Porsche 911 Speedster: more than just an open top GT3?
Porsche’s 911 Speedster seems to have all the good bits to become an icon. Limited production, manual gearbox, the engine of the GT3 and no roof. Have we reached nirvana?
For Porsche, the name Speedster is legendary. The story of this special car started in 1954 when Max Hoffman, a US importer and the man behind the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, advised Porsche to produce a lighter and less expensive version of their 356 Cabriolet. The result was a stripped-out car with a tiny windscreen and barely any equipment. All you had was a car, two seats and an engine. Those were the days.
In 1988, when the G-Modell was about to get replaced, Porsche brought the Speedster name back with a car that kept the same lightweight philosophy as the iconic 356. With only 2'103 Speedsters produced, this car is an absolute rarity. People seemed to love the modern Speedster iterations so much that Porsche brought it again during the 964 era in 1992. This car was even rarer with only 930 produced and was more like a 911 Carrera RS with no roof than a just a tweaked 911 Cabriolet. At that moment, the Porsche decidedly made the Speedster sportier than ever.
In 1995, Porsche created a unicorn. Two actually. With their 993, Porsche made only 2 Speedsters, one for Mister Porsche himself, and the other one for Jerry Seinfeld. Where are these cars today? Hard to say but they are undoubtedly rare sights on the road. However, many people recreated 993 Speedsters, which could potentially show that people were frustrated by the fact that Porsche did not really produce any for the general public. But it was payback time in 2010. Fifteen years later, Porsche introduced a new Speedster based on the 997.2 and 356 were built. It's a start.
Here we are in 2019. The new Porsche 911 Speedster based on the 991.2 GT3. Porsche seems to be more generous this time as 1948 units will be produced. Not 2, but 1948! On the less generous side comes the price... £211'599 (Double the price of a GT3). And that's the retail price. On the second-hand market prices are about 50% higher. Is it justifiable?
So what exactly is the new Speedster? For a start, it is a highly exclusive open-top race car for the road. Yes, it is strongly based on the GT3 and it seems that some people are complaining about it. Yet, there are worse things in life than having a car based on the 911 GT3 . Overall Porsche has not reinvented the wheel, everything is pretty much Porsche 911. The new Speedsters wants to take you back in time and it starts with the manual gearbox. More engaging and satisfying than the PDK, the manual is the purist's choice and it perfectly fits to the old-school philosophy of this car. I actually found the manual gearbox to be quite tricky with such a high clutch release. It really needs some getting used to especially when you are in first gear. The car also comes with the optional Heritage Package reminiscent of the concept car that brings a two-tone paint, stickers with the number of your choice, and a tan leather interior. The two-tone paint isn't really of my taste, but at least the car looks like a vintage race car.
On the technical side, the Speedster is equipped with a good old 4.0-litres naturally-aspirated flat-six found in the GT3. Here, it gets 10 extra horsepower to reach 510 PS. Standstill to 100 km/h takes 4.0 seconds, which is quite surprisingly slow for such a car even with a manual gearbox. All in all, the Speedster is less impressive than the GT3 on the road. Yes, it is a true driver's car, but it feels less focused and the chassis is certainly not as stiff as the GT3's. But nevermind, the intention of the Speedster is not about destroying lap times but to remind you of the good old days. Back when there were no turbos, no PDKs.
Yes, the price is steep and probably unjustified, but the Speedster looks and feels unique in this ocean of 911's. Just like any Speedster from the past, the car is special and is important to Porsche's heritage. The Speedster shows that the brand from Stuttgart cares about the past and tries to bring it back, sometimes, with some modern touches. We really liked the Speedster, but the price just makes it a no brainer. If only Porsche had decided to build a Porsche 911 GT3 Touring Cabriolet...
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Perego Cars, situated in Switzerland, for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car. Website: www.peregocars.com/en Facebook: www.facebook.com/peregocars/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/peregocars/
Porsche 911 Speedster