Porsche Carrera GT ~ 2003-2003
For instance, it was the world’s first production car to use a carbon-reinforced plastic chassis. This offered a substantial weight-saving over metal, while much of the car’s bodywork was also lightweight carbonfibre and Kevlar; as were the seats. All this meant that the Carrera GT weighed in at just 1380kg.
Saving weight means better performance, which is extra-good news when you consider that the GT’s mid-mounted V10 engine produced 610bhp – a fact which is even more impressive when you learn that it was normally aspirated.
That power drove the rear wheels only via a six-speed gearbox and – another world first – a ceramic clutch. This innovation was lightweight and only 169mm in diameter, yet could more than cope with the phenomenal forces involved; and it would outlast a conventional clutch.
The 340mm brake discs were also ceramic, rather than steel, which meant they could better cope with high temperatures and, again, were lighter and longer-lasting than conventional discs.
The Carrera GT had a relatively simple, two-seat, carbonfibre-trimmed cockpit which reflected its racing pedigree. Indeed, the birch-wood gearknob harked back to the golden days of motorsport. The driving position was perfect, with the gearstick and other controls all close at hand, while the leather-clad bucket seats offered excellent support during high-speed cornering.
Although an open-top car, the Carrera GT came with a Targa-type roof system comprising of a pair of lightweight carbonfibre shells, which could be stored in the luggage compartment when not in use.
The shape of the Carrera GT was stunning, but it was also functional. Like a race car, it was designed to create downforce to hold the car onto the road at high speed. At its maximum speed of 205mph, the GT developed a downforce of 4000 Newtons, which was the equivalent of a load of 400kg pushing down on the rear axle. Furthermore, the car’s carbonfibre undertrays created a suction effect that further helped to hold it onto the road.