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L.A. Auto Show: Porsche Boxster Spyder

December 2, 2009 |  5:11 pm
Hey, James Dean's ghost, thanks for meeting me here at Porsche's exhibit at the L.A. Auto Show. There's something here I think you'll really like.

Yes, this really is the Porsche exhibit; why? Oh, that? That's their Panamera. No, that rear end isn't a joke, I promise. Despite the portly hindquarters, our own Dan Neil called it "the best-handling big sedan in the world."

And that? Yep, that's a Porsche too. It's the Cayenne, like the pepper or the capital of French Guiana. Much like its name it's a hot item, becoming the bestselling model in North America that the company offers. I'm not sure how you say 'cha-ching' in German, but it probably sounds a lot like 'Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe.'

No no, what I wanted you to see was this little baby. It's the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder and it represents everything right with Porsche.

Drawing on the lineage of Porsches you spent some time driving, like the 550 Spyder of the 1950s, this baby is light; the lightest Porsche offered today. Its claimed curb weight is 2,811 pounds, some 176 pounds lighter than a Boxster S. These savings came from a strict diet that eliminated accoutrements like air conditioning, the radio, cup holders and door handles (note to Boxster S drivers: It's your door handles that are preventing you from winning those stoplight challenges). The AC and radio can be added if you so desire, but let's be honest, James, true aficionados of this car will let the engine do the singing and the wind do the cooling. Lighter seats, lighter and lower side windows and the lightest alloy wheels in Porsche's catalog do their part, while a heavy diet of aluminum in the doors and rear deck lid also helps.

Boxster_0005 Lest we forget the roof, or near lack of one. Replacing the Boxster's traditional power-operated affair is something that resembles Aretha Franklin's scarf more than an entity that, Porsche claims, will protect you from the elements. Braced by a carbon-fiber frame, the 11-pound top lashes to a pair of buckles on the deck lid. Though the boys in Stuttgart say the roof is designed to protect driver and passenger from "glaring sunshine and bad weather," residents of Seattle and other precipitation-inclined areas should note that, as Motor Trend mentions, the top isn't even waterproof.  

So, add "beating that impending rainstorm home" to the list of reasons Porsche was kind enough to pump more power into the Spyder iteration. This one gets 320 hp, up 10 from the Boxster S, through the 3.4-liter flat-six.  Additionally, the Spyder hits that peak output at 7,200 rpm; though no mathematician, I can tell you that's 950 rpm above the redline for the Boxster S. Shifting options remain the six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe).

I'm not sure if they have the Internet in the perpetual ether in which you reside, James, but if so, the Boxster Spyder may look a touch like Porsche's wunderkind, the Carrera GT. Or at least they think so.  Pair the two humps (Porsche prefers to call them 'domes') of the deck lid with the shorter (lower) windows, slightly sharper windshield rake and the overhang of the cloth roof that stretches toward the rear of the car. Then squint really, really hard, and maybe you'll see the resemblance. It is there.

As is standard practice when car companies subtract items from a car and then charge you more, the Boxster Spyder commands around a $3,000 premium over the Boxster S, for a total of about $62,000. It will be available in February.  Boxster_0003_use

All told, James, this looks like an excellent addition to the automotive stable of denizens of dry climes like Los Angeles looking to add a 21st century 'Little Bastard' of their own. See you on the other side.

-- David Undercoffler

Photo credit: David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times