Automotive

4 ways to get old-school Porsche 911 thrills in a modern package

The Chicago car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Chicago car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Atherton car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Atherton car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Aurora car from Singer Vehicle Design
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The Aurora car from Singer Vehicle Design
The Bahrain car from Singer Vehicle Design
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The Bahrain car from Singer Vehicle Design
The Boston car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Boston car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Bridgehampton car from Singer Vehicle Design
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The Bridgehampton car from Singer Vehicle Design
The Chicago car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Chicago car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Cleveland car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Cleveland car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Colorado car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Colorado car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Conneticut car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Conneticut car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Cupertino car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Cupertino car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Hong Kong 2 car from Singer Vehicle Design 
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The Hong Kong 2 car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Indianapolis car from Singer Vehicle Design
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The Indianapolis car from Singer Vehicle Design
The 400R motif is scattered around the exterior liberally 
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The 400R motif is scattered around the exterior liberally 
The flat-six in the Gunther Werks 400R
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The flat-six in the Gunther Werks 400R
Carbon fiber has been applied to the 400R liberally 
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Carbon fiber has been applied to the 400R liberally 
Stunning interior details on the Gunther Werks 400R
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Stunning interior details on the Gunther Werks 400R
The classic 911 gauge cluster has been tastefully modified for the 400R
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The classic 911 gauge cluster has been tastefully modified for the 400R
The driver and passenger sit in carbon buckets in the 400R
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The driver and passenger sit in carbon buckets in the 400R
Forget rear seats – the 400R is strictly for two
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Forget rear seats – the 400R is strictly for two
Behind the wheel of the Gunther Werks 400R
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Behind the wheel of the Gunther Werks 400R
The 30-mm arch extensions of the 400R are tasteful, but they also look mean
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The 30-mm arch extensions of the 400R are tasteful, but they also look mean
The rear wing on the 400R is made of carbon fiber 
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The rear wing on the 400R is made of carbon fiber 
That exhaust system is actually borrowed from a 997 911 GT3
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That exhaust system is actually borrowed from a 997 911 GT3
The pumped-up stance of the 400R looks mean, even from the sky 
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The pumped-up stance of the 400R looks mean, even from the sky 
With 400 hp on tap, the 400R should be seriously quick 
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With 400 hp on tap, the 400R should be seriously quick 
Pricing for the 400R starts at an eye-watering $525,000
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Pricing for the 400R starts at an eye-watering $525,000
A 400R emerges from the shadows
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A 400R emerges from the shadows
The widebody 400R 
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The widebody 400R 
Another Porsche tuner has taken it upon itself to improve on the breed 
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Another Porsche tuner has taken it upon itself to improve on the breed 
The new RUF CTR Yellow Bird is built around a carbon chassis
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The new RUF CTR Yellow Bird is built around a carbon chassis
Although it's technically not a Porsche, the RUF CTR is undoubtedly inspired by the 80s 911
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Although it's technically not a Porsche, the RUF CTR is undoubtedly inspired by the 80s 911
Looking into the eye of the RUF CTR
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Looking into the eye of the RUF CTR
The swollen haunches of the RUF CTR Yellow Bird
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The swollen haunches of the RUF CTR Yellow Bird
Just 30 Yellow Birds will be built
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Just 30 Yellow Birds will be built
The RUF CTR Yellow Bird
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The RUF CTR Yellow Bird
Porsche aimed the 911 R at purists
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Porsche aimed the 911 R at purists
The 911 R was built in limited numbers
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The 911 R was built in limited numbers
The Porsche 911 R 
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The Porsche 911 R 
With no wings or scoops, the 911 R is much sleeker than the GT3 RS with which it shares its underpinnings
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With no wings or scoops, the 911 R is much sleeker than the GT3 RS with which it shares its underpinnings
The 911R is less worried about laptimes than its GT3 RS brother
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The 911R is less worried about laptimes than its GT3 RS brother
Behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 R 
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Behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 R 
The 911 R cabin has houndstooth seats and a simple layout
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The 911 R cabin has houndstooth seats and a simple layout
The 911 R is a modern take on the classic, pared-back 911 formula
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The 911 R is a modern take on the classic, pared-back 911 formula
The slick rear end of the Porsche 911 R
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The slick rear end of the Porsche 911 R
The 911 R on show in Geneva last year 
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The 911 R on show in Geneva last year 

The engine is still in the same place, but the current Porsche 911 is a long way removed from its predecessors. For most owners, that is a very good thing: the current Carrera is cleaner, faster and safer than those before it. But some people don't want cleaner, they want a properly old-fashioned driving experience. That's where restorers come in. Here's a look at some of the prettiest, most powerful restorations of the classic Porsche coupe.

Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer

The Boston car from Singer Vehicle Design 
The Boston car from Singer Vehicle Design 

The highest-profile 911 restorations have, lately, come from the Singer Vehicle Design team in California. Chris Harris set the internet alight with his deep-dive into the design process behind creating a Singer, before James May paid tribute to the company during a review on Top Gear.

