For what seems like forever, Porsche has turned out beautiful sports cars one after another and many times these beauties packed quite a punch too. One of these brawn-meets-beauty machines was the limited production 1989 Porsche 911 Speedster.
This model marked the first time that the “Speedster” moniker was slapped on a Porsche in 30 years, as the last one was the 1959 Porsche 356 Speedster . This model was coming at a rather awkward time though, as the U.S. was in a recession and Porsche was really starting to struggle. The famed automaker was banking on this limited model to help re-launch the “Porsche “ name in the minds of enthusiasts.
With its stylish lines and extremely high-powered six-cylinder engine, this model indeed helped thrust Porsche back to what it once was. The question is how does this aging high-performance machine stand up in today’s market?
Well, we will find out soon enough, as one of these rare 911 Speedsters is about to hit the auction block on via RM Auctions on June 9th through 10th in Hampton, NJ.
Click past the jump to read our full review on this classic Porsche
gallery: Porsche 356
gallery: Porsche 911 Carrera
The 911 Speedster features the famed 911 “Turbo-look” body. It has a wedge-shaped nose with its round headlights resting within raised sections on either side of the hood. It also features a low-cut windshield that is 5 degrees flatter and 3 inches shorter than the standard 911 and a drop top for cruising on a beautiful day. The top was a manual one without a headliner, so it is simple to operate and tucks in under a fiberglass cover, but likely leads to some noisy driving on the highway. A funny side note is that Porsche required buyers to agree to the added wind noise and water leakage from this top.
The entire body is coated in black paint and the American Racer-spec rims are colored to match. On each of the rear end is the 911’s famed whale-tail-style spoiler.
Overall, the exterior of this machine is impeccable. RM Auctions does not make note of whether or not this is a restoration job, or if it is this Porsche’s original paint and bodywork. Given the vehicle’s 4,200 miles on the odometer, it is likely that this is its original condition.
Just like the exterior, the interior is done up in all black and is in near-showroom condition. The seats are black leather racing-style seats that appear to hug your torso rather snugly. This Porsche features your typical simple dashboard from the 1980s, except that Porsche fitted the 911 Speedster with plenty of instrumentation, including a turbo boost gauge, to see what’s going on.
This 911 Speedster can carry a tune too, thanks to its multi-disc Blaupunkt stereo system. You are, however, stuck with regular old windup windows, as power windows were not even an option in the 911 Speedster.
In case you decide to push this well-handling machine a little too far, the Speedster comes with a leather-wrapped roll bar to keep your head safe.
As we said, this interior appears to be perfect, with the exception of a pair of creases on the driver’s seat back rest. It is, however, a very basic interior, which we like to see in a car meant to be driven, not played with.
Engine and Drivetrain
This is where things get a little strange for this Speedster, as despite its low mileage, this racer is not original. Its owner decided in 1992 that the factory 214-horsepower 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine just wasn’t enough.
He took the car to AJ-USA in San Diego, California and had the standard power plant replaced with a flat-six 3.5-liter engine that boasted forced induction, via a K-28 turbocharger. The entire setup was custom fabricated, from the stiffer engine and transmission mounts to the turbocharger’s low-restriction plumbing, which prevents buzz killing turbo lag. This conversion ran a grand total of $38,000 dollars and may, in the future, hurt the collectability of this Speedster.
Then again, we do agree that the 3.2-liter engine is vastly underpowered for today’s standards, so the 3.5-turbo swap fits it well. There are no specifications listed for this engine, but we can definitely estimate. Looking at the technology available in 1992 and the fact that the turbocharged 3.3-liter 1992 Porsche 911 Turbo punched out 315 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, we can safely assume that the 3.5-liter turbo could crank out around 345 ponies and 350 pound-feet.
There is no mention of the gearbox, but we can safely assume it is the same five-speed variety that came with the vehicle. The only modifications mentioned are a blueprinted gearshift assembly, which makes for more fluid shifting, and a short-throw shift kit.
