Paul Walker's Final Ride: Under the Hood of the Notorious Porsche Carrera GT
A closer look at the history of the Porsche Carrera GT, the car Paul Walker's daughter claims is responsible for her father's death
The Porsche Carrera GT that Paul Walker died in is no ordinary supercar, and his daughter has filed a lawsuit alleging that the car contains defects that were directly responsible for her father’s death.
Marketed as a race car for the streets, according to Meadow’s complaint, and priced at a whopping $450,000, the CGT is incredibly fast, reportedly difficult to handle and has a reputation for being downright scary to drive.
“It’s almost too dangerous,” an instructor at a popular racing school tells PEOPLE. “We would never let a regular person take that car out and even our drivers wouldn’t take the risk.”
But what makes the CGT allegedly so difficult to drive is also part of its allure. A throwback to old-school racing, this Porsche is one of a few modern cars built without electronic stability control, which prevents the vehicle’s back wheels from spinning out on turns.
“The car is crazy,” Doug DeMuro, a former manager at Porsche said in an interview with Jalopnik. At the time of Walker’s death, DeMuro had previously commented on the automotive site, calling the CGT “the most dangerous car on the road.”
Walter Rohrl, a former world rally champion and famed Porsche test driver, told Australian magazine Drive that the CGT is “the first car in my life that I drive and feel scared.”
Before Walker’s accident, Jay Leno experienced the CGT’s allegedly difficult handling. An acclaimed mechanic and experienced race car driver, Leno spun out of control while attempting to break a speed record at Talladega in 2005.
That same year, two men were killed in a crash at California Speedway when the driver reportedly swerved at high speeds, lost control of the CGT and crashed into a wall. The victim’s wife, Tracy Rudl, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, the track owners and Porsche, which was reportedly settled for $4.5 million. (Porsche was only responsible for paying a small percent of the total, according to the report).
Walker’s daughter, Meadow, has filed her own wrongful death lawsuit against the car company, alleging that her father would still be alive had the CGT been designed with proper safety features. The complaint specifically alleges that lack of electronic stability control was a contributing cause to the accident.
During the 2005 Rudl trial, Craig McClellan, a former race car driver and lawyer for the plaintiff, deposed two Porsche engineers, asking why the car was not outfitted with stability control. According to McClellan, the engineer’s answers conflicted with another. One engineer allegedly stated that adding stability control would be physically impossible because of the CGT’s design, while the other allegedly claimed customers weren’t interested in the feature.
“[Porsche] didn’t do any testing to see if they could make the electronic stability control work properly,” McClellan tells PEOPLE, according to his investigation. “And I also didn’t see any research or focus group findings from them proving their customers didn’t want it.”
Whether or not the lack of stability control is a feature or a potential defect depends on who you ask, but it’s not the only contributing factor to Walker’s death, according to the lawsuit.
The supercar’s side door reinforcement bars are noted in the suit to be half the radius of a normal car, something McClellan says could be a result of an effort to keep the car light: “Any car that’s built for performance has a tradeoff between power and weight. They want to keep the weight down and every little bit makes a difference.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the CGT’s seatbelt anchors were designed improperly, and that after the crash, Walker’s seatbelt actually trapped him inside the burning car. Furthermore, the suit claims the car would not have caught on fire in the first place had the car’s rubber fuel lines and fuel tank been built properly.
“The rule of designing automobiles is that somebody who doesn’t die in the crash should not die in a fire that occurs after the crash,” McClellan notes. “The fuel systems are supposed to shut off after a crash, those are all red flags that are design problems that you don’t want to have.”
In response to Meadow’s lawsuit, Porsche tells PEOPLE, “We are saddened whenever anyone is hurt in a Porsche vehicle, but we believe the authorities’ reports in this case clearly established that this tragic crash resulted from reckless driving and excessive speed.”
While a report by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department concluded that the CGT was traveling “between 80 and 93 mph” at the time of the accident, Meadow’s complaint claims the speed was actually 63 to 71 mph. The posted speed limit at the scene was reportedly 45 mph.
“Here’s the paradox, [Porsche] promotes the car for speed and it’s a race car for the streets, but then when something like this happens they say ‘Well, the guy was speeding, it’s not our fault,’ ” McClellan says.
As IndyCar star Graham Rahal told Jalopnik after Walker’s death, the CGT “asks for and needs respect at all time. It’s not a car for people who don’t have experience driving high end vehicles or race cars really for that matter.”
Roger Rodas, who was driving the car and died alongside Walker in the crash, was a skilled driver and had even competed in the Pirelli World Challenge series.
“I believe Roger was an experienced road racer,” Rahal added. “To me the CGT is in the top three vehicles ever made, possibly the greatest road car ever made.”
Porsche did immediately respond to requests for comment.