Some folks lead a charmed life. Owning a 991 GT3 would be nice enough, but getting to exploit it completely — read: manual gearbox and wet roads — on the Stelvio Pass is bucket-list stuff. Most gearheads would love nothing more than to revel in that flat-six scream, control the slithering tail, and peer out over the incredible eastern Alps that connect Switzerland, Austria, and Italy.
The Stelvio Pass was built in 1820-1825 to connect the former Austrian province of Lombardy with the rest of Austria, and climbs all the way to 9,045 feet. The pass itself features 6,138 feet of climbing and 75 corners; many of them hairpins. With the altitude, the scenery, and the challenging corners, it’s become renowned as one of the world’s best driving roads. To add to its reputation, Stirling Moss once went off the road here during a vintage car event in the ’90s, with an onboard video of his incident shown on satellite TV. Clearly, it’s not wise to take many liberties on the Stelvio Pass.
However, a bit of measured wheelspin is always appropriate, especially given the conditions. Putting nearly 500 horsepower to the ground should be a chore in the wet, but the GT3’s stellar traction makes full-throttle exits feasible and fun. Though the newest GT3 is broader and longer than its predecessors, its rear-wheel steering setup makes hairpins a cinch and the surprisingly responsive rack makes precise placement easy — which is reassuring when driving beside a sheer cliff.
Combine the wonderful flat-six bellow bouncing off the sides of the limestone peaks, the gorgeous surroundings, the slippery conditions, and the accuracy of a hot-blooded 911, and you have what I consider to be the perfect description of automotive heaven.