13. For the superstitious, it’s not a number that suggests good luck. Neither does “Porsche” plus “Spyder” plus “Central California.” Even so, thirteen 2011 Boxster Spyders have been flown into the Golden State from Germany. We see the location of the press launch as lucky: It’s two hours from home and, even better, it offers superb sports-car roads we know intimately.
Twelve of the German-spec Spyders are in Carmel Valley, the other is at the L.A. Auto Show. That Porsche sees this as an important debut is clear, as Supervisory Board Member Klaus Berning is present. Car people seem to agree; the Spyder gets a rousing reception in the City of Angels. Apparently, the world could use a little blue sky just now, and a back-to-basics Porsche less concerned with sheltering its occupants than opening the world to them is on target.
Even the hardcore approve. GT2 and GT3 web forums are raving about a Boxster in 10+page threads. It’s not idle chatter: A friend of mine has sold his 997 GT3, trading it on a Spyder. Another, with 997 GT3 RS and 993 keepers, passed on his dealer’s first 2010 RS for its first Spyder.
Clearly, Porsche has a struck a nerve. In truth, says David Pryor, PCNA’s Vice President for Marketing, the Spyder’s timing is pure luck. It got its start in 2007, when U.S. product planning asked for a stripped-down Boxster S and Cayman S. The former got the nod, and became the car you see here. Given the new Spyder’s instant popularity in L.A., we suspect that a similar Cayman is on the way. But it will be hard-pressed to match the soft-top Spyder’s 176-pound weight savings.
Question is, can the Spyder be much better than the already superb Boxster S it’s based on? Or is it a marketing ploy, a car to generate foot traffic in dealerships? First press photos had us thinking the latter. The tent-like top. The humpy decklid. No radio, no A/C, no foglights, and no cupholders — for more money, not less.
Then other, promising details came clear: aluminum doors and lids, limited-slip diff, ultralight 19-inch wheels, -20-mm sport suspension, and lightweight bucket seats, all standard. Best of all, 176 fewer pounds are pushed by 10 more horses, for a total of 320. But still. That top!
Then we see the car in Carmel. Silver Boxsters may be a bit boring these days, but the silver Spyder in front of Ben Pon’s Bernardus Lodge isn’t. Arctic Silver makes the Spyder look metal where white leaves it looking a bit plasticky. Standing next to it, viewing the car as you normally would, its trunklid is a stunner. The alloy humps tie things together, subtly mirroring the diffuser while giving the fussy lower curves of the 987-2’s dip-down taillights more to work with than fender tops alone.
The humps elevate the Boxster. Porsche people see shades of Carrera GT. People on the street aren’t quite sure what they’re looking at, but they know it’s something special. Had the too-long trunk text been shortened to “Spyder,” they’d probably still be guessing. There’s something exotic about this 987, moving it away from the mental slot marked “just another Boxster” and closer to the one reserved for “Spider, 360/F430.”
The distinction continues up front. The bumper is the same, but its outer intakes get titanium-colored surrounds and one vane instead of two. Cayman LED strips sit in plain housings. There are no foglights, and plain black spoiler lips harden the nose. Down the sides, 1960s Porsche scripts lead the eye to plain mesh intakes with titanium-colored surrounds.