Porsche shows off a prototype single-seat hillclimb racer it'll never produce
Porsche has peeled back the prototype curtain, giving us a glimpse of an ultra-lightweight, single-seat speed machine that'll never reach production. Named for a historical hillclimb racer, the 981 Bergspyder has no door handles, roof, windscreen or passenger seat.
The original Bergspyder, the Porsche 909, remains to this day the lightest race car Porsche has ever rolled out, with an astonishing wet weight of just 384 kg (847 lb) that made it lighter than some touring motorcycles, and a flat eight engine that made 275 hp. In 1968, it was quick for a brief period, winning a bunch of hillclimb races before being knocked off its perch comprehensively by the Ferrari 212E in 1969.
The new one? Well, this was a 2015 prototype designed to test the limits of lightweighting, based on the 981 Boxster and fitted with the 388-hp (289-kW) boxer engine from the Cayman GT4. Where the windscreen would've sat, it's instead got a marine-style wind deflector. The passenger seat is gone, and that side of the car is covered over. Even the doors have had their guts pulled out.
Front and rear covers are carbon fiber, and the prototype team built an imitation leather cover to go from the wind deflector to the engine compartment in the back. When not in use, that cover could live in a secondary luggage compartment behind the passenger door, which also featured a helmet shelf.
The seat was from the 918, as were elements of the dash, which was completely redesigned to offer a bare-bones, stick-shift, racing-focused readout with no road-friendly considerations like audio or navigation systems.
The total weight reduction was pretty decent – Porsche says the 981 Boxster Bergspyder was kept to 1,099 kg (2,423 lb), which would represent a 278-kg (613-lb) advantage over the 981 Boxster. Clearly nowhere near the same league as the original 909, but enough to give it a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time just over four seconds and a projected Nurburgring lap time somewhere around seven and a half minutes.
Needless to say, it never made it to the production stage. Porsche says there was "a major question mark ... as to whether the car would be eligible for registration in some countries, which would have an impact on potential sales."
So, a prototype it shall remain. You can see it in the flesh at this year's Gisberg Hillclimb near Salzburg, Austria, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.