Six Decades, Seven Porsches

Brian Konoske

2011 Boxster Spyder

Some cars are intentional collectibles, built in limited numbers and meant to be stashed away until they show up at a Bonhams auction thirty years out. The new 911 Speedster is like that. The Boxster Spyder is not -- hey, they'll build as many as we care to buy. But I suspect that the Spyder will become an unintentional collector's item, one of those cars that's misunderstood in its own time and fully appreciated only through the lens of history.

Because, on the face of it, the Boxster S makes far more sense. The S cedes very little performance to gain a lot of usability -- power top, comfy seats, more forgiveness in the suspension. The Spyder, then, is a litmus test for your automotive priorities: are you willing to cram yourself into that fixed-rake, carbon-fiber mop-bucket of a seat and wrestle with that Ikea build-it-yourself roof merely to ditch 176 pounds in the name of Zen driving purity? I suspect that a fair percentage of Spyders will return to the dealer with a couple thousand miles on the odometer after the original owners concede defeat.

Most companies would have a pretty hard time drawing a comparison between anything from the '50s and the cars they make now. But in spirit, it's not hard to see the principles of the '58 Speedster -- and the '73 Targa and '87 911 Cab-alive and well in the Spyder: a raspy engine behind you, the sun overhead, light weight, direct controls. It was a fine formula sixty years ago. It still is today.

Back at the dawn of its U.S. introduction, Porsche played its own game, charging big money for cars that prioritized feel and agility over outright power. The Boxster Spyder sticks to the same recipe as the 356 Speedster-maybe it's not the outright fastest thing you can buy for the money, but damn if it doesn't feel great to have that wheel in your hands.

I have recently parted with my 1987 Diamond Blue Metallic coupe. It was by far the most enjoyable car I have ever owned. I removed the cat, added a custom exhaust from B&B, installed a cold air ram system and had it chipped. The car put out way over 300 hp. It was a joy to drive just to listen to the engine. The pedal position was never an issue and nothing short of a turbo is a better car, even today than a late 80's 911 Carrera
And one last thing (this article really bugged me, obviously). Bump steer is not a twitch in the steering wheel when hitting a seem. Bump steer is from a suspension bottoming out, and a typically problem in "slammed" cars that have been lowered by hacks. Come on guys, really. And yes, it was common for sports cars to not have power steering in the 80's. Emphasis on sports cars...the typical chevy Impala did have power steering.
Too bad cars have all grown by one third or more on average. At 6'3" and 220 pounds, I never found a classic 911 too small. And I never had trouble adjusting to the way the pedals are mounted on the floor. The humorous exaggeration doesn't work in this case.
The author had never driven an air cooled Porsche? What is he, 16? At 42, I didn't think I was old enough to have nothing in common with the current crop of auto journalists. I recently read another auto journalist state he'd never driven a Z3. That dude must be all of 8 years old. And he pretends to know what the quintessential 80's yuppie car is? (It's a grey BMW btw). My 86 Carrera still keeps up with most anything on the track. And it's a rock solid daily driver.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles