Porsche 911 Speedster Concept fascinates US audience
Following its world premiere on 8 June (2018) in Zuffenhausen, Germany, on the occasion of the “70 years of Porsche Sports Cars” anniversary celebration and first demonstration drives at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, the open-top concept car is now celebrating its premiere before the US public at the Rennsport Reunion VI in California. The 911 Speedster Concept is based on the current 991 series and also offers a preview of a potential new equipment range from the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur. With the Heritage design packages, the Stuttgart-based Sports Car manufacturer will provide a modern interpretation of the distinctive themes and colours of its Sports Car history from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. In addition to the 911 Speedster Concept, Porsche is presenting another unique product at the Laguna Seca Raceway as part of Rennsport Reunion VI: the Porsche Design ‘911 Speedster’ concept chronograph. A decision about a possible series-production version of the 911 Speedster Concept will be made very soon.
With a purist concept, the two-tone drivable concept car – probably the best present Porsche has given itself for its 70th anniversary – reflects the brand core of the Stuttgart Sports Car manufacturer in precise clarity and historically accurate design. It was developed at Porsche Motorsport in close cooperation with Style Porsche and the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur. It is powered by a flat-six engine with more than 500 hp. It does without turbocharging and achieves engine speeds of up to 9,000 rpm. This power is transferred to the rear wheels by a six-speed manual transmission. The development focus was on a pure driving experience.
Strong partnership: Top performance meets fine craftsmanship
The cooperation between Porsche Motorsport and the Exclusive Manufaktur for the 911 Speedster Concept – as the first glimpse of a forthcoming Heritage design strategy – has historical roots, as the two divisions have the same origins. Porsche Exclusive once fulfilled special requests from racing customers, such as the legendary 935 Street, designed with a flat front end. The last joint project between Porsche Motorsport and Porsche Exclusive was the Porsche 911 Turbo S Lightweight (Type 964) from 1992.
With the expansion of motor sports at the Weissach Development Centre, the two divisions parted ways. As specialists for manufacture of individually crafted vehicles, Porsche Exclusive concentrated with a passion for detail on individual customer requests and limited production runs, such as the 911 Sport Classic of 2009 or the 911 Speedster of the 997 series of 2010, of which only 356 were built. As a general rule, one-off products are almost always possible within the boundaries of the applicable legislation and while also ensuring that Porsche requirements relating to quality and long service life are met. In the current fiscal year, there is a particularly strong demand for personalisation of GT models. This shows that GT customers, who were previously interested primarily in purism and performance, now also want to express their personality in colours and custom equipment.
The two-tone drivable concept car reflects the Porsche brand core in precise clarity
The numerous lovingly executed details of the 911 Speedster Concept clearly demonstrate just how well the revitalised collaboration works. The handcrafted paintwork in the classic GT Silver and White colours, together with the so-called ‘spears’ on the front wings, reference the brand’s racing history. The same applies to the tank cap positioned in the middle of the bonnet in 1950s style, the exterior mirrors in the classic Talbot shape and the special design of the headlights. The transparent and opaque surfaces of the headlight covers resemble the shape of a cross – a further nod to the early years of Porsche in motorsport. Both the wide B-pillars and the rear end are decorated with milled and gold-plated Speedster lettering.
Tribute to a dream: 911 Speedster concept chronograph by Porsche Design
Porsche Design has created a special timepiece for the new 911 Speedster Concept: the ‘911 Speedster’ concept chronograph. Just like the vehicle, it is initially a one-off; subsequent production is currently under consideration. The chronograph case is made of a lightweight titanium, with a black titanium carbide coating to highlight its sporty design. The matt-black dial – similar to the instrument cluster of the 911 Speedster Concept – is characterised by its excellent readability. Instead of a small second hand, a function display with ‘911 Speedster’ lettering positioned at 9 o’clock indicates that the movement is running. As a special gesture on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Porsche Sports Cars, the ‘70’ on the tachymeter is highlighted in a contrasting colour. The leather strap matches the interior of the concept vehicle and is made of identical types of leather.
The timepiece is powered by the first independently developed Porsche Design calibre, the Werk 01.200 with flyback function, load path optimised movement bridge and official COSC certification. The Swiss movement is the result of three years of development and state-of-the-art manufacturing methods. It combines engineering and watchmaking skill with the know-how from sports car construction, and impresses with precision, functionality and performance.
