This price is good news for anyone who wants to enjoy a very special
example of the most bulletproof 911

With the introduction of the 911 Speedster, Porsche revived a charismatic model from its past, the name previously applied to that most stylish of the many Type 356 variants. Based on the 911 Turbo Cabriolet, though normally aspirated, the 3.2-liter Speedster was launched immediately prior to the introduction of the new Type 964 bodyshell, and thus was the last 911 model to feature the "old style" body.

The latter was reworked by chief stylist Tony Lapine, incorporating numerous references to the original 356 Speedster, as well as a pair of controversial "camel hump" cowlings behind the seats that concealed the stow-away manual top. One of the rarest of the 911 family, the 911 Speedster was built during 1989 only, a mere 2,102 cars being completed.

This 911 Speedster is one of only 63 right-hand-drive examples supplied new to the U.K. market. The car was exported by its first owner to the U.S., where it joined the 823 Speedsters sold there new. However, it didn't exactly join the other cars, as despite an additional rear brake light being fitted, it remained in enforced storage, being non-compliant with America's more stringent emissions laws. Its second owner brought the Speedster back to the U.K. Finished in Anthracite with tan leather interior; the car has covered just over 10,000 miles from new and remains in excellent, unmarked condition throughout.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1989 Porsche 911 Carrera
Years Produced:1989
Number Produced:2,065
Original List Price:$69,800
Tune Up Cost:$600
Distributor Caps:$50
Chassis Number Location:Stamped in horizontal bulkhead aft of gas tank and door jamb
Engine Number Location:Stamped vertically on engine case on passenger side of engine cooling fan
Club Info:Porsche Club of America 5530 Edgemont Drive Alexandria, VA 22310
Investment Grade:C

This attractive 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera Speedster sold for $57,572, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams Olympia sale in London on December 1, 2008.

The 911 Speedster, like the Mercedes McLaren SLR profiled in the October 2008 issue of SCM (p. 42), illustrates the folly of “instant collectability.” When new, at the height of the 1989-90 bubble market, many of these cars sold in excess of $100,000. By 1991, they were worth considerably less.

That’s bad news for any chumpstein still holding on to one bought in ’89 for more than list, but good news for anyone who wants to enjoy a very special example of the most bulletproof 911. The 3.2-liter Carrera Speedster was the Goldilocks of air-cooled 911s-everything was just right. Not too complicated like the 964 and 993, but all of the major issues with the earlier cars like rust, head stud failure, and timing chain tensioners had been solved.

The last two years of the Carrera added the improved G50 gearbox, larger dash vents, and better a/c. Wider wheels and tires mitigated the dreaded trailing throttle oversteer somewhat. Although not likely to be an issue with any Speedster, these are heirloom quality cars that with care, will do 250,000 miles or more between overhauls.

The charismatic Speedster added a low windshield, a simpler (and less insulated and weatherproof) but more rakish manual convertible top, and a fiberglass tonneau not unlike that found on a Thunderbird Sports Roadster a generation before. While not standard equipment, 1,894 Speedsters were ordered with option M-491, the factory wide body. It suits the looks of the car well, although the added 90 pounds of weight is at odds with the lightweight Speedster ethos.

Taken to the U.S. and promptly impounded

The Anthracite and tan color scheme was a welcome change from the usual Guards Red, black, or silver. Odd, however, was the fact that this RHD example was imported to the U.S. early in its life, where it acquired a distinctly unattractive third taillight. It was then impounded, as the extra brake light obviously did not fool the eagle-eyed bureaucrats at the DOT and EPA as to its non-DOT/EPA origins; they might also have been alerted by the placement of the steering wheel.

The 911 Carrera Speedster market has done little in the last ten years. A car with particularly low miles like the one sold at Amelia Island in 2000 and profiled in the May 2000 issue of SCM might do 20% more, but this likely represents market price for now… and for the foreseeable future. Since they were almost all bought as an “investment” initially, few have accumulated more than 10,000 miles.

One of the principal reasons 911s have been so successful is the overwhelming practicality packaged with performance. These are cars that can be driven to work without worry, and over time, the comfort and accessibility encourage frequent use. The Speedster takes away a chunk of that practicality and as a result, whether in its 356, 911 Carrera, or final 1993-94 C2 version, it has never been a high-volume seller.

Since it is highly unlikely that 911 Carrera Speedster prices will approach their 1989-90 levels anytime soon, it seems reasonable for owners to start putting miles on these distinctive cars and use them as they were intended. In other words, as a driver this was well bought; as an investment, it was well sold.

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