Porsche Speedsters: 356 to 997 driven
Speedster: undoubtedly the nine coolest letters in the Porsche lexicon. One mention of this legendary Zuffenhausen moniker brings to mind images of the glamour of the Hollywood scene in the Fifties.
First appearing in pre-A 356 form in 1954, the Speedster became intrinsically linked with American car culture and Porsche’s formative years. However, the iconic status garnered by the original car meant that the Porsche Speedster sub-brand soon transcended its early US-based roots.
Over three decades after the last production 356A Speedster shell rolled out of Stuttgart’s Karosseriewerk Reutter, the alternative open-top Porsche was reborn on the 911 Carrera 3.2 platform.
Zuffenhausen’s board had recognised that the company’s heritage needed to be celebrated and ever since, the Speedster has become a limited edition addition to the 911 range.
While it may have been intended for the American market, the decision to reimagine the Speedster aesthetic on certain generations of 911 has seen Stuttgart create some of the most sought after cars in the company’s history.
Now, for the first time, we’ve gathered all four generations back together to chart the Speedster’s storied history and get behind the wheel of the coolest quartet of Porsches ever created.
We start in 1950 when Porsche’s sole US importer, Max Hoffmann, requested a special model of the 356 to appeal to the burgeoning postwar US market. A year later, Porsche presented the aluminium-bodied Type 540 to Hoffmann.
Known as the America Roadster, the car was a commercial failure with only 17 sold when it was released in 1952. It’s $4,600 list price was simply too high to compete with the influx of British and American sports cars that were flooding the market.
With America still accounting for 33 per cent of all 356 sales, though, Hoffmann persisted. The result was the pre-A 356 Speedster, a cut-price, low spec sports car designed with sporting pretensions.
To read our full history and test drive of every production Porsche Speedster, pick up Total 911 issue 129 in store. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.