While the Porsche 918 Spyder is all the rage these days, we must not forget about its hybrid-less predecessor, the Carrera GT. The Carrera GT features a screaming 612-hp 5.7L V10 and a good old fashioned 6-speed manual transmission, but you already knew that. Here are eight things you didn’t know about the Carrera GT.
1. It seems impossible that Porsche, the automaker who currently makes more profit per vehicle than any other, once experienced financial struggles. During the early 2000s, Porsche was hurting badly. In an effort to save the company, they reduced their motorsports program to fund and engineer the Cayenne to appeal to a wider market. Porsche got a lot of grief from purists when the Cayenne was introduced in 2002. However, it’s pretty safe to say that the Carrera GT would not be here if it wasn’t for that two-ton family SUV. With money to burn thanks to the Cayenne, Porsche found use for a failure of a Le Mans-built V10 and released the Carrera GT. That V10 has a fascinating history. Read about it here.
2. The Carrera GT has one of the most notoriously difficult clutches of any production car. Search YouTube and you will have no trouble finding videos of valet drivers and owners alike stalling their Carrera GTs. Much of the blame lands on the world’s first production ceramic clutch or PCCC (Porsche Carbon Ceramic Clutch). There is, however, a trick to avoid stalling. Porsche built the Carrera GT with auto-throttle to aid in starts. Though counterintuitive, drivers should not apply throttle during starts. Rather, they should slowly release the clutch and only apply throttle when rolling with the clutch fully released.
3. The standard Carrera GT shift knob is made of birch and ash to pay homage to the balsa wood shift knob used in the 917. The wood is lighter than aluminum and does not conduct drivetrain heat like most metals. This was especially important to 917 drivers, as there were issues with shift knobs burning hands with conventional materials. The Carrera GT was offered with an optional carbon fiber shift knob in its second year of production.
4. If you look closely, you will notice that the Carrera GT’s center lock nuts are red on the driver’s side and blue on the passenger’s side. Porsche color coded them to ensure that there is no mistake as to what side hub the nut goes on. This is especially important considering one set has right-handed threads and the other has left-handed threads.
5. The Carrera GT is the first production car to utilize a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) monocoque chassis. Its chassis is based on the architecture of the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning 1998 GT1 and weighs just over 220 pounds. Don’t let the weight fool you. Porsche claims the roofless Carrera GT to be stiffer than a caged 911 RSR race car.
6. Carrera GT maintenance costs are steep. An oil change will run around $1,200. A new alternator costs $2,400. New tires, recommended to be replaced at least every four years, run roughly $2,500. A new windshield is $9,000. A new clutch costs just over $20,000. The 30,000 mile service is the real killer at around $30,000. I guess it could be worse. At least Carrera GT owners don’t have to deal with $300,000 annual maintenance costs like Veyron owners.
7. The name, “Carrera GT,” had been used by Porsche before, though never on its own. The 356 A (and B) Carrera GT and 924 Carrera GT preceded the Carrera GT.
8. Production of the Carrera GT began in early 2004. Initially, 500 examples were to be produced. That number was increased to 1,000, and again to 1,500 after unexpected demand. Unfortunately, production was cut short in May of 2006 when stricter US air bag regulations were introduced. 1270 Carrera GTs were made in total.
From the motorsports-derived V10 to the CFRP chassis, the Carrera GT is truly something special. As we find ourselves in the midst of a hybrid-aided horsepower war among current hypercars, let’s not forget one of the most extreme Porsches ever made - the Carrera GT.
Photo Credit: Porsche/Serious Wheels, Maxted-Page