Porsche is a company that values its traditions and its independence yet when that independence was threatened in the nineties, it reverted to type, attempting to prove itself in competition. The result, through a convoluted series of events, was the Porsche Carrera GT road car and it's possibly the most unadulterated hypercar we've ever seen. Everything about it was nirvana for the purist, from the mid-mounted engine to the lack of electronic intervention. Only built for two years, the Carrera GT remains the pinnacle of Porsche's roadgoing achievements. Here's how to net a used example.
There aren't too many cars that have as fascinating a history as the Porsche Carrera GT. In order to get a handle on this car's background, it's worth bearing in mind that the histories of Porsche and the Volkswagen Group are closely intertwined. For instance, Ferdinand Piech was the CEO of Volkswagen from 1993 to 2002 and is the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and son of Louise Piech, who is in turn the sister of Ferry Porsche.
Porsche secretly developed a V10 engine for the Footwork F1 team in 1992 and this engine was seen as an ideal basis for a Le Mans Prototype (LMP) car, a project that was completed in 1999 when Allan McNish and Bob Wollek tested the cars at Porsche's Weissach test track. So far, so predictable, but the story was about to get a whole lot more interesting. With sales of the 911 and Boxster product lines plateauing, Porsche realised it needed a third - and far more profitable - product if it was to retain its independent status. That model was to be the Cayenne luxury 4x4.
Although opinions differ about what happened next, most informed opinion sides with the fact that Porsche agreed to can its LMP program in return for access to Volkswagen-developed chassis and running gear for the Cayenne, itself effectively a rebodied Volkswagen Touareg with sportier powerplants. With no Porsche LMP car in the frame, the way was clear for Audi to dominate Le Mans for a number of years. Rather than completely write off the investment they had made to date, Porsche decided to develop the mid-mounted chassis into a road car and the Carrera GT was first shown at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show and attracted a great deal of interest.
Production facilities were set aside at Porsche's new flagship plant in Leipzig and a production run of 1,500 cars was planned. In the end, only 1,260 were built, the Carrera GT sales proving surprisingly disappointing. Rival hypercars such as the Ferrari Enzo, McLaren Mercedes SLR, Koenigsegg CCR and Bugatti Veyron all helped limit sales. In 2005, a modification was made to the clutch mapping in the ECU and the clutch plate material was beefed up following complaints from owners. This is a popular retrofit to earlier Carrera GT models.