Looking back: Speedster models from Porsche made their debut 66 years ago
Various Speedster models have been part of Porsche company history since 1952. They combine open-top driving pleasure with outstanding driving dynamics. The forefather of these models is the 356 1500 America Roadster, whose aluminium body was manufactured by hand. It weighed 60 kilograms less than the 356 Coupé and its top speed of 175 km/h (108 mph) from its 70 hp flat-four engine was impressive at the time. The exclusive Sports Car, developed for the US market and built only 16 times, already featured key elements of the Speedster design with slot-in windows for the doors, a folding rain-cover top and lightweight bucket seats.
Various Speedster models have been part of Porsche company history since 1952
Porsche produced a significantly less expensive version in 1954, which also included ‘Speedster’ in the model name and quickly caused a sensation in the world of motorsports. For the first time, it combined the sheet steel body of the coupé with a flat windscreen, reduced interior equipment and a rain top. In the USA, the 356 1500 Speedster cost less than 3,000 dollars and became an instant hit in the sunny coastal states. Hollywood icon James Dean was also an enthusiastic racing driver and chose this purist model, which is dedicated solely to the sheer pleasure of driving. Other variants followed. The model reached its peak in 1957 with the 356 A 1500 GS Carrera GT Speedster.
It was not until 1988 that a Speedster variant was introduced in the 911 series, as the crowning highlight of the discontinued G-model generation. It was based on the air-cooled 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine with up to 231 hp and – unlike the 911 Speedster Clubsport concept car previously shown at the IAA in Frankfurt – featured a wide turbo look. At the same time, 161 units with a lean Carrera body were also produced. They were intended for export and are particularly prized by collectors today.
It is exactly the other way around with the successor model: Between 1992 and 1993, 930 units of the 911 Carrera 2 Speedster of the 964 generation rolled off the production line. In addition, there were 15 vehicles with wide turbo bodies, which are currently attracting top prices.
Even more rare is the opulent 911 Carrera Speedster based on the 993 series. Only two of this model were developed by the Porsche Exclusive department – for Ferdinand Alexander Porsche and an American collector. Customers didn’t get their hands on a Speedster version of the 911 again until 2010, when it debuted as a limited production run from Porsche Exclusive based on the 997 model generation. The Sports Car with the shortened windscreen was produced in a strictly limited edition of 356 units.
The anniversary model forges a link between the very first Porsche 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster, which received its operating permit on June 8, 1948, and the Porsche cars of today. With its pure concept and historically accurate execution, the 911 Speedster concept reflects the brand essence of the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer with precise clarity. A pure driving experience is the main emphasis of the car. The drive technology under the two-tone shell of the concept study is derived from the current GT models. It was developed at the Porsche Motorsport Centre, which is the birth place of the 911 GT2 RS and, most recently, the GT3 RS. The 911 Speedster Concept celebrated its world premiere as part of the official ‘70 years Porsche sportscar’ anniversary celebrations in Zuffenhausen. The concept study offers a glimpse of a potential series-production version, although this model may not be presented until 2019. A decision on whether to move ahead will be made in the coming months.
The characteristics of the 911 Speedster Concept include the shorter window frame with a more inclined windscreen and correspondingly shortened side windows. These features give the sports car study an even stockier profile with a very low fly line, which is reminiscent of its predecessors such as the Porsche 356 1500 Speedster. A special rear cover made of carbon fibre connects behind the front seats, covering a roll-over protection structure and featuring a ‘double bubble’, a traditional element of this sports car design since the 911 Speedster from 1988. Two contrasting black slats between the ‘humps’ add an aerodynamic touch, and a transparent Plexiglas wind deflector features an engraved ‘70 years of Porsche’ logo.
Lightweight principles of the Speedster philosophy
As dictated by the historic original, the 911 Speedster Concept also features a lightweight tonneau cover instead of a convertible top. This cover protects the car interior from rain when parked, and is attached using eight Tenax fasteners. The lightweight principles of the Speedster philosophy continue through into the interior, where the navigation, radio and air conditioning systems have all been eliminated. The full bucket seats are made of carbon, and the light brown Aniline leather covers in Cognac 356 pick up on features from the car’s classic predecessors.
