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The Carrera GT's routes can be firmly traced back to its predecessors, the 911 GT1 and LMP1-98 racing cars. In 1998 Porsche planned on a new Le Mans prototype for 1999. The car was initially intended to use a turbocharged flat-6, but was later redesigned to use a new V10 engine, pushing the project back to planned completion in 2000. The V10 was a unit secretly built by Porsche for the Footwork Formula One team in 1992 but had been shelved. The engine was resurrected for the Le Mans prototype and increased in size to 5.7 litres. Unfortunately the project was cancelled after two days of testing for the first car, in mid-1999, mostly due to Porsche's wish to build the Cayenne SUV with involvement from Volkswagen and Audi, thus requiring engineering expertise to be pulled from the motorsports division. It was also speculated that VW-Audi chairman Ferdinand Piëch wanted Audi's new Le Mans Prototype, the Audi R8 not to face competition from Porsche in 2004.
Porsche did keep part of the project alive showing a concept car at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show, mainly in an attempt to draw attention to their display. Surprising interest in the vehicle and an influx of revenue provided from the Cayenne helped Porsche decide to produce the car, and development started on a road-legal version that would be produced in small numbers at Porsche's new manufacturing facility in Leipzig. Porsche started a production run of Carrera GTs in 2004, the first Carrera GT went on sale in the US on January 31, 2004.
The Carrera GT is powered by a 5.7 litre V10 engine producing 612 horsepower. Porsche statistics confirm it will accelerate from 0 to 62.1 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a maximum speed of 205 mph although road tests indicated that in reality the car can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds! The Carrera GT has a basic five colour paint scheme which includes Guards Red, Fayence Yellow, Basalt Black, GT Silver and Seal Grey. Custom colours were also available from the factory. A traditional six-speed manual transmission is the only available.
Hints pointing to the cars still born Le Mans routes are abundant throughout the car. Attached to this gearbox is a Beachwood gear knob which pays homage to the wooden gear knob used in the Porsche 917 Le Mans racers. In typical Porsche fashion, the ignition is to the left of the steering wheel. This placement dates back to the early days of Le Mans racing when drivers were required to make a running start, hop into their cars, start them and begin the race. The placement of the ignition enabled the driver to start the car with his left hand and put it in gear with his right.
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