And what dots. This is the first time Porsche’s fabled GT division has had a crack at the recipe – ‘no frippery’ is the unofficial motto – and as such a 991.2 911 GT3 dwells beneath the Speedster’s largely carbonfibre new bodywork. We are, in short, firmly back in road-racing territory, 356 Speedster style.
Understanding the genesis of the 911 Speedster
The rear body-in-white of a Carrera 4S Cabriolet is grafted to the front of a GT3. The carbonfibre wings and bonnet then come courtesy of the 911 R and the rear apron from the GT3 Touring, but the huge carbonfibre rear deck and classic stooped windshield are all new. Figuring out how to fit that last bit cost rather a lot of money, in fact. Millions, apparently.
Under the bodywork, the GT3’s inverted dampers are softened a touch (spring rates are unchanged), and the four-wheel steering is retuned to compensate for the high-speed stability lost when you shear Porsche’s trackday tool of its enormous rear wing, but overall the mechanical package is practically identical. To underscore the intent, there’s also but a single gearbox offered: a six-speed manual.
And yet perhaps the biggest news is the engine, which is a development of the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat six that has become a hallmark of the GT3 experience. New particulate filters have diluted the manic engine note – bluntly, it’s now a little less ‘motorsport’, if still utterly magnificent – but fuel injectors operating at higher pressure have helped raise power from 493bhp to 503bhp and there are new individual throttle bodies for response that, Porsche claims, borders on the genuinely rabid.
It is a cleaner, cleverer engine, and Porsche has also kept the stratospheric 9000rpm red line intact. So, without further ado…
Getting behind the wheel of the 911 Speedster
As befits the name, sliding into the Speedster is a journey back in time. The 360mm steering wheel is devoid of switchgear – it changes the car’s course, simple as. Compared with the one in the new, 992-generation 911, the central tacho feels old-school Porsche with its italicised 'Speedster' script and runs to double digits. Peer into the footwell and there are three functional-looking pedals, and the gearlever is conspicuously short. The seats are those found in the 918 Spyder and are, as ever, so embracing that you’ll never want to get out.
But if the weather’s good, you’ll also want to get the roof off, and that means you'll have to get out. Porsche very nearly scrapped the idea of having any roof at all (as per the original concept car built way back in 2014), which would have allowed the decking between the ‘streamliner’ buttresses to sit even lower, but it eventually erred on the side of usability. But even with the need to store a roof, this is a dashing car in the metal – far more so than in the photos, somehow – with the hunkered-down tail seemingly a lot less Quasimodo than previous Speedster iterations.
Unlike the electric folding setup in the 997 Speedster, you do it by hand in the 991 Speedster – a process that takes all of about 20 seconds, because the roof weighs only 10kg. Accessing the roof itself is simple enough and involves unclipping the rear deck, which pivots up and backwards as you lightly pull on it. Admittedly, having to pull over if it starts to rain is a little inconvenient, but somehow the manual process brings you to closer to the Speedster and is more in line with its ethos – and integrity.
And those things are important. This a dream project for Andreas Preuninger, who, as a young man, developed an infatuation with the 1987 G-Series Speedster. Later on in his life, while helping to establish Porsche’s GT division as the engineering dynamo it is today, he even went as far as to draft Speedsters based on the 996 and 997 911s, neither of which saw the light of day. It's another strand that joins the oldest Speedster with this latest one, because somehow you can't imagine the individuals involved poured quite so much love into the interim Speedsters.