The Porsche 550 saw production from 1953 through 1956 as both a spyder and a coupe model. Both models saw use primarily in racing, but they also saw limited sale in the public. The most famous 550 was James Deans’ “Little Bastard,” which ended up being the car that he was killed in.
Despite its somber history, the 550 is one of the most desired Porsches, garnering upwards of $3.7 million for the 550-01 – the first 550 built. Well, not every car buff has multiple millions of dollars, but just about every one wants to get his or her hands on the 550-01. Vintech has solved this quandary by releasing its P550 Tribute – “P550” standing for “Porsche 550,” of course.
Many tribute cars end up being complete failures and do more damage than good, and the 550 is one tough car to mimic. So how does Vintech’s version stack up?
Back in January, Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller said that the world was just not ready for the long rumored baby Boxster - or 550 as it is believed to be called. However, now it seems that Mueller is investigating the decision a bit further and coming up with a different response because in a recent interview he said the car was definitely still in the works.
Mueller said that Porsche held a focus group last month to see if the market was ready for a new A-segment roadster. He didn’t reveal the results, but he did say that it would be more a matter of when; "when is the right time? Now? Three years from now? Six or seven?" The timing has to be just right and so does the car because Porsche doesn’t want to risk introducing a new lower-priced, entry-level model and end up damaging the company’s brand image. Until those details are ironed out, Porsche will simply not move forward with a decision: "We’re in no hurry. We have the freshest and youngest model line we’ve had in our history."
If built, the 550 will be powered by a four-cylinder engine with an output between 200 to 300 HP. The new model will also feature a light chassis and will obey all the future fuel economy regulations.
This may put a little hiccup in Volkswagen’s plans to increase sales to 800,000 units a year by 2018, but according to Volkswagen of America boss Jonathan Browning, "we don’t need to keep adding to our portfolio of models. We’re concentrating on our core models." Nice sidestep, but this only means that the company failed to find the market needed to sell 50,000 units a year of the production BlueSport.
They’re surely not getting rid of the vehicle, though, especially since engineering for the Blue Sport has been completed: "There is no official release for the project. It’s not a technology problem, but of finding enough customers. I don’t have enough [sales] volume to get the go-ahead," said Volkswagen’s engineering boss, Uli Hackenberg.
So, for now, the production Volkswagen BlueSport has been put on hold, further opening the door Porsche cracked when the Baby Boxster took its fall. We’re guessing Audi’s plans of offering a new sports car slotted under the R8 may get invited to this party, but Audi seemed pretty intent on producing the junior model. Only time will tell.
Excitement spread when Porsche revealed plans to bring in a smaller model to their line-up, but that fire will surely extinguish now that the company has announced that they think the current generation won’t appreciate a smaller sports car. During a recent interview, CEO Matthias Mueller said: ’’Possibly we need to wait until the next generation of customers before the idea of a small roadster will work for Porsche."
The future baby Boxster, or 550 as it was rumored to be called, was supposed to be launched by 2014 and, next to the upcoming Cajun, was part of Porsche’s attempt to boost annual global sales to more than 200,000 units by 2018. Apparently, Porsche will now be looking for a different tactic to achieve that same goal.
As far as Mueller is concerned, that new tactic can be found in a new new sports car positioned above the 911 that will be priced somewhere between 300,000 euros ($380,000 at the current rates) and 400,000 euros ($506,000 at the current rates). That is about half the price of the production version 918 Spyder set to arrive in 2014.
Volkswagen’s predicted domination of the automotive world just launched its next attack with three production versions of the Volkswagen Bluesport concept. According to Volkswagen, the BlueSport will see three different levels of performance illustrated in three different badges: Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche. It can go without saying that the Porsche model will be the most powerful and, up until now, it was just known as the "baby Boxster." Well, that baby Boxster has finally been named. Say hello to the future Porsche 550.
The "550" name was first used in 1953 when Porsche unveiled a sports car inspired by the legendary 356. At that time, the 550 was not considered a successor for the 356, but Porsche’s future 550 will more than likely carry that title. The new 550 will be the first model to be built on Porsche’s new sports car architecture and will be offered with a mid-mounted, turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that will deliver around 200 HP. This engine will be mated to a dual-clutch seven speed transmission.
The future 550 will be launched in 2014 and, on the European market, will be priced about €8,000 ($11,500 at the current exchange rates) less than the current Boxster. That difference accounts for about 20% of the current Boxster’s price tag, which means our fellow Americans will have to pay about $38,000 to purchase it.
UPDATE 09/30/2011: British magazine CAR reports that the upcoming Porsche 550 will feature a new trademark horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine developing a total of 210 HP and 215 lb-ft of torque. If Porsche decides to create a more powerful version for the 550, that would mean it will use a 2.5 liter flat four turbo engine that delivers a total of 360 HP and 350 lb-ft.
Stay tuned for more details on the 2014 Porsche 550.
We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Porsche’s future engine choices and with inquisition usually comes some form of confirmation. Apparently, "high-ranking officials at Porsche’s Weissach research and development center in Germany" have spilled the beans to AutoWeek about a four-cylinder horizontally opposed gasoline engine fitted for a future entry level Porsche model. This new engine is slotted for a spiritual successor to the 550 Spyder, but will first find its home in the third-generation Boxster and the second-generation Cayman.
Porsche’s new four-cylinder engine will be built on the same architectural elements as the classic horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine currently being used in the 911 family. The new engine will use a combination of light-pressure turbocharger induction and piezo-guided direct injection. It will be offered in two different versions: an entry level displacing 2.0 liters and a larger 2.5-liter unit. The bigger version is believed to deliver up to 380 HP and will be used for the S versions of the models mentioned.
This confirmation also brings us one step closer to a confirmation for the all-new flat-8 engine that has been rumored to go into Porsche’s new Ferrari competitor. It is possible that this new flat-eight can be an extension of the now-confirmed modular four cylinder engine.
Stay tuned for more details on Porsche’s engine development!