Pagani, Koenigsegg, Koenigsegg, McLaren, Koenigsegg, Gunther Werks Coupe, Pagani. I could go on. And on. A reshuffle, apparently, by one of Gunther Werks' customers. They're sorting out the collection, tidying up the car cave. For some individuals their automotive reality is just, well, different. Instead of the familiar this or that, it's a case of that, and that, and that, with some more stuff thrown in for good measure. It might mean the occasional logistical issue - shifting parking positions in your garage/hangar/bunker - but, hey, there are worse problems to have.
Forget then that you could have a 993 GT2 or a 993 RS Clubsport, or any combination of Turbo, Turbo S, Cabriolet, 4S, S. Hell, in this reality you'd have the means to own one of the two 993 Speedsters Porsche produced. Perhaps not the one built for Ferdinand 'Butzi' Porsche - good luck getting hold of that - but the car Jerry Seinfeld had Porsche create using a C4S Cab in 1998 might be locatable. Of course, if you own a Gunther Werks Speedster, you've not had to make a this or that choice - but, having driven it, I can understand why you might be conflicted about what's in your garage.
We drove the Coupe in prototype form back in 2017, and have subsequently revisited it several times since in production form. In doing so we've found the Gunther Werks Coupe to be pretty much perfect; the firm's take on how a GT3 might be had Porsche continued the air-cooled lineage, mixing old-school engagement with more contemporary performance. In short, it's a phenomenal driver's car. But after an hour with the new Speedster, it's possible that I want one more. And that's saying something.
The transformation from what was a stock 993 Cabriolet largely follows the same route as the 25 Coupe models the firm has built. Like them, there will only be 25 Speedsters, and they're already sold, which makes the price neither here nor there. For the record, they start at $675,000, although with a few options, it's more likely to be around $850,000. That the handful of Coupes which have been re-sold have done so at significantly more than RRP tells you everything you need to know about customer demand, as well as underlining Gunther Werks' commendable stance on not rolling a few more examples from its Huntington Beach HQ just to add to the bottom line.
The Speedster shares the Coupe's 4.0-litre air-cooled engine out back, which is a very good thing. It's the handiwork of Jeff Gamroth, of Rothsport Racing, and it's sensational. He happens to be visiting Gunther Werks when we're there, and admits that aside from the casing everything is custom and built to his own specification. There are billet barrels and a billet crankshaft, to which are attached forged conrods topped by unique Mahle pistons. Equal length stainless steel headers, the throttle bodies and fuel injection system are Gamroth's own design. It's all controlled by a Motec engine management system with a second map accessed via the Sport mode, which also changes the character of the valved, lightweight exhaust.
Gunther Werks quotes an output of 430hp, with 315lb ft of torque, and a 7,800rpm redline. It feels all that, and more, and makes a sound that you need to hear to believe. And that's just in the Coupe. Putting that engine in the back of an open car adds not just to the aural excitement of the quick-revving flat-six, but the physicality, too. It's more elemental, and because it's more front of house, the glorious notes emanating from it are heard more readily - whether that's intake, exhaust, or simply the mechanical symphony of all the engine's moving parts doing their thing. When they are there's plenty of performance, as you'd anticipate with a 430hp naturally-aspirated flat-six shifting under 1,200kg. Especially if you've gone with all the lightweighting options.
That's a lower weight than the Coupe, thanks to the complete absence of a roof. It's commendable though, because to make the Speedster work, Gunther Werks has had to stiffen it up, significantly. To do so they contracted Trevor Harris, a race engineer who's worked, and won, in every racing category you've ever heard of, and some you might not have. Google his name, IndyCar and Al Unser Jr and you'll see how committed he is to his cause. Harris's engineering input, including things like double-skinned sills (rocker panels), a frame in the void behind the front seats which also doubles as roll-over protection, has resulted in a platform that's 50 per cent stiffer than a stock 993 coupe.
