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The beast is passing through

We dealt with eight-cylinder engines last week — from the four-foot long straight-eight engines in old Bentleys to those in modern Formula One cars.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2009 16:01 IST
Grease Monkey

We dealt with eight-cylinder engines last week — from the four-foot long straight-eight engines in old Bentleys to those in modern Formula One cars. Interestingly enough, there’s a motorcycle manufacturer called Boss Hoss who fits Chevrolet V8 engines onto motorcycle chasses.

These bikes have only two forward gears, because any more than two will only be academic, with all that torque.

Of course, the transmission is semi-automatic, or you’d need superhuman strength to work the clutch lever. And there’s a reverse gear as well.

Allow me one last digression on the V8: if you’re familiar with the AC Cobra, you’ll also know about Carroll Shelby’s modifications to it. Weineck Engineering, a company based in Bad Gandersheim, Germany, created their very own Frankenstein based on the Shelby Cobra. The Weineck Cobra uses a 12.9-litre V8 to send 1760Nm of torque and 1,100 bhp to the rear wheels — which are over a foot wide to be able to handle the stress!

Skip the V8
The Germans do V8s really well — M3, RS4 and AMG fans are probably nodding agreement right now — but one of Germany’s performance icons doesn’t use a V8 at all. Say hello to the Porsche Carrera GT, which uses 10 cylinders, not eight.

You’re probably wondering what happened to the flat-six heritage that Porsche cultivated over the decades — well, this engine is the result of the work Porsche did for the Footwork Formula One team in 1992, which never made it to a racetrack.

This car’s chassis is also the result of aborted work on Le Mans racecars for the late ’90s, and the Carrera GT almost didn’t get made thanks to the Cayenne, which was deemed more important at the time.

Lucky for enthusiasts that no one minded the surprised-frog looks of the original Cayenne and bought it in droves — the profits gave Porsche the ability to develop and sell the Carrera GT.

The GT was built to be a racecar for the road. The specifications say 612bhp at 8,400 rpm and 0-100 kph in 3.9 seconds, but that figure is conservative. When tested by auto journalists, it did the run in 3.5 seconds.

It’ll pass 200 kph in 9.9 seconds — an Octavia RS will be huffing its way past half that speed at that point of time.

It won’t stop till it gets to 330 kph — with the top down. That toupee better be firmly glued on, then.

Porsche has 75 technological patents filed for this car alone —
one of them for the carbon-fibre chassis, another for the ceramic-composite brakes that they call ‘PCCB’. Instead of conventional materials like steel, the Carrera GT uses brake discs made of ceramic to cut down on weight.

And we have lift-off
These offer awe-inspiring stopping power; it must’ve taken some doing to calibrate the airbags to distinguish between a panic stop and the car crashing into something!

The engine has titanium connecting rods (yes, the same material they use in space shuttles) and a tiny ceramic clutch that is 10 times lighter than other clutches, but won’t explode in a cloud of dust if you try to get to 100 kph in 3.5 seconds more than thrice.

The reason I’m going on and on about the Carrera GT is, you can go have a look at this slice of automotive history for real. Only 1,270 examples have been sold, and no more will leave Porsche’s gates — ever.

Go on down to the Porsche showroom at Kemp’s Corner (open Monday to Saturday, 10.30 am to 6 pm) and have a look at what is probably the pinnacle of Porsche’s road-car engineering. And send me some pictures.