Article by Rick Jensen. Video courtesy of Fifth Gear.
There’s nothing worse than buying your dream classic only to realize that its "classic” parts make it a high-maintenance nightmare with the reliability of a supercharged Yugo. But, eventually, someone’s seething rage subsided, and he got the bright idea of adding modern mechanicals to a classic body. And, voila, the restomod was born.
Classic Porsches are some of cardom’s most sought-after vehicles, but like all old cars, there’s a lot that needs to be fixed, and a lot that can be improved upon. So when you do a 911 restomod right, the world will literally beat a path to your door. Just ask Rob Dickinson of Singer Vehicle Design.
Dickinson’s love of Porsches isn’t unique—like countless other fans, he saw one, then worked hard to buy one. But what is unique is how he bought one; instead of becoming a dentist like any self-respecting Porschephile, he made the sound financial decision to join a rock band to make enough money to buy one. And then, after actually succeeding (!), instead of riding off into the sunset with his stock Porsche, some wax and a baby diaper, he tore his 1969 911 down to nuts and bolts, and rebuilt it how he wanted it. Soon, his orange "hot rod Hollywood racer” started garnering huge attention around LA, and when he offered to build other owners’ 911s, Singer Vehicle Design was born.
Dickinson says he considers "every inch of the car” in regarding what to change and what to keep. He uses a green 911 in his LA shop as an example: it has an upgraded interior with custom, deep racing buckets, and wears an amalgam of parts—a 1967 mirror, 1998 wiper blades and a 911 RSR racer’s central fuel filler—that results in an amazing blend of classic and modern. And, oh yeah, pretty much every body panel is carbon fiber.
Popping the rear hatch reveals a Cosworth-tuned, 3.8-liter, air-cooled mill making a huge 360 horses. While the faithful might turn their noses up at such a desecration, speed lovers will love the increased power, reliability and safety.
Fifth Gear host Tiff Needell spent half of this six-minute piece wringing out the green monster at California’s Willow Springs racecourse. His cool bit of Cobra and Bullitt trivia was a nice touch, but the highlight was watching him pitch the powerful restomod around corners, then rev it to 7 grand on the straights. The verdict? Not as easy to drive as a new 911, but it’s built like a new car and feels like an air-cooled original. And isn’t that the essence of restomods in the first place?
If you want one of Singer’s reborn 911s, you’ll need two things: time, as updating these timeless machines takes over 4,000 hours each, and lots of money, as they cost around $250,000. So far, Singer has finished six Porsches, with another five in various states of restoration. And yours can be next!