Off that Gunther Werks hangs its suspension, with the same square track of the Coupe, covered by extended wings. They, like the rest of the body, are made from carbon fibre. The chassis features a combination of bespoke, RS and Eisenlohr Racing parts, which come as standard with regular passive remote-reservoir KW coilovers, or optionally, as here, with an electronically controlled JRZ set-up. The optional dampers monitor and adjust 1,000 times a second, offering the choice of different modes (Composed, Sport and Sport+), via a phone app, which does feel slightly at odds with the Speedster's otherwise entirely analogue leanings. Sport+ seemed to work best on my drive, delivering fine body control alongside a supple ride, which is remarkable given the size of the tyres.
The front wheels are huge, at 11-inches wide, and wear 295/30/18 tyres, with the 13-inch-wide rears being 335/30/18s. Unlike the Pirellis P Zero Corsas on the Coupe, the Speedster rides on Continental ExtremeContact Sport tyres, the slightly softer sidewalls suiting the open-top character a bit better than the stiffer-walled Pirellis. Regardless of the tyre, that huge contact patch does make for a limited turning circle, which makes manoeuvring in tighter spots a touch tricky. It's a small price to pay for the mechanical grip though, and the sensational response at the front axle.
Turn the steering wheel on the move, at speed, and the front end turns in with a precision that - beyond Gunther Werks' own Coupe - is unmatched in an air-cooled 911. It makes a 993 RS feel dim-witted. Indeed, the closest thing I've experienced to it is a 993 GT R on track, and even its nose needed a bit more patience to tuck in than the Speedster's. The Gunther Werks' car is so much more faithful, its immediacy backed with light weighting and feedback which is rich in detail and short on corruption. That's aided by the wheel itself, a custom-made design uncluttered by button, paddle or anything else that might distract you from the business of driving. It has a horn, and feels wonderful in your hands. Which makes it everything it should be.
The steering is a highlight, but there's a lot going on behind you, too, as the engine's response is made all the more eager by a lightened single mass flywheel. It's difficult not to get carried away in town; in a quiet canyon, impossible. Wringing out that 4.0-litre motor, it becomes apparent that the speed it produces is actually secondary to the sensations layered on top of it. Your connection to the car and to the road is second to none, and there isn't a moment where the Speedster doesn't place its driver at the centre of the action. The absence of a roof obviously plays into the drama, and aside from the possibility of rain or a dip in air temperature, it demands very few compromises in return for maximum reward.
You're situated in a cabin that is beautifully finished, too, Gunther Werks having worked tirelessly on the details since the prototype Coupe was revealed in 2017. The result is a pleasing blend of familiar 993 architecture with an air of technical modernity that's not just stunning to behold but all works beautifully. The seats hold you with a firm yet comfortable embrace, and the pedals are perfectly positioned for rev-matched downshifts. The manual gearshift is accurate, but its travel does feel slightly too long - especially when you factor in the engine's ceaseless appetite for revs. Given Gunther Werks' continual tweaking it's something that could easily be addressed. The brakes, though - Brembo GTR six-piston calipers up front, and four at the rear, grasping huge discs - are immaculate, with a firm, progressive bite that's full of feel under your foot.
The only significant complaint (beyond the effort required to turn around or manoeuvre into a tight space) is that the Speedster is sold out, and even if it weren't, I'd never be in the position to buy one anyway. Which is a shame, because virtually everything about it - the inertia-free, brilliant-sounding engine, the meticulous handling, and the sheer drama of it all - brilliantly encapsulates everything I want in a car. Any car, in fact, which means I could forgo the faff of a collection. Save, perhaps, for a chance to own a Coupe too. Just in case it rains.
SPECIFICATION | 2022 GUNTHER WERKS SPEEDSTER
Engine: 4.0-litre flat-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 430@7,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 315@6,500rpm
Top speed: N/A
Price: $675,000 before options (£513,000, converted 28/03/22)
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