Since then, the small team of enthusiasts has been featured in most of the world's biggest car magazines. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

Having started with an old 964-generation (1989–1994) car, Singer sets about turning it into a stunning greatest hits album. The regular body panels are reconditioned or, in some cases, replaced with carbon fiber units, while the wheel arches are lovingly flared for a punchier stance. We don't need to tell you the cars look fantastic but, well, they look fantastic.

Power comes from a choice of three air-cooled flat-six engines, ranging in output from 270 to 390 hp (201 to 291 kW). A four-liter flat-six is currently being developed with Williams Advanced Engineering and Hans Mezger, and is expected to produced upwards of 500 hp (373 kW).

All this bespoke goodness doesn't come cheap. Along with the cost of a base car, restoring a 911 to Singer Vehicle Design standards costs at least US$390,000.

Gunther Werks 400R

With 400 hp on tap, the 400R should be seriously quick 
With 400 hp on tap, the 400R should be seriously quick 

Gunther Werks takes a slightly different approach to 911 resto-modding, but the results are no less dramatic. Based on a 993-generation (1993–1998) car, each 400R gets some wider wheel arches and tougher bodywork, including a massive rear wing. The carbon fiber panels are vacuum bagged and baked in a pressurised autoclave for extra rigidity, too.

The body hides a new set of adjustable coilovers, along with a hydraulic lifter for the nose. No, that wasn't a factory option at launch, but sometimes modernity is preferable to period accuracy. The original suspension bushings are carried over into the 400R, but all the other hardware: bushings, links and sway-bars have been completely refreshed.

Customization is the name of the game inside, where the basic architecture of the 993 cabin has been dressed up in a fancy new carbon and Alcantara suit. Touches like the tastefully-finished five-dial dashboard and carbon parcel shelf serve to elevate the feel beyond other basic 911s.

Along with the beautiful interior, owners get their keys and a bespoke fountain pen with the car. Delivery takes place at a luxury resort in California, where owners are pampered for a day before getting to drive off in their new pride-and-joy. All told, you'll pay upwards of $525,000 for the privilege.

RUF CTR Yellow Bird

The RUF CTR Yellow Bird
The RUF CTR Yellow Bird

RUF has an unmatched pedigree when it comes to high-flying Porsche makeovers. The original Yellow Bird was a regular 911 Carrera with two gigantic turbochargers turned into a twin-turbo rocket. Hardly any were built, cementing as something of a prized unicorn in the already Porsche-friendly world of motoring enthusiasts.

For those who haven't heard of the original CTR, it's worth donning a pair of rose (or should that be yellow) tinted glasses and taking a quick wander down memory lane. It hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.65 seconds on the way to a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). That's right, this low-volume special was faster than the legendary Ferrari F40.

That car was based on a period-correct 911, whereas the modern car is a totally bespoke design. Built around a carbon fiber chassis, the car has a steel crash structure and roll cage. The body panels are all made of carbon fiber, and the components are all wrought to be strong and light, keeping kerb weight down to 1,200 kg (2,640 lb).

With so little weight to shift, RUF could have fitted a lightly-fettled Porsche flat-six, and the CTR would still be lightning quick. But that isn't how things work at RUF. Power comes from a twin-turbo flat six making 522 kW (700 hp) and 880 Nm (649 lb-ft). The 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint takes just 3.5 seconds, and the car tops out at 360 km/h (225 mph).

Both inside and out, the CTR Yellow Bird has been designed to mimic to narrow, simple shape of the original. It isn't as swollen or pumped-up as some of the other cars here, but that seems in keeping with the RUF way of doing things. Just 30 examples will be built.

Porsche 911 R

The 911 R on show in Geneva last year 
The 911 R on show in Geneva last year 

Alright, so it isn't technically a restoration, but all the core concepts underpinning the cars you see above – a focus on purity, plenty of power and beautiful design. Launched in 2016, the R was designed as a love letter to classic Porsches.

It was based on the GT3 RS, but rather than keeping the big wings and dual-clutch gearbox, it swapped the for a smooth silhouette and manual. Suffice to say, the purists were pleased. Power comes from a naturally aspirated flat-six making 373 kW (500 hp) and 458 Nm (338 lb-ft) of torque, for a 3.7 second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph). Top speed is 322 km/h (200 mph), not that buyers are likely to care.

The interior is suitably stripped out, with houndstooth-trimmed bucket seats and a button-free steering wheel. A radio is optional, but the sound of the four-liter engine should be enough to keep you entertained on long journeys, especially when you consider the lack of sound deadening.

While we're talking long-drive entertainment, the 911 R should be great fun on a nice piece of road. You get a mechanical locking differential and rear-axle steering as standard, along with carbon ceramic brakes at all four corners. Coupled with center-locking wheels wrapped in sticky Michelin rubber.

All this modern-meets-retro goodness isn't cheap. The car was built in limited numbers – just 991 were made, and all were sold incredibly fast. Although they cost $184,900 new, prices on the R have climbed at a rapid rate, to the point where they're now worth more than $1 million.

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