Premiere: concept car September 28, 2000 Paris Louvre Museum, production car March 5, 2003 Geneva Motor Show
Tech specs and comparison
Dimen- sions mm
Pro- duc- tion
2004 Carrera GT
4613x 1921x 1166
1997 911 996 GT1 street version
4710x 1950x 1170
1996 911 993 GT1 street version
1125 kg 2480lb
1987 959 Sport
4260x 1839x 1280
From Le Mans car project to a street-legal supercar
The creation of the 2000 Le Mans racing car started in 1998. The new 5.5-litre engine was designed according to the LM P1 regulations that allowed 5.5L maximum capacity for a normally aspirated gasoline engine. As Porsche AG was led by financist Wendelin Wiedeking, who was not a racing enthusiast, the Le Mans programme was halted and focus was set on the creation of the 2.2-tonne family car. Fortunately Wiedeking saw business opportunity in the half-engineered Le Mans racing car project and turned it into a street-legal supercar project. The creation of the Porsche 980, the Carrera GT concept car started in 1999. For the financial reason coupé and roadster were not separately prepared, but offered as one car with removable top. This meant some overweight will be gained due to the safety demandings for the open car. The concept car was unveiled in September 2000. In January 2002 Porsche confirmed the production of the Carrera GT and in March 2003 the production version was shown. The initially set 1250 kg / 2756 lb weight goal couldn’t be reached with safe open top car even though carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) were mainly used. Other frequently used materials were aluminum, magnesium, H400 high-grade steel and titanium. The car came out 10% heavier than hoped.
Rolling chassis design concept
Unlike conventional car concepts, the Carrera GT is built on rolling chassis - a design which is frequently used in racing. The rolling chassis consists of structural elements (chassis and engine frame), mechanical units (powertrain, suspension, cooling system) and electrical components. It is fully operative even without the body panels which have merely aerodynamic and esthetic functions and are without importance for the structural integrity of the rolling chassis. The Carrera GT is the first car in the world, whether on the road or in racing, to apply a brand-new design and construction concept, both the monocoque and the entire frame carrying all the car’s modules and components being made of CFRP. For even greater strength and safety, the A-pillars are further reinforced by high-strength steel tubes. In its torsional stiffness, the Carrera GT sets a new record for open cars.
With the exception of the several small-size parts and PUR front and rear bumpers, all the
exterior components including the doors, lid, hood, and roof shells are made of fibre composite material. Exterior panels are made of several layers of carbon-fibre material with an overall wall thickness of approx. 1.2 mm.
The fuel tank is located in the safest place, in the center of the car between the seats and the engine. With its location at the center of gravity, the fuel level does not affect the wheel load distribution. The tank is made of plasmatron-welded aluminum deep-drawn sheet metal and is protected by the surrounding structural CFRP panels. The fuel supply system is fully operable at lateral accelerations of up to 1.7 g.
The engine of the Carrera GT is a direct descendant of the 10-cylinder race engine
developed for the Porsche’s Le Mans car for 2000 (though Porsche didn’t enter Le Mans after the 1998 win anymore). As the production Carrera GT came out much heavier than the concept car, more power was needed in order to keep the initial poweer-to-weight ratio and therefore the bore diameter was increased by 2 mm to 98 mm to obtain a displacement of 5,733 cm³. The engine block was increased by 7 mm in order to provide space for the installation of an additional piston ring. The engine features a sophisticated crankcase-integrated lubration system fitted with 10 oil pumps, i.e. 1 pressure pump and 9 evacuation pumps to allow oil evacuation of the individual crank chambers as well as the cylinder heads and the timing chain case. The lubricating system has been laid out for lateral accelerations of up to 2.5 g to ensure safe engine operation also under motorsport conditions.
The Carrera GT is also the first car in the world equipped with a ceramic clutch. It is called PCCC or Porsche Ceramic Composite Clutch. The two-plate clutch diameter is only 169 mm / 6.65" and it allows a maximum torque of 1000 Nm. The clutch weighs just 3.5 kg / 7.7 lb which is 1/3 of the mass of the 996 Turbo clutch. And due to the low clutch diameter the mass moment of inertia accounts for only 1/10.
The extremely severe requirements with regard to the overall concept of the car excluded the installation of a standard transmission. In order to cope with the specific boundary conditions in terms of input torque, wheelbase, aerodynamics and center-of-gravity level, a completely new transmission was developed for the Carrera GT. It was decided to use a transverse transmission with integrated engine oil tank and cyclone separator for oil foam suppression. With this concept, the masses are concentrated at the center of gravity while providing space enough for the installation of a aerodynamic diffusor across the entire width of the car. Due to the need to use a clutch as compact as possible, the Carrera GT does not come with a two-mass flywheel – but the function of such a flywheel is provided nevertheless by the special design of the input shafts: the first main shaft is hollow, with a long and thin full shaft running inside as a spring rod. Together with the mass weight of the angle drive the two shafts acting as a torsion spring serve to absorb possible jolts coming from the engine, reducing transmission noise in the process.
The design was overseen by Harm Lagaay, Head of Design for Porsche AG at that time. Lagaay worked for Porsche from 1971 to 1977 designing the 924 among others and returned to Porsche in 1989 as head of the “Style Porsche” department in Weissach. He oversaw the creation of the 968, 911 993, Boxster 986, 911 996, Cayenne 955 and finally the Carrera GT. He retired from Porsche in 2004.
The production of the Carrera GT was officially confirmed on January 8, 2002 at the Detroit Motor Show press conference. When the production was confirmed, the initial production plan was raised from 500 to 1000 supercars. Following great sales success, the target was raised even to 1500 cars, but finally 1270 cars were produced. The cars were made at the Porsche Leipzig plant between September 2003 and April 2006. In 2 years and 7 months approximately 2 cars were made each day. Carrera GT was one of the very few supercar projects in the world that was economically successful.
The Carrera GT concept car was unveiled to the press on September 28, 2000 in Paris Louvre Museum. Public saw it two days later at the Paris Motor Show. As announced, if the car goes into production, at least 500 will be built. The announced specs were: 5.5-litre V10, 8200 rpm max engine speed, 410 kW, 600 Nm / 444 lb-ft, 90-litre tank, 1250 kg / 2756 lb, 331 km/h / 206 mph, 3.9 sec. 0-100 km/h, 9.9 sec. 0-200 km/h. With 19" wheels at the front and 20" at the rear, the tyres measured 265/30-19 and 335/30-20.