Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
'Putting this remarkable car into context, the Carrera GT represents a modern version of an early street-legal 550 with a hint of 356 Carrera Speedster. Through this state-of-the-art supercar, Porsche once again captured the spirit of the Carrera and it is to the credit of those early engineers that the reputation and bloodline of the Carrera has continued to flourish.' – Glen Smale, 'Porsche: The Carrera Dynasty'.
One of the most evocative model designations in motoring history, 'Carrera' has been adorning Porsches since the mid-1950s, having been adopted following the German manufacturer's triumph in the 1954 Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. That famous victory was achieved by a Type 550 sports-racer, not a car that could be offered to the general public in large numbers, so the 'Carrera' name first appeared in 1955 on the Porsche 356A Coupé, which also got the 550's competition-bred four-cam engine. Since then it has been used as a designation for models with enhanced performance or competition potential, and then in 1983 was applied to the entire 911 range.
When Porsche decided to attach the 'GT' appellation to 'Carrera' in 2004, it marked a return to its competition roots, the new flagship supercar's looks recalling those of the original Type 550 of 50-plus years ago. Known as 'Project Code 80', the programme to develop a front-ranking supercar had begun following Porsche's Le Mans win with the 911 GT1 in 1998. Although a couple of dozen GT1s were adapted for road use, something more practical would be required for volume production, though it was intended that the GT1's advanced technology would be carried over to the new model.
The first hint that Porsche was planning something very special was dropped in 2000 when a concept car designed by American Grant Larson appeared on the Stuttgart manufacturer's stand at the Paris Motor Show. Its overwhelmingly favourable reception gave Porsche the green light to commence development of a version suitable for production.
It would have been all to easy to stick with the tried and tested flat-six engine design used in the 911 and Boxster, which Porsche had done when developing its last supercar, the 959, but the new model needed to be significantly different in order to achieve the desired impact. Fortunately there was a suitable power unit to hand: a 5.5-litre four-cam V10 developed a few years previously for a still-born Le Mans racer. The latter had incorporated a carbon-fibre monocoque, as had the GT1, and this state-of-the-art method of construction was carried over to the Carrera GT, albeit in a form that met the requirements of a road car. Porsche's engineers gave themselves an additional set of problems to solve by extending the use of this material to the engine support structure. The development of a small-diameter, multi-plate clutch incorporating ceramic composite materials enabled the V10 engine to be mounted low in the chassis, resulting in a lower centre of gravity than would have been possible with a flat six. Before production commenced the V10 would be enlarged to 5.7 litres, producing its maximum of 612bhp at 8,000rpm. A six-speed manual transmission was the only one available.
Clearly, a car of such importance would have to possess perfect road manners before being released for sale, and to ensure this perfection Porsche employed racing driver Walter Röhrl to assist with development, which included countless laps of the demanding Nürburgring circuit. In the interests of high-speed stability the rear body incorporates a wing that is raised automatically at around 75mph, retracting when the speed drops back to 50mph. This was no mere gimmick but a vital necessity in a car capable of exceeding 200mph.
The Carrera GT's suspension is pure competition car, featuring unequal-length control arms all round with horizontally mounted gas shock absorbers operated via pushrods and rockers. Its brakes too are racetrack developed, consisting of six-piston aluminium callipers gripping 15" diameter ceramic composite discs that are more heat resistant and 50% lighter than cast-iron equivalents. More weight was saved from the wheels, which are made of forged magnesium (19" front, 20" rear) while ABS was standard equipment, as was power assistance for the steering.
When the production Carrera GT went on sale in 2004 it looked remarkably similar to the 2000 Paris Show car yet was subtly different in countless ways. One more obvious difference was the GT's roof, a feature lacking on the open prototype, which consisted of two parts that could be removed for stowage in the front luggage compartment. Inside, the seats were made of leather-trimmed carbon fibre while the gear lever knob was made of wood, recalling the unlikely use of this traditional material on the legendary Porsche 917 endurance racer.
Of course, it is no longer sufficient merely to deliver the ultimate in on-the-road performance: these days the discerning supercar buyer also demands the very latest in in-car mobile telecommunications technology. The Carrera GT project engineers did not skimp in this respect, equipping it with 'Porsche Online Pro' satellite navigation incorporating a Bose sound system, hands-free 'phone, and email and Internet connectivity. A five-piece luggage set was included in the specification at no extra cost, though, perhaps surprisingly, air conditioning was an optional 'extra'.
Porsche stated that only 1,500 Carrera GTs would be made, thereby emphasising the car's exclusivity, and each example carries a numbered plaque on the centre console (the factory retained 'No.1' for its museum). When deliveries commenced in January 2004 the selling price was $448,000 (approximately £279,500 or €349,200 at current rates of exchange). When Car & Driver tested a production Carrera GT, the respected American motoring magazine recorded a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds with the 'ton' arriving only 3.3 seconds later. In the event, the Carrera GT would turn out to be even more exclusive than its maker had originally intended, for when production ceased in 2007 only 1,207 had been completed.
An early example, this Carrera GT was first registered in August 2004 in Nantes, France to its first owner, a resident of Monaco, and subsequently registered in the UK by the second (current) owner in April 2012. Finished in classic Porsche GT Silver with Ascot Brown leather interior, it is equipped with air conditioning and the Porsche Online Pro navigation and hi-fi systems. A low mileage example, having covered a mere 5,900 miles, the vehicle benefits from recent (March 2013) full major service costing £11,000 with fewer than 200 miles covered since. Fully documented including pictures, this major service included engine removal, new timing belts, spark plugs and coil packs, water pump and valve tappet clearance check. The gearbox oil and filters and the brake fluid were changed, a new clutch fitted and the rear main oil seal replaced. Previous services were carried out at 1,638 kilometres, 3,071 kilometres, 4,463 miles and 5,621 miles. Currently taxed, the car comes complete with its original user manuals (in English and French) and an unused luggage set plus the original tool kit, wheel socket, spare key and factory ID tags. Accompanying documentation consists of the original service booklet and invoices, current MoT certificate and UK V5C registration document.
With relatively few produced and all in the hands of private collectors, this superb Porsche Carrera GT represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an example of what Car & Driver considered 'arguably the finest sports car the company has ever produced.'
The mileage reading for this car is 5,750 miles, not 5,900 as catalogued. The registration number is VT04 PXN.
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