Tag Archive for Paintless Dent Removal

What Does “GT” Mean?

844-DENT 411  / 844-336-8411

Lots of cars have the letters “GT” proudly displayed on them, and in sports car racing   many cars (and classes) are called GT – but why?

GT is short for Grand Touring – the Italians will likely, and perhaps correctly, take credit for inventing the term (explanation shortly).  A GT car is larger and more comfortable than a Sports Car.  A sports car would be an Austin Healy Sprite, or Porsche Speedster – A traditional GT car would be like a Ferrari 275 GTB, or any Austin Martin you know about.

The purpose of a GT car is to cover long distances comfortably – very quickly, if necessary.  And, you can take a bunch of stuff with you.  My view is that a GT car is better than a sports car in almost every way – you can use them to get to work, the supermarket, take the kids to baseball practice, or enjoy driving them around on a race track.  They’re fun, most have big motors, and they look cooler than Sports Sedans, which the Brits call Saloon Cars, for some reason – a reason that makes them cooler than they would be, otherwise.

My case for suspecting Italians want credit for the term GT, is that they never seem to run out of letters to put after it – like they’ve got something to prove, and that’s suspicious, to me…  For example GTS (Spider), GTB (Berlinetta), GTV (Veloce), GTi (Injected) and best of all, GTO (Omologato).  Yes, the Italians get credit for GTO.

1964 Ferrari GTO

1964 Ferrari GTO

The “O” in GTO means homologated, or approved, in English.  In auto racing, sanctioning bodies place requirements upon manufacturers in order for their cars to be eligible to complete.  In this case the Ferrari 250 GTO was a “homologation” car, of which a certain number needed to be built, so that it could compete as a mass produced vehicle, in international sports car racing.  Ferrari’s GTO was such a bad-ass that some dudes in Detroit thought if they named a Pontiac Tempest after it, that masses of motorheads (mostly the car-guy kind) would fall for the trick – and they were right…

1964 Pontiac GTO

1964 Pontiac GTO

So, as cool as a good ole American Pontiac GTO is.., GM stole the name from the Italians – in a way almost completely unlike the way the Italians got their hands on Chrysler…

This seems like a good time to start on the story of how Ford nearly grabbed Ferrari.

Why Porsche’s are Called Carrera’s

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Everybody has seen a Porsche Carrera.  What does that mean?  Why are they called Carrera’s?

1973-74 911 RS – The First 911 Based “Carrera”

This is how I remember it…  When I was a kid, I liked Porsche’s – a lot.  They were hand made, they were brilliantly elegant in their simplicity, they were fun, and they were cool – Steve McQueen cool.

I loved those cars from an early age, but it took a while for me to appreciate the importance of Porsche.  Now, I believe that not having Porsche in sports car racing would be like not having both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, no Babe Ruth, no Hank Aaron.  It would be as if there was no Green Bay Packers, no San Francisco 49ers, no Vince Lombardi, no Joe Namath.  You get the point…

With my Dad and “The Speedster”

The first cars I loved were the 356’s (the un-enlightened referred to them as bathtubs).  They included Speedsters, Coupes, Cabriolets and once in a while you would see the most beautiful Porsche of all, a 550. A 550 is famous as the type of car James Dean died in.  The 550 was ages ahead of its time.  It appeared in the early 1950’s as a mid-engine sports car with a small 4 cam motor (dual overhead cams, times two), and it was fast!!!  The 550 had great success in a most prestigious road race, La Carrera Panamericana.  This is how, and why, the name Carrera found its way into Porsche nomenclature.

Originally, the Carrera name appeared to be reserved for those cars that had the little 4 cam motors – they were mostly the 356’s and carried the “Carrera” badge that is now so closely associated with Porsche.  This is also why sometimes you will see an old guy wearing a t-shirt that says “Real Carrera’s have 4 Cams”. When I was young, that was the kind of thing that seemed clever to me.  Now, I’m more impressed by genuinely clever people – like those making the Porsches, and deciding that the coolest ones (4 cams, or not) get to be called a Carrera…

Anyway.., I had recently noted that there are some good replica cars driving around.  I saw several of them recently at a car event, and one of them was a 550 (Genesis for Carrera’s).  The reason this is cool, is that these cars are another way for us to recall important automotive history – and a way to afford (like the original Porsches) fun cars.

So, while I had always considered the 550 to be a Carrera (because of the 4 cam motor), the first car to be called a Carrera without having a 4 cam motor, was the 906.  The 906 was also known as the Carrera 6 and had a version of the 911 flat six motor.

I enjoyed seeing both of these cars, as they reminded me of some Porsche history that I learned as a teenager, and brought me to love sports car racing.  They also rekindled memories of my two favorite “Carrera’s”, the 4 cam 904’s (Carrera GTS) and the 718’s (RSK’s) – I was fortunate to have regular access to both of those cars as a teenager.  I was a lucky kid, and I look forward to seeing examples of them sometime soon.

disclaimer: I’m not an expert about these cars.  The reason I believe the 550 is a reproduction is that the motor and wheels don’t look right, to me.  There are also some 906 reproductions out there, but I don’t think this was one of them.