The Porsche Carrera GT has been sold. No one had betrayed it until now, you would have had to own it do that, and who owns a GT after all? Strictly speaking, you cannot “own” a car of this breed, in the sense of breaking its will. If you so happen to be one of the rare owners, you face the challenge of taming the two-humped beast that is spitefully crouching in front of you. You the lion tamer. It a tiger.
The driver of a Porsche Carrera GT shouldn’t be afraid of grabbing the tiger by the tail, fleeing inside and quickly closing the cage. Then he may be able to deal with this ferocious feline, but he won’t own it. Some 1,500 people have invested about 450,000 euros each to “own” a Carrera GT, and we wish them all the happiness on this earth. Sitting on this low-riding two-seater makes you feel high and mighty, like Old Shatterhand riding his steed Hatatitla. This GT is surrounded by the frosty nimbus of solitude, and pandering to others is anathema to it.
A story of simplicity
The automotive history of Porsche is a story of simplicity. The company’s perennial goal is not terrestrial locomotion per se, but giving you pleasure while en route. Not the kind of pleasure you get from a comfortable ride. True, Porsches can be comfortable – as comfortable as a proper bed feels after sleeping rough for weeks in the wilderness. No Porsche is really comfortable, but that’s not what Porsches are designed for anyway. This even applies to the bulky Cayenne, whose gurgling fuel pipes assault the ear, especially on German roads.
Porsche has always flouted the rules of bourgeoisie and yet abided by them. For all that, no definition of middle-class mobility is able to capture the GT, as its essence is that of a racing car, which, on the eve of its career, is allowed to prowl the public roads. That’s why we won’t write a classic review and bore you with specs such as acceleration times and fuel economy. We’ll only touch on such metrics if they serve to elucidate the GT’s inner demon.
Porsches have always been at the cutting edge of technology, a frontier that has been constantly changing over the years. This is not to say that there have never been better sports cars, judging by the sum of their characteristics. But rare are cars that embody all Porsche qualities rolled into one. A Porsche is always ahead of its time, and progress doesn’t overtake it. Or maybe technical developments do catch up, but the fascination of driving always dwells within a Porsche. And this fascination has never appeared purer and more challenging, will affect you physically, and make you cry one way or the other.
This realisation dawns at first sight. To be sure, automotive beauty is in the eye of the petrolhead. The GT laughs in the face of people fond of bonnets stretching as far as the sunset, or who like harmoniously flowing shapes and a balance of proportions. The car doesn’t even try to be attractive (it already is); its message is that of a thoroughbred racing machine that exhales the heat of its passion through all vents.
If beautiful design is a function of speed, then this GT is more marvellous than the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Yet the speed of forward propulsion is not the core of its being, but its result. Likewise, the uncompromising design has not been created for show, but is inseparably tied to its former glow. The Carrera GT already glows from a stationary position. Sometimes it makes sense to be unreasonable.
Finding a way into the GT
A child is a head taller than the GT. The roof rises to just the hips of a tall driver, who dreads the moment when, long past his prime, he will struggle to get in the car as a nosey crowd looks on. Still, he doesn’t know what exactly he is getting himself into. The driver pauses, as though he were recollecting a forgotten anecdote that needs to be told quickly. In reality, however, the driver is devising a plan for entering the GT.
As an aside, there is this story of a monk who was sweeping the courtyard of his monastery. He was asked what he would do if he were to die the very same day. The monk replied that he would still continue sweeping the courtyard, broom in hand. Ever since we’ve known the GT, we question the truthfulness of this tale. All lies. What really happened was that the monk cast the broom aside, gathered his frock with trembling hands and jumped into the philosopher’s car to run off with him to Ibiza. This is the true path to insight.
An uncomfortable cabin
The best way to enter the car is by crawling inside it like a Teletubby. As for getting out – well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The cabin is not really comfortable, but also not as austere as in a pure racing machine either. You don’t launch into everyday commuter traffic from a pit lane, but from your own garage or a public parking space. And this is the perfect spot for demonstrating the difficult handling of the racing car, or to make a fool of yourself. The clutch is a two-edged sword. Either you hit the biting point, or you stall the engine quicker than killing the lights upon entering a room full of vampires.
It takes a ride in the GT to see how rotten this world is, because you are constantly surrounded by a crowd waiting for the engine to choke out miserably. To prevent the onlookers from getting their schadenfreude, pull away without any throttle. Then put your delicate big toe softly on the accelerator, kick down the clutch pedal, let the engine growl briefly, and keep shifting up all the way to sixth gear with gusto, as you would carve a big turkey with a sharp knife. By then, the city should be in your rear-view mirror.
Acceleration. This term doesn’t aptly describe the sequence of events in the Porsche Carrera GT. With its five syllables, ac-cel-er-a-tion just takes too long to pronounce. By contrast, the car acts quite differently. By the time you take a deep breath, the car has gone from 0 to 100 km/h. Exhale, look at how your sleeves are sliding up, and you’re at 200 km/h. Porsche claims a top speed of 330. We only reached 315, but that’s our driver’s fault. A chicken at heart, he was intimidated by a sudden crosswind and imagined a scenario in which the Bulgarian coach towering in front of us changed to the fast lane, like a wall closing in on us. Life is short, and the joy of speeding is likely to cut it even shorter.
Carnivore on the attack
Remembering how dear his life is to him, the driver let’s go of the gas pedal and allows the engine, which is roaring like a boar in heat, to fizzle out and fill the cabin with relative quiet. After the autobahn, the car traverses punishing rural roads. Transverse joints and bumps on the road initiate small explosions in the interior, the front dives into the waves and, assuming a sufficient amount of throttle, the whole body emerges like a voracious carnivore out of corners. During the last sprint on our way back, the two accompanying cars are left behind, exhausted.
But the Porsche Carrera GT is just warming up and asking, “Was that it?” The driver’s brain feels scrambled, and he’s afraid that his ear drums could later fall out in pieces like wood chips from a circular saw. The Porsche is whirring, its heart is beating, fluids are circulating, electric motors open or close secret avenues of power, hot air is wafting above the tail in which the engine lies in state like the deceased pharaoh on the cusp of joining the cat goddess in the netherworld. And she hisses and prepares to leap, morphing into the GT. Into a Porsche that is the last of its kind and will have no offspring – or will it?
Porsche Carrera GT
|Power||612 PS (450 kW) at 8.000 rpm|
|Torque||590 Nm at 5.750 rpm|
|0-100 km/h||3,9 s|
Original article: “Die verlorene Ehre des schwierigen Fahrens”, written by Wolfgang Peters, published on 2 August 2006 at FAZ.NET.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH, Frankfurt. All rights reserved. Provided by Frankfurter Allgemeine Archiv.