The needle bursts through the 250-kph mark-155 mph-before rough stones signal the end of the Malmsheim straight. It's time to stand on the Gemballa Mirage GT's massive carbon-ceramic brake rotors.Yes that's Malmsheim, not Mulsanne. This test takes place nowhere near the heartland of 24-hour racing. It's actually an airfield by Gemballa's base in Leonberg, near Stuttgart. But the car, an almighty enhancement of Porsche's famed Carrera GT, looks like it drove straight off La Sarthe.
Uwe Gemballa has specialized in outlandish Porsche-based creations for more than 25 years, and this could be his crowning glory. It sure feels that way as this beast harpoons down the tarmac, carving into bends with supreme confidence. The original Carrera GT was an incredible supercar, yet felt on a knife's edge at the limit, a mere twitch of the throttle away from a violent spin. The Mirage GT has a more sure-footed and forgiving feel, thanks to a massive dose of extra downforce. It's the equivalent of two fat guys sitting on top of the car-without the obvious safety risks.
This car is more than just a styling exercise. It has put in the hours at Stuttgart University's wind tunnel to achieve this additional downforce. The fact that the car's profile is now so much smoother than the original, due to the roof scoop and re-profiled rear wing, is simply a happy coincidence.
The adjustable front lip adds 55 pounds of downward thrust at 155 mph to balance the monumental 187 pounds of extra downforce at the rear, provided by the carbon wing (that looks so much smoother than the original 'on-stilts' affair offered by Porsche). It makes you wonder which company is the major manufacturer-until the airbrake-style centerpiece is jacked to its most aggressive setting, that is.
There's more force, too, from the roof scoop, that avaricious air intake in front (with its extra tasks of aiding cooling and grip), and the side skirts now cool the brakes and press the car on to those new wheels that cost $26,000 a set. Incidentally, that's cheaper than Porsche's own units, which must now be banished to the corner of the garage.
Every road car understeers-it's the safest way to stop customers blessed with more cash than talent from driving themselves into the morgue. A tug on the new Gemballa steering wheel is all it takes to send this weapon scything into turns. The rear will remain pressed to the ground as if by the hand of God.
It just will not let go, whatever is done to provoke it. Where the base car could snap in a heartbeat, this one will just hang on to the apex and slingshot through, without even thinking about opposite lock. In real terms, at real speed, these aero mods have given the Carrera GT-and its driver-a new lease on life.
A life lived at a faster rate, too, thanks to a 68-bhp power hike from the 'Ram Air' system, an ECU remap and new exhaust with four exit pipes. It doesn't change the zero-to-60 time of 3.5 seconds by more than a fraction, but the 5.7-liter V10 now muscles its way up to redline; the extra power kicks in when the machine really starts flying, sucking more air than a morbidly obese jogger on his second mile. There's just no let-up from the moment the accelerator pedal goes down to the next hastily snatched gear. Even on a wide runway that tends to kill the sensation of speed, it feels like it's straining at the leash of sanity.