New 911 Speedster pays tribute to Porsche’s storied motorsport past

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The new 911 Speedster has a very unique look from up front. (Photo: Porsche)

Last year, Porsche celebrated its 70th anniversary by producing the one-off 911 Speedster Concept, a beautiful modernization of its first-ever model, the 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster from 1948. This sent the motoring press and many fans of the brand into an uproar about future production, resulting in the 2019 911 Speedster seen here. 

The Speedster is now available to order from you local Porsche retailer for just $312,500, a mere $149,200 more than the 911 GT3 Coupe that it’s based on. And yes, that means the all-new Speedster rides on outgoing 991 hardware, not the upcoming 2020 911 (992) that’s been top of the news headlines lately. 

We’re guessing the exclusive club of 1,948 buyers receiving their limited edition Speedsters toward the end of 2019 won’t care one whit about which chassis it rides on, chiefly because the Speedster is gorgeous and 991 underpinnings have been arguably Porsche’s best yet, at least when uprated to GT3 or GT2 guise. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The 911 Speedster’s rear design is even more distinct, the model shown here with its special Heritage Package. (Photo: Porsche)

Also notable, the renewed GT3 Coupe won’t arrive in 992 form for quite some time, and therefore the only way you’re going to get your hands on a 500-plus horsepower 4.0-litre flat-six crammed aft of the rear axle, capable of a screaming 9,000-rpm redline and generous 346 lb-ft of torque, is to opt for a current GT3 or choose the instantly collectable 911 Speedster, the newer model in fact good for a minor increase to 502 horsepower thanks to throttle bodies added from the GT3 R race car. 

The results of all this go-fast tech is a 4.0-second run from zero to 100km/h, which is just 0.1 seconds off the GT3’s pace, while its terminal velocity is 310 km/h, a mere 10 km/h slower than the GT3, despite not having its massive rear wing. 

What’s more, when you factor in that the Speedster only provides Porsche’s GT Sport six-speed manual transmission, which is also pulled from the GT3 and shaves four kilos from the seven-speed manual used for the regular 911, that standstill sprint to 100km/h score is even more amazing, because Porsche’s paddle shift-actuated dual-clutch PDK automated transmission is always quicker. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The Speedster includes a six-speed manual gearbox from the GT3. (Photo: Porsche)

Together with the GT3 powertrain, which comes with dynamic engine mounts from the GT3 by the way, the Speedster utilizes the supercar-beating model’s uprated chassis that incorporates a uniquely calibrated rear axle steering system, although this is where similarities between the two Porsche models end, because body mods are so significant that it’s hard to tell whether the two cars have much of anything in common. These include lower cut front and side windows, twin “streamliners” shaped from carbon fibre on the rear deck, these completely consuming the rear seating area, carbon fibre composite front fenders and hood, front and rear fascias formed from polyurethane, plus a lightweight manual fabric top. 

It was smart for Porsche to upgrade the roof for easier day-to-day usability, as the concept only featured a button-down tonneau cover that would’ve caused nothing but aggravation to its potential owners, while the automaker also deleted the “X” markings on the headlamp lenses that stylistically reminded history buffs about the tape once used to make sure broken glass didn’t end up on the racetrack to puncture tires; the removal of the 1950s-type aluminum fuel filler cap on the concept’s hood for fast refueling of the gas tank below; plus replacement of the Talbot mirror housings that were popular back when the 356 was around, to stock side mirrors. 

Fans of that now highly collectible classic 356 will no doubt be happy that Porsche left the gold-coloured “Speedster” lettering on the thick B-pillars and rear engine cover unmolested, but this said you’ll need to add a special upgrade package (see below) to get them. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The regular Speedster gets a modern look… (Photo: Porsche)

All the carbon fibre mentioned earlier should make it clear that Porsche wanted its Speedster to be as light as possible, with the premium brand even going so far as to delete the stereo and air conditioning in base trim (they’re optional), but with a focus on performance they added a standard set of beefed up, lighter weight carbon ceramic brakes, boasting bright yellow six-piston aluminum monobloc fixed calipers in the front and four-piston aluminium monobloc fixed calipers at back, these slicing a whopping 50 percent of weight from the regular 911’s cast iron rotors. Ringing those brakes are centre-lock Satin Black-painted 20-inch alloy wheels on Ultra High Performance (UHP) tires, aiding grip even further. 

