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Paul Walker Died in Porsche Deemed Brutish, Hard to Drive

Paul Walker was photographed standing next to the Porsche Carrera GT in which he died, on minutes before leaving on his fateful ride.

Paul Walker was photographed standing next to the Porsche Carrera GT in which he died, only minutes before leaving on his fateful ride. (Photo: Twitter)

Paul Walker and his long-time business partner and friend Roger Rodas were killed in Porsche’s most expensive and exotic sports car. But the V-10 powered, mid-engine Carrera GT had a star-crossed history once it hit the U.S. market.

The car first went on sale in 2004, but production ended inauspiciously a year later after it sold poorly.

With a $440,000 retail price tag, Porsche grossly over-estimated demand for the exotic car. It had only sold about 600 cars out of its initial 1,500-car production run when it canceled deliveries for the 2006 model year.

Porsche said at the time the Carrera wouldn’t meet new US requirements for “smart airbags” in all 2006 cars. After Porsche failed to get a waiver from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the car’s fate was sealed.

“It’s a business decision,” a Porsche spokesman told Autoweek magazine. “The cost of engineering the two-stage airbags and re-crashing the cars just to make them model-year 2006 cars just doesn’t make sense.”

Those lucky enough to buy one got a superior car by most accounts. The model was as close to Porsche’s Le Mans Prototype race car as you could get and still be street legal.

It was powered by a brutish 610 hp, 5.7 liter V-10 engine. It could go from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and had a top speed of 205 mph.

Unlike Porsche’s traditional 911 model, the Carerra was a mid-engine, not rear engine, car. That improved its handling characteristics by equally distributing the car’s weight.

The car had a 24-gallon gas tank located between the engine and the passenger compartment, again, unlike the 911, where the tank in front of the passenger compartment. The Carrera is made mostly of carbon-fiber with steel reinforcements to protect the two-passengers.

At 3,043 pounds, according to factory specs, the Carrera is about 800 pounds lighter than the comparable Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. But the vastly improved the power-to-weight-ratio, made the car a beast to handle.

“It says it has traction control, but that traction control on that car is not going to do a thing to save you,” IndyCar driver and car collector Graham Rahal told Autoweek.

Rahal, who sold the car to Rodas, called it “difficult to drive.”

Other owners had similar complaints. “I purchased my 2005 Porsche Carrera GT new, drove it 2,600 miles, and sold it for a $100,000 loss,” according to one review on Edmunds.com

“It is a horrible car in many ways. The clutch is too sensitive, it had electrical problems, and any pot holes in the road were a nightmare.”

Eight other reviews, however, were glowing.

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