Stuttgart's Race Car for the Streets


A word synonymous with Porsche, especially with the history of its most famous model, the 911. But this car isn't a 911, it's so much more. This is Porsche's crowning achievement of the 2000s, the Carrera GT.

The word Carrera itself derives from the Spanish language and translates to "race" in this particular context, however, Porsche's direct reference for the name comes from the Carrera Panamericana. A gruelling race that took place on open highways throughout Mexico and ran for five consecutive years during the 1950s before being cancelled due to the high driver and spectator fatalities.

The Carrera GT was born from a race-bred Porsche, the 911 GT1. Due to several FIA rule changes, Porsche had to plan and build a new prototype from scratch that ultimately became stillborn. Development of the halo car became stagnant due to the growing demand for Sport Utilities, which moved engineers towards the Cayenne SUV's development. Thankfully, Ferdinand Piech's gamble with the Cayenne paid off to be extremely popular, providing a hefty profit to greenlight the Carrera GT for production, pushing Porsche into supercar territory.

Following the "986" Boxster and "996" 911, the GT used similar styling language to signify that it was another exciting product from the Stuttgart manufacturer. The chassis was a monocoque composed of carbon fibre, along with all of the body panels (including the removable roof panels).

Large air ducts sculpted into the rear quarters feed air into the engine bay for the fire-breathing mechanical masterpiece to ingest. The interior featured exquisite leather-clad Kevlar bucket seats and a unique "waterfall" console, which housed the shifter assembly for the manual transmission. Its shift knob was made from Beechwood, nodding to the legendary 917 motorsport prototypes that dominated throughout the 1970s.

The new supercar was given a V10 that had been shelved since 1992. The 10 cylinder was an initial development for Footwork Arrows Formula One Team but axed after the chassis was found to be uncompetitive. The new V10 now displacing 5.7 litres, with 12:1 compression and was capable of an 8,400rpm redline.

The aluminum block contained racing-grade goodies such as titanium connecting rods, sodium-cooled valves, and variable valve timing. The V10 was capable of producing 603hp and 435lb/ft of torque, making it one of the most powerful naturally-aspirated Porsches ever produced. A traditional 6-speed manual transaxle with a twin-plate ceramic clutch was the only transmission option available. All of this motorsport technology working together propelled the Carrera from 0-100km/hr (62mph) in 3.9 seconds and onto an official top speed of 330km/hr (205mph).

Considering its LM prototype roots, the Carrera GT's handling and response should be some of the best offered during the time period. Double-wishbone architecture, using aluminum control arms was employed at all four corners along with motorsport-derived pushrod actuated dampers. Braking was handled by one of the first road-going applications of carbon-ceramic disc brake systems developed with Brembo. The GT rolls on a set of 19 and 20" forged aluminum wheels wrapped in Micheline Pilot Super Sport tires.

Each wheel is secured by center locking lug nuts that were colour coded for each side of the car, blue for the right side, and red for the left as they were reverse threaded in order to keep them tight as the wheel spun forward. The only aerodynamic and electronic aid found on the entire car is the rear spoiler, designed to deploy when exceeding speeds of 113km/hr (70mph) in order to reduce lift.

After four years of production (2003-2007), 31 cars made their way across the Atlantic to Canada. We're thankful for the "980" Carrera GT, without it, Porsche would not have broken into supercar territory and gave way to the later 918 Spyder as well as invaluable research and development that has trickled down into the 911 and other models in Porsche's model range.

-Team 604

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