Gorgeous and rare, the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster makes its debut in New York.
The flat-six engine revs to an impressive 9,000 rpm as it cranks out 500 horsepower.
Expect it at U.S. dealers near the end of the year but the ordering windows open soon.
Who says nothing interesting ever comes out of the New York International Auto Show? Porsche just dropped a new 911 Speedster powered by the engine found in the GT3 and GT3 RS. And great googly-moogly can this thing rip. They’ll sell it to anyone with a check that won’t bounce, but you better get in line now for your 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster.
That’s sort of the bad news or, more accurately, half of the bad news.
Porsche is only making 1,948 of the 2019 911 Speedster. Why such an odd number? Because 1948 was when Porsche got their start, and to celebrate that anniversary, Zuffenhausen is making the Speedster on a limited run. The other half of the bad news is this: $275,750. That’s how big that check must be before you can drive it. Sure, sure, that’s a lot less than, oh, a Ferrari Pista Aperta, but Porsches have always been the value-conscious choice. Still, that’s nearly 300-thousand dollars, or about the equivalent of three-bedroom home in suburban Indianapolis.
Then again, a three-bedroom home in suburban Indianapolis won’t blow your hair back like the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster.
And the Speedster can do this thanks in large part to the naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine, sourced from the current 911 GT3 and GT3 RS. Spinning up to 9,000 rpm, it’s good for 502 horsepower and 346 lb-ft. of torque which (checks slide rule, punches some numbers into calculator, consults astrolabe) is a fricken ton. Given this thing tips the scales at only 3,230 lbs., the Speedster should simply fly down to the next corner. Which it does. With ease. Zero to 60 mph ensues in just 3.8 seconds. Top speed is 192 mph.
If erection lasts for more than four hours, consult your doctor.
The Speedster is more than just an engine (I’m surprised I’m saying that like its a bad thing). Porsche cut down the windshield and side windows and dropped the height of the manually-operated, lightweight fabric top. This is always a cool choice, both for chop-top hot-rodders like myself and for harkening back to the original Speedster and its cut-down greenhouse look. Carrying on with that semi-retro look are the two headrest fairings – Porsche calls them streamliners for some reason – on the rear decklid. These are carbon fiber for a bunch of obvious reasons.
Speaking of weight savings, the interior of the 911 Speedster is nicely paired back to the more-or-less essentials. The door panels are lightweight and have storage nets and fabric loop pulls for weight reduction. More weight savings measures are found in the front luggage compartment lid, front fenders, and rear the decklid. Each are carbon fiber, while the front and rear fascias are lightweight polyurethane.
The Spartan Approach
That fabric top? No power up/down for you, my friend. Manual operation only. Air conditioning? Gone. (But it can be added at no cost if you so desire.) And the final weight-saving cherry on top: the six-speed manual transmission. This saves nine lbs. compared to the seven-speed manual transmission in other 911s, and almost 40 lbs. compared to the PDK dual clutch tranny. Yes, the PDK is a better way to shift gears. Yes, you’re a neo-Luddite if you think old-school manuals are the way to go.
But you can keep all that to yourself when it comes to the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster.
The chassis is a derivative of the 911 GT3, with a re-calibrated rear axle steering system and dynamic engine mounts for a supreme amount of precision and stability. The wheels are even kinda attractive: 20-inch center lock, satin black jobs wrapped with high-performance tires. Porsche doesn’t say but they’ll probably end up being Michelins or Contis for seriously high levels of grip.
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes are standard and save about 50 percent in overall weight from the cast iron setup. According to the company, it delivers “very powerful and consistent braking performance.” Which is a nicely understated way of saying it’ll nearly pop your eyeballs out if you mash on the binders.
It has always been this way: Porsche makes great brakes!
And A Few Extras
Oh, and for those of you swayed by tchotchkes, buyers of the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster will get a Porsche Design 911 Speedster Chronograph timepiece (i.e. watch). It comes with tons of gee-gaws and stems and calibrations and ways to calculate the rotational mass of the cup holder if you were driving on Venus and stuff like that.
If you’d like, you can get red stitching for the dashboard and a “Speedster” script on the headrests of the black leather seats. The door pulls are also red and so is the 12 o’clock center marker on the GT Sport steering wheel.
The 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster will be available for order on May 7th. Expect it in U.S. dealers near the end of the year.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.