Porsche manages to take a single platform and offer it in more variations than any other automaker could dream of. Case in point: the 911 is now available in 20 slightly different variations so you can be sure your Carrera is slightly different from the other 19 on the block. And we're not just talking about paint colors here.
The Speedster is probably Porsche's most puzzling 911 right now. It shares a 408-hp direct-injection 3.8-liter flat-six-cylinder engine with the GTS coupe and convertible, but starts at an astonishing $204,000. A variety of cosmetic modifications hark back to the 1993 and 1989 Speedster models while the total production run of 356 units reminds us of a more iconic Speedster. If the chopped windshield and double-bubble tonneau cover aren't distinctive enough, consider the fact that Porsche is only offering the Speedster in a bespoke Pure Blue or traditional Carrera White paint.
Those looking for a 911 convertible with exactly 408 horsepower and rear bucket seats will want to consider the Carrera GTS Cabriolet. While the GTS isn't quite as exclusive as the Speedster, it will save you more than $90,000 and give buyers the option of a six-speed manual transmission. We dig the Carrera 4 rear fenders and the black, center-locking 19-inch RS Spyder aluminum wheels look much more menacing than the retro Fuchs-style rims on the Speedster.
Naturally, the GTS is also available in Coupe form to fill the gaping void between Porsche's Carrera S and GT3 models. The 408 horsepower rating is almost exactly in the middle of the S and GT3 models and torque peaks 200 rpm lower than in the Carrera S. Pricing is pretty reasonable (as far as Porsche pricing goes) at $104,050.
The real significance of the expanding 911 model line is that it foreshadows the end of the 997 generation. Porsche rolls out slightly different variants of the 911 platform to keep customers interested in the vehicle as it ages in showrooms. Now that we've seen almost every conceivable version of the 911 we can start counting the days until we see the all-new car.
For Automobile Magazine's complete coverage of the 2010 Paris show, head to the show index page to read about the exciting debuts from Audi, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Lotus, and all your other favorite brands.