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The Perfect New Porsche 911 Speedster Honors the 1980s

Wherein I try to emulate the first 911 Speedster as closely as possible.

In many ways, Porsche would like you to think of the iconic 1950s 356 Speedster when you lay eyes on the new 911 Speedster. That’s a stretch, as a modern 911 carries far too much girth and an overload of luxuries to truly compare to that stripped-down vintage special. But that doesn’t mean the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster should be ignored. It carries a proper motorsports-based engine, a fettled, 510-hp version of the glorious 9000-rpm powerplant found in the 911 GT3, and, happily, a six-speed manual is the only gearbox on offer. Porsche built the first 911-based Speedster as a prototype in 1985, basing it on a Turbo-look 911 Cabriolet. The minimalist rear-engine sports car was the brainchild of the late Peter Schutz, CEO of Porsche from 1981 to 1987. My spec for the new 911 Speedster would stay simple, emulating that original mid-’80s prototype as closely as possible.

Exterior

Paint: Guards Red—the same red found on the 1985 prototype. It’s the only color option as far as I’m concerned.

Wheels: There are four choices of finish for the same 20-inch design. I’d go with satin aluminum for $690, the same look first offered on the limited-edition Porsche 911 R. Among the other options, the standard satin black isn’t my style, the $710 black with red outer lip route is too “Honda Civic Type R” cheesy.

Interior

Seats: I like black, copying that original 911 Speedster interior. The standard full bucket seats (versus no-charge, 18-way power seats) are a better fit for the 911 Speedster and should allow you to sit lower—perfect considering the chopped windshield. I’d pay $3480 for the full leather interior upgrade because that’s what the ’80s Speedster had. Some buyers will certainly go with red interior stitching, but the original car was properly Germanic in that it was simple with no color details inside. A lighter cognac interior is available and looks great, but it’s only available if you order the $24,510 Heritage Design package.

Trim: The only option is carbon fiber unless you go with that Heritage Design Package, which adds painted (GT Silver Metallic) trim. I’d prefer a brushed aluminum option like what’s found on the 911 GT3 but, alas, it’s not offered.

Options/Packages: The extended-range fuel tank only costs $140 and bumps the standard 16.9-gallon capacity to 23.7. It’s not really needed on a car that’s likely to see limited use, but Porsche says it only adds weight when you actually use the extra capacity and that it takes up zero additional front cargo space. I’d also spec the no-charge floor mats and air conditioning. There’s really no reason to go without A/C on a modern car. Plus, that black interior will surely get hot in the summer.

What to Skip

Oh my, there’s a ton of superfluous stuff. That Heritage Design Package adds some nice details including black brake calipers (replacing the bright and unattractive yellow ones), but it forces you to have GT Silver Metallic paint. While it’s a lovely color, I want Guards Red, and the $25K commanded by the package is a load of money for just cosmetic details. Plus, this pricey package tries to turn the 911 Speedster into a modern 356 Speedster. Again, that’s not my goal with this build.

I love the standard black stone guards on the rear fenders versus the no-charge clear option—the original 911 Speedster had the contrasting configuration too—but I don’t need the front-end lift system ($2590) or the tacked-on chronograph sitting on the dash for $310. The $1600 Bose audio and no-charge voice control aren’t needed, as the standard eight-speaker audio is fine for a minimalist car. Note that, unlike in Europe, the U.S. 911 Speedster includes a standard infotainment screen due to the federally required rear camera (despite the photos from the Porsche USA online configurator showing otherwise). Heated seats ($700) would be nice on a convertible but they aren’t available with the standard buckets. Finally, the plethora of available exterior and interior form-not-function extras simply add dollars and fluff to what I see as a basic, open-top sports car. That’s certainly not what Peter Schutz envisioned for the 911 Speedster some 35 years ago.

Total Cost

$280,060 (base price: $275,750). This is awfully expensive for what is basically just a 911 GT3 with the roof chopped off, as the Speedster carries roughly a $115,000 premium over the GT3. But, hey, it’s limited to 1,948 units, and what price exclusivity, right?

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2019 Porsche 911

MSRP $103,400 Carrera Cabriolet