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Cheap, fast, lightweight, and simple vehicles. That’s been the mantra for high-performance sports car success, at least in the 1950s and 1960s. But somewhere along the road, we lost that philosophy. Look at any modern Porsche or BMW to see how far we’ve drifted from those basic 356 coupes and 2002 sedans. It even applied to the success of the original Volkswagen, minus the “fast.” Now Porsche has taken it back a notch with its lightweight S/T. 

With a sense of purpose, enthusiasts took lightweight, stripped American sedans and coupes, plucked the straight-six for a big block V8, and hit the local drag strip. You didn’t take a big, plush Ford LTD. You chose the cheapest Fairlane you could get. Beef up the suspension, stab a high-performance engine and four-speed into it, and go.

Who can forget the lightweight, simple BMW 2002?

BMW 2002 tii sedan vintage advertising It'll really move you
BMW 2002 sedan vintage advertising | BMW

While BMWs have at least maintained a decent size, they’re overwrought and laden with performance enhancers. The real beauty was in the rudimentary 2002 two-doors with the barest of interiors, lots of character, suspensions, and manual transmissions pushing it through corners. 

Porsche has especially gone in the wrong direction for a couple of decades. Compare the size of an old and new 911. The new Porsche is gigantic. And Stuttgart had to increase the size to package the turbos, exhaust, cooling, emissions, and other random components. 

Should Porsche do more lightweight vehicles like the new S/T?

2024 Porsche S/T lightweight front 3/4 view
2024 Porsche S/T lightweight | Porsche

The company has been aware of this and has offered a few lightened specials over the years, but the Porsche buyer seems to be OK with the extra heft as long as they get a massaging seat. Still, it is bucking the trend somewhat with the new S/T.

It touts its lightweight as one of its main features, along with the 518 hp engine from the RS. So one gets lower weight and higher horsepower. It’s not quite as quick as the GT3 RS, but for today’s Porsche owner, the combination makes for a faster Touring coupe. Part of the magic is the manual transmission.

2024 Porsche S/T lightweight in front of mid-century house
2024 Porsche S/T lightweight | Porsche

That’s always part of every magic formula. But besides a stick, the clutch is all-new. In the process, it reduced the rotating mass by 23 lbs. Porsche says zero to 60 times are 3.5 seconds, with a top speed of 186 mph. Magnesium wheels, a host of carbon fiber body panels, lightened glass, a composite rear axle anti-roll bar, and Porsche decreased overall weight by 70 lbs to 3,056 lbs. 

A lightweight stripper should be an option for all performance vehicles

Orange 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 | GM

But Porsche could and should do better. Simple cabins and materials, less sound deadening, and a top-to-bottom assessment of necessary and unnecessary components would do wonders. Strip it down, clean it up, and generally de-content the 911, then offer it for less. The same can be said for the Z06 Corvette, BMW M models, and even the new Mustang. There’s nothing wrong with a simple, clean, stripped-down look and feel. And it definitely enhances any vehicle combination ever made. 

A little more cabin noise or slightly harsher jounce isn’t a deal breaker for a sports car. Who’s listening to Lizzo anyway when you’ve got 500 hp in a 2,800 lb rocketship? Let’s hear it for lightweight strippers and the glory of simple, clean, go-fast haulers.


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