Porsche’s stature in the automotive world has been built entirely on the brand’s success in motorsport, most notably, its 19 constructor championship wins in Le Mans. This expertise has helped the company build some legendary cars in the past, which in most cases were in one way of the other connected to their flagship rear-engine, air-cooled 911. But every now and then, just like other performance and sports car makers, Porsche too got ambitious and went all-out to create their own halo supercar. Back in 2003, fourteen years ago, that machine came to us in the form of the truly mental Porsche Carrera GT.
This particularly beautiful 2004 Porsche Carrera GT, example numbered 0143, in the most iconic colour the supercar was known for, comes from France’s Eleven Cars, who have this low mileage machine plus many other stunning cars available for sale at their showroom in Paris.
This video from Motorvision proves that you really don’t need to understand German to appreciate the Carrera GT!
The Porsche Carrera GT can be described as the spiritual predecessor to the game changing Porsche 918 Hybrid, the Germany company’s latest flagship hypercar. A total of 1270 units of the Carrera GT was ever made between 2003 and 2007. That said, the most interesting point about the Carrera GT is its inception. Its roots can be traced back to a new Le Mans prototype Porsche was developing for the 1999 season after the FIA rules changed a year ago. While that car was initially intended to be fitted with a flat-six turbocharged unit, a later redesign bumped up the number of cylinders to ten. The V10 to be used in the prototype car was a development of an engine Porsche had secretly worked on for the Footwork F1 team (previously Arrows Grand Prix International) in 1992 but was discarded after merely half a season in the running.
The LMP project after seeing delays during 2000 due to the changing economic conditions was eventually shelved by Porsche. One of the main reasons for this was the development of the Cayenne SUV in conjunction with Volkswagen and Audi. However, Porsche kept a part of the project alive, namely the V10 engine. The engine eventually made its way to the Carrera GT Concept showcased at the 2000 Paris Motorshow. Positive audience reception and a sudden influx of revenue for the company from the success of the Cayenne meant the Carrera GT could be put into production, eventually launching in 2003 with a price tag of $440,000.
The production car had the 5.5-litre V10 uprated to a 5.7-litre motor which produced 603 hp. This meant a 0 to 100kmph time of 3.9s and a top speed of 330kmph. Putting the power down was a 6-speed manual. The chassis used a carbon fibre monocoque and subframe while the suspension was an inboard mounted, pushrod actuated job. The design of the car was typically Porsche, drawing inspiration from 718 RS Spyder of the early 60s.
While the Porsche Carrera GT is similar to the 918 Hybrid in spirit, the two cars couldn’t be more different in execution. The 918 Hybrid is as easy to drive as any mid-sized sedan and features all manner of safety aids. The Carrera GT, on the other hand, did not even get a stability control system. Combine that with a truly ludicrous V10 that was designed for Formula One cars, the result was a car that proved to be quite the handful. To experienced drivers, the car’s handling, speed and track focused setup were a revelation. This was also in contrast to its contemporary competition, the Enzo Ferrari and the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren, both of which came with driver aids and were generally easier for novices to use. This only helped better differentiate the Carrera GT as the car for skilled enthusiasts.
The Carrera GT is especially significant because it marked the last of the supercars offering an unadulterated driving experience. It was very rewarding, provided you had the skill and made no compromises to this end. Cars since the Carrera GT have had to, by force of regulation, turn less demanding. These cars, with their heavy electronic assistance and safety compliant designs, only rarely come close to the visceral experience which the Carrera GT was.
It can be argued that the Carrera GT paved the way for Porsche to be the powerhouse of automotive technology it is today. It showed that Porsche could break out of the aura of the 911 and create cars which could showcase the technical prowess of the brand.
Images via Eleven Cars