So much has changed in sports car racing in the past 50 years or so that it's a nice connection to the heritage to find something that hasn't: In 1960, the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race was every bit the critical warm-up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans that it is now, considered comparably stressful on driver and machinery due to the brutally rough Sebring road course, fashioned in part from acres and acres of World War II-era concrete left over from a military base.
As it was in 1960, horsepower rules Sebring. On paper, anyway. But because the races aren't run on paper, things happen. Such as in 1960, when a tiny, fragile-looking, silver Porsche RS 60, powered by a 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine, beat the brutal Ferraris and Maseratis and took the overall victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Drivers Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien were as surprised as anyone else that their little silver giant-killer won, and just as surprised that another Brumos-entered RS 60 driven by Bob Holbert, Roy Schecter and Howard Fowler was second. In third? A Ferrari, some 11 laps, or 60 miles, behind the winning Porsche.
Fast-forward to 2008. Porsche, looking for a way to inject a little excitement into the aging Boxster, has built 1,960 -- as in 1960, get it? -- Boxster RS 60s to commemorate the little car that could, that 550-based RS 60.
All 1,960 of them are painted GT Silver Metallic, very close to the color of the 1960 car, and you can get either a black or a red top. We suggest red, as it matches the Carrera Red leather interior so well.
Mechanically, the car is pretty much a Boxster S, with a few very minor tweaks to the 3.4-liter six-cylinder upping horsepower to 303, from 295. You'll recall that the regular Boxster has a 2.7-liter engine, with 245 horsepower.
Porsche is billing the Boxster RS 60 as the only Boxster with more than 300 horsepower, which is certainly true, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell much difference. Porsche claims a 0 to 60 mph time for the Boxster S with the six-speed manual transmission of 5.1 seconds, and that was exactly our best time with the RS 60. We did not test top speed, which for the Boxster S is given as 169 mph. That said, as with all Boxsters past and present, this is not a 0 to 60 mph car, and the joyous noise that comes from that so-smooth engine as it approaches ultra-legal speeds can best be appreciated with the top town, stereo off, police hopefully otherwise occupied.
Inside, the seats are comfortable and supportive, the one-button power top easy to use. The RS 60's construction quality was superb, with no squeaks, rattles, uneven seams or irregular panel gaps. As with all Boxsters, the front and rear trunks provide plenty of luggage room.
So what else is new with the Boxster RS 60? Not as much as you might want for a collector model. There are unique stainless-steel door sills, a slightly modified instrument cluster, a different gearshift lever, slight modifications to seat upholstery and a minor tweak to the taillights. Nowhere on the outside does it say that this is an RS 60. Still, since fewer than 800 of the 1,960 cars will be coming to North America, Porsche doesn't seem to think there will be end-of-the-year discounts on the RS 60, and we agree.
Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smithcan be reached at email@example.com.