Last year marked the seventieth year of sports car production by Porsche, which was celebrated by publicly unveiling two 911 Speedster Concept vehicles. Now actual production has come to fruition with the North American debut of the of the iconic open air sports car at the New York Auto Show.
The first Porsche was actually released in 1931, known as the ‘Porsche 64’ and the Porsche company was incorporated in 1938 by Ferdinand Porsche. In 1947, the company designed a new Grand Prix racing car in Gmund, Austria. Ferdinand Porsche died in 1951, due to a heart stroke and the company was then taken over by his son, Ferry. That same year, Ferry built the company’s first sports car, the 356, which achieved its first international win: the 1100 CC class. The racing car, as well as the 356 was created from the VW parts bin. It was the first roadster to bear the Porsche name. By 1953, the Fuhrman engine was presented in the most famous vehicle, The Porsche 550 Spyder. This 1.5L four-cylinder engine delivered an impressive 110 BHP and became an immediate success in the automotive industry. Three years later, the company celebrated its 25th anniversary and the 10,000th Porsche vehicle hit the streets.
One of the most desirable collector models today is the 356 “Speedster”, which was introduced in late 1954 after Max Hoffman importer/dealer advised the company that a lower-cost model, outfitted in a somewhat Spartan fashion, open-top version would sell well in the American market. The first Speedster came with a low, raked windscreen, which could be removed for weekend racing, bucket seats and a minimalist manually folding cloth top, and it became an instant hit particularly in Southern California. It was replaced in late 1958 by the “convertible D” model.
The history of Porsche Speedster models began in the United States. 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 aluminum body manufactured entirely by hand. It weighed about 130 pounds (60 kilograms) less than the 356 Coupe and its top track speed of 108 miles per hour (175 km/h) with its 70-hp four-cylinder flat engine was impressive at the time. Featuring slot-in curtain windows for the doors, a folding 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.
By 2010, eight different production and special models bearing the “Speedster” name had been created. The 356 A 1500 GS Carrera GT Speedster represented a highlight in 1957, and the first 911 Speedster followed in 1988. Limited to just 356 units worldwide, the 911 Speedster of the 997 generation built in 2010 was the latest model to be fitted with the famous designation.
The Porsche Speedster model’s history originated here in the United States.
Speedster variants of sports car models, all combined open-top driving pleasure with distinctive driving dynamicisim, and have been part of Porsche’s company history since 1952.
The 356 1500 America Roadster, forefather of the Porsche Speedster models, featured an aluminum body manufactured entirely by hand. It tipped the scales at roughly 130 pounds less than the 356 Coupe and its top track speed of 108 miles per hour with its 70-hp four-cylinder flat engine was most impressive at that time. Featuring slot-in side curtain windows for the doors, a manually folding top and lightweight bucket seats, this car was developed exclusively for the US market was built already embodying several key elements of the speedster design. By 2010, eight different production and special models wearing the “Speedster” name had been created. The 356 A 1500 GS Carrera GT Speedster represented a highlight in 1957, and the first 911 Speedster followed in 1988. Limited to just 356 units worldwide, the 911 Speedster of the 997 generation built in 2010 was the last model to be named with the now iconic designation.
FROM CONCEPT TO FRUITION
The 2019 911 Speedster is the first such model to be developed by the Porsche Motorsport department, but it is still instantly recognizable as a Speedster. The low-cut windshield and side windows as well as the manually operated lightweight fabric top are characteristic for a Speedster model and make the car an immediate stand out. The two streamliners positioned atop the rear decklid are made from carbon fiber and are yet another design cue drawn from the model‘s history.
The lightweight door panels with storage nets and door pulls contribute to weight reduction. The standard black leather interior can be supplemented with red stitching for the dashboard and the “Speedster” designation in the headrests. With this option, the door pulls are also fitted in red, and the GT Sport steering wheel is decorated with a red 12 o’clock center marker. The interior trim, which spreads to the gear shift knob as well as the door sill guards with “Speedster” model designation, is carbon fiber.
911 SPEEDSTER POWER
Power will be provided by a by a naturally-aspirated 4.0 liter flat-six engine capable of revving up to 9,000 rpm. The engine is also used in the current 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 RS models, the 2019 911 Speedster develops 502 horsepower along with 346 lb-ft of torque, that delivers highly emotional, race inspired sounds.
The race-bred powerplant of the 911 Speedster, has been enhanced with individual throttle bodies that deliver an even sharper throttle response similar to the 911 GT3 R race car. Gearing energy to the rear wheels, the 911 Speedster To deliver a particularly engaging driving experience highly desired by purists, the 911 Speedster comes exclusively with a GT Sport six-speed manual transmission. 0 to 60 miles per hour clicks off in a mere 3.8 seconds, and the top track speed is 192 miles per hour.
The 2019 911 Speedster utilizes a chassis that’s also derived from the 911 GT3 models with a specifically-calibrated rear axle steering system and dynamic engine mounts that deliver a maximum amount of precision, stability and driving pleasure.
20-inch center lock wheels painted in Satin Black are fitted with Ultra High Performance tires that offer high levels of grip, while standard PCCB (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake) provide very powerful and consistent braking performance.
The 2019 911 Speedster is the first such model developed by the Porsche Motorsport department, but it is still immediately recognizable as a Speedster. The low-cut front windshield and side windows as well as the manually operated lightweight fabric top are characteristic for a Speedster model and make the car stand out immediately. The two streamliners atop the rear decklid made from carbon fiber are another design highlight rooted in the model’s history.
The interior of the 911 Speedster is characterized by a focus on the essentials of driving.
In keeping with purist fashion, extensive measures of lightweight construction aid holdiong the weight of the new 911 Speedster down. The front luggage compartment lid, front fenders and rear decklid are all made from carbon fiber composite material, while the front and rear fascias consist of lightweight polyurethane.
The standard Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes save about 50 percent from the system weight with grey cast iron rotors.
The fabric top is completely a manual operation, except for the electrically-operated latch to lock and unlock it from the windshield header. The lack of air conditioning is standard as a weight saving measure, but may be added as a no-cost option.
Finally, the six-speed manual transmission saves about 9 pounds compared to the seven-speed manual transmission in other 911 Carrera models, and almost 40 pounds compared to a PDK dual clutch unit. Focusing on lightweight construction, the 2019 911 Speedster weighs only 3,230 pounds.
The 2019 911 Speedster uses a chassis derived from the 911 GT3 models with a specifically-calibrated rear axle steering system and dynamic engine mounts to deliver a maximum amount of precision, stability and driving pleasure.
20-inch center lock wheels painted in Satin Black are shod with Ultra High Performance (UHP) tires to offer high levels of grip, while standard PCCB (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake) delivers very powerful and consistent braking performance.
The 2019 911 Speedster is planned to be available for order on May 7, 2019 and is expected to reach U.S. dealers in late 2019. Global production will be limited to 1,948 vehicles commemorating the 70 years of Porsche sports cars.
Full Specifications and Pricing not yet available.
911 SPEEDSTER CHRONOGRAPH
Exclusively for owners, Porsche Design has created a 911 Speedster Chronograph timepiece. The high-performance Flyback-Chronograph with Werk 01.200 movement developed in-house features Speedster specific design elements such as a carbon fiber dial, and a rotor modeled after the Speedster center lock wheel in both design and color. Genuine Porsche interior leather and thread are also used for the perforated black leather strap with red stitching.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.