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HomeUncategorisedTHE CAR THAT SAVED PORSCHE

THE CAR THAT SAVED PORSCHE

It may be difficult to believe now, but about 30 years ago, the iconic sports car builder Porsche was on the verge of bankruptcy. The manufacturer’s annual sales had fallen from over 50,000 units in 1986 to 14,000 in 1993, and the company had to revert to contract work for other manufacturers to survive.

Among the significant factors for this decline were Porsche’s ageing model line-up, a faltering world economy and a bloated production process – driving up prices at the worst possible time. It was clear Porsche needed a new, affordable model, and for inspiration, Zuffenhausen looked East – to Mazda and the success it was achieving with the MX-5.

The Porsche management team decided a relatively inexpensive mid-engine roadster recalling the 550 Spyder and the 718 RS 60 Spyder race car of the 1950s was what the company needed. The board also knew they had to find a more efficient way to build it, and in 1992, ironically, again looked East – turning to former Toyota executives and engineers to overhaul the company’s messy and inefficient processes.

Toyota Processes

The suggestions received from the Toyota team, based on “just-in-time” principles, and the improvements made to streamline the procuring and manufacturing processes led to significant advantages and helped to improve the company’s competitiveness (according to Porsche, the assembly time per car was reduced from 120 hours to 72, and the number of errors per vehicle fell by 50 per cent!).

Efficiencies were optimised by the intelligent use of carry-over parts, such as the water-cooled production flat-six engine and body panels incorporated into the 996 generation 911. The open-top two-seater 968 project made rapid progress, and the Boxster concept car was well received at the 1993 Detroit Motor Show. 

The production version was launched in 1996 with hardly any changes in its visual appearance, and now, in its fourth generation, more than 357,000 units have been built. Now, to celebrate a quarter of a century of the roadster nameplate and pay homage to the car model that saved the marque, Porsche has commissioned an anniversary model: the Boxster 25 Years. 

Local Pricing

This limited-edition model – based on the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 with a 4.0-litre six-cylinder boxer engine delivering 294 kW and 420 Nm of torque coupled with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – is restricted to 1,250 units worldwide. And while local pricing has been released, it is not yet clear how many will find their way here.

Locally, the Boxster 25 Years will be priced from R1,660,000 (nearly R170,000 more than the model it is based on) when it arrives later this year, regardless of the chosen transmission. Various options – including a Burmester surround sound system, adaptive sports seats plus, adaptive cruise control and ceramic composite brakes – will be available, and if the standard three-year Driveplan is extended to five years, the price will go up to R1,710,000.

The limited-run model pays homage to the Boxster concept car of 1993 with a reinterpretation of the colour Neodyme, described as a “copper-like shimmering brown”, used on the front apron, the side air intakes, the lettering and the two-tone 20” alloy wheels. 

The Boxster 25 Years is offered in GT Silver Metallic, although Deep Black Metallic and Carrara White Metallic are also available. The special model combines a Bordeaux leather interior with a red fabric convertible top (both available in black) and an Aluminium interior package.

Interior equipment includes electrically adjustable sports seats, door sill trims with “Boxster 25″ lettering and a heated GT multifunction sports leather steering wheel. Other standard features include Porsche Active Suspension Management sports suspension (PASM), which is 10 millimetres lower, and Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) with mechanical limited-slip differential.

Report by Ferdi de Vos | Images © Porsche AG

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