The Speedster name has a long and illustrious history in the pantheon of Porsche . Since the 356 of the 1960s, the Speedster badge signified a gloriously fast, top-down driving experience that can’t be matched. With owners like Steve McQueen , the name carried weight and panache, but there are preciously few Speedster models in existence, as there very few models were made in each generation of Porsche. The 964 Speedster was only created for two years, 1989 and 1994 and less than 2000 were created between those two production runs.
With that signature, flat-six engine flooding the open cabin with noise, the driving experience of one these cars must be magical. The car was based on the new 964 Carrera 2 platform and boasted excellent driving dynamics.
There were few options or creature comforts available on the 964 Speedster, it had three pedals, and the air-cooled, 3.6-liter engine is naturally aspirated and high-revving.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1994 Porsche 964 Speedster.
The exterior of the Speedster is extremely recognizable, thanks to its unique convertible shape. Rather than use a traditional top, the Speedster employs a manually operated top that is more similar to a tent than a traditional soft top. As the top was never created to see excessive use, Porsche made sure the cover panel was as stylish and aerodynamic as possible. As you can see, behind the rear seats the car has this large, double-bubble body panel. This signature design feature was replicated when Porsche created the limited run of 997-generation Speedsters.
Along with the standard car, there was a collection of 20 or so models that underwent factory customization to recieve the wide-body look of the Turbo cars. These "Turbo-look" Speedsters are some of the rarest Porsches known to exist.
1994 Porsche 964 Speedster - Exterior Dimensions
|Front track||54.1 Inches|
|Rear track||54.1 Inches|
The interior of the Speedster was very sparsely equipped. Items like the stereo and air conditioning were all optional extras. While the normal seats that Porsche used in this car are extremely comfortable and supportive, buyers could opt for the Recaro buckets seen here. These seats provided even better support and bolstering, and thanks to their slim-back design, they cut weight as well.
If you were a Potential Porsche buyer in Britain, the Speedster was missing one important interior feature. Of all the 1994-year Speedsters built, less than 15 were equipped with right-hand drive. Of all the cars built, there only exists one known RHD, wide-body car. It also features a special paint and color combination that was not used on any other Speedster.
The secret of the Speedster was its combination of low weight and interesting design coupled with a 3.6-liter, flat-six engine. At this time the engine was good for 247 horsepower and would dump 228 pound-feet of twist to those rear wheels. That was good enough to get the Speedster to 60 in around five-and-a-bit seconds, and the car would build speed until it saw the faster side of 160.
1994 Porsche 964 Speedster - Drivetrain/Specifications
|Output (HP @ RPM)||247 @ 6,000|
|Torque (LB-FT @ RPM)||228 @ 4,800|
As is common with rare cars like this that pop up at auctions, price is a bit hard to pin down. As of 6/11/2014, there is one example for sale on Ebay, and it sits at just over $110,499, but the reserve price has yet to be met. If I was a betting man, I would say that it will cost you at least $135,000 to take this home with you. That said, the auction ends at 7:27 p.m. PDT on 6/11/2014, so get to bidding if you are interested.
At this point in time, there were very few companies producing cars that could be called real competitors to the topless performance Porsche was providing. BMW was the closest rival with the abnormal and interesting Z1. It was only produced during 1989 and 1991, but it wouldn’t be replaced by the Z3 until 1996. The Z1 had the style and price to match the Porsche, even if it didn’t have the performance chops. The Z1 was light, thanks to a custom chassis and plastic bodywork, but it was powered by nothing more than 2.5-liter engine from a 3 Series. It produced 170 horsepower, a far cry from the power of Porsche’s 3.6-liter H6.
The Z did feature a new and interesting Z Axle suspension that made the BMW quite a good handling car. I am not sure it would out handle Stuttgart’s finest, but it should at least give it a run for its money.
Gallery BMW Z1
If any company has been able to produce sporting roadsters that can keep up with Porsche, it is Mercedes. Sin ce the 300SL Roadster arrived in 1958, Benz proved it had what it takes to play in the big leagues. The SL600 was available starting in 1994, and it brought a gun to Porsche’s knife fight. With nearly 400 horsepower coming out of the 6.0-liter, V-12 engine, the tin-topped Merc had power to spare. It may not have the same classic styling of the Porsche, but there is no denying that level of thrust.
The Porsche is still the true driver’s car. The V12 in the SL only came mated to an automatic transmission, which hampered enjoyment and performance. With the slushbox ruining all the fun, I would still take the Porsche, but the Mercedes did, and still does, make a compelling alternative to Porsche’s wares.
Gallery Mercedes SL-Class (W129)
If you consider yourself a collector of cars, especially of German metal, you should make a point to own at least one Speedster. The car has the perfect level of performance, rarity and reliability. The fact it costs as much as a new 911 is fairly off-putting, but you will be hard pressed to find another specimen of this quality.
- Lots of history and pedigree in the name
- One of the best driving cars of its era
- Still has solid performance numbers
- Polarizing looks
- Very expensive