When 356 production ended and was replaced in the market by the 911/912 pair, nearly everyone wanted to know when Porsche would again produce an open air version of their new sports coupe. Looking to meet this demand, dealer and importer Johnny Von Neumann teamed with Italian design house Bertone to create a drop-top Porsche.
Von Neumann felt that developing the new-for-’66 911 Targa would not be enough for the fickle and volatile California market (who were pestering him for a roadster/speedster/spyder replacement of some kind). In speaking with Porsche about this problem, Von Neumann was approved for release of a single chassis. This 911 was to be sent to Bertone for engineering and installment, and was to be used as a litmus test.
The end result seemed something absolutely spectacular, with the new body looking much more fetching than anything that had come out of Porsche, or in fact Germany as a whole. The car was truly an Italian design, mimicking and improving on contemporary designs from competitors Lamborghini and Ferrari. Even the interior was “Italianized” with the standard gauges moved to the center stack, proper GT cruiser leather seats, the rear seat removed, and a legitimate center console added.
Bertone’s Porsche 911 Roadster was presented at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show and was created for one of the American Porsche dealerships with a view to putting a limited series out to the American market.
While there was a warm reception for the car in Geneva, and several inquiries, no one placed hard orders or gave any indication of actually purchasing one. The higher-ups at Porsche killed the deal, and Von Neumann was forced to concede that the Targa would be more practical for production at a much lower cost.
Engeneering: Fitting out a Porsche chassis was quite a challenge for Bertone, because of the atypical size and shape of the rear engined 911. For Bertone it was very important to deliver a high level of technical and design quality befitting the high quality of the basic product and the prestige of the marque.
The driving idea behind the design of the prototype was safety. The cockpit was completely separated from the rest of the vehicle, with the use of a rather deep swage line running from the windscreen along the upper edge of the doors to the engine compartment. This solution also allowed for notably low wings for this type of car.
The Porsche 911 Roadster is a fusion of some of the best ideas to appear on the Chevy Testudo in 1963, and many styling elements were adopted on the Fiat 850 Spider in 1965. Unfortunately this 911 Roadster remained a single effort.
Wearing: Originally displayed with Campagnolo wheels, and in a particularly fetching shade of Carmine Red, the Bertone special wowed crowds. When originally produced the car used a standard 911 2.0 flat six, but with the introduction of the 911S, it received an upgrade to the S specification engine. Sometime during its life it has been reupholstered with a saddle color leather and has been repainted in a lovely smooth black that complements its curves. While it has received several different sets of wheels, notably, steel 904 wheels, and a wide set of Fuchs, the car is most often shown wearing a perfect set of 914-6 Mahle “Gas-burner” wheels.