December 10, 2023

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The Ultimate Driving Machines

THE CARRERA GT: Second-To-None Performance Credentials

THE CARRERA GT: Second-To-None Performance Credentials

THE CARRERA GT: Second-To-None Performance Credentials

Written by independent automotive journalist David Neyens


Throughout its rich history dating back to 1948, the Porsche marque has graced the motoring world with a succession of racing homologation specials engineered and built to meet international competition requirements while remaining perfectly legal for road use. The limited-production Carrera GT of 2004-06 is an electrifying case in point, rooted in a development program that commenced in 1999 and yielded a prototype shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2000. Conjuring stunning images of the shark-like 904 Carrera and iconic 550 Spyder before it, the Carrera GT was initially intended as the planned successor to the mighty and successful Le Mans-winning 911 GT1 race car of the late 1990s.

While FIA rule changes frustrated its endurance-racing plans for the new car, Porsche forged ahead with the Carrera GT road car, repurposed as a range-topping, elite supercar representing the culmination of all the lessons Porsche learned on the track. The initial show car generated a firestorm of interest among Porsche’s top clients and was first shown in production-ready form at Geneva in March 2003. Powered by an only slightly civilized derivation of Porsche’s V10 race engine, the “street” Carrera GT power plant paid nominal observance to worldwide emissions and noise regulations. Factory-rated at 603 horsepower, the mid-mounted 5.7-liter Carrera GT V10 engine was, and remains, ferocious. Technical specifications of the Carrera GT remain formidable, beginning with a competition-style, carbon-fiber monocoque tub and subframe structures produced by Italy’s ATR Composites Group. Race-worthy underpinnings included inboard rocker arms with upper and lower wishbones at all four corners. Both the Carrera GT’s clutch and brake components employ strong yet lightweight ceramic composite materials. Even its massive 19- and 20-inch wheels are made of ultra-lightweight forged magnesium for minimal unsprung weight and razor-sharp responsiveness to driver inputs.

The design of the Carrera GT body was completed by a team of stylists under the famed Dutch automobile designer Harm Lagaay. Similar to other contemporary Porsche models, the Carrera GT employs an automated rear wing that deploys at speeds above 120 km/h (75 mph) or by the driver’s election at any speed, providing additional downforce and stability. In fact, not one body feature of the incredibly aggressive Carrera GT is not functional — everything serves a role in elevating the driving experience. Huge air intakes on both sides blast cool, dense air to the Carrera GT’s three radiators, providing five times the engine-cooling area of that on Porsche’s contemporary 911 Turbo. The carbon-fiber underbody of the Carrera GT is a study in cutting-edge aerodynamic efficiency, working in concert with the rear diffuser to maintain stability even at shockingly high speeds. While designed and developed for extreme all-around performance, the Carrera GT’s interior is an example of purposeful luxury and safety features, including front and side-impact airbags, plus safe stopping afforded by ABS brakes.

Performance credentials for the Carrera GT are nothing short of superlative by any era’s standards. According to Porsche AG, acceleration from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph) is achieved in just 3.9 seconds, with the 200 km/h (124 mph) mark obliterated in 9.9 seconds and the car hitting a top speed of a supercar-worthy 330 km/h (205 mph). While never intended for the drag strip, the Carrera GT can also deliver a wicked 11.4-second elapsed time over the quarter mile — normally the preserve of bare-bones drag cars. Mated to the race-bred V10 engine is a 6-speed manual gearbox and transaxle, controlled with a simple yet elegant beechwood gearshift knob paying homage to the wild V12 Le Mans-conquering Porsche 917s of 1969-71.

While Porsche was frustrated in its quest to take the Carrera GT to racing, the car was nonetheless an unqualified success as a thinly disguised racing car for the road, satisfying Porsche’s most ardent and well-heeled clients. Demanding equal measures of respect and skill to master, the Carrera GT still stands as one of the most thrilling high-performance sports cars ever produced — bar none. Proof of this came in July 2004, when factory test driver and famed racing driver Walter Röhrl tore through the Nürburgring’s notoriously challenging Nordschleife circuit in just 7 minutes, 28 seconds — a world record that stood for more than the next five years. According to Porsche AG, approximately 1,270 examples of the highly anticipated Carrera GT were ultimately built at Porsche’s newly built production facility in Leipzig, Germany.

Nearly two decades after the last car was produced, the Carrera GT continues to electrify supercar fans and owners everywhere as an unbridled racing car for the road. Accompanied by a printed report listing its original factory data, this almost otherworldly Carrera GT was built during February 2005, priced at a heady $452,989 new. One of the 644 examples sold new to the United States during the entire production run spanning 2004-06, it was originally finished in black. However, while the car was undamaged and had undergone limited use with only an approximate 3,300 miles from new, the current owner/collector entrusted well-known supercar expert Jamie Cummings, proprietor of Karosserie in Wayne, Pennsylvania, to elevate the car’s presentation well beyond its already stellar factory-original standards.

All work was performed over a three-month timeframe at Karosserie with an “open checkbook” approach. In preparation for a full color change, the car was carefully stripped to the central carbon-fiber “tub,” with attention paid to the Carrera GT‘s body surfaces and intricate details that can only begin to be described as beyond demanding. In fact, the owner’s vision demanded that the work would be performed to standards the factory would have used, given the technologies and knowledge base now available today. For its part, Karosserie was more than well-qualified for the job, being the only factory-certified body and paint shop for Pagani Automobili, in addition to enjoying factory certifications from Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Porsche. The concours-quality paint finish, including the matching brake calipers, is a bespoke PPG Red hue, chosen by the Carrera GT’s owner only after many samples were methodically scrutinized and eliminated. Furthering the uncompromising attention lavished on the car, all single-use rubber body seals were replaced with new items in the process, along with the windshield, which had just one minor, yet visible, imperfection.

Another welcome update applied to this Carrera GT involved the painstaking, “cost-no-object” conversion of the factory-original hydraulic rear spoiler actuators in favor of a specially engineered electrical system, ensuring correct deployment and symmetry at all times. The original hydraulic system is included with sale of the Carrera GT. Also accompanying this stunning supercar are both keys and the full complement of fitted luggage, which has never been used. Finishing touches include a fresh service, installation of a new battery and fitment of the last set of factory-specified, date-current tires known available for the car in the United States.

Sure to electrify all who experience its incomparable and unique presence, this amazing 2005 Porsche Carrera GT is but one of the early headline consignments for the upcoming Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction at WestWorld, January 21-29, 2023. Register to bid today for your chance to experience all the action and bring home this piece of automotive history.