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The Porsche Carrera GT (Project Code 980) is a mid-engine sports car that was manufactured by German automobile manufacturer Porsche between 2004–2007. Sports Car International named the Carrera GT number one on its list of Top Sports Cars of the 2000s, and number eight on Top Sports Cars of All Time list. For its advanced technology and development of its chassis, Popular Science magazine awarded it the "Best of What's New" award in 2003.
The development of the Carrera GT can be traced back to the 911 GT1 and LMP1-98 racing cars. Due in part to the FIA and ACO rule changes in 1998, both designs had ended. Porsche at the time had planned a new Le Mans prototype for the 1999 season.
The car was initially intended to use a turbocharged flat-six engine, but was later redesigned to use a new V10 engine, pushing the project back to planned completion in 2000. The V10 was a unit secretly built by Porsche for the Footwork Formula One team in 1992, but later shelved. The engine was resurrected for the Le Mans prototype and increased in size to 5.7 L (5,733 cc).
The project was canceled after two days of testing for the first car, in mid-1999, mostly due to Porsche's wish to build the Cayenne SUV with involvement from Volkswagen and Audi, thus requiring engineering expertise to be pulled from the motorsports division. It was also speculated that VW-Audi chairman Ferdinand Piëch wanted Audi's new Le Mans Prototype, the Audi R8 not to face competition from Porsche in 2004.
Porsche did keep part of the project alive by using the 5.5 L V10 from the prototype in a concept car called the Carrera GT shown at the 2000 Paris Motor Show, mainly in an attempt to draw attention to their display. Surprising interest in the vehicle and an influx of revenue provided from the Cayenne helped Porsche decide to produce the car, and development started on a road-legal version that would be produced in small numbers at Porsche's new manufacturing facility in Leipzig. Porsche started a production run of the Carrera GT in 2004, shipping the units with an MSRP of US$448,000. The first Carrera GT went on sale in the United States on 31 January 2004.
Originally a production run of 1,500 cars was planned. However, Porsche announced in August 2005 that it would not continue production of the Carrera GT through to 2006, citing discontinuation was due to changing airbag regulations in the United States. By the end of production on 6 May 2006, more than 1,270 cars had been sold, with a total of 644 units sold in the United States and 31 units sold in Canada. In the United Kingdom, 49 units were sold.
The Carrera GT is powered by a 5.7 L (5,733 cc) V10 engine rated at 450 kW (612 PS; 603 hp), whereas the original concept car featured a 5.5 litre version rated at 416 kW (566 PS; 558 hp). A road test in June 2004 by Car and Driver showed that the car can accelerate from 0-97 km/h (60 mph) in 3.5 seconds, 0-161 km/h (100 mph) in 6.8 seconds and 0-209 km/h (130 mph) in 10.8 seconds. The official top speed was 330 km/h (205 mph).
The Carrera GT was offered with a basic five-colour paint scheme which includes Guards Red, Fayence Yellow, Basalt Black, GT Silver metallic and Seal Grey. Custom colours were later available from the factory. A traditional six-speed manual transmission is the only available transmission.
The Carrera GT has large side inlets and air dams that help cool the large V10 engine framed by the carbon fibre rear bonnet. Fitted with Porsche's latest Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake system, the 15-inch (380 mm) SGL Carbon disc brakes are fitted underneath the 19 inch front and 20 inch rear 5-spoke alloy wheels. Similar to other Porsche models, such as the 911, the GT includes an electronically operated rear wing which deploys at speeds above 113 km/h (70 mph).
The interior is trimmed in soft leather. Bose audio system and a navigation system were standard. In typical Porsche fashion, the ignition is present to the left of the steering wheel. This placement dates back to the early days of Le Mans racing when drivers were required to make a running start, hop into their cars, start them and begin the race. The placement of the ignition enabled the driver to start the car with the left hand and put it in gear with the right. Originally, the car had a beech wood gearknob, which pays homage to the wooden gearknob used in the Porsche 917 Le Mans race car. In its second year of production, a carbon fibre knob was also made available.
Performance Test Results
Sport Auto tested a maximal lateral acceleration of 1.35 g, even 1.4 g was reached at the Schwalbenschwanz section of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Motor Trend tested 11.1s at 133.4 mph (215 km/h) for the 1/4 mile (402 m).
Notable technology includes a pure carbon fibre monocoque and subframe produced by ATR Composites Group of Italy, dry sump lubrication and inboard suspension. At speeds above 113 km/h (70 mph), the electronically operated rear wing raises into the airstream to reduce lift. The radiator of the Carrera GT is about five times the size of that of a 911 Turbo of its time. The car's front and rear suspension system consists of pushrod actuated shock absorbers and dampers with anti-roll bars.
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