The Carrera GT!
Photos by Dom Fisher (DFishPix)
The Porsche Carrera GT was launched in 2004, following a surprise appearance in concept form at the Geneva show in 2000. Such was the interest it was put into production, becoming an immediate car legend with blistering performance, extreme power and a road presence like few other cars of its time.
The Carrera GT has a 5.7 V10 engine, originally designed for racing and was available from the factory in five colours as standard but if you wanted white, it was special factory option only. The Carrera GT develops 612bhp and has a carbon fibre monocoque chassis to keep the weight down. As a result, this special Porsche tips the scales at just 1380kgs – a remarkable feat given its size. This light-weight ensures a 0-60 time of less than 4 seconds, and a top speed in excess of 200mph.
The owner of the car you see here arrives in the GT on our indifferent Friday afternoon, all eyes are immediately drawn as it lights up the road with its dramatic shape. From the front quarter, the GT’s wide and low stance is very distinct and with the huge raised spoiler the rearward proportions are balanced out neatly.
From the front square-on looking through the windscreen, your eyes move through the silver surround detail in bucket seats, past the roll-over hoops and notice a hint of the rear deck … and that large spoiler. It all provides an exciting, confident racing car image. It looks fast from every angle, even stood still.
Getting into the car is something of a delicate manoeuvre – especially when the car isn’t yours.
“Try not to knock the side sills as you get in.” the owner requests. The seats are lower than the sills, so you step over the sill and drop into the low slung Porsche racing bucket seats. My 6’4” frame is carefully contortioned – arms and knees bent at angles that I didn’t know I could master as I drop into the spotlessly clean interior. Bum on seat, I heave my right leg into the foot well and we are ready for the off.
The key turns, the engine starts. The instrument dials in a Carrera GT are similar to those found in a 997 model, except that these are GT orange. Not white or black. Orange. Thanks to that lightweight construction and the resulting minimalist interior, you notice immediately inside the cabin there are lashings of carbon fibre all around you. It has a functional design, but isn’t without its creature comforts. The dashboard for example still looks plush, as does the centre console and despite being in a buttock firming racing seat it isn’t uncomfortable either.
The car even has musical abilities outside of that made by the engine, with an exceptional sound system that you just wouldn’t expect in such as stripped out and focussed sports car. And let’s not forget that wooden gear knob that looks so affectionally out of place in a car such as this.
On tick-over, the engine has a typical Porsche grumble. That undertone of unrefined aggressiveness. As we pull off onto the road it becomes very apparent just how big the car is. Looking forward, the bonnet disappears from view and, due to its size, so do the cats-eyes in the centre of the road. All Carrera GT cars were built left-hand drive, which means that here in the UK, as a passenger I’m sat towards the centre of the road – and the CGT only just fits on these country lanes, the rumble under tyre confirming that you’re on a narrow stretch of road.
Just being in this car makes you smile. It’s a very special car and provides a real sense of occasion. Personally, it’s also one of my all-time favourite cars and I hoped that it was going to live up to expectations. As we cruise down the road I look behind me and the aesthetics continue to excite. Those giant rollover hoops, intertwined with the brake light assembly. Further back are those defined racing scoops protruding over the engine bay. The anticipation to see what the engine underneath is capable of is spin tingling, like when you get on a roller coaster for the first time. You know instinctively know it’s going to be good – and scary.
And it is. We’re clear of traffic, so we stop momentarily to sample the set-off acceleration. The first attempt was a muted affair as the power delivery is so keen that the traction control kicks in to keep things safe. My driver grimaces and stops the loud pedal “It’s better with traction control off” he says, pressing the appropriate button on the dashboard. Time for round two and I cling onto the seat as the GT’s 612 wild stallions are unleashed and we slither off the start line.
The traction grabs just a second later and the car launches ahead at break-neck speed. The revs shoot up to 5,000rpm and the noise changes from purely-Porsche to simply race-car and my grin turns to laughter as the car just continues to force you back in your seat. I could be at Alton Towers.
Regaining composure, I try to pull myself out of the seat (a simple, but effective measure of a car’s power, I find) and my body is having none of it, the inertia keeping me welded to the chair. I love it!!
As we power through the gears I can only imagine this is what Formula 1 would feel like if it was to be a road going car. Suck to the chair, senses are in overload. The engine noise is intoxicating with its high pitch sound (I’m pleased to tell you it does sound exactly the same as Anthony Hopkins’ car in the “Fracture” movie). We have now caught up with a pocket of traffic but no matter, with the sheer power of the car, every gap becomes a simple overtaking opportunity.
“Visibility is the only downside to this car”, the owner tells me. “Being left hand drive, it makes overtaking more difficult”. He has had a number of left-hookers though and doesn’t find it to be too much of a hindrance as we safely manoeuvre around the slower traffic.
In the bends, the car is firmly planted and minor movements on the steering wheel are transferred precisely in the direction of the nose. The Carrera GT is quite simply Porsche’s finest hour and it has lived up to everything I had had hoped it would be.
The roof is a semi convertible affair. You can remove the carbon fibre panels to allow top-down motoring and sample the GT’s audible delights in full concert. Be careful not to drop one though, as a replacement will cost a cool £5,000.
The GT does get a lot of attention. “Sometimes a bit too much,” he laughs “people think I’ve bought it to show off, but that’s not the case. This is my dream car and I just love driving it”.
I love it too. Now where is that lottery ticket….