He’s owned it for seventeen years, spun it at Talladega, and pedaled it to a speed just shy of 200 miles per hour. Jay Leno’s enjoyed his Carrera GT far more than most of his cars. Unlike so many of his vehicles which seem to stimulate him on the basis of their engineering alone, this is one of the few cars that visibly thrills him with every prod of the throttle.
“There’s something about this sound that is so intoxicating; I mean it really is a sensory overload driving this,” Leno gushes. It’s hard not to wax lyrical when the shriek of that V10 is modulated with with your right foot. That motor, plucked from a stillborn LMP project, complements the Carrera GT in two notable ways: it produces 604 horsepower and, as a stressed member, it also increases the rigidity of the carbon chassis. Underneath the sleek, elegant, old-fashioned shape is an astounding level of engineering—a combination which makes this gem a long-term favorite of so many enthusiasts.
But more than a collection of intriguing parts from a defunct Le Mans prototype, the Carrera GT is a car with a uncompromising character; it quite an excessive car that’s only mildly tempered by Porsche reserve. Like most Porsche products, it was advertised with some reticence. However, its reputation as a widowmaker set it apart from the Turbos and GT products that, as fast as they are, aren’t quite as edgy as this machine.
Few know just how unforgiving this gem can be as Leno, who spun one at Talladega while brushing 200 miles an hour. Fortunately, he escaped unscathed and smiling, but not everyone was as accepting of the Carrera GT’s analog, unrestrained character.
The car received plenty of criticism when Paul Walker was killed in a Carrera GT some years ago, but Jay, being somebody who’d had a brush with death in a Carrera GT, defended the marque. For him, driving this car requires some level of personal responsibility.