The GT3 category has been one of the best things to happen to sportscar racing in recent memory, with the regulations creating a large and diverse field of manufacturer-backed programs.
But it's also been a boon for sports car enthusiasts, with the desire for more competitive race cars ultimately leading to faster, sharper-handling road cars. So to celebrate this weekend's return of the Bathurst 12 Hour, we've picked five of the best current road cars inspired by their on-track versions.
Unfortunately the Audi R8 and Nissan GT-R are gone from Australian showrooms, and the Ferrari 488 was long ago replaced by the F8 Tributo and now the 296 GTB (which is being developed for GT3 racing but isn't available yet).
Fortunately, though, there are still plenty of excellent options to choose from.
Porsche 911 GT3
Let's start with the obvious one, Porsche's famous road racer is able to draw a clear line between its racing counterpart. Even by just looking at it you can see the connections between the road-going GT3 and the racing version – from the very aggressive body kit to its on-road stance.
The similarities run deep though, as both versions are powered by the same basic 4.0-litre flat-six engine and both feature double-wishbone front suspension – which is used on the street version for the first time in the 911's history in order to improve its on-track performance.
Mercedes-AMG GT R
While Porsche arguably created this genre of sports cars, it's far from alone now with competition from all of its major rivals – including AMG. This is the track-capable version of the road legal AMG GT, with more power and handling enhancements to help it compete with both the 911 GT3 on the road and on the track.
While the regular GT's 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 makes 384kW of power and 670Nm of torque, for the GT R AMG has extracted even more – 430kW and 700Nm. To tame that power there's a racing-style multi-stage traction control system as well as the new aero package (which includes a fixed rear wing) and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
Lamborghini Huracan STO
The Huracan was already influenced by GT3 racing before the arrival of the latest STO model, with Lamborghini and Audi (which builds the R8 off the same platform) deliberately making the cabin of this model larger in order to accommodate a roll-cage in GT3 versions.
For the STO the line between racing car and street car begins to blur. Lamborghini is adamant that it has tried to use the same aero map for STO that it does from the Huracan GT3 and Super Trofeo one-make racer. To achieve that it created an entirely new front end for the STO, a one-piece clamshell bonnet that helps increase downforce.
There's also an adjustable rear wing and an air-intake with stabilizing fin that runs down the rear of the car. Plus, of course, the screaming 5.2-litre V10 engine.
BMW M4 Competition
Like many of its peers, the latest M4 was designed with GT3 racing in mind. In fact, the race car was developed simultaneously and even revealed at the same time (at the 2020 Austrian MotoGP race). This allowed the road and racing engineers to share information during the design and testing process, which BMW claims will make both cars better.
Both cars are powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that has been designed with racing in mind. In the road-going M4 Competition is tuned to make 375kW and 650Nm, which makes it a seriously quick street car.
The current Competition model is the most potent variant to date, but if history is a guide expect BMW and M division to roll out even more track-capable variants in the near-future.
In the grand scheme of things McLaren is a very young automotive brand, having launched in its current form in 2010, but it's already established itself as a true rival to Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini. While Formula 1 certainly plays its role in creating excitement around the brand, from its earliest days McLaren Automotive has used GT3 racing as a way to promote its products.
The latest GT3-inspired model is the 765LT, which takes lessons learnt on the track to turn the 720S into McLaren's ultimate track day machine.
Powered by McLaren's 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine makes 570kW and 800Nm, a significant step up from the 720S. There's also an adaptive aero package and race-proven carbon ceramic brakes.