WCF Review: Gemballa Mirage GT

WCF Review: Gemballa Mirage GT

( Worldcarfans ) - Around 1300 Porsche Carrera GTs can be found around the world, but due to the unfair division of wealth in this world they come in concentrated pockets and the chances of parking up next to exactly the same supercar in the golf club, 12 star hotel or charity fundraiser are actually pretty high. The kind of people that can afford these machines hate that, so for them Gemballa has created the extortionately rare Mirage GT.

This car goes well beyond simple individuality, though, if you have the money. While nine of the 10 examples so far have been sold with only external mods and a 10 per cent power hike at the eye-watering conversion price of €212,000 there is something far more sinister in the works.

Soon at least one of these cars is going to become the modern day 959 and the Carrera GT racer that never was rolled into the same roadgoing package with twin-turbos, a price tag somewhere in the region of €2 million and between 750 and 1000bhp - depending on how much the transmission can handle.

Uwe Gemballa, based in the tiny village of Leonberg on the outskirts, specialises in outrageous conversions that would have conservative folks running for the hills. The GTR Avalanche and the 1980s Mirage, both simply ridiculous 911 Turbo conversion with all the subtlety of a ram raid helped turn him into one of the biggest Porsche tuning houses in the business. So he was never going to be satisfied with simply tweaking the exterior.

It will take far more than simply strapping a pair of KKKs to the 5.7-litre, 612bhp engine, as the gearbox and that notoriously fragile ceramic clutch will also need serious consideration. In fact the clutch will almost certainly be replaced, which may strike fans as sacrilegious but will draw few complaints from those that actually own them.

Clutches aside, anyone can look at this model carefully and see this is a work in progress and the majority of the mods concentrate on cooling and aerodynamic improvements that should help plant the car to the floor and stop the engine melting at speeds in the region of 250mph.

And while this car can't get there, yet, Gemballa invested huge amounts in the wind-tunnel at Stuttgart University to improve high-speed stability. While they will tell you otherwise a lot of tuning houses simply draw aggressive shapes from their imagination when it comes to designing bodykits. Rest assured these appendages are far more than cosmetic baubles to separate wealthy individuals from their wallet. Or they will be.

The racing roof scoop could clearly suck in air like a Whale Shark hoovers plankton, and does on other examples, but here it doesn't lead anywhere and the air intake is side-mounted. The profile of the rear looks so much smoother now thanks to that central fin, though, especially with the swooping rear wing that removes the 'on stilts' effect of the original, that you'd swear Porsche made it like that.

Installing this set-up necessitated a complete rework of the engine cover so that it opens with a new hinge at the rear.

Undoing a few quick release clips is all it takes for al fresco motoring, which is simply orgasmic with this noise in attendance. But in the next incarnation the scoop will join forces with the opened up front end to make sure those turbos don't starve. There's also a chimney exit reminiscent of the Honda NSX in the Japanese GT series, which isn't a bad styling cue.

For now the gaping smile does provide a Ram air effect, which in combination with the bigger exhausts with four exit pipes rather than the standard two and a remapped ECU adds a healthy 68bhp to the overall power.

If it's quicker to 60mph than the sub-3.5s that was easily achievable in the standard car, treating Porsche's rather bizarre published figure of 3.9s as the complete pap it was, then it will be by hundredths. The power can be felt at the upper end of the rev range, though, there's simply no let up from take-off to the rev limiter and a one-mile blast down the runway gave a frightening insight into the car's capability.

The customers may or may not notice that power hike on the public roads or race tracks, wherever they intend to drive. They will feel the full force of the new exhaust system in their ears, though, which is probably the real point.

Very few would have questioned the quality of the soundtrack before, but now when this car fires up it frightens God with an obscenely loud baritone song.

And with the added speed comes control, as the original Carrera GT was known for its knife-edge handling. While a Pagani Zonda or McLaren Mercedes SLR will mop up its own mess, the Porsche could be a real handful on the limit and this was something Gemballa was determined to change. More downforce is the simple answer, but the car also went through extensive track time on the Nordschleife to ensure a more forgiving set-up.

The front lip is adjustable and contributes a minimum of 25kg of downforce at 155mph, which goes some way towards counterbalancing the 85kg available from the rear when the adjustable plane is jacked to its most aggressive 'air-brake' style setting.

Airflow down the side of the car has come in for close attention, too, with the cut-outs behind the front wheels channelling air down the side skirts towards the rear brakes. Once again it's a combined effort of cooling and downforce, which will become more relevant when the car is finally finished.

The Mirage GT took pride of place on Brembo's stand at the Essen Motor Show brandishing purpose-built discs with the consistency of a thatched roof. Sadly they were glued in place to make the show, but they looked more effective than a brick wall when it comes to stopping a car from triple digit speeds and will be a joy to test for the first time. For now they must rely on Porsche's PCCB units, which are hardly lacking.

Even racing discs had nothing on those units that pretty much filled the wheels, which incidentally come with full racing centre-locks and measure 9.5x19 at the front and 12.5x20" at the rear. Now they cost €20,000 a set including tyres, but as you pick yourself off the floor consider the fact that this is cheaper than the OE numbers that will be discarded to the corner of the garage when Gemballa's wheels go on.

Inside it's pure styling, bar the reverse camera mounted on that rear-facing chimney that will probably save a good few thousand pounds and a red face. That comes with a DVD player, SatNav and and a complicated performance analysis centre linked to acceleration, braking and g-force sensors. This will probably only serve to show how far off its limits the frustrated owner truly is, but you have to admire the attention to detail inside this car as even the faces of the dials have been clothed in red and the carbon-fibre inserts are simply stunning.

This car comes with full Gemballa registration plates, despite one Malaysian buyer asking for the Porsche badges to go back on until his car clears customs, and possibly excise. And it's fantastic, a major step forward in pure performance. But make no mistake, when it's finished this will be more Gemballa than Porsche and a whole new animal that would put the fear of God into the Carrera GT.

Of course there are different strokes for different folks and some of you will be smashing your fist into the screen and cursing the man who defiled Porsche's masterpiece. But then, to put it bluntly, Gemballa doesn't care what you think, because you'd never be a customer anyway. The kind of man that drives the Mirage GT is the Dubai gazillionaire that gave the instant green light to buying a new V10 simply for development with a shrug of his shoulders. Money was no object; he just wants something different.

And while you may not have done it yourself, it's kind of encouraging that such fresh lunatics are out there in the world, and there are companies like Gemballa to cater for them.

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