The raw acceleration caught me by surprise. It shouldn’t have—I was on the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb in the passenger seat of a Wasabi Green, 390-hp, 4.0-liter 1991 Porsche 911 that had been “reimagined” by Singer Vehicle Design. Behind the wheel and hard on the go pedal was 12 Hours of Sebring winner Marino Franchitti. “I haven’t driven this one for a while,” Franchitti mentioned. “I’d forgotten how much fun it is.”
Marino can be forgiven for his lack of recall: he’s spent the last three years working on the Dynamics and Lightweighting Study (DLS) conducted by Singer in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering, part of Williams Grand Prix Engineering Group. Inspired by client Scott Blattner, the aim of the DLS was to pursue the creation of the world’s most advanced air-cooled Porsche 911. The outcome, and Franchitti’s recent ride, is a 500-hp naturally aspirated 911 with lightweight throttle bodies, F1-inspired upper and lower injectors, and a novel induction system that takes the place of the rear quarter-light windows.
But this isn’t some huge-engined angry beast that can’t control its own strength. Every carbon-fiber panel in this bespoke car was crafted using computational fluid dynamics, focusing on enhancing airflow and downforce. Even the iconic ducktail spoiler has been redesigned to work with the roof channel and rear window spoilers to maximum effect. Williams’ portion of the lightweighting study not only used Colin Chapmans’ mantra of “add lightness” but also redistributed weight. Even the engine position has been adjusted.
Nor is this a fragile racing car. As Singer founder Rob Dickinson told me, “Although there’s a lot of racing intelligence in it… it’s a proper road engine, with all that implies in terms of durability and usability.”
The list of other partners recruited by Singer Managing Director Mazen Fawaz reads like a who’s who of motorsport excellence: Bosch advanced control systems, Hewland transmissions, Brembo brakes, BBS wheels, Recaro seats, Momo steering. Michelin even created a bespoke Pilot Sport Cup tire for the car. Everything, in usual Singer style, is meticulously designed and beautifully made and the tach, of course, goes up to 11. (That’s one more than 10.)
Two cars resulting from the DLS were unveiled at Goodwood: a 1989 Porsche 911 in Heart Attack Red that took to the track and a 1990 model in Parallax White. For me, the latter was the stand-out; color and decals seem unnecessary adornments on a thing of such beauty.
Dickinson put it perfectly, saying: “We’ve worked relentlessly to present a machine that visually celebrates the past, while acknowledging the future – both inside and out.” And this isn’t just a pair of show-focused specials. Singer are taking orders for a limited 75 cars incorporating DLS advancements, and the word is you’ll have to be quick if you want one.
Back to the track: As I peeled myself from the multi-colored leather basket-weave touring seats and took in my surroundings, as a Porsche owner and enthusiast, I felt like I’d gone been transported to another dimension. The roar from the engine sucking in the Sussex summer air and spitting it out the twin exhausts was pure automotive manna. The fact that I was in a column of nine Porsche 911s reimagined by Singer, led by the DLS-inspired model, made it all the more salient. We sprinted to the top, then were held in the top paddock where all drivers and passengers emerged from the cars, engines ticking in the heat and grins planted on all of our faces. Everyone, even owners of Singer-restored cars, were taking pictures like excited tourists.
So, what’s next for Singer? I asked Dickinson whether the company would ever move away from the 911 to other models. “So little time and so many cars… our love of Porsche is somewhat holistic… we’ve a few more 911 ideas up our sleeves but we’ll see. Porsche’s air-cooled era is a particularly fascinating one; there’s a rich vein of stuff to mine there, who knows what we’re going to do.” So that’s not a no…
As you can tell, I enjoyed my time with the team from Singer. I loved the cars, the attention to detail and the way that ultra-modern technology and materials are used in the evolution of a classic without detracting from the design ideals of its creator, Dr. Porsche. I loved getting to know the team, all utterly passionate about this car, the Porsche 911, all approachable and all ready to gush with enthusiasm given the slightest provocation.
But don’t take my word for it; Singer will be bringing the results of the DLS project to the Monterey Car Week beginning August 23. Be sure to go and check it out and meet the team there.