll probably also bite you quicker than the other two, but it’s so much fun.”
Richard drove the 996 GT3 RS for four years before the arrival of the equivalent 997 gave him pause. After tens of thousands of miles and some unforgettable experiences, the significant extra outlay – almost as much again as the 996 generation cars were worth – seemed like madness.
However, with the arrival of the now near-mythical 4.0-litre cars, a last-of-the-line RS built in tiny numbers, a window of opportunity was opened. “Because there were 20-odd 4.0-litres in the
country, suddenly there were now 20 997 GT3 RSs for sale. So I picked mine up, with just 1000 miles on the clock, for only £95,000.”
That same car has now done an impressive 26,000 miles – most of it on track, as Weissach would have wished – and Richard has been through two sets of ceramic discs in the process. Like so many of those lucky enough to have driven all generations of Rennsport GT3, he remains convinced that the balance of power and usability make the 997 something of a sweet spot. But the possibility of letting the 996 go has never crossed his mind.
“From the age of about six I’d always wanted a 911 and loved the 2.7 RS. When I eventually got the 996 RS it was kind of my version of that. I’ve done so many trips and had so many incredible experiences in it that I don’t want to part with it.”
Some five years later, inexorably you might say, arrived the thorny issue of the 991. Richard runs a successful family business, but the pot was not fathomless. The RS compulsion was, however. A well-timed call to the dealer secured him an early car, finished in paint to sample Voodoo Blue, and this time he enjoyed the full factory handover and drove the car home from Stuttgart.
“I put 6000 or 7000 miles on that before they announced the gen 2 car,” Richard remembers with a rueful smile. “So I went and had another chat with the dealer and arranged to sell. I actually missed out on the first allocation, but everything happens for a reason. Six months later I had the second phase 991 GT3 RS with particulate filters and the Weissach Pack, finished in paint to sample Nogaro Blue.”
This car is also now clocking up the track miles alongside its older brethren and has already taken in a high-speed tour of the Nürburgring alongside numerous UK outings. Another firm fixture of the
Higgins stable, then; but in light of recent revelations in the motoring press about the incoming 992 GT3, the question of whether or not it really is a keeper has to be asked.
“I don’t know is my honest answer,” Richard says. “With two children to look after the funds aren’t unlimited, and I don’t know if I’ll actually have enough money to buy the 992 without selling something. The 996 isn’t going anywhere. The 997 isn’t going anywhere. And there’s nothing that touches the 991 for usability. It’s just so fast and easy to drive. The next one will be even faster and easier of course, but where’s the fun in that?”
With another session about to begin on track, Richard is visibly keen to get back to what he loves best, the thoughts of future purchases at the back of his mind already. Oddly for a man who owns all three generations of perhaps the most coveted modern 911, this is the first opportunity he’s ever had to drive them side by side, illuminating their different qualities and the progress made by Porsche over a 20-year period of development. “It’s incredible jumping from the 991 to 996,” he says as he makes his way to the door. “I just can’t believe how they’ve eliminated understeer. You really have to get the tyres warmed up in the 996, go slower on your way into a corner and get the car balanced. But it’s 20 years older. It’d be interesting to go back and drive a car that was another 20 years older than the 996 as you’d probably see the same massive leap in technology.”
It’s hard to imagine any better custodian of the GT3 RS than Richard, his enthusiasm borne out both in word and deed. You also get the sense that Richard could talk about them all day. “I love cars, and that’s it,” he says as he walks back towards the paddock. “It doesn’t matter if you like polishing them, designing them or racing them. The fact is, you like cars and that’s me. If anyone wants to chat about cars, I’m more than happy to listen.”
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