Hear the name "Carrera GT," and your mind will inevitably turn to Porsche's amazing mid-engine V10 supercar from the mid-2000s. It wasn't the first Porsche to wear the Carrera GT name though. You might be surprised to learn that there was also a version of the unloved 924 that carried the Carrera GT name.
Originally developed as, as , the 924 went on sale in 1976 as Porsche's entry-level model. The first water-cooled, front-engine model from the Stuttgart company wasn't well received. A clever rear transaxle helped the 924 achieve a near perfect front-to-rear weight balance, but with only 125 hp from its off-the-shelf VW four cylinder, it wasn't quick. Early US-spec 924s had less than 100 hp, but quick upgrades brought this figure up to 110.
And while the 924 was a lot cheaper than the 911, it wasn't cheap. When it went on sale in the US, it cost over $9000, which is around $40,000 today adjusted for inflation.
So Porsche didn't exactly have a hit on its hands. That was a big problem as the 924, along with the more expensive V8-powered 928, would eventually replace the aging 911, which was slated to end production in 1981. That led then Porsche CEO Dr. Ernst Furhmann to kickstart development on a better 924.
The initial result of that was the much-improved 924 Turbo, but to homologate the car for FIA Group 4 and IMSA GTO racing, a more extreme road car was needed. That result was the 924 Carrera GT.
According to , Porsche built 406 examples of the 924 Carrera GT, only for the 1981 model year. A heavily revised engine managed to put out 210 hp, while a heavily upgraded suspension, lightened body panels, and upgraded brakes made the most of it. Big fender flares also helped muscle up the 924's looks too.
Porsche brought a handful of 924 Carrera GTs to compete in the GTP class in the 1980 Le Mans 24 hour race, with the best car finishing sixth overall. Further development of the Carrera GT platform led to even more homologation specials, culminating in 1981 with the wild 924 Carrera GTR.
1981 was a significant year for Porsche. Towards the end of 1980, Dr. Furhmann was ousted in favor of American Peter Schutz, who started on January 1st, 1981. In one of his first acts at the company, Schutz saved the 911, but like his predecessor, he also saw the value in an entry-level model.
Porsche took learnings from the 924 Carrera GT and created the 944, which used the same platform, but with an all-new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. An engine that actually made its debut at Le Mans in 1981 in the 924 Carrera GTP.
With power and style to match its excellent chassis, the 944 was what the original 924 should have been, and it proved to be a sales hit.
But even the geekiest Porsche geeks, of which I consider myself one, forget about the 924 Carrera GT from time to time. I was reminded of it by featuring Porsche collector Magnus Walker and his silver 924 Carrera GT.
It's a shame the 924 Carrera GT is forgotten about, since it was such an important car for Porsche. Perhaps it's inevitable, when it shares its name with one of the most spectacular Porsches of all time. But in any case, the 924 Carrera GT is well worth remembering.