(Editor’s note: Porsche has worked with the State of California making it so that the manual transmission GT3 and GT3 Touring can be sold in California. An official statement from Porsche is attached at the end of this article.)
On Tuesday Porsche announced the new 992-generation GT3 Touring, the 500-horsepower sans-wing way to go really fast in a Porsche. For the first time the Touring pack will come standard with a 7-speed PDK gearbox, and a no-cost optional manual gearbox. Unfortunately for Porsche enthusiasts who like to row their own, that manual gearbox is not an option in the state of California. As a matter of fact, that manual gearbox has been retroactively removed from all California GT3s. Porsche sells a whole lot of 911 GT3s in California, and presumably quite a few have already been ordered with a stick, but thanks to the state’s current exhaust noise regulations the shift-it-yourself GT3 doesn’t pass.
It’s important to note that Porsche is not abandoning the manual gearbox, even in California. The rest of the 911 range, as well as the 718 Cayman and Boxster models, will continue to be sold with a stick. It is only the track-ready GT3 which is affected by this strange order. Of all the current sports car manufacturers, Porsche remains the only one still truly dedicated to the cult of three pedals. McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW, even Corvette, have abandoned the stick.
We reached out to Porsche for clarification on the issue with California Highway Patrol sound regulations. Apparently this is a complex issue revolving around Society of Automotive Engineers testing procedures. In May of last year the SAE introduced a new set of testing regulations for sound emissions, called J2805. The new GT3 was developed with SAE J2805 in mind, and by all accounts the new car passes with flying colors. Unfortunately for Porsche, and for enthusiasts living in California, the CHP has not yet updated its rule books to adopt J2805. Instead the state is still using the older version of the test, called SAE J1470, which dates back to 1992.
J1470 specifies the following: “Measurements relate to operating conditions of the vehicle which give the highest noise level consistent with urban driving and which lead to reproducible noise emissions. Therefore, an acceleration test at full throttle from a stated engine or vehicle speed is specified.” Meanwhile, J2805 has been updated as follows, “SAE J2805 is the technical mirror of ISO 362-1. SAE J2805 and ISO 362-1 serve to measure in a performance-based and technology-neutral manner the 90% percentile exterior sound emission of road vehicles. The test procedure is based on extensive statistical investigations of vehicle operation in real traffic and is therefore well correlated to actual in-use sound emissions. The 2020 revision of SAE J2805 incorporates updates reflecting practical experience and clarifications to improve the understanding of users regarding the intent of the standard.”
It’s a little complex, but when we asked Porsche for clarification of what happened, here is the statement we received from PCNA manager of product communications, Frank Weismann:
We are looking forward to, and have been preparing for, the U.S. arrival of the new 911 GT3, which now includes the Touring Package. Ahead of any new model arriving in our market, we verify which options we can offer in each state, and may adjust the range of options accordingly. As a result of this process, the PDK gearbox will be the only transmission offered for sale in California in the 911 GT3. For those who prefer three pedals and are located outside of California, a six-speed manual gearbox will continue to be available at no extra cost. First deliveries in the U.S. of the new 911 GT3 begin in the fall with the Touring package-equipped cars arriving in early 2022.
We strive to offer as much choice as possible to meet and, we hope, exceed the expectations of our customers — and this extends to even our most focused model, the 911 GT3, which offers a greater range of personalization options than ever before. At the same time we have to fully accept and respect national and local guidelines in every market — not just in the U.S. but around the world. Unfortunately, this precludes a manual gearbox option on the 911 GT3 in the state of California because of a sound regulation that is in the process of being updated. We had anticipated an updated regulation at time of launch, but this process is not yet complete. The seven-speed PDK option has received full certification. The manual gearbox will continue to be offered in every state outside of California.
We have been working on a solution to this issue with the California Highway Patrol and only concluded in the past few days that we won’t be able to offer a six-speed manual transmission in California.
