Ok, it has to be said. I’ve been quiet long enough. At first, I thought it was just me. My love of lightweight classic Porsche 911’s was clouding my judgement. But as I spoke to others, I realised I was not alone. I’m talking about RAUH- Welt Begriff and those horrible cartoon Porsches.
In the same way that I view a certain Trans Atlantic Porsche guru’s cars as a fine example of the Emperor’s New Clothes, so I’m feeling the hate for RWB. My hatred has nothing to do with good old RWB-San decimating the air cooled Porsche population, as some have commented. There are probably enough air cooled Porsches out there to withstand this small scale abuse and once he’s moved on to his next marque, they can be quietly returned to thier former self, if the process is cost effective. The rise in air cooled Porsche values might actually be the saviour of these poor cars.
So What is RWB?
Just in case you’ve managed to avoid it until now, here’s the rundown. RWB stands for RAUH-Welt BEGRIFF which in German means “Rough World Concept”. RWB started in the mid-to-late 1990s by Akira Nakai in Japan, and is still based in Japan.. He started ‘tuning’ cars when he began driving them. Originally starting as “Rauh-Welt” he eventually started driving and tuning German cars and ended up as RAUH-Welt BEGRIFF.
Why Do I Have Such a Dislike?
My hatred is quite simple. Why take a simple, clean, classic shape and lampoon it into a caricature of almost cartoon like dimensions? Cars, car modifications and the question of style are, or course, personal things. My personal view is perhaps becoming clear.
He isn’t the first one of course. In the 1980s Uwe Gemballa was guilty of his fair share, alongside other truly err, remarkable body kits from people like Koenig that were symptomatic of the shoulder pad mentality of the era. Even today, modern Porsches can be equipped with some spectacular ‘enhancements’. I’ve seen Cayennes parked, quietly crying by the side of the road, with white colour keyed body kits and 22 inch ‘spinners’.
But what winds me up more than anything is the reverence with which he is observed by the online disciples. They consider him to be some sort of artist like guru who creates an amazing work of art using just a buzz saw and some aerosol rattle cans.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not of the view that all Porsches are sacrosanct and should be revered. There are some truly superb engineering companies out there making great hot rod and modified Porsches. Apart from the obvious Singer, if you’d like a great Porsche engine building, then go and see RUF, Ninemeister, or Specialist Cars of Malton. Neil Bainbridge makes a great engine too. There are countless other, top quality engineering companies you can turn to. These guys will build you a car that will be better than the original, it will sound fantastic and will stay screwed together long after RWB San’s work has fallen apart. If you don’t believe me, watch this video of the man at work. An artist of the rattle can, buzz saw and chain smoking ethos.
So Just What Is the Appeal to the RWB Lovers?
So clear the cigarette smoke and the aerosol paint can fumes from your eyes and take a look. Just what is it about this guy that sends everyone into a frenzy of worship? You’ll see by the online platforms that applaud them that they are a completely different breed from someone with a traditional Porsche love. For them, the fact that it is a Porsche is in part incidental. They’re not actually Porsche fans of a conventional sense, but simply modified car fans. They’re the same people who attend the tuner car events, take selfies along side the camel-toe racing girls and insist on everything being anodised in blue, lime green or pink.
For them, this is a passing fancy.
Sadly, this fervour means that other quality online car resources, whom I really, really thought knew better, have also joined the fawning masses. This is certainly not what I would call driving tastefully. Like other happenings in the Porsche 911 scenes this past few years, it seems that if you tell everyone it’s wonderful loud enough and often enough, it becomes the truth.
This lampooned, caricature outline of a RWB Porsche is, I imagine, supposed to hark back to the days of RSRs at Le Mans and taken to the next degree? Or is it simply that all the Subauru and Skyline tuners wanted a new car to bastardise in between sessions on Forza?
To me, I fail to understand why someone would make such drastic modifications to a car with great chassis dynamics for purely visual effect. The aggressively lowered ride height, the cartoon like bodywork all transpire to degrade the car, not enhance it.
Add in the fact that very often the engine and transmission are left standard all results in a car which, on anything other than a marble smooth surface, will drive worse that the original. Googling the web forums brings discussions along the lines of “But many owners ‘track’ thier RWB cars, so they must be better” I see many, many unusual modifications on track days. That doesn’t mean that they are an improvement.
These monstrosities are up there with the Veilside Supra body kits. For sure, there have been others and he’s certainly not the first. In ten years time, RWB Porsches will be right up there with mullet haircuts, man buns and tattoos. Meanwhile, if you see a 911 that’s had the horrid RWB treatment, walk up to it, give it a stroke along the roof and say, “Sorry, mate. we feel your pain.”
Ask around, I’m not alone…. This Reddit thread gives me hope. And this excellent article by Jack Baruth entitled Hide Your Air Cooled Porsches shows that others feel my indignation.
It’s time for me to lie down now. In a dark room.
Image via Antony De La Merced on Flickr
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