The Porsche LMP2000 project’s existence, as well as its cancellation, was a rumor, and Porsche denied its existence as well as the cancellation of the project.
After another test session on the Porsche’s Weissach test track, Wendelin Wiedeking, then chairman of Porsche asked Herbert Ampferer many questions regarding the car and its configurations.
Herbert Ampferer was chief of racing and race car engine development at the time. He was asked by Wendelin Wiedeking whether how many times Porsche had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and who is next in the list with second-highest wins.
Herbert Ampferer answered him. Porsche had won sixteen times and the Ferrari with eight wins was in second place. They spoke about the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Porsche’s legacy in racing and endurance racing events. They both agreed that Porsche was the founder of the supercar industry with the invention of the Porsche 959.
After Porsche 959, Ferrari came with their own supercar called Ferrari F40, the last Ferrari supercar to be developed under Enzo Ferrari’s supervision. McLaren F1 went on to become the supercar of the 1990s.
Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, and a handful of small-scale manufacturers ended up producing road-legal supercars with the top speed of 200mph or slightly more.
Since it was decided to cancel the LMP2000 project following the internal pressure from the Volkswagen group, perhaps to allow their own Audi R8 LMP to score 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, or perhaps because many manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz decided to withdraw from the event. A clear reason was never issued from the Porsche, but rumors suggest one of the above reasons or both reasons that resulted in the cancellation of the project.
Herbert Ampferer was asked to develop a true supercar that will stay true to the image set by the Porsche 959, but it has to have many characteristics of a true racing car. He had worked on a Type 3512 Formula One engine with their technical chief Horst Marchart.
Horst Marchart wanted to identify the problems with their not that successful Formula One engine. He assigned Herbert Ampferer to find out all the things wrong with it. One of the main issues was its weight, and the other being not making enough power to compete with the likes of BMW and Honda engines.
The Type 3512 engine and its undesirable performance led to a lawsuit against Porsche in which the Footwork Arrows racing team accused them of not keeping up to their promises.
Herbert Ampferer and his engineers went on to develop a new 3.5-liter V10 engine that could have been an ultimate competitor, within a few weeks but since his assignment was all about research, and he has accomplished the directives, his creation simply went into storage and was completely forgotten until Wendelin Wiedeking told him to develop a new LMP2000 prototype.
A 3.5-liter V10 with a maximum revving limit of 15,000 and not enough torque or power in the lower and mid-range is not suitable for a road car and is not going to be dependable or reliable either.
Herbert Ampferer and his engineers developed a 5.0-liter variant of the V10 engine to power the LMP2000. LMP2000 not only set the fastest lap time at Weissach test track at the time, and it proved to be reliable as well.
Ampferer being a vivid fan of racing events was excited about the possibility of developing a road-legal supercar derived from a prototype that was specifically developed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance racing event.
August Achleitner, one of the higher-ups of the Porsche 911 development asked Grant Larson, who was designing the Porsche 997, the all-new Porsche 911 iteration in a design studio in California, to provide some sketches for a mid-engine supercar.
Grant Larson acted with his instincts and started working on new concepts while designing the Porsche 997 series. From February and March 1999, he provided several concepts to the higher-ups and development teams in Weissach.
Porsche engineers developed two prototypes and debuted them during the September 2000 Paris Auto Show. One of the prototypes was a fully functional one.
Walter Rohl had test-driven the prototype a month before the exhibition, and he raced it in the roads of the Nevada desert for a number of promotional videos and stills.
A new supercar was built upon an all-new platform and the chassis and the entire structure were mostly made out of carbon fiber. A tube frame chassis wasn’t chosen when this car was developed as the technology was considered too old and outdated. Instead, a lightweight stainless steel crash structure was developed to absorb high-energy impacts. This new structure also saved some weight.
To complete the superstructure, they used an extra layer of aluminum honeycomb structure between the thin out layers of carbon fiber carefully weaved to obtain maximum strength with minimum weight. The complete chassis is made out of more than a thousand pieces.
Herbert Ampferer and his team again began their work on improving the 5.0-liter V10 engine from the LMP2000, and they increased the displacement up to 5.7-liter.
This unit is a dual overhead cam chain driven, four-valves per cylinder head making a total of 40 valves, variable valve timing on intake camshafts, sodium-cooled exhaust valves. Bore x stroke is 98mmx76mm. Nikasil coated bores, forged titanium connecting rods, forged pistons. The compression ratio is 12.0:1.
This powerplant was then mated to a traditional six-speed manual transmission unit without any other optional transmission units available. Clutch was a twin-plate ceramic dry-clutch.
The maximum power output was now measured at 612hp at 8000rpm. Maximum torque was measured at 435 lb-ft at 5750rpm. Power generation per liter is 105hp per liter. Rev limiter is 8400rpm.
Due to the extensive use of carbon composite, lightweight stainless steel, and aluminum, the curb weight was just 3042 pounds (1380kg).
Porsche Carrera GT features large side air inlets and air dams to efficiently cool the massive V10 engine which is framed by the carbon fiber rear hatch. The radiator of the Porsche Carrera GT is about five times the size of the Porsche 911 Turbo of its time.
Despite the large side air inlets, the drag coefficient is 0.39.
Front and rear suspension feature pushrod actuated shock absorbers and electronically controlled magnetic dampers with anti-roll bars.
Carbon fiber reinforced silicon carbide ceramic composite brakes with 15-inch SGL carbon disc brakes were fitted as standard to improve braking and cornering.
19-inch front and 20-inch rear five-spoke alloy wheels were also standard. These wheels were made from an ultra-light alloy thus reducing weight.
Porsche Carrera GT also includes an electronically operated rear wing that deploys at speeds above 70mph to improve downforce and road holding properties. This also improves the overall stability and handling of the car at higher speeds.
Interior is finished in soft leather and creature comforts such as a Bose audio system, satellite navigation as standard.
An ignition switch is placed to the left of the steering style, a reference to the Le Mans-winning Porsche cars of the past. This placement also allows the driver to start the car with their left hand and put it in gear with their right arm.
The first-year production units featured a Beachwood gearknob, a reference to the wooden gearknobs used in the Porsche 917 Le Mans racers. In its second production year, a carbon-fiber knob was added as an option.
Porsche tested the prototype on their Weissach test track, and it achieved 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds and the top speed was measured at 205mph. 0-100mph took only 6.6 seconds, 0-130mph was done in 10.8 seconds, making it one of the fastest acceleration cars ever.
After years of development and testing, the production version was unveiled by Wendelin Wiedeking in January 2003. It was now called Porsche Carrera GT.
The official production of the Porsche Carrera GT began in mid-2003 at the Porsche assembly plant in Leipzig. The first Porsche Carrera GT was sold in the US market on the 31st of January 2004.
Porsche Carrera GT was offered with a basic five-color paint scheme and custom colors were available through the special requisitions program.
Porsche’s first supercar the Porsche 959 with its limited production run wasn’t profitable for Porsche. Every one of the Porsche 959 cars that they sold resulted in a significant loss to the company.
Wendelin Wiedeking insisted that under his rule, all the Porsche models made money not losses. Staying true to his philosophy, each Porsche Carrera GT came with a price tag of $440,000. They estimated a market for 1000 units.
Despite they originally planned for a limited production of 1000 cars, the demand for the car at its first year convinced them to raise the limit to 1500 cars.
However, the assembly of the Porsche Carrera GT ended in 2006 with a total of 1270 cars being made from 2004 to 2006. The official reason for the discontinuation was due to the changing airbag regulations in the US.