Handling and Braking
The engine wasn’t all that was modified, as the original owner also sank some serious dough into the handling and braking systems. This Speedster includes “gun-drilled” front and rear torsion bars, which are rifled, much like the barrel of a gun, to save some weight without compromising rigidity. The front and rear stabilizer bars are also more rigid to help in the twisty stuff.
Wrapped around the America Roadster-spec rims are a set of high-performance tires to keep the 911 glued to the ground. In the rims and tires alone, the original owner dumped a full $7,200.
The front and rear brake calipers on the 1989 Speedster are from a Porsche Carrera 2 Turbo, we assume from 1992, which would make the front calipers have four pistons and the rear having two pistons. Inside the calipers are a set of carbon fiber brake pads, which decrease stopping distance and all but eliminate brake dust. In addition, the owner had custom front and rear brake cooling ducts installed.
RM Auctions does not offer us up an estimated price, but we can speculate a little. NADA lists the 1989 Speedster at a high retail price, which this Porsche would certainly garner, of $89,600. Typically a modification to the drivetrain like this one has would drop the going price drastically.
However, given the complexity of the modification and how cleanly it was done, this is one mod that may jump the price up to about $100K. It really depends on the market, but that $100K mark looks like a pretty solid number.
Since there are no true competitors to this customized limited-production vehicle, let’s pit this thing up against its closest modern day Porsche, price wise, the $103,000 Carrera S Convertible.
Starting on the outside, the Porsche Carrera S Convertible has a much more timid look to it. Yeah, it bears a striking resemblance to its older sibling, but the headlights slant rearward more, and it’s not quite as shapely as the 911 Speedster’s wide body. The wide body 911 Speedster screams “Hey I am a Porsche, get outta my way!” The 2012 Carrera S is pretty much just another sports car; sexy nonetheless, but not in the same way that the Speedster is.
Comparing the inside of the two cars is like comparing a pomegranate to a durian – or an apple to an orange if you prefer – as the 2012 model is, well, a 2012 model. It features all of the gorgeous amenities that car buyers look for these days. The 1989 911 Speedster, on the other hand, is a sports car first and a luxury ride second. Granted, it does have some high-end features, like its stereo system, but its manual crank windows and leaky top cancel that out. No contest.
Under the hood, err, trunk, or whatever you call that hunk of metal covering the engine, we have a 3.8-liter flat-6 engine that pops out 385 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 310 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rom. Unfortunately the 1989 911 Speedster doesn’t list any performance specs, but we assume it to be in the 345 to 350 horsepower 350 to 360 pound-feet range. Until we get some clarification on this, we’ll call the power ratings a push.
In the drivetrain the 2012 911 Carrera S has the all-important six-speed manual, making it tolerable at high speeds. The cinco-speed 1989 Porsche will like create a lot of engine racket at high speeds, if you can hear it over the top flapping in the breeze. The advantage goes to the more modern 2012 Porsche.
Now for the most important spec, the cool factor. Seriously, it’s a classic Porsche Speedster that you are likely never to meet again in the U.S., thank to the only 823 models that came stateside. Add in the fact that it’s modified to the point that it may hang with a modern day Porsche and you have one sick, sick ride, my friend. There are few production cars on the road more noticeable than a late-1980s 911. Plus this thing isn’t even broken in yet, having just over 4,000 miles.
The final consideration is that the second you drive the 2012 Carrera S off of the lot, you lost a cool $15,000, or so, in depreciation. The 1989 911 Speedster is almost guaranteed to continue to go up in price, making it a sound investment too.
If you are sitting on a $100K+ and you are looking to snatch up a classic Porsche, then run, don’t walk, to the Dingman Collection auction on June 9th through 10th in Hampton, NJ. Okay, maybe driving or flying is a better option. Lop down the $150 entrance fee for you and a friend and bid away.
You may get lucky and snag this beautiful machine for a price closer to NADA’s high retail.