I will now say things about the Carrera GT Concept that preceded the production car.
Harry Metcalfe kindled this fire in me with his recent video about the GT. He mentioned that he attended the original announcement of the car, consisting of a secret event at the Louvre, before the start of the 2000 Paris motor show. The concept version was driven up the Champs-Élysées and into the event by none other than Walter Röhrl, at 6am on September 28th, 2000, and a video was presented of the man showcasing the car in the Nevada desert. Nobody quite knew what was happening or what they were looking at, everybody was impressed.
Production wasn’t certain, even technical details were seemingly unavailable. It seems Porsche developed the car as eye-candy for their display at the show that year, though we know they had a V10 at the ready, and it seems likely they were waiting for an excuse to productionise it.
This is a contemporary video of the show which includes the following oddities:
- The new Ferrari 550 Barchetta
- The Opel Speedster
- The Chrysler Sebring
- First gen Clio V6
- An 18 Cylinder Veyron
- The Z9 Roadster, ie. the first Bangle BMW
- Smart Coupe concept, which would become the Roadster
And of course, the world’s first look at Porsche’s new supercar:
There’s a certain optimism and wide-eyed wonder that goes into watching a video like this of an old motor show. It’s exciting to look back on such possibilities as an 18 cylinder supercar or a wild mini-sports car concept, yet humbling to see the reality give us a porky half-loved W16TTTT or a shoddy over-priced mis-step.
But not the Carrera GT. This is an instance where reality matched almost perfectly the original vision. And for the longest time I thought it was a perfect match - that the concept was virtually identical to the road car.
I was wrong.
Some of the differences from concept to reality are obvious. Some are not. Let’s see shall we.
- The concept has 2 fog lights in the bumper, though the bumper design is much the same
- The wheels are a similar design, but not quite the same. The concept appears to be lacking the much famed colored center hubs, though it does have yellow brakes though they’re harder to see
- Production car has an indicator in the bumper, I believe this is only on American cars because land of the free
- The side intake behind the door is taller on the concept, the production car fills it in from just below half way
- The concept door handle is above the side strake, the production has it inside
- The concept has a black windshield frame, I don’t think it’s designed to hold roof panels
- The concept has a bolder, more visible fuel filler cap
- The concept has a slightly shorter nose
- The concept has a different headlight design the two globe fitments appear to be more vertically different
- Diffuser section is carbon fiber on both, and a very similar shape, but different
- Production has 2 red fog lights perhaps, including reverse lights
- Engine cover is different on concept version, particularly with a plate each side in the shape of 10 cylinders
- Concept has no third brake light. I think the production car has 1 on the spoiler and 1 on the rollover hoop
- Hard to see in these pics, but the rollover hoop has a different shape
The concept car had a camera for recording driving:
It also had a digital speedo that didn’t make production:
And these fancy LED indicators, though such a thing is fairly common nowadays:
And a few more tidbits before I round this thing up. It seems like two concepts were built, but only 1 survives. It appears to have been purchased by Jerry Seinfeld in 2007 directly from Porsche, but disabled via ECM removal before they did so. When Jerry sold his collection it sold to Bruce Canepa who runs a fancy car dealership, and is now at the Peterson Museum in California. A plaque on the car from the Canepa museum re-confirms Harry’s story, of Walter driving the car into Paris early before the show. I’d love to see it in the flesh, but I am glad it exists and isn’t tucked away in some garage. I do think the concept version is the prettier of the two.
And one last factoid. Some of us grew up on games like Need for Speed (back when it was good), and for some of us maybe that’s part of the reason we’re into cars at all. Well, NFS Hot Pursuit 2 actually featured the concept version of the car, as the production version of 2004 came out 2 years after the game. I’m sure I knew this at some point, but since I thought the cars were the same I never thought about it. Here are some pics - the fog lights on the front, the lack of them on the back, the deeper side vent, the petrol cap, the covers over the engine bay - there’s no doubt this is the concept version. It even has the concept’s power figure of 558 bhp.
I thought the Carrera GT Concept was the same design as the production car. Perhaps one of those hollowed out rolling concepts that “has” a V10 because they know the theoretical production car would. Or perhaps a “pre-production” car in the way that they want no liability if they change it, though it’s totally the final car.
But it’s not these things, yet so much more. It’s a 1-of-1 V10 barchetta that’s beautiful in its own right, rarely seen, rarely driven. It’s a legitimate stepping stone to one of the greatest sports cars ever made. It’s a piece of actual motoring history, memento of a magical day in 2000 when Porsche took the best they could do, drove it through Paris, and lined up the motoring world to watch.