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Why the Carrera GT Is Still Porsche's Greatest Supercar

illustration
Why the Carrera GT is Porsche's Greatest SupercarIllustration by peter strain
illustration
When Röhrl gets that faraway look in his eyes, he is thinking wistfully about the Carrera GT he did not buy.Illustration by peter strain

Porsche’s decision to cancel its proposed LMP racing program led to the creation of a truly spectacular road car built around the aborted racer’s V-10 engine. Walter Röhrl, a two-time World Rally Championship title winner, was already well into his second career as a Porsche development driver when the plan was formed. He tells us why he regards the Carrera GT as his masterwork:

“Would I agree it should be one of the 20 greatest? Absolutely, and for me, it’s not only in the first 20, it’s the absolute number one. I always tell everybody, if I had one wish for one car, it would be always Carrera GT.”

porsche carrera gt
Porsche

“It was the first super–sports car I was involved in the development of, especially right from the beginning. Normally, with my work at Porsche, I was coming to a car that was 80 or 90 percent ready, but with the Carrera GT, just after the first rolling chassis [was built], I was sitting in the car.”

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“At the beginning, there were some problems. The car lost grip very suddenly, and if you were not very fast with the steering, it was too late. On the Nürburgring [where Röhrl drove the car during its development], you have no space for mistakes. Our aim was always that if somebody goes over the limit, they still have a chance to get the car back under control. That is, of course, not so easy in a car with 612 [metric] horsepower that weighs 1380 kilograms [3043 pounds]. During development, we pushed very hard with Michelin because the limit between grip and sliding was very sharp. Finally, we had 10 different constructions until we were happy with the tire.”

porsche carrera gt
Porsche

“For me, it is the perfect car for normal, open roads, especially in tight corners. It is unbelievable how precise the steering is, how the car does exactly what you want. On a racetrack, maybe you’d want more downforce, but it is the perfect car for a twisty mountain road with that low center of gravity. It gives you so much feeling.”

“It was a little bit difficult for people to work the [ceramic] clutch. At the launch of the car, I didn’t see one journalist who did not stall. One customer brought his car back to the factory three times and said the clutch is not working. After the third time, they said, “Ask Walter to drive your car. If he says it is not okay, we believe him.” Of course, it was perfect, but the owner had no feeling for it. He had to sell the car. I said, “Listen, if you are really selling, then I will buy it.” But then somebody else offered him much more money.”

porsche carrera gt
Porsche

“I have never owned a Carrera GT. By the time I thought I really want one, the prices were going up too fast. I was too late.”

“Is the car scary? I don’t think so, because if you analyze the accidents people have had, there were always reasons. You cannot jump into a Carrera GT with cold tires and think that, after a few hundred meters, the tire is fully working.”

“My favorite part? The sound—that is absolutely number one. It reminds me of when I used to watch Formula 1 in Monte Carlo, and the cars were passing through the tunnel. If you are using the maximum revs, you feel like a race driver, sitting in a Carrera GT.”

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