In an unexpected move, Porsche has adopted an historically significant model number for the next generation of Boxster and Cayman. Coming next year are the 4 cylinder turbocharged babies of the sport car range and they will both adopt the number 718 in a reference to the ground-breaking sports car of 1957 and successor to the legendary Porsche 550 Spyder, which itself was the inspiration for the first generation of Boxster.
Whether at the 12-hour race in Sebring in 1960 or at the European Hill Climb Championship that ran between 1958 and 1961, the original Porsche 718 prevailed against numerous competitors with its powerful and efficient four-cylinder boxer engine. The 718 took the win in both the 1959 and 1960 Italian Targa Florio races in Sicily and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1958 the 718 RSK, with its 142-hp four-cylinder engine, scored a class victory.
Whilst the capacity of the 718’s engine has yet to be confirmed, the technology is likely to have taken significant input from the 2-litre V4 petrol engine, which develops in excess of 500hp, in the 919 hybrid race cars which have brought Porsche back into the endurance racing limelight this year with their first World Endurance Championship win since Derek Bell took the title in 1986.
The new models will become available in 2016 and will mark the end of the normally-aspirated engine in Porsche sports cars.
Words: Chris Valentine; images: Porsche and Brian Snelson.