Looking inside, the Speedster includes lighter weight door panels with storage nets and door pulls, plus the standard black leather can be improved with red stitching on the instrument panel and headrests with embroidered “Speedster” lettering. The door pulls come in red with the upgrade, while Porsche adds a unique GT Sport steering wheel infused with a red centre marker at the 12 o’clock marker. The Speedster interior also features a beautiful carbon fibre shift knob, and carbon fibre doorsill kick plates with “Speedster” monikers. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
While the Heritage Package more classic touches. (Photo: Porsche)

Those attracted to the new 911 Speedster for its classic proportions and design can opt for a special Heritage Design Package that comes much closer to last year’s concept and ‘50s-era 356 Speedsters. The upgrade adds white front bumper and fender “arrows” on top of GT Silver Metallic paint, while this is how you get the aforementioned gold Speedster lettering too, plus classic Porsche crests. Also, the door-mounted racing-style number stickers can be removed if you don’t like them, but then again if you choose to keep them you can also include your own personal number. Lastly, the upgraded Heritage interior gets two-tone leather with classic Porsche crests sewn onto the headrests, plus body-colour trim gets added to the dash and seatbacks. 

If the new 911 Speedster sounds like your kind of car, be sure to call your local Porsche dealer quickly, and while you’re waiting for delivery of this ultimate drop-top, enjoy a couple of videos below:
 
 
The new Porsche 911 Speedster: First Driving Footage (1:13):
 

 
The new Porsche 911 Speedster: Highlight Film (2:10):
 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann  

Photo credits: Porsche

Porsche smashes Road America and Road Atlanta lap records with 911 GT2 RS

2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS
The 2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS blasted past the previous Road America track record by nearly 2 seconds. (Photo: Porsche)

Only last fall the brilliant Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR set a street-legal lap record at the renowned Nürburgring Norschleife race track in Germany, which only remains bested by a modified version of the Stuttgart brand’s own 919 Hybrid EVO World Endurance Championship (WEC) racer, but now the globe’s winningest sports car manufacturer claims a new production car record-setting time on Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s ultra-challenging Road America track. 

2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS
The GT2 RS, shown here on Road America, boosts the 911 into supercar territory. (Photo: Porsche)

The 14-turn, 6.5-km racetrack combines long high-speed straight-ways, tight turns and a bevy of undulations, making it easy taking for most any Porsche 911, although when that 911 is a 2019 GT2 RS it’s game over for any competitors. As it is, Road America has yet to become popular for attempting track records, with the current title-holder being a GT2 RS privateer that managed an ultra-quick 2:17.04 lap time last year, so Porsche was really trying to beat itself, but when competition seems so scarce what’s there left to do? How about carving 1.87 seconds off the just noted lap time for a new record of 2:15.17 minutes? Not too shabby, and it only took 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans class winner David Donohue two laps to do it. 

2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The GT3 RS can rev to 9,000 rpm, therefore delivering an entirely different kind of sports car experience than the GT2 RS. (Photo: Porsche)

As if that wasn’t good enough, Porsche doubled down on its RS track time with another outing, but this time with the less formidable 911 GT3 RS. Even though engine output is 200 horsepower less convincing, Donohue managed a surprisingly quick best-of-three 2:18.57-minute charge, the high-revving flat-six engine often passing right by its lofty 8,800-rpm redline during the process. The fact that the 911 GT3 RS’ track time remained so close to the GT2 RS record is a testament to its impressive handling, especially when factoring in Road America’s long high-speed straights and plentiful sharp corners. 

2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS
The 911 GT2 RS pushing hard on the even more curvaceous Road Atlanta race course. (Photo: Porsche)

Both GT2 and GT3 RS models wore road-legal Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R N0 production rubber, these optional for Canadian RS owners, while it should also be noted that the Road Atlanta event’s lap times and vehicle telemetry were recorded and validated by Racelogic. 

Not to be satisfied with just two racetrack lap records, Porsche took this 911 GT2 RS to Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia only last month, and with Randy Pobst in the driver’s seat managed another record-setting time of just 1:24.88 minutes, which incidentally trumped the outgoing record-holding Corvette ZR1 by nearly two seconds, not to mention the previously mentioned Porsche 911 GT3 RS by 1.36 seconds. 

So why is Porsche taking its RS models to all of these tracks to break records? Possibly it’s due to a new 2020 911 arriving later this year, and the need to make hay while the sun shines, so to speak. This said it’s not like a redesigned GT2 RS will be available immediately upon the new 911’s arrival, which means we’ll likely see plenty of additional racetrack records smashed soon. 

Until that happens, enjoy some record-breaking videos below:
 

 
Porsche 911 GT2 RS sets production car lap record at Road America – David Donohue onboard camera (2:25):
 

 
911 GT3 RS completes Road America lap in just 2:18,57 minutes (2:28):
 

 
Porsche 911 GT2 RS Record Lap at Road Atlanta – Highlight Film with Randy Pobst Onboard Camera (2:18):
 

 
Porsche 911 GT2 RS sets production car lap record at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (1:39):
 

 
Onboard video of the 911 GT3 RS at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (1:36):
 

 
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche
 

Watch how Porsche Adaptive Aerodynamics enhance 2020 911’s performance (video)

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S
The new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera uses adaptive aerodynamics, including an active rear spoiler, to improve safety while adding speed and all-weather grip. (Photo: Porsche)

Who isn’t excited to see the new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera on the road, let alone experience one first hand? While the latest sports car of sports cars might look to some like a mild makeover of a classic design, it’s a radical departure to those who live and breathe Porsche. 

