When Porsche decided to bring the Speedster back from the dead, there were whoops of joy from the Porsche faithful. But then the 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder stopped the celebrations dead. The faithful muttered under their breath about the destruction of a legacy and wondered where the real Porsche 911 Speedster was. And that’s where the 2010 9ff Speed 9 came from.
Jan Fatthauer, the man behind 9ff Fabrications in Dortmund, Germany, decided to do something about it, and he showed the results recently at the 2009 Essen Motor Show, which is Germany’s answer to SEMA and advertised this year: “Die Coolsten Autos.” Consider the 2010 9ff Speed 9 to be Fatthauer’s riposte to Porsche’s rewrite of its own history.
The Roots of Legend
The Speedster has a rich lineage at Porsche dating back to the 1954 Porsche 356A Speedster with its cut-down windscreen and minimalist canvas convertible top, a car meant to compete with the stripped-down roadsters popular in the U.S. at the birth of the sports car. Porsche brought back the Speedster nameplate in 1989 and again in 1993 with limited-edition cars based on the Porsche 911 convertible, although both were flops on the showroom floor.
But Fatthauer is far more serious about the Speedster nameplate than the Porsche factory (at least when it comes to performance rather than sales volume), so he’s taken a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet and turned it into a turbocharged 650-horsepower monster — essentially a topless version of the Porsche 911 GT2. Called the Speed 9, this car has become a 9ff model in its own right, and Fatthauer can make this concept even more elaborate, up to a 1,200-hp version of the 911 Turbo Cabriolet.
It’s What They Do
In typical 9ff style, this twin-turbo 3,824cc six-cylinder explodes into an aggressive rumbling roar within 9ff’s cavernous hangar-style workshop next to the Dortmund airport, settling down to a burbling idle through those RSR-style exhaust outlets. The competition-look exhaust pipes might be a touch much for a boulevard cruiser, yet Fatthauer remains convinced that this authentic touch of Porsche will be much appreciated — as will the power.
Thanks to the application of 9ff’s own Borg-Warner VTG turbochargers, a new manifold and some trick plumbing made from steel wrapped in heat-resistant film, this engine makes 650 hp at 6,500 rpm and 656 pound-feet of torque at 5,600 rpm. This means the 2010 9ff Speed 9 is brutally fast and Fatthauer claims it’ll make 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.3 seconds and won’t quit until you hit 205 mph (if you can stand the wind blast).
We’re kind of incredulous at the top speed he claims, but 9ff has built cars that have topped 230 mph with boring regularity and indeed this car is limited to 205 mph because of concerns about the topless chassis’ rigidity. In fact, the company has taken a speed record every year of its existence. It’s what they do; they even made a van break the magic 300 km/h (186 mph) mark this year.
The Monster Is Loose!
We plant the throttle and the 2010 9ff Speed 9 just goes, though with a gentle shimmy from the 295/30ZR19 Continental SportContact 3 rear tires as they search for traction. From this point on, you feel like you’re being yanked forward by some giant piece of contracting elastic, especially with the wind roaring through the cabin. It’s not easy to handle this much power, so Porsche’s new ZF-built automated manual transmission is in place, but the wimpy shift buttons on the spokes of the steering wheel have been replaced by shift paddles mounted on the steering column.
Fatthauer has worked his race-bred magic on the chassis of this car as well as its engine, and you can tell in the bends. You’ll find fat, stiff antiroll bars and a reworked version of Porsche’s active PASM suspension, so you can dial back from a flat, stiff-as-a-board calibration for flat-out speed into a more reasonable ride for cruising. Lightweight center-lock wheels shave every essential ounce from the car’s unsprung weight. At the curb, the 9ff weighs 3,080 pounds, which makes it notably lighter than the GT2, not the least because it does without the rear jump seats. Fatthauer could have stripped more from the interior but opted for a lavish suede-upholstered dash and trick sport seats.
Braking power is immense, thanks to the match between Porsche’s carbon-ceramic discs, six-piston front rotors and Fatthauer’s own secret, racing-type recipe for brake pads.
The Speedster Look
The look is the all-important part with the Speedster and Fatthauer was determined to pay homage to the cars of yesteryear. That’s why he’s started with the narrow-fender Carrera S Cabriolet and then added a cut-down version of the Boxster windshield. The shape of the new front bumper owes just a little to the Nissan GT-R and will become 9ff’s calling card now that it’s getting wise to the lucrative market in aftermarket body kits for the 911.
The Speed 9 goes further, though, with a slick splitter, flared rocker-sill skirts and rear diffuser, and the overall result lends some definition to the current 911′s flabby design. If anything, the Speed 9 looks too slim thanks to the low-slung bodywork and hi-def paint job, and we figure the even wider machine based on the 911 Turbo Cabriolet should be even more menacing.
Of course this car is the pure vision, the prototype of the 2010 9ff Speed 9, and the production car will prove different, as it will have to accommodate a soft top to protect that suede interior from the rain.
When Jan Fatthauer is finished, there will finally be a modern-day Porsche that deserves the Speedster name, even though it’s called the Speed 9 and made by someone else.
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