Its steering through the rather bland-looking wheel is lighter, yet just as rewarding when the pace increases, and the ride, while being generally more pliant, combines with superior high-speed body control and a less fidgety structure.
The car I’d imagined to be a boulevardier is actually far more engaging to drive than expected, and with its chopped ’screen and Batmobile-style rear deck is quite something to behold.
Of course, this is British summertime, so the day wouldn’t be complete without precipitation. All three ‘rain covers’ are hastily erected, and while each has elements of which Heath Robinson would be proud, they’re manually in place (no electrics here) with all tonneaus – fabric on the 356, and large plastic covers on the 911 and 964 – secured in less than 2 mins.
Like the earlier cars, Porsche’s 964 is a strict two-seater
But honestly, if hood-up practicality concerns you, best opt for the Cabriolet versions.
The essence of Speedster motoring was always about driving purity, not ease of use, and nothing comes closer to achieving that than the 356.
Sit behind this car’s exquisite, non-standard three-spoke wheel and you’re faced with… well, not very much: three chrome-rimmed dials for revs, speed and various systems.
Rubber matting extends across the floor, with a foot-operated dip-switch and a couple of pull-out knobs for lights.
Porsche’s 964 Speedster has an enlarged 3600cc engine, mated to a rare four-speed Tiptronic auto
Each door is unfeasibly light and – like those on its modern brethren – the top edges neatly follow the line of the upper dashboard, wrapping around you in a continuous arc. Spartan it might be, but there’s an underlying quality about all the controls.
As Sumpter admits, this car drives far better than it would have done nearly 70 years ago, and that’s borne out as soon as we take to the road.
It’s the loudest of the trio by some margin, and the hard-edged, air-cooled bark from its exhaust is addictive as you change up at 5000rpm – still 1500rpm shy of the redline – through the notchy, rather wooden-feeling gearshift.
The essence of Porsche’s original, classic 356A Speedster (front) is present in the 911 Carrera 3.2