What happens if you have a modern car and it’s replaced by an updated version? Some people don’t worry about such things but, for others, it’s a calamity as they no longer have the latest model. To help these poor people out, a few years ago there was a thriving cottage industry creating updates for Porsche 911s. I’ve seen 911SCs and Carrera 3.2s updated to look like 964s and 993s, 944s face-lifted into 968 clones and, more recently, 996s fitted with the later 997 bodywork. Some of this plastic surgery was more effective than others but, in most cases, the effect was spoiled somewhat when you hopped into the cockpit and were confronted by early-style seats and instruments – things that were harder and more expensive to update than the bodywork.
It all sort of made sense, though, because people want the latest thing, don’t they? Well, when it comes to Porsche 911s it seems that they don’t any more. Today, the in-thing is to take a newer 911 and make it look like a previous one. Most commonly, the desired outcome is to create a car that apes the look of the pre-1973 911s, so out with the chunky bumpers and in with retro polished aluminium and chrome trim.
The obvious, and perhaps most effective, way of doing this is to start with an impact bumper 911 from 1974 to 1986, as this is mechanically closest to a 911 from the 1960s, with its torsion bar suspension and 915 gearbox, and it’s relatively easy to rip off the big and heavy bumpers. However, these cars feel, by their very nature, old and quirky to drive, and not to the taste of many people who have grown up with more modern cars. Which is why there’s been a spate of back-dates based on the Porsche 964 of 1989 to 1993, which boasts coil springs, power steering and ABS brakes.
A retro 911 based on a 1970s or 1980s 911 is always going to be more convincing – so convincing in some cases, it takes an expert to work out what it really is – while a 964-based car looks a bit, well, wrong from some angles. But is that necessarily a bad thing? For me, the combination of 964 power, handling and ease of use easily outweighs any compromise in styling.
The ultimate 964 backdate are surely the US-based Singers; beautifully detailed creations that sell in small numbers for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The interesting thing about a Singer, though, is that it’s not actually trying to be a particular model of 911 from the 1960s but is rather inspired by them. And that’s a very cool concept in my book. With its bulging arches, brightwork and leather-clad interior, a Singer is a pastiche of a classic 911, not a replica (and I’m using the word ‘pastiche’ in its correct sense, not as a derogatory term).
Such has been the excitement stirred up by Singer’s exotic and expensive creations, that people have started to create Singer-inspired 911s. Pastiches of pastiches, if you like. I have such a car in stock right now and it’s fabulous. Again, 964-based, it’s a real head-turner that attracts attention where it goes. To the casual onlooker, it comes across as something from the 1960s, an old racecar perhaps, while sticklers for originality will surely sniff at its mismatch of styles and influences.
I don’t care, though, because I love it, both to look at and to drive. To me, the idea of a pastiche 911 is far more exciting than an accurate replica of a 1960s 911 – where’s the fun in that?
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