The Porsche Speedster has been part of the German marques family tree since 1952 and to this day retains that instantly recognisable styling.
A chequered and varied history from 1952 to the present embraces the open-air driving experience with a purist and dynamic quality every Porsche enthusiast seems to thrive on.
The most glorious forefather of them all is the beautiful 356 America Roadster with an aluminium body that was handcrafted at Erich Heuer Karosseriefabrik in Ullersricht, near Weiden in Upper Palatinate, Germany. Weighing in at an impressive 160 kilos less than its brotherly 356 Coupé, this four-cylinder and 70-horsepower boxer engine machine could deliver just over 110mph. The exclusive sports car developed for the US market and of which only 16 units were manufactured.
If Porsche needed any convincing that they were lacking a presence in America, lucrative importer Max Hoffmann changed all of that by requesting a cheap Porsche with a simple and straight forward layout. In the autumn of 1954, Porsche produced a much cheaper version of the 356 America Roadster, which included the name ‘Speedster‘ for the first time in the model and which quickly caused a sensation in the world of competition.
A sexy 356 1500 Speedster with simplified interior equipment and a rag-top to keep any rogue drops of rain at bay cost only $2,995 was given priority and was immediately successful in the sunny coastal states. Hollywood icon James Dean, who was also a racing driver, chose the car for his daily driving pleasure. Then followed other generations of the 356 Speedster. The model reached its peak in 1957, with the 356 A 1500 GS Carrera GT Speedster. Its 1.5-litre boxer engine had 110 horses. It was the first Porsche production car that reached a top speed of around 125mph.
1998 saw the 911 introduced to the Speedster range as it became the pinnacle of the G generation that came to the end of its use. The concept car ‘911 Speedster Clubsport’ was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1987 and the first production Speedster arrived in 1988. In those days, Speedster prices started at 110,000 marks (about 55,000 euros). A total of 2,103 Speedsters of the G series was produced.
Even more exclusive was the 911 Carrera Speedster based on the 993 generation, of which there are only two units. The first was developed in 1995 by the Exclusive department for Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. Green, with 17-inch alloy wheels and Tiptronic S transmission, it was based on Carrera’s body. Later a second vehicle was built for American actor Jerry Seinfeld. This comedy celebrity, who was a big fan of the brand and possessed an impressive collection of Porsche models, received a silver Speedster with the more driver friendly manual transmission, 18-inch wheels and 4S bodywork with the wide aspect of the Turbo.
The Speedster disappeared until in 2010 the 911 Speedster arrived to coincide with the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, in 2011. Along with the flat contour of the manual top, a new lower and steeper windscreen gave the car a more striking appearance.
The Porsche 911 Speedster made its world debut at the much coveted Paris Motor Show, October 2010. Only 356 were actually built making it a desirable and limited edition. The Speedster was also launched on the Spanish market in December 2010, with an eye-watering price tag of 308,743 euros.
2018 came and Porsche came up with the 911 Speedster concept car, a sports prototype that was road-ready and fitted the insatiable appetite the German marque now had for such stunning cars. The presentation worked in synergy with the ’70 Years of Porsche Sports’ taking place in Zuffenhausen, Germany.
Historic design principles coupled with a purist concept meant the prototype 911 Speedster reflected the essence of the Porsche brand: driving pleasure above all else.
This two-seater Speedster is the first car of the modern era based on a GT model and was developed by the experienced competition designers within the company. The concept car was shown to the public at the Goodwood Speed Festival, the VI Rennsport Reunion in Laguna Seca, California, and at the Paris Motor Show.