In the late 1980’s, German sports carmaker Porsche was in a financial pinch. Their front-engine sports cars – the 928, 924, 944 and 968 – didn’t sell as well as expected. On top of poor sales, there was a global economic recession, an unfavorable exchange rate, and aggressive competition from other carmakers. Porsche needed the capital infusion to continue operation, and compatriot car companies Audi and Volkswagen were ready to pitch in.
Porsche was working on a revival of the brand, ditching their front-engine sports cars and focusing on their air-cooled rear-engine 911. However, the company realized that they cannot survive on one model alone so a new and more distinctive entry-level model was desperately needed. It must capture the Porsche vibe and spirit; it must be instantly recognizable as a Porsche, and it had to be 100-percent Porsche, not a brew of Volkswagen or Audi parts.
At the same time, to save money, Porsche would be adopting streamlined production techniques, and the new entry-level sports car, tagged 986, would be sharing much of its parts with the next-generation 911, the 996. Moreover, the new flat-six engines for both would no longer be air-cooled but water-cooled. There was a lot at risk for Porsche.
Porsche decide it needed to generate a lot of buzz to offset the risks. In 1992, Porsche started work on a concept car that they plan to debut at the Detroit auto show. Staff designer Steve Murkett suggested the name “Boxster” that was a charmingly catchy and almost child-like mash-up of the concept car’s “boxer” engine and “roadster” body, which were the core elements of the first-ever Porsche sports car.
The Boxster Concept was designed by Grant Larson, an American stylist working under design chief Harm Lagaay, and it paid homage to Porsche’s racing heritage with strong styling influences from the 718 RSK and 550 Spyder. Better yet, the concept car was instantly recognizable as a Porsche that the company considered bringing it into production even before being shown to the public.
At Detroit’s Cobo Hall in January 1993, journalists were genuinely astonished with the Boxster Concept that Autoweek magazine named it “Best in Show”. Porsche pulled off another surprise by announcing that the Boxster will be soon produced and sold at around $40,000. However, the adoring public would have to wait four agonizingly long years before they could actually buy one off the showroom but they loved it so much that the Boxster name stayed in the production plan.
The Boxster Concept signaled something even more critical than a new design direction. The Boxster offered the promise of a new, more affordable Porsche sports car at a time when the company’s future was a question mark. The production Boxster was very close to the concept but gained a few inches for the occupants’ comfort and safety, including a pair of built-in roll bars.
The concept car’s exposed gearshift mechanism, pull-up handbrake lever in the driver’s seat bolster, backlit etched-in-glass instrument faces, and exposed ventilation fans didn’t make it into production. Its LCD screen for navigation would soon be common feature in production vehicles. The production Boxster debuted in 1997 and was priced under $40,000 as promised. It became Porsche’s best-seller until the Cayenne SUV.
To celebrate the triumph of the Boxster Concept and its lasting influence on the company’s economic well-being, Maisto made a 1:18 scale die-cast model of the concept car in stunning detail when it debuted in the 1993 North American International Auto Show. Every time we look at our Boxster Concept model, we are reminded of the talented people who poured their hearts and talents into it and the forward thinking executives who approved it into production. Wittingly or unwittingly, Porsche gave the automotive world another classic to add to the 356 and 911.
To see other scale model cars and motorcycles that we have previously posted here in the Power Wheels website, please click “The Rack” button on the header bar near the top right of your screen (if you’re using a PC, laptop or tablet), or type “The Rack” on the Search bar (if you’re using a mobile phone). Since the government has extended the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until the end of May, we won’t be able to leave our home-office to review actual vehicles, so in the mean time, we’ll stick to reviewing the scale model cars in our collection. We hope you’re enjoying our reviews and are encouraged to stay safe by staying home until the authorities deem it safe to go out. Help flatten the curve of the infection rate by doing your part. Together, we can beat COVID-19!