May 12, 2006 The manufacture of the Carrera GT at Porsche's facility in Leipzig, Germany, concluded earlier this week, bringing to a close what Porsche labels “the most successful supercar in history.” Porsche’s claim is based on sales of the beastie - more than 1,270 Carrera GTs have been sold since its introduction in late 2003 with around half that finding homes in North America. This figure represents a greater number than the total production of the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo, and Pagani Zonda models combined. Regardless, even in an economic climate that did not favor products in this segment of the market, the V-10 supercar sold in unprecedented numbers. Our favourite quote on the Carrera GT was that of MotorWeek TV show host John Davis who said, "the Carrera GT is the best motivation to get rich that we've ever driven."
The Carrera GT is a storied member in a line of limited edition supercars, a lineage born from Porsche's experience at the highest levels of world-class endurance racing. The Carrera GT owes its product modeling as an exclusive, racing-derived, ultra-high-performance roadcar to Porsche's first supercar, the 959. Storming the world automotive stage at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1985, the 959 was intended for "Group B" racing competition, and served as Porsche's technology flagship--a rolling paradigm of automotive performance from which future models could draw even loftier benchmarks.
The Carrera GT supercar also had its genesis in the racing program, but instead became a street-only machine. The Carrera GT evolved from a 5.5-liter V-10 engine program originally developed for endurance competition. Enlarged to 5.7-liters for the production car, the naturally aspirated Carrera GT's V-10 produces 605 (SAE) horsepower at 8,000 rpm, and this power is routed through a production car first--Porsche's Ceramic Composite Clutch (PCCC). Only 6.65 inches (169mm) in diameter, the race-caliber clutch easily handles the Carrera GT's prodigious output while allowing the entire powertrain to sit lower in the chassis, dropping the center of gravity for even sharper handling.
The Carrera GT's wide use of cutting edge materials prompted Popular Science magazine in 2003 to name the exotic machine the "Best of What's New" for its advanced technology and chassis development. The Carrera GT's monocoque chassis is constructed from bonded layers of carbon fiber tissue, resin, and aluminum and plastic honeycomb materials that are incredibly light, but strong. The entire chassis weighs just over 220 pounds (100 kg), and is mated to equally esoteric materials including forged magnesium wheels, and the 380mm Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB).
Thanks to near fanatical attention to weight savings, the performance results are stunning. The Carrera GT will accelerate from a standing start to 62 mph (100 km/h) in only 3.9 seconds, at which point, things really get going. The 99 mph (160 km/h) mark arrives in less than seven seconds, 124 mph (200 km/h) in under 10 seconds, and the Carrera GT can achieve a top test-track speed of 205 mph (330 km/h). Despite the otherworldly performance, the Carrera GT is still one of few supercars that can be driven every day. Traction control, air conditioning, GPS navigation, a Bose audio system, and a fitted, 5-piece, matched-leather luggage set are standard equipment.
The Porsche Carrera GT first went on sale in North America on January 31, 2004, and currently sells for US$440,000.