THE FIRST TIME I really took notice of the 981 Boxster Spyder was in 2016 during a UCR monthly social at Porsche Centre Oakville, where a gleaming example in Carrara White Metallic sat centre stage. That had the desired effect on me and before I knew it, I’d made an appointment for a test drive.
It’s a bit of cliché to talk about a Porsche putting a smile on your face, but as I drove along, allowing my foot to twitch a little on the gas pedal, I realized that there I was alone in this fabulous Porsche with a big, stupid grin on my face. It was that good, I loved it and I wanted it. Hold on a moment though, I’m no impulse buyer. I had to do my due diligence, check out other Spyders on the market and look at the numbers. Well, you can guess what happened. By the time I was ready to sign on the dotted line, it was gone. Sold from right under my nose, not the first time for me, either, so why hadn’t I applied what I’d learned — if the first car you see checks all the boxes, buy it now!
It turned out that “my” Spyder was just about the last new one for sale in Canada. After that, any cars to be found at dealers were all “used” and no longer for sale at MSRP, so I decided to stay out of the market until the rumours about the next-generation Spyder began to appear. In November 2017 I checked in with Porsche Centre North Toronto. Yes, they said, Porsche may build a new Spyder, but we don’t know when. I didn’t care when, but I wanted one. Just take my deposit and get me in line. I wasn’t first, but quite close.
So 2018 passed, with rumours about engine, horsepower, which parts it would share with the GT3, and when and where this new Porsche would be announced. It was a frustrating time, but actually quite fun, too. Announcement rumours came and went, until at the June 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England it finally happened while we were cruising high in the Arctic Ocean, at times beyond the reach of Internet satellites. After the sea ice turned us back south, my intermittent Internet connection stayed up long enough to provide confirmation of the Spyder and GT4 launch at Goodwood.
This great news strengthened my hope that the North American debut would be at the upcoming Porsche Parade in Boca Raton, Florida. Surely Porsche wouldn’t miss the opportunity to present it to 2,000 PCA members. Indeed, just three weeks later, there in the massive banquet room at the Boca Raton Resort, were two shrouded profiles before the stage. After dinner came the fanfare and the great unveiling of a Carrara White 718 Spyder and a GT4 in Racing Yellow, prompting a rush of members to the front of the room. As everyone stood around oohing and aahing, I couldn’t help just casually letting it be known to anyone who would listen, that I’d had one of these on order since November 2017.
In October 2019, Porsche Centre North Toronto called to say it had received their allocation of 718 Spyders and ask if I’d like to firm up my order. Well, yes please. Before visiting the dealer, I began building my car on the Porsche website. Wincing at the cost of options, dismissing some as frivolous, while checking the boxes for other, er, frivolous ones, it was surprisingly easy to add over $20,000 to the base price with my essential options. Surprisingly? Well, not really. I’ve been around long enough to know that Porsche is masterful in creating desirable options, many of which we might expect to be standard. Nevertheless, like many before me, I figured that if I’m spending six figures on a car, I may as well spec it in a way that ensures no future regrets.
The option selection game is challenging, but fun, and the enjoyment can be spread over weeks or months. Just accept that the price of an option, such as the face of a small dial in a non-standard colour, has little to do with its actual cost, nor the value that any non-Porschephile might attribute to it. No, it’s all about making the car special and customized to one’s individual taste. With our last few cars having been black, white and grey, Pam and I agreed the Spyder would be Guards Red, until it was time to make the final commitment, at which point we discovered we had both been harbouring a secret desire for Racing Yellow. Shall we do it? Yes, why not? Glad we did.
I was told that European delivery was not available, but I was committed to the idea of visiting the Porsche Zuffenhausen factory, taking delivery of our Spyder and driving around for a few days. With a little persistence I managed to get a European delivery date of May 15.
It certainly was a special moment, pulling back the cover to reveal the spectacular Racing Yellow Spyder. Every detail was perfect, no doubt because it had been built to our precise specification. How often do we look at a Porsche and think it’s nice, but that it could have been optioned better, to our taste. Well, not this time.
Unfortunately, though, the onset of the pandemic brought our trip planning to a halt. Production of our Spyder would be delayed by a couple of weeks as well, so Porsche offered to reschedule our visit to July 1. I suspected that travel restrictions would still be in place and considered pick-up at an even later date. However, with another six weeks for the car to arrive at my dealer, the summer and fall driving season would be nearly over. So with much regret, we decided to cancel the European delivery and have the Spyder shipped straight to Canada. I should have asked if my dealer could still offer me this perk, sans vehicle delivery, when the pandemic is over.
Paul Madjarian at Porsche Centre North Toronto kept me informed about the Spyder’s progress from the factory to Toronto. Once it arrived, we scheduled a day for pick up — July 13, 2020 — a mere two years and three months after placing my deposit. Arriving at the dealer, we couldn’t see our bright yellow Spyder anywhere in the parking lot or the showroom. Paul Madjarian had it hidden under a cover, ready for the great unveiling.
It certainly was a special moment, pulling back the cover to reveal the spectacular Racing Yellow Spyder. Every detail was perfect, no doubt because it had been built to our precise specification. How often do we look at a Porsche and think it’s nice, but that it could have been optioned better, to our taste. Well, not this time. It was perfect, but was still going to be made a little more perfect with a short drive to C17 Media in Richmond Hill for the addition of paint protection film and some black vinyl stripes. C17 Media is the printer of Provinz, but also an accomplished designer and installer of automotive wraps. (See “The Pursuit of Protection” —Ed.)
So just a few more days to wait before driving off into the sunset in “ALONGKMA” Spyder with its PPF and black accents. In any other year the 3,000-kilometre break-in distance would have been reached quickly with our frequent drives across the border on PCA Zone 1 business and our usual social activity. This year we had to revive a habit from our youth of just going out for a drive to enjoy our car and rack up the kilometers.
There wasn’t much driving season left after the break-in period, but enough to enjoy the 4.0-litre flat-six flexing its very capable muscle on some quiet country roads. The power, the steering, the suspension, the gear shifter, the braking and the whole feel of the car are quite superb. Everything you need to touch is weighted perfectly, so that the act of touching is a pleasure in itself. The Spyder is so nimble, so agile, and the rigidity of this convertible sports car feels as good as a coupe.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to me the unique style of the manual top flowing into the streamliners makes the Spyder one of the prettiest Porsches ever, top up and top down, too. Put into hibernation so soon after our brief acquaintance, it must be as impatient as me for the winter to pass, and to get back on the open road as soon as we see the first signs of spring. </>
Story and Photos by Mike Bryan