Porsche took a very different route when designing their first dedicated supercar specifically for road use. The 5.7 litre mid-engined V10 Carrera GT is unlike anything else in the Porsche product catalogue as it was not a variation on the 911 and “boxer” theme. Previous Super or Hypercars had been based on chassis developed for a particular race series, such as the previous very limited production GT1. The Carrera GT however was a dedicated road car from the start and introduced a V10 to the product line. That is to not say that Porsches racing experience was not extensively used in the car.
In the late 90’s Porsche were planning a new prototype for LeMans in 1999, during the course of the development the design switched from the traditional flat 6 boxer to a V10. Porsche had previous experience with a V10 when they where developing an engine for the Footwork Formula One team in 1992 but that development never proceeded to finalisation. The decision to go with a V10 delayed the LeMans Prototype project and after initial testing in mid 1999 the project was shelved. At the time Porsche were co-developing the Cayenne SUV with the Volkswagen-Audi Group and as Audi were in full swing with their Le Mans program it has been suggested that the decision for Porsche to drop their Le Mans program may have been politically motivated.
Porsche Carrera GT Owner’s Manual
While the Le Mans project was dropped, the development of the V10 continued and Porsche re-directed their attention to a dedicated road car to be introduced at a level above all their current offerings. The prototype for the Carrera GT was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 2000. Interest in the car was such that Porsche decided to proceed with production, albeit in a very limited number. Planning was for a total of 1500 units however sales never reached that number before production was ceased. The Carrera GT went on sale at the end of January 2004 but in August 2005 Porsche confirmed production would not continue past the end of the year. The final production count stood at 1270.
The Carrera GT styling was universally praised, it managed to look unlike anything else while still keeping the Porsche family design language. At the time of introduction the major competitor was Ferraris Enzo which had a somewhat controversial appearance. Ferrari though know their limited production market well and only ever planned for a total production of 499 units. Although they built 500 as the final was auction for charity to support the Tsunami victims. Pricing for the Carrera GT was around two thirds of the cost of an Enzo.
Not only was the Carrera GT beautifully designed it was also beautifully engineered and constructed. The carbon-fiber monocoque produced and assembled by ATR Composites Group in Italy, is a visual delight itself even when un-clothed. Carbon-fibre was used extensively throughout the whole car including the engine, transmission and suspension sub frame. The engine unit bolted to its own carbon-fibre sub-assembly which in turn bolted to the monocoque and the engine itself was a stressed member.
Porsche Carrera GT service Manual
The body was predominantly carbon-fibre as well. The frameless doors featured a carbon-fibre skin with integrated side-impact sections. The front compartment and engine cover, rear side, underbody panelling, rear diffuser and sill panels as well as the two-piece detachable targa top are all in carbon fiber. The body also featured a speed dependent automatically extending rear wing to aid downforce.
Power delivered by the naturally-aspirated 5.7 litre 68-degree V10 engine stands at 456 kW (612 bhp) with a maximum torque of 435 lb-ft at 5,750 rpm. Engine construction used Porsches race experience with dry-sump lubrication, Titanium connecting rods, VarioCam variable valve control on intake camshafts, Aluminium twin-flow resonance intake manifold and on-board diagnostics for monitoring the emission control system.
Porsche only offered a six-speed manual transmission with gate and stick change, contrary to competitors who where moving to paddle shifts at the time. The stick itself was topped by a beechwood knob in honour of the 917 which famously used it. A carbon-fibre option was available for the second year of sales. The transmission featured a twoplate ceramic dry clutch: Porsche Ceramic Composite Clutch (PCCC) and a limited-slip differential with locking under power and on overrun.
Suspension is inboard with double wishbones and pushrod actuated spring-and-damper units on front and rear axle. Steering is power-assisted rack-and-pinion while the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) brakes are carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) and ceramic composites with 380-mm (14.96 inches) ceramic discs internally vented and cross-drilled, six-piston monobloc aluminium fixed calipers front and rear. Traction control is utilised with ABD and ASR; ABS 5.7 (four channel system)
The Carrera GT came in five colors although custom paint could be ordered through the factory. The standard colours were Guards Red, Fayence Yellow, Basalt Black, GT Silver and Seal Grey, The interior is fitted with a soft leather upholstery and seats are in leather with a carbon fiber and Kevlar shell.