Most applaud its fresh new styling, although some have criticized its backside when its attractively tapered deck lid transforms into a rather unorthodox rear wing, but no matter how much you like or dislike the car’s design, the method behind Porsche’s madness is hard to argue against. 

Less noticeable than the protruding rear wing are a set of active shutters that hide within the front corner grilles, which open above 70 km/h to minimize aerodynamic drag, while at 90 km/h the just noted rear spoiler gets raised into its most fuel efficient Eco position to once again reduce air resistance, although the aero system’s purpose changes from eco stewardship to maximum speed and grip at 170 km/h, when the front shutters open and the rear spoiler moves farther upward into its Performance position. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S
The rear wing moves into three different angles, depending on need. (Photo: Porsche)

What’s more, as part of this Performance position the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) sport chassis automatically drops down by 10 millimetres in order to improve its aero efficiency further, this sole feature adding four seconds per lap to the 911’s Nürburgring performance. 

The 911’s adaptive aero also adjusts for new Wet mode, plus the active rear spoiler will literally spring into action when emergency braking is needed by automatically canting farther upward into its “Air Brake” mode, adding downward pressure over the rear wheels for greater braking grip. 

How does it work? Like the previous 911, the new model’s sculpted body panels provide precise paths for oncoming air to flow overtop, underneath and around the entire car so as to minimize drag and maximize downforce, a balancing act that’s always challenging to perfect, but the new 911’s adaptive aerodynamics take it a step further by letting that air vent into the front corner intakes, pass through each radiator, and then flow around the front wheels like an air curtain in order to reduce turbulence. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S
When the active air shutters are closed, air moves around the car as shown, and when open, air moves through the front intakes. (Photo: Porsche)

This airflow continues along the 911’s doors before moving up and over the rear fenders into the engine vents mounted below the rear window, which feeds the 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine’s new air-to-air intercoolers, after which it gets directed down and out rear vents at each side of the back bumper. 

For a more visual insight, make sure to watch the video provided by Porsche below, and don’t forget to check out the photo gallery above, where we’ve included some close up shots of the rear wing as well as some illustrations of frontal and rear airflow.

The Porsche 911 – Adaptive Aerodynamics (2:56):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

Porsche wows CIAS attendees with new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
Lighter and more potent thanks to a 425-hp H6, the new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is a formidable track weapon. (Photo: Porsche)

A significant coup for last month’s Canadian International Auto Show was the introduction of the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, a car rooted in the legendary brand’s racing heritage. The track-only Cayman, which was revealed in January at the Daytona International Speedway, made its first official motor show appearance at the Toronto event. 

The updated 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is now in its second generation, the first arriving on the motorsport scene in 2016 sans “718” script on the rear deck lid. Unlike the previous version, the new GT4 Clubsport can be had in two forms: first as a “Trackday” car set up for “ambitious amateur racing drivers,” and second as “a ‘Competition’ variant for national and international motor racing,” the latter to notably be used for this year’s GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series. 

Ahead of pointing out differences, both 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport models receive an updated version of the old 3.8-litre flat-six “boxer” engine, now good for 425 horsepower at 7,800 rpm, a 40-horsepower improvement over the previous 2016 car, while torque is now 4 lb-ft greater, to 313 lb-ft at 6,600 rpm. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
The GT4 Clubsport comes standard with some impressive aero hardware. (Photo: Porsche)

Of note, this is the first six-cylinder 718 Cayman application since the car’s 2017 model year debut, due to the current 982-generation only using a turbocharged four-cylinder in various states of tune, causing some pundits to question whether a road-worthy Cayman with a horizontally opposed six-cylinder positioned just ahead of its rear axle will bolster the 718 Cayman ranks. 

That new GT4 Clubsport flat-six, which feeds on 98 octane Super Plus unleaded gasoline, packs a 12.5:1 compression ratio, integrated dry sump lubrication, racing-optimized engine and transmission water cooling with thermal management, four-valve technology with adjustable camshaft phasing and VarioCam Plus variable valve timing, a racing-optimized Continental SDI 9 electronic engine management system, plus more. 

