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Charge of the Light Brigade: Porsche 911 R v Porsche Cayman R

3 months ago

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Writer:

Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder

Date:

4 April 2024

Generally speaking, making light cars is a mug’s game. It’s expensive and hardly anyone thanks you for it. You and I know the advantages span all areas of dynamic endeavour, but really that counts for diddly when adding power is so fantastically cheap by comparison and, well, so damned effective. Up goes the bhp number, down comes the 0-60mph time and just don’t mention that the car will be heavier and worse at almost everything else as a result. Cars fly out the door; trebles all round.

But just occasionally, and because there are still a few lunatics left who are not quite so easily pleased, a manufacturer will do a small run of cars that are more focussed on the driver than the stat-hungry power grubber. Making them lighter is one part of it of course, but if you’re going down that road, there are a few other things you can do too.

Such an approach speaks to us not just because we know the result should be better to drive; there’s something more subliminal going on too. For where do the origins of these lightweight, driver-centric cars lie? Homologation specials, that’s where. And while neither of these cars was designed to make a competition version eligible for racing, that’s what the little letter at the end of their name alludes to. For Porsche that ‘R’ quite literally means racing, and long before an ‘S’ was appended to it, it was used for the first time in Porsche’s original homologation special. And it’s only been used twice since, on the cars you see before you. By comparison ‘RS’ Porsches are common as they come.

We’ll set aside the fact the first 911R failed utterly to deliver on the very reason for its creation – it cost almost twice as much as the top of the range 911S so only 19 production cars (and four prototypes) were built, laughably short of the 500 needed to homologate it for GT racing – leave further talk of it for the sidebar below, and focus ourselves instead on the two cars Porsche would like you to see as their spiritual successors.

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