Those who follow such things remember fondly the first 356 Speedster, a stripped-down, elemental sports car for racing—simple and fast, $2,995 in 1954. (See photo at end of story.) It was a hit and helped establish Porsche as a leading sports-car company in the U.S.
The new (basically Carrera GTS) Speedster, to be shown in Paris and based on the 911, will be fast, far from simple, and cost something like $225,000 (based on European prices) when it comes to the U.S. early next year. One source claims a $204,000 MSRP. Only 356 copies will be made, so exclusivity is assured.
As TopGear noted, “there aren’t very many people in the world who are prepared to shell out Lambo Gallardo Spyder money for a 911 Carrera S cabrio with a stubby windscreen.” And, like the two previous Speedster incarnations after the 356, the car is bulbous-ugly besides.
Porsche has developed somewhat of a reputation for recycling and remaking slightly different iterations of basically the same car—and charging more money for each one. The company has been doing that for years, with some success, in its 911 model.
Today, we hear, Porsche is announcing two more offerings to its already-expanding lineup: a small midengine version of the VW BlueSport and a new small SUV. These cars sound like good ideas, but the company is also planning new trim versions of every car in its line—from Boxster to 911—and of course the out-of-sight 918 Spyder will be sought by the favored few.
Porsche wants to move beyond its niche as a relatively small producer of performance cars to a broader-based company under Volkswagen. One cannot fault them for that. But they seem to be moving awfully fast, and the new Speedster simply has no excuse for existing, other than to sucker money from seekers after what they think is automotive exclusivity.
Worse still for its brand, Porsche is trading on a tradition to which the new car owes absolutely nothing.
Would you be interested in a new Speedster if you had the bread? What would be your alternatives?