It’s a name that dates back almost seven decades, so Porsche whipped up plenty of enthusiasm when, last year, it showed off two 911 Speedster Concepts. Now, the German automaker is turning concept into reality, unveiling a limited-edition production model at the New York International Auto Show.
In some ways, the new Speedster goes back to basics with a cloth tap that has to opened and closed manually, but the trade off is a two-seater that draws power from the same engine used in the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS models. The 502 horsepower package will launch the Speedster from 0 to 60 in just 3.8 seconds, with a top track speed of 192 mph.
Despite a price tag of $274,500 – not including the $1,250 delivery charges – the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster is expected to sell out relatively quickly.
The new convertible picks up on some of the cues that entranced fans of earlier Speedsters, with a low-cut windshield and side windows, a six-speed manual transmission and a focus on holding down weight. It tips the scales at a modest 3,230 pounds, nearly 200 pounds less than even a base 911, and only slightly more than the latest-generation GT3.
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To fully “lightweight” the new model, Porsche engineers have trimmed off all sorts of unnecessary features, replacing inside door handles with pulls, opting for storage nets, instead of door pockets, and adding a number of carbon fiber touches, including the hood, front fenders and decklid. Even the decision to go with a stick shift was seen through the eyes of weight savings – the gearbox coming in about nine pounds lighter than the automatic transmission alternative.
Beyond the steeply raked windshield, the most obvious design element of the new Speedster comes in the form of the two, very retro “Streamliner” headrests that are also made of carbon fiber.
The new Speedster is based on a chassis derived from the GT3, in fact, one that uses such touches as dynamic engine mounts and a rear-axle steering system to enhance “precision, stability and driving pleasure,” Porsche said in a statement.
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Of course, the heart of the beast is its 4.0-liter flat-six engine. Lifted out of the GT3, it punches out 502 hp and 346 lb-ft of torque.
Oh, and if you are wondering why the German automaker plans to build just 1,948 of the new Speedsters, that’s meant to recall the original Porsche 356 Speedster that was introduced in 1948.
“The forefather of Porsche Speedster models, the 356 1500 America Roadster,” the automaker notes, “had an aluminum body manufactured entirely by hand. It weighed about 130 pounds (60 kilograms) less than the 356 Coupe and (had a) top track speed of 108 miles per hour (175 km/h) with its 70-hp four-cylinder flat engine.”
Porsche plans to begin taking orders for the Speedster this week, with deliveries set to begin next autumn.
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Oh, and if you haven’t completely wiped out your bank account, you can drop another few thousand for the limited-edition 911 Speedster Chronograph which was developed in-house. Fittingly, it features a carbon fiber dial and a rotor modeled after the Speedster’s center lock wheel.