Where the previous GT4 Clubsport shifted gears through a short-throw six-speed manual transmission, the new 718 version will solely utilize Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK automated gearbox, albeit with only six forward gears instead of the usual seven. The new model also features a reinforced dual mass flywheel, a racing-optimized electronic control unit, a racing-optimized mechanical rear axle differential lock, plus an internal pressure oil lubrication system boasting active oil cooling. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
The GT4 Clubsport requires a trailer for transporting it to the track. (Photo: Porsche)

Additional modifications over road-going 718 Caymans include implementation of the 911 GT3 Cup car’s lightweight spring-strut front suspension; front and rear height, camber and track adjustable dampers; fixed shock absorbers with the Trackday car, or three-way racing shocks with rebound and two-stage high- and low-speed compression adjustment for the Competition; front and rear forged suspension links with optimized stiffness, double shear mountings, and high-performance spherical bearings; a three-hole design anti-roll bar up front; an adjustable blade-type anti-roll bar in the back; and five-bolt wheel hubs. 

The new rims are single-piece forged light alloy wheels wearing a new “weight-optimized” design, and rolling on 25/64 front and 27/68 rear Michelin transportation rubber, while Michelin also supplies the slick/wet tires that measure 25/64-18 and 27/68-18 front and rear, too. 

What’s more, behind those wheels and tires are racing-spec brakes that feature four multi-piece, ventilated and grooved steel discs measuring 380 millimetres in diameter, plus racing brake pads, aluminum mono-bloc six-piston front and four-piston rear racing calipers with “Anti Knock Back” piston springs, plus a brake booster with the Trackday version or brake balance adjustment via a balance bar system with the Competition model. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
A closeup of the rear wing shows an intricate weave of organic fibres that are apparently sourced from agricultural by-products. (Photo: Porsche)

Despite the GT4 Clubsport’s factory-installed (FIA Art. 277 certified) safety cage, plus its 911 GT3-inspired front spoiler and sizeable fixed rear wing, which appear mostly carryover from the previous Clubsport, the race-spec Cayman weighs in at just 1,320 kilos, making it lighter than the outgoing model. 

Mass in mind, the GT4 Clubsport’s body structure is comprised of aluminum-steel composite and therefore light in weight; while additional features include a hood and rear deck lid fastened in place via quick-release latches; an (FIA Art. 275a certified) escape hatch in the roof; an FT3 fuel safety cell that measures 80 litres with the Trackday or 115 litres with the Competition model, both featuring an FIA-compliant “Fuel Cut Off” safety valve; pre-installed mounting points for a three-piston air jack system for the Trackday, or a factory-installed three-piston air jack system with the Competition; and FIA-certified towing loops front and rear. 

Also, a motorsport centre console with “enhanced functionality and adapted usability” gets added to the instrument panel, a six-point safety harness is included with its single Recaro race bucket driver’s seat, which also includes two-way fore and aft adjustments as well as an adjustable padding system, and lastly provisions are made for a safety net. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
I think we all want to get our hands on this race-spec steering wheel. (Photo: Porsche)

While safety is critical, and improving performance paramount for any new racing car, with Porsche having clearly claimed that its new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport improves overall drivability and therefore should provide faster lap times than its predecessor, it’s surprising that Porsche also put time and effort into its environmental initiatives, not normally a key issue in this class of sports car. The end result is a production-first racecar technology that could potentially find more widespread use: natural-fibre composite body parts. 

The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport’s door skins and rear wing (specifically the wing flap, sideblades, and “swan neck” mounts) are actually formed from an organic fibre mix that’s sourced from agricultural by-products such as hemp or flax fibres. Porsche says the new age components weigh approximately the same as if made from carbon-fibre, while their strength is also similar. 

Specific to each model, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday gets fixed shock absorbers, plus ABS, ESC, and traction control assistance systems for easier control at high speeds, the latter of which can all be deactivated. Improving comfort and safety respectively, the Trackday also includes air-conditioning and a handheld fire extinguisher, while it can be serviced at Porsche Centres throughout Canada. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
No PCM touchscreen here, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport’s centre stack is all business. (Photo: Porsche)

You’ll need your own team of mechanics for the Competition model, however, and one of them will need to be well versed in three-stage shock adjustment, while you’ll need to figure out how to adjust the front/rear bias of the brake balance system yourself. Additionally, your pit stop team will be able to change the tires quickly thanks to its aforementioned integrated air jacks, and the larger safety fuel cell will make sure time off the track will be kept to a minimum. 

Safety features not yet mentioned include an automated fire extinguishing system, and a quick release race steering wheel pulled from the 911 GT3 R. 

Priced considerably higher than a street legal 718 Cayman, which starts at just $63,700, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday model can be had for $216,500, whereas the same car with the Competition package starts at $242,000. 

Interested parties should contact Porsche Motorsport North America in Carson, California, or alternatively your local Porsche retailer, which no doubt would be happy to put you in touch. 

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 

Photo credits: Porsche 

Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.