At issue is the test procedure. 13 CCR 1046 incorporates by reference an SAE J1470 (March 1992) test procedure that has become obsolete. Consequently, SAE J1470 has been replaced with SAE J2805 (May 2020), which is compatible with modern engine and manual transmission technologies, and that can be used to accurately measure compliance in a design-neutral way to applicable noise limits. We understand that CHP has been planning to update 13 CCR 1046 to incorporate the new SAE procedure. At this juncture, we are awaiting this regulatory action.
We apologize to customers who have ordered a car with a manual gearbox in the state of California — each of whom will be contacted individually by their dealer to fully explain the situation, to discuss their next steps and to be given the option of adjusting the specification of their car. Anyone who has ordered a 911 GT3 with a manual gearbox and who lives outside of California is unaffected by this development.
We are unable to confirm if a manual gearbox for the 911 GT3 will be offered in California in the future, however the manual transmission will not be offered on the 2022 model year car.
Apparently the new SAE J2805 procedure makes room for more forward gears, as the 1992 test is really meant for cars with 4- or 5-speed gearboxes, while the new 911 GT3 carries seven gears in its box. Presumably as soon as California adopts this new sound regulation, the GT3 will again be legal to sell and register in the state. Here at FlatSixes, we believe it is important to comply with state noise regulations, as noise pollution is a serious issue in large cities. That said, we also want to hear the full-throttle yawp of a GT3 roaring down the street. It’s a complex issue, and we hope California gets it sorted soon.
Here’s Weismann again with more:
The issue is focused on an outdated test procedure still found in California Highway Patrol regulations. It’s called SAE J1470 and it dates back to 1992 when manual cars might have four or five gears. It’s since been superseded by a new and more modern procedure called SAE J2805 from May 2020. The former test is no longer current (and the 911 GT3 would not pass), and the latter test has not yet been adopted by California — meaning we’re somewhere in the middle and therefore cannot register the car in manual form in California right now.
We don’t know when the new SAE J2805 procedure will be adopted by California, therefore we can’t guarantee the sale of the manual gearbox on the 911 GT3 — and where’s there’s doubt, we’re always cautious.
This doesn’t affect the manual gearboxes offered in the rest of the 911 range, as well as the 718, which will continue to be sold as usual. The manual is alive and well.
If you want to shift your four-liter track-focused Porsche manually, for now, you’ll have to stick with a Cayman GT4 or something. Heck, most of you who would buy a new GT3 already have a Montana LLC anyway, right? Just pick the car up at a Montana dealership and go for a nice long road trip in your new stick GT3. I’m not saying you should skip out on paying your taxes for a new car registration, but you were already planning to anyway, right?
Updated (8:00 am EDT, 06/23/2021): Porsche worked with California to allow sales of the manual transmission GT3 and GT3 Touring. Here’s the official statement from Porsche.
Following consultations with California authorities, Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) is pleased to confirm that its dealers will be able to sell the new 911 GT3 with a six-speed manual gearbox – meaning that, when the first cars arrive in the fall, they can be legally registered and driven in all 50 states. The work in the past week by the California DMV and California Highway Patrol to find a solution has been appreciated and helped to identify an appropriate regulatory path forward.
On June 11, Porsche Cars North America received a notification from California Highway Patrol outlining that their existing test procedure (SAE J1470, from March 1992) was obsolete but it could not identify a procedural process to allow Porsche to test the new 911 GT3 equipped with a manual transmission through the modern test procedure (SAE J2805, from May 2020). Discussions with the regulators continued but without visibility to a solution we took the difficult decision to inform dealers that the manual option would be no longer be available in California, since there would be no way to legally register the cars in the state. We communicated this on June 15th, coinciding with the planned announcement of the 911 GT3 Touring package. PCNA thanks California DMV and California Highway for their responsiveness and helping quickly identify appropriate regulatory path forward. The 911 GT3 arrives in the US in the fall, and will join 16 other model variants in the Porsche range that can be specified with three pedals.