The Aniline leather covers in Cognac 356 pick up on features from the car’s classic predecessors
The broad body of the concept car has been borrowed from the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, although the wings, front bonnet and rear cover of the concept are made of lightweight carbon-fibre composite material. The paintwork in the traditional colours of GT Silver and White harks back to Porsche’s early racing cars – as do many of the other carefully crafted details, such as the 50s-style central fuel tank cap positioned in the middle of the front bonnet, the classic Talbot shape of the exterior mirrors or the unique design of the main headlights. Transparent and opaque surfaces on the headlight covers produce a cross-like effect and are nod to a practice prevalent in Porsche’s early years in motorsport. At the time, the original headlights were taped before races to protect them against stone chipping and to prevent the glass from shattering. The wide B-pillars and the rear are decorated with milled, gold-plated Speedster lettering.
Below the bodywork, the 911 Speedster Concept relies on state-of-the-art components. The chassis essentially comes from the 911 GT3, with contrasting high gloss polished clover-leaf details on the imposing 21-inch rims in Fuchs design. It is the first time that these wheels are presented with centre locks. The GT developers also contributed the exhaust system with titanium tailpipes and the powertrain, which includes a six-speed manual transmission. The six-cylinder flat engine in this minimalist concept study delivers over 500 hp and reaches speeds of up to 9,000 rpm.
The history of Porsche Speedster models begins in the USA
Speedster variants of sports car models, which combine open-top driving pleasure with incredibly distinctive driving dynamics, have been part of the Porsche company history since 1952. The forefather of Porsche Speedster models, the 356 1500 America Roadster, had an aluminium body manufactured entirely by hand. It weighed 60 kilograms less than the 356 Coupé and its top speed of 175 km/h with its 70-hp four-cylinder flat engine was an impressive feat at the time. Featuring slot-in windows for the doors, a folding rain-cover top and lightweight bucket seats, this car developed exclusively for the US market was built just 16 times and already embodied several key elements of the Speedster design.
The rear are decorated with milled, gold-plated Speedster lettering
By 2010, eight different series and special models had been created with the ‘Speedster’ byname. The 356 A 1500 GS Carrera GT Speedster represented a highlight in 1957, and the first 911 Speedster followed in 1988. The 356 units of the 911 Speedster produced for the 997 series in 2010 saw a temporary end to the production of Speedster variants.
Exactly 1,948 units of the open-top two-seater will be built. The number reminisces the Porsche 356 “Number 1” that received its operating license on June, 8 back in 1948. In Paris (2018), Porsche presented this year’s second Speedster Concept study. Its Guards Red paintwork is a reference to the 1988 911 Speedster of the G-Model generation. The new cross-spoke 21-inch wheels in cross spoke and the black leather interior create a tasteful and sporty appearance.
Dream becomes reality: The driveable 911 Speedster Concept, initially presented on June 8 in 2018 in Zuffenhausen as a “Heritage” version, will go into production in 2019. The car was developed at Porsche Motorsport in Weissach in cooperation with Style Porsche and Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur.
The future 911 Speedster, based on the 991 range, will be the first car to be offered with the new Heritage Design Packages. This exclusive accessory line by Porsche Exclusive allows for an even higher degree of personalization for the 911.
In addition to the eye-catching paintwork, 21-inch center lock wheels are another visual highlight of this latest concept study presented in Paris. Their cross-spoke wheel design is similar to that of Porsche racing cars such as the 911 RSR and the GT3 R. The tinted day-time running lights were also inspired by racing. Matching the study’s paintwork, they are kept in red. The two “Talbot”-shaped exterior mirrors as well as the fuel tank cap – centrally positioned on the bonnet – shine in black-chrome and platinum. In contrast to the previously shown “Heritage” version, the interior is using partly perforated black leather upgraded with red highlights.
All body components as well as the entire technology of both the 911 Speedster Concept cars are identical. This includes the shortened window frames with their lowered cowl top panels and the smaller side windows as well as the carbon-fibre rear bonnet with the double-bubble cover behind the seats. Both cars come with a lightweight Tonneau cover, fitted by Tenax buttons, instead of a convertible soft top.
The centrepiece of the limited special edition
The concept cars’ body is based on the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. The fenders, as well as the front and rear bonnet are made from lightweight carbon fibre composite while the chassis was taken from the 911 GT3. Furthermore, the GT development department provided the exhaust system with its titanium tailpipes and the drivetrain including the manually operated six-speed gearbox. The same goes for the centrepiece of the limited special edition: The Speedster Concept is powered by a naturally-aspirated flat-six engine developing more than 500 hp and capable of engine speeds up to 9,000 rpm.