As a ‘present’ to itself and to fans around the world on its 70th birthday, Porsche has come out with the 911 Speedster Concept. The road-ready study of an open-top sportscar forges a link between the very first Porsche 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster which ran in 1948, and the Porsche cars of today.

The concept study offers a glimpse of a potential future model although this model may not be in showrooms until 2019. A decision on whether to move ahead will be made in the coming months.

With its pure concept and historically accurate execution, the 911 Speedster concept reflects the brand essence of the company with a pure driving experience being the main emphasis. The drive technology under the two-tone shell of the concept study is derived from the current GT models. It was developed at the Porsche Motorsport Centre, the birth place of the 911 GT2 RS and, most recently, the GT3 RS.

The characteristics of the 911 Speedster Concept include the shorter window frame with a more inclined windscreen and correspondingly shortened side windows. These features create an even stockier profile with a very low fly line which is reminiscent of its predecessors such as the 356 1500 Speedster.

A special rear cover made of carbonfibre connects behind the front seats, covering a roll-over protection structure and featuring a ‘double bubble’, a traditional element of this sportscar design since the 911 Speedster from 1988. Two contrasting black slats between the ‘humps’ add an aerodynamic touch, and a transparent Plexiglas wind deflector features an engraved ‘70 years of Porsche’ logo.

As dictated by the historic original, the 911 Speedster Concept also features a lightweight tonneau cover instead of a convertible top. This cover protects the car interior from rain when parked and is attached using 8 fasteners.

The lightweight principles of the Speedster philosophy continue through into the interior, where the navigation, radio and air conditioning systems have all been eliminated. The full bucket seats have a carbonfibre structure and the light brown Aniline leather covers in Cognac 356 pick up on features from the car’s classic predecessors.

The broad body of the concept car has been borrowed from the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, although the wings, front bonnet and rear cover of the concept are made of lightweight carbonfibre composite material.

The paintwork in the traditional colours of GT Silver and White is reminiscent of Porsche’s early racing cars – as do many of the other carefully crafted details, such as the 1950s-style central fuel tank cap positioned in the middle of the front bonnet, the classic Talbot shape of the exterior mirrors or the unique design of the main headlights. Transparent and opaque surfaces on the headlight covers produce a cross-like effect and are nod to a practice prevalent in Porsche’s early years in motorsport. At the time, the original headlights were taped before races to protect them against stone chipping and to prevent the glass from shattering. The wide B-pillars and the rear are decorated with milled, gold-plated Speedster lettering.

Below the bodywork, the 911 Speedster Concept relies on state-of-the-art components. The chassis essentially comes from the 911 GT3, with contrasting high-gloss polished clover-leaf details on the imposing 21-inch rims in Fuchs design. It is the first time that these wheels are presented with centre locks. The GT developers also contributed the exhaust system with titanium tailpipes and the powertrain, which includes a 6-speed manual transmission. The 6-cylinder flat engine in this minimalist concept study delivers over 500 bhp and can spin at up to 9,000 rpm.

Speedster variants of sportscar models have been part of the company’s history since 1952. The forefather of Speedster models – the 356 1500 America Roadster – had an aluminium body manufactured entirely by hand. It weighed 60 kgs less than the 356 Coupe and its top speed of 175 km/h with its 70-bhp 4-cylinder flat engine was an impressive feat at the time. Featuring slot-in windows for the doors, a folding rain-cover top and lightweight bucket seats, this car developed exclusively for the US market was built in just 16 copies and already embodied several key elements of the Speedster design.

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[Chips Yap]

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