Porsche’s naturally-aspirated, manual transmission 911 R spied in the metal

The steady decline of the manual transmission is a somber movement for car purists. Automated manuals — also known as semi-automatics or flappy-paddle gearboxes — are generally faster and more controlled than their anachronistic cousins, but the visceral sensation of slamming a sports car into second gear or rev-matching a manual downshift cannot be matched by anything except the original.

Validly or not, Porsche has been accused of sterilizing its vehicles lately with dual-clutch PDKs, electric steering, and downsized turbocharged powerplants, but the automaker still recognizes the appeal of a good old-fashioned stick. As we reported earlier this month, the German powerhouse is going back-to-basics with the next-generation 911.

A new limited-edition model called the 911 R will equip the naturally-aspirated, 475-horsepower 3.8-liter engine from the 911 GT3, but it will forgo the current car’s PDK for a manual gearbox. That’s right, Porsche will be shipping a free-breathing, clutch pedal-equipped 911 in the next couple of years, and that alone is reason to celebrate.

As you can see in the spy photos from World Car Fans, the vehicle equips a more subtle, streamlined body compared to the GT3. The bevy of aerodynamic spoilers and lips have been tossed to save weight, and other fat-trimming measures will help the 911 R keep pace with the lightning-quick GT3, hitting 60 mph in approximately 3.0 seconds.

Though the notion of a more elemental Porsche is rousing, production of the car will be limited to just 600 examples across the globe. Those select buyers have reportedly already been chosen, picked by Porsche from a group of loyal and top-dollar customers such as those who already own the astonishing 918 Spyder.

We don’t have official performance specs or pricing for the car yet, but the manual 911 could very well present a slower, more difficult, and more involved driving experience than its automated counterpart. In other words, just how we like it.