In the early 1990s, Porsche’s financial situation had nothing to do with the current one. The German company was going through serious difficulties due to the fall in sales, the devaluation of the dollar and the high manufacturing costs of its four models, the 911, 944, 968 and 928. But the Porsche Boxster in 1996 and saved Porsche.
Before getting the green light for the development and commercialization of that mid-engined two-seater rodaster, a group of people on the Porsche Board of Directors played a decisive role in the approval of the Boxster development project.
Wendelin Wiedeking was responsible for production and materials, Dieter Laxy was responsible for sales, and Horst Marchart was responsible for research and development. They they did not believe In the project for the 989 four-door four-seater saloon, some on the same board saw it as the car that would put Porsche back on the right track.
“We did not believe that the four-seater Type 989 that was being developed at that time was going to rescue us from the difficult financial situation because the sales expectations would be very low for the company and the dealers, in addition that this model would not admit any common component with the Porsche 911 as it would require a separate product line “, says Marchart now, looking back more than 30 years.
“It would have to be a two-seater with a front similar to the 911 to ensure it was easily identifiable as a Porsche. Plus the new model had to cost around 70,000 marks and be attractive to a younger customer. My idea was accepted.”says Horst Marchart, recalling the presentation to shareholders.
The initial drawings on paper and the model in “Freehand”
The initial prototype of the Porsche Boxster was first presented to the public at the 1993 Detroit Motor Show. It was not planned that it would be in the North American appointment, but in the Geneva Motor Show that same year three months later when the car was to be presented, but everything changed from one day to the next.
This is how Grant Larson, today Director of Special Projects, remembers it, who was responsible for designing the prototype car. “It was 1991 and I had gone to visit the Tokyo Motor Show where Audi presented the Avus. The development of the Boxster and 996 was already underway at the company by then and we decided to create a show car”, remember.
“I had complete freedom in terms of design. All the sketches were done as 2D drawings. Not on a screen like now. My boss then, Harm Lagaaij, pushed me on the design above all else in the detailed ways. We were lucky that we asked to call Peter Müller, a fantastic modeler. We use only my drawings. Freehand so to speak “.
“We originally planned to present the concept car in Geneva in the spring of 1993. But we decided to take it to Detroit in January because we didn’t want to waste any time. Furthermore, our target was the North American market, where Porsche was weak at the time and Mazda with the Miata and BMW with the Z1 were already present in the roadster segment “, remember.
Legacy of the 550 Spyder and 718 RS 60 from the 1950s
In the development of the Porsche Boxster, some mythical car concepts of the German brand were deliberately reinterpreted in the 1950s. From the 550 Spyder and the 718 RS 60 it inherits the concept of a mid-engine, the clean and low rear or the exhaust in central position.
It had specific air intakes on the sides, and the front optics with integrated indicators were common, like the doors, with the Porsche 911 of the 996 generation that would be presented in 1997.
He interior It was designed so that the metal parts of the door trims, dashboard and center console were painted in the same color as the exterior.
The reception of the prototype of the Boxster was very positive by the public and experts, as Grant Larson recalls: “Immediately after the presentation in Detroit, we were instructed to immediately stop the evolution of the Boxster design. Please develop the prototype exactly like that “ was what they were told.
Cost reduction thanks to synergies with 996
One of the reasons that led the Board of Directors of Porsche to give the green light to the idea of Horst Marchart, was that with the approach of this model, production costs could be reduced, thus eliminating the main problem that Porsche had in its other Models.
One of its premises was the use of remnants of parts and many common between the 911 and this roadster. That is why the Boxster in its first generation 986 shared the front, doors and many other components with the 996 that would be launched on the market a year later in 1997.
The logical consequence of this principle was the significant reduction in production costs and Inventory for both product lines, which were accompanied by a rigorous cost control policy at the company level.
Marchart remembers it like this: “We had set ourselves a goal of reducing costs across the company. We wanted to reduce production costs for new cars by 30%, which was possible thanks to the principle of optimizing the use of parts for manufacturing. To achieve this, we created development teams that had responsibility for both vehicles at the same time. “.
Boxer + roadster = Boxster
Where does it come from name Boxster? Basically from the union of the words boxer, in reference to the mechanical architecture of Porsche sports cars and the word Roadster, for the type of car it would be.
The serial production of the Porsche Boxster It began in 1996 and since then it has had four generations, with very special versions and power of up to 420 hp, which is what develops the very special 718 Spyder version. Of all of them, 357,000 units have been sold to date and we will review the characteristics of each of them and their special versions, there have been a few.
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