Furiously Fast
Nick Hall tests the Porsche 9ff GT9

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Just a short while ago the SSC Ultimate Aero stormed to the record of the World's Fastest Car, but on the outskirts of Dortmund the deftest touch on the 9ff GT9's throttle was all it took to convince me that the American machine won't hold the title for long.

That's when the sheer force of a 987bhp monster hitting full boost hit home and the car took off down the road like the shattered case of a blown grenade. With the deftest touch I was pressed so hard into the seat that even breathing had to wait for the gear change. Even the expletives were forced back down my throat by the sheer forward thrust. Grabbing the manual six speed and slotting the next cog threw me violently into the belts before those monstrous 20” rear wheels gained traction and spat the car down the road once again.

It's a staccato flurry of acceleration and the wheels spin all the way into fifth if you can find that much clear road and nerve combined. The noise threatened to draw blood from my ears as blasting waste gates and 8000 near uninsulated revs clashed violently inside my inner ear. The Driftbox slapped on the screen whirred round like the early hours of the Children in Need telethon counter and a short gap in traffic was all it took to break the 300km/h barrier.

Then, as an optimistic Clio driver pulled into the outside line in the middle distance, solid in his belief that nothing would be coming up with a closing speed of more than 160 km/h, an overly cautious shove on the brakes threatened to stand this 1380-kg machine on its nose. At a time when modern supercar manufacturers want 320 km/h speeds delivered so smoothly babies could sleep on the passenger seat, this is a savage and deliberate departure. It's a throwback to ancient times of knuckle-dragging power and yes, even fear.

“I find the Veyron too perfect, too easy,” said 9ff boss Jan Fatthauer. “I wanted to build a car that would give my customers a little fight, a little special plaything for the weekends.” Only the numbers truly explain this car's potential. On a cold day when the 0-100 km/h time was limited to 4 seconds it still blasted past 300km/h (186.4mph) in just 17.6s and 870 metres. With the right conditions at Papenburg it hit 100 km/h in 2.5s and nailed 409 km/h at the end of the straight, just 4km/h shy of the SSC Aero's record and faster than Bugatti's all-conquering Veyron that still holds the FIA record for properly homologated cars. Jan won't give up either, that record is a few tweaks and a perfect day away.

This is the first complete car from the German tuning giant that has forged a reputation for big horsepower 911s since its inception in 2001 and has a whole stack of records to its name already. But the thought of his own car has burned deep in Fatthauer's mind for 10 years, he wanted to go faster than a 911 ever and the last three years have been devoted to building something that looks uncannily like a Porsche but isn't. “I have worked with Porsches for years and know which parts work,” he said. “There was no reason to reinvent every part, I have taken the very best from the last three generations and even some special parts from the racing programme to create my own supercar.” Claims of this being simply a reworked GT3 are deeply unfair. The crash structure is sourced from the lightweight road racer but the chassis is a lengthened version of the GT1 and the engine starts out as a 996 Turbo block, before Fatthauer turned it into a fourlitre with titanium conrods, a brace of Garrett T35s, Nikasil coated chambers and forged pistons that could withstand forces Porsche never even envisaged. Then there's the PCCB ceramic braking system, which would have been hard to beat from a factory in Dortmund, and the lights, dashboard, seatbelts and even stereo came straight from the 911. onestly the interior needs work, but this is the prototype and Jan insists that every one of the 20 up for grabs will come with a bespoke, perfectly finished cockpit. There are other neat touches, too, including a floor of purest Plywood as Fatthauer insists he couldn't match the rigidity or weight of the material with man-made alternatives. A racing clutch copes with the 711lb/ft of torque that courses through its veins, the cooling system belongs in Iceland and untold work went into the newly mid-mounted drivetrain to ensure it didn't end up with six reverse gear ratios that came from the 993.

There's that gold-plated air intake, too. Officially its sole purpose is heat insulation, but when pressed Fatthauer admits the costume jewellery under that Perspex rear might just be there for visual impact, too.

The open rear is all about the aerodynamics, it really isn't a half-finished car. Jan admits, though, the car has been nowhere near a wind-tunnel and the aero work was done with ribbons taped to the car and an aft-facing camera - which makes the results so far almost disturbingly impressive. And for those that have dismissed this as an epoch-making missile and nothing more, you're wrong. Jan says he won't even sell to clients who are only interested in horsepower and pure speed and wanted to create the complete, visceral supercar and he's put serious development time into conquering the corners.

Light power steering means it can be placed with the fingertips, despite its size, and the handling is no more savage than a track-tuned GT3. It comes with even more balance, thanks to the midengine mounting, prodigious grip and a sure-footed approach at standard speeds. Go after those last few tenths, or sneeze, and you'll need the GT2 sourced traction control that wasn't fitted to this model and the “very special” LSD. But dawdling on a trailing throttle round the Dortmund streets revealed a car that is composed, simple and, considering its H&R suspension gives just 10cm of travel, surprisingly comfortable. It soaks up bumps and only the biggest Autobahn expansion joint caused the rubber to part company with the tarmac. Even then it was nothing more dramatic than a gentle skip.

Once the speed record is in the bag they'll take the car to the Nordschleife for an assault on the production car record and Jan is quietly confident. And even if that doesn't happen, he's got a back-up plan as he's about to start work on the hardcore GT9 RS, and the next car to bear his name.

The SSC Aero might be the fastest car in the World, but it won't be for long.


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