For the Spring 2014 Special Client Edition of Hagerty Classic Cars Magazine took us back…
This Porsche 981 Boxster Bergspyder: The Speedster that never was
Porsche will be publicly showing the Boxster Bergspyder for the first time at the 2019 Gaisberg hillclimb event. Inspired by the historic 909 Bergspyder hillclimb car, which at just 846.5 pounds makes it the lightest-weight racing Porsche ever, the Boxster Bergspyder was commissioned by Porsche’s executive board in 2015, aiming for the lightest, most minimalist sports car possible based on the 981 Boxster, but it was just not meant to be.
The team at Weissach met its goals, reducing weight to just over 2400 pounds, giving the 388 horsepower 981 Bergspyder an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 6.24 pounds per horsepower. Estimated 0-60 mph time is about four seconds, and Porsche expected the Bergspyder to run a 7:30 lap at the Ring. However, when evaluating the prototype, it was decided that it would not meet regulations in some markets, so it never got the green light for production. Just how seriously the executive board considered selling a single-seat sports car with no top, door handles or windshield is unclear. (With the Monza SP1 and SP2, Ferrari did, however, accomplish something similar, albeit many orders or magnitude more extreme and expensive.)
The Boxster Bergspyder got the 3.8-liter six-cylinder boxer engine out of the Cayman GT4, a lightweight dashboard with elements from Porsche’s 918 Le Mans endurance racer, as well as seats from the 918 program. Sound deadening and insulation was minimized and wherever possible weight reducing components were substituted. A cut-down windscreen surrounds the driver and a hoop behind the driver’s seat provides some level of rollover protection.
Finished in white with green highlights, as the 909 was, the prototype remained just that—a one-off suspended in the development stage. When the project was shelved, the 981 Boxster Bergspyder first went on display at Porsche’s Weissach research and development center and later was moved to the official Porsche Museum. Until now, however, the prototype has not been on public display.
Development of the 981 based Bergspyder could not have been inexpensive, particularly because there were tentative plans to produce it in earnest. At least by putting it on public display Porsche can show off its engineering prowess and willingness to (sort of) take risks. We can’t help but wonder what a turbocharged four-cylinder 718 Boxster could do with a similarly lightweight approach.