Porsche is one of those manufacturers that, over the years, has produced so many special vehicles that it's hard to keep track of them, let alone pick a favorite. Everything from Caymans, to 550 Spyders, to halo cars like the 959, 918 Spyder, or the legendary Carrera GT with that naturally-aspirated exhaust note.
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In 1991, Porsche produced twenty-two 911 964 Leichtbaus (meaning lightweight), which were based on the Carerra 4 version of the 964 Porsche 911. The reason Porsche created these cars was out of necessity, not just plain desire. Given the economic climate of the late '80s, Porsche wanted to reignite the passion behind the brand and needed a vehicle to do that. So their answer was a stripped out, bat-shit crazy 964 race car.
Porsche shipped the completed 964s over to the Weissach factory, where all of Porsche's motorsport operations were located at the time. There, the 911 was relieved of 750+ pounds of weight by replacing the metal doors with aluminum ones and the glass with Lexan. Everything that could come out of the car came out. The rear wing became plastic, and on the interior, almost everything was stripped out in favor of a roll cage. Weight savings at the time was the name of the game.
The only drawback for the Leichtbau was the top speed. Because it was AWD, using the same system from the 953 rally car, the gear ratios were extremely short. The 911 Leichtbau could only do 124 miles per hour as a top speed. And sure, yes, that's still quick, but not the kinds of numbers we're used to in modern supercars today.
When it came time to sell the vehicle, Porsche fooled the U.S. Government in an ingenious, albeit slightly nefarious way. A Californian man named Kerry Morse was set to buy the first Leichtbau and promised to purchase and import several more. However, the U.S. wouldn't allow this stripped out, race car-like vehicle on public roads. So what Morse and Porsche did was stamp each car with VIN numbers consistent with how Porsche stamped their off-road cars (i.e., race cars). Essentially what this meant was that Porsche was importing race cars not for use on public roads when, in reality, the cars were just going straight to road use. With this bending of the truth, Porsche fooled the government and the U.S. had its (illegal) Leichtbau allocation.
Because only 22 of these cars were produced almost 27 years ago, they are extremely rare. Pricing when new was $170,000 due to all of the work that had to be done to make the car what it is. Recently, one sold at a Gooding and Company auction for north of $1.5mm.
Disagree? Do you know of a crazier, street-legal 911 produced over the years? Leave it in the comments below.