The last Porsche 911 Speedster to be auctioned to raise coronavirus relief fund
Coronavirus is doing strange things in the car world.
Ford, General Motors, McLaren, and Tesla have turned their factories into outposts for medical equipment manufacturing; Bentley is holding cocktail hours for journalists, via Zoom; and Audi, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz have released printable sketchesof iconic models soenthusiasts can color them at home.
Now Porsche is auctioning off what could be one of the last non-turbocharged 911s ever made. The automaker will sell its final seventh-generation 911, a Speedster, in an onlineauction with RM Sotheby’s on April 15. It wasthe last911 to roll off the production line as part ofthe wildly successful generation known internally as “991," which Porsche started in 2011 and ended on Dec. 20,2019.The caris offered at no reserve.All proceeds from the sale will benefit the United Way Worldwide fund for Covid-19 pandemic relief.
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“This car is a significant part of our history,"saidKlaus Zellmer,president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America. He was calling from his home in Atlanta, where he has worked since Porsche offices there closed two and a half weeks ago.“With the last of anything like this, you want to make sure it’s in a customer’s hands who appreciates its uniqueness, so it’s a chance to sell part of our history for a good cause."
A previous Porsche, the special 911 Turbo known as “Project Gold,' took $3.4 million in a charity auction sale in 2018. But Zellmer was careful to temper pricing expectations for this auctionset under wildlydifferent circumstances.
“My hopes are high, but let’s stay realistic," Zellmer said. “When we sold that Project Gold car it was a completely different time, and that car was a completely different project. I certainly hope we get a really good price on the [Speedster].Let’s see what people do."
The 911Speedster for saleis a two-door car with a removable fabric roof. It is considered highly collectible becauseit is the last of the 991 range and the possibleswan song of Porsche 911s that use naturally aspirated, rather than turbocharged, engines. (Porsche has not officially announced the end of its naturally aspirated range.) The Speedsters are a limited-edition model that debuted in the 1950s with such variantsas the 356 Carrera GT Speedster. They were producedsporadically through the following decades with examples such as the so-called 911 “G-Body" Speedster of 1988 and 2010’s 997 Speedster, which was limited tojust 356 units worldwide.
The current version debuted as a concept study in 2018 at a crowded gala at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Porsche brass and renowned driving champions attended the event, which culminated with the unveiling of a 70th-anniversary edition Speedster painted in white and silver racinglivery. Porsche made just 1,948 of them, which had a starting price of $274,500.
Porsche devotees drool overSpeedsters for their naturally aspiratedengines (no turbolag here!) and associated stick-shifttransmissions; such old-fashionedaccoutrements are thought to offerthe purest form of driving attainable in a modern car.
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Indeed, whoever wins the GT Silver MetallicSpeedster that’s up for auction will find it plucky and engaging to drive, as aggressive as a GT3 and unmistakable with its rounded humps on the rear of the car, minimalist interior,and very low roadster-body style. With a zero to60 mph surge of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 192 mph, the 502-horsepower Speedster feels like a cannonball from behind the wheel: It’s tightly constructed and nimble, with a quick-shifting, six-speed gearbox and a throaty engine roar.
The winning bid will also secure a“911 Speedster Heritage Design Chronograph" wristwatch made by Porsche Design; a letter authenticatingthat the chassis number applied to this car is indeed the last of the 991 carsproduced; and a private tour of the Porsche development centerand test track in Weissach, Germany.
“The engineers in Weissach arevery shy when it comes to letting anybody into that cradle of the brand," Zellmer said. “But in this special time, they were all for it. So it’s a package that usually money can’t buy, but in this time actually there is a price to it."
Zellmer declinedto comment on whether Porsche would someday make more analogue-styleSpeedsters. Current market indicators and the prevalence of turbo engines and paddle-shifting transmissionsacross the rest of Porsche’s lineupimply thatchances are slim.
The auction will open for bidding at 11 a.m. East Coast time on Wednesday, April 15. Biddingwill close a week later, at 1 p.m. East Coast time onWednesday, April 22.