The Porsche Carrera GT – A First Generation Hypercar
There aren’t many car appreciators that don’t know this car. An unapologetically analogue experience like no other, before the times of electronic drift modes, slip angles and mass adoption of dual-clutch gearboxes.
As a petrol head myself, I’m well aware of this car’s existence, as many of us are. But it’s an enigma in the car world, even with 1,270 cars being produced, they are rarely seen, especially in the UK where just 49 were sold. However, you’ll definitely hear it first with its iconic V10 notes.
But even though the car is well documented, heavily featured across YouTube videos and can be seen on TV and in movies, nothing quite prepares you for seeing one in the flesh close up. Walking around the corner of our Porsche Centre at Silverstone the front end was the first to appear, and if you’d paused right there, you could be forgiven for thinking the GT came out in 2018, not 2004. The iconic Porsche design is so prevalent here that seeing it for the first time in 2000 must be like seeing the crazy concept cars from today.
Continuing around the corner, the recognisable lines start to take shape, its incredibly low posture, the sweeping door line and roofline, and the incredibly precise twin grilles above that ever-impressive Formula 1, then Le Man derived 5.7-litre V10 engine. Round to the rear is the twin exit exhaust and what would be a familiar shaped rear end if you ever tried to race it.
Opening up the doors and the first thing you notice is that large stick thing in the centre console that has 7 positions and can move, it is indeed a manual. Which automatically makes this one of, if not the best, driving experiences on offer ever. Who wouldn’t want a 600+ horsepower V10 with three pedals!?
The gear selector is also as classically styled as most of the rest of the interior, with some classic Porsche dials, an orange glow from the small infotainment screen and a retro-esque steering wheel. Although, look at the rest of the car and it goes back to being a proper hypercar with futuristic tendencies. It is covered in carbon fibre, helped by the fact that most of the entire car is thanks to the carbon monocoque. Then, you move to the floating centre console, enveloping the driver and creating a driver focussed experience. It also gives the passenger something to hold on to. Not that you should need thanks to the bucket racing seats, which personally offer the best of both worlds being comfortable enough, but with high sides, you’re not moving very far in this German masterclass of performance.
Now, onto the technical bits, and there is a lot to cover here!
As we mentioned, the engine in the Carrera came to fruition in Formula 1, back in the 1990s. The engine never made it to an F1 car, so Porsche did the next best thing and angled it towards the world of Le Mans and continued developing the engine. However, in the background, Porsche released the Cayenne, which for those not in the know was running a lot of products they had borrowed from Volkswagen Group and unfortunately, Audi was part of VW and also part of Le Mans. So Porsche shelved the car and let Audi take control of the Le Mans.
So with Porsche having a near fully developed engine and nowhere to put it, the Porsche Carrera GT was born.
Starting with a 5.5 litre V10 and being shown at the 2000 Paris Motor Show as a showpiece and then finally being produced and released in 2004. The engine was then bored to an impressive 5.7 litres and produced an intoxicating 603 horsepower and a peak torque of 435lb-ft, it is no slouch.
Not only was it powerful, but Porsche also designed the GT to be light and nimble, and went to great lengths to do so, with a carbon fibre monocoque, a clutch made of carbon and being the size of a side plate, carbon brakes. If they could, they’d have made the engine carbon too! More weight-saving took place with the huge V10 engine powering this retro icon weighing in at just 215KG. This all meant the GT weighs in at a mind-boggling 1380KG, about the same as an average hatchback by today’s standards.
But Porsche didn’t stop there, next was the handling. First, to achieve high grip levels, as this is rear-wheel drive, Porsche saw fit to install 335 tyres to the rear, which sounds big, but when you see them in person you realise that actually, they are HUGE.
Next,centre of gravity. The before mentioned small clutch was not only for weight but, allowed Porsche to fit the transmission and engine incredibly low, in fact, the crankshaft is only 3.9 inches off the carbon-fibre undertray. Having all of its weight so low allows the GT to grip and corner like very little else. Now, remember, we are talking about a car that came out nearly 20 years ago, all of this would be impressive if it launched today!
All in all the Porsche is, of course, a fantastic car, there isn’t a question about that. But what is even greater is the absolute icon it has become among car aficionados. Everyone has a mutual respect for this car and I am yet to find someone that says “no, I don’t like it” Porsche created an incredible car that will last the test of time for another 18 years for sure.
If you’re looking to have a piece of Porsche of your very own then click here to find your nearest Porsche Centre.