Porsche 911 Spyder Concept – 1966
This is the only Porsche created in collaboration with Bertone. Distinctly Italian in appearance until – on closer inspection – red and gold crests and a 911 badge reveal its true identity. Perhaps not a shape you would expect to see on a Porsche concept car list!
The 1966 911 Spyder is also unique in that it was actually conceived by a Southern Californian Porsche importer and dealer named Johnny Von Neumann. In the mid-1950s Von Neumann had been involved with New York importer Max Hoffman in recommending to Porsche they build a “boulevard racer”. To Von Neumann’s customers that meant a stripped-out, cheaper, open-top 356 ‘Speedster’ that looked great on the kerbside in the week but would go like stink on the track at the weekends. A keen and successful racer himself he forwarded the idea to Hoffman who did the deal with the Porsche factory. On this occasion, Hoffman ultimately took credit for the creation, but Von Neumann had made good business out of it in So.Cal. too.
By 1963, the 911 had replaced the 356 and Von Neumann’s customers were left without a new generation Speedster. The first Targa-topped 911 was on the horizon, but Von Neumann was convinced his customers – with their stifling Californian climate – were after a true drop-top sportscar. Von Neumann saw an opportunity. First approaching renowned Italian car designer Nuccio Bertone to sculpt a 911 Spyder, Von Neumann then asked Zuffhausen for a donor car. Ferry Porsche himself was hardly enthusiastic at the idea of an Italian-designed Porsche. Ultimately – though begrudgingly – Ferry agreed for release of a single chassis to be delivered to Bertone for redesign. Only one concept was to be produced and despite Von Neumann funding the project, no confirmation was given that Porsche would commit to produce any more. The final concept was revealed at the 1966 Geneva Auto Show alongside Porsche’s own Targa. The Bertone car was well-received but it was priced above that of the Targa which went on to become the open-top norm for 911s until the cabriolet was reintroduced in 1982. With no extra orders for Von Neumann’s 911 Spyders, this concept remains the only one: a jewel in the dusty part of Porsche’s history books.
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