Porsche Carrera GT

It sounded like a jet fighter rolling for takeoff in the distance as the engine and tyre noise echoed across hundreds of acres of open runway and the scrubland beyond. As we squinted against the hard sunlight, we could just make out the rapidly approaching speck through the heat shimmer.

A screech of tortured rubber and ABS brakes added its own distinctive noise signature as the driver crossed the braking threshold, washing over 160km/h (100mph) from the cars terminal velocity in seconds, its PCCB ceramic brake discs heated up by over 300 degrees in the blink of an eye.

Test Driver Walter Rohrl delivered the Carrera GT

The bright red Carrera GT rapidly hove into full view, made a U-turn and pulled up alongside us. According to the on-board MoTeC data logger, the car had hit 318km/h (198.75mph) from a standing start in both directions, safely within the bounds of the 3.2 km long runway. It had done so several times in quick succession, its brakes working perfectly each and every time with no fade. That is impressive, mighty impressive.


As we contemplated the technical phenomenal idling away in front of us, the irony of our location was not lost on us. Just over a decade ago, the place we had come test the fastest and most expensive production Porsche ever, was home to the largest Eastern Bloc airbase outside of the USSR. 50km east of Berlin, it has three massive runways, hardened shelters for MIG fighters, bunkers for SS20 missiles and a 30km long network of underground tunnels.

Post Cold War and over a decade after the Berlin Wall came down, it is now Michelin’s test centre in the East, and for a few days in September 2003, temporary home to a handful of pre-production Porsche Carrera GTs. Ranking high on the list of ultimate capitalist status symbols, the Carrera GT is built in Leipzig, alongside the Cayenne. Delivery to customers begins in early 2004, and no doubt some of these cars will go to Russia.

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