The 981 Bergspyder Is The Ultimate Porsche Boxster That Never Was—And Finally It’s Been Seen In Public
Porsche engineers are always pushing the limits of what is possible with each generation of sports car and when, in 2015, the Executive Board commissioned a project group from Weissach to build a sports car based on the 981, they were more than up to the task of creating the ultimate Boxster. The aim was to build an uncompromising sports car that was as light and minimalist as possible.
Instead of just modifying the then-new Boxster Spyder, the engineers took inspiration from the legendary 1968 Porsche 909 Bergspyder; with an all-up weight of 846 pounds it was the lightest racing car ever used by Porsche and while the modern (potentially road-legal) equivalent could never match that figure, what the Porsche engineers achieved was mightily impressive nonetheless.
But first the project needed a name. It didn’t take long to settle on 981 Bergspyder, and the color too took its inspiration from the 909, which was white with flashes of green. Using the 981 Boxster as a base it was transformed into a focused single-seater sports car with no roof, windscreen or even door handles. The passenger side was covered up but the door on that side could still be opened to provide space for a helmet and a few small items.
The interior was fitted with a dashboard and seat from the 918 Spyder Hypercar, while the entire car underwent a rigorous weight loss program, which resulted in a ready-to-drive weight of 2422 pounds. That may be three times as much as the original Bergspyder but seeing the two parked next to each other just shows what an impressive feat it was to get the modern equivalent down to that figure, especially considering that the aim was to put the 981 Bergspyder into serial production.
As a reference, a stock 981 Boxster S fitted with a manual transmission weighs in at 3070 pounds. That car is fitted with a 311hp 3.4-liter flat-six; however the 981 Bergspyder received the 3.8-liter Cayman GT4 engine, which was tuned to produce 387hp (up 7hp). Porsche’s estimates were a 0-60mph time of 4.0-seconds and a Nürburgring time of around 7:30 minutes. Even fitted with the slower-shifting manual transmission these figures would have made it the quickest Boxster or Cayman produced to that point.
As it turns out, concerns over whether the car would be eligible for registration in some countries meant that the project was shelved and the 981 Bergspyder remained a one-off prototype. It remained on display at the Weissach development center for two years thereafter being transferred to the Porsche Museum. This unique prototype was shown to the public for the first time during the 2019 edition of the Gaisberg hillclimb. Perhaps with the increasing popularity of limited-edition track-only models, Porsche could be persuaded to put the Bergspyder into production. Without concerns about having to get it registered for the road it could be made even lighter still: a future classic in the making.
Images courtesy of Porsche