Porsche has just said that they're planning to build the 911 Speedster concept as a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the original 356. It's limited to just 1,948 and they didn't say when it will make it to market. The Speedster name, though, is far from new. Porsche has been using the special designation for decades, though it gets used sparingly. That means that you can go pick up a Porsche Speedster today, if you want to. Like this car, one of the inspirations for the car on display in Paris yesterday. It's our autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week: a 1989 Porsche 911 Speedster.
The first Porsche Speedster came to market in 1954. While the 356 sold well in America, the man who imported Porsches into the country thought it could do better. He wanted a car that was a little cheaper. So it could compete with the British sports cars like those from MG and Triumph. Since about a third of all 356 sales came from the US, Porsche needed to take Max Hoffman's requests seriously.
So they built a modified car to keep the price under $3,000. It had a shortened windshield that was more steeply raked. It could even be removed for racing on the weekend. The seats were light, thin, and fixed-back. Even a tach was an option so they could keep it under that $3,000 price. Over the next three years the company sold thousands. Despite lots of development to let the cars make more power and win lots of sports car races, it was replaced after 1958.
Then, 30 years later, Porsche decided to bring the name back.
The new 911 Speedster was shown at the Frankfurt auto show in 1987. The concept there got a massive fibreglass tonneau cover that turned the car into a single-seater. While that one, called the Clubsport, was supremely cool, it didn't make production. But a less extreme version did.
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In the fall of 1988, the Speedster made its first appearances.
The car got a special aluminum framed windshield that was 75 mm lower and five degrees flatter than the standard 911 Cabriolet the car was based on. The glass was more curved as well, looking much sleeker if a little small for the car. The Cabrio's fixed front door window glass was replaced with one large wind-up window that was curved along with the new front glass and the new low-slung convertible top.
That top was more of a temporary fitting. One that was expected to allow in wind noise and water leaks. But did it ever look mean when in place.
Not that it was supposed to be in place all that often. The Speedster was meant for open-top, um, speedsting. That's when it showed off that double-bubble fibreglass rear tonneau cover that covered the top and blocked off the rear seats.
The underpinnings for the car came from the 3.2 Carrera. It used a 3.2L air-cooled flat-six that developed 217 hp. Enough to send the car to 100 km/h from a stop in about six seconds. Making the most of that power was a five-speed manual gearbox.
The Speedster was available in the narrower Carrera body as well as the Turbo-look widebody with Turbo suspension and brake upgrades. Not surprisingly, the Turbo body was by far the more popular choice. It made up around 1,894 of the 2,056 built.
Our Find of the Week, for sale in Victoria, BC, wears the Turbo body. Easily spotted by those bulging rear fenders and the black stone guard that shows you just how much more fender you're really getting.
It's an original Canadian car. First sold in Ontario, then making its way to the Pacific coast. Over the last 30 years it has put on less than 48,000 km. Just over 800 were built for North America and some sources say that as few as 17 were destined for Canada. That makes this a rare car.
It's a stunning car, and this one is in the perfect colour. Guards red, just like the one at the Paris show. With black interior and black and chrome Fuchs wheels. In fact, the red of this generation is why they made the new one red. If you're looking for one of the most classic 911s, an icon of the air-cooled era, then this might be just what you're looking for. Plus it'll look great next to your 2019 Speedster once that arrives.