There aren't many locations more appropriate for a brisk drive in the new 2011 Porsche 911
Speedster than Palm Springs, California. Just over 100 miles southeast of Hollywood and the hairpin-strewn Mulholland Drive where James Dean flogged his brand-new 356 Speedster nearly 60 years ago, we've found some suitably curvy roads of our own. And believe us, we're taking full advantage.
Top stowed beneath that classic double-humped tonneau and PDK shift lever slotted towards the left, engaging manual mode, the PORSCHE 911
Speedster is in its prime. A standard sports exhaust barks out the 3.8-liter flat-six's raspy song behind our heads as we wind up from the warm, dry desert floor into the surrounding mountains. The ambient temperature seems to drop with every foot of elevation we climb, so up go the power windows and on come the Seat
heaters. Yes, the PORSCHE 911
Speedster may be a bit more lavish than the spartan 356 version Dean drove, but there's no difference in the underlying principle both cars stand for top-down fun with a healthy dose of performance.
In 1955, performance meant a 1.6-liter air-cooled flat-four producing somewhere north of 70 horsepower, a four-speed synchromesh manual transmission, and drum brakes front and rear. In 2011, it means 408 horsepower from Porsche's water-cooled 3.8-liter flat six -- an increase of 23 horsepower from the Carrera S and the same as the automaker's new PORSCHE 911
GTS. Porsche's twin-clutch PDK automated manual gearbox is the standard transmission offering in this limited-edition model and Porsche's track-tested ceramic composite brakes (PCCB) are also fitted as standard. Those brakes, along with the deletion of the rear seat, and the use of aluminum for the doors and tonneau, keep weight on par with the Carrera S, despite wider bodywork and an extensive options list.