Today’s supercar buyers know to expect the utmost in personalization options when ordering a future collector’s item. It is one of the few uses of the term “bespoke” that is probably not self-aggrandizement.
McLaren has a Colour & Materials department dedicated to guiding customers through the selection of their preferred appearance choices, while Ferrari touts its Tailor Made service and Bentley has its Mulliner office to assist customers through the available options.
How times have changed since Porsche launched the Carrera GT in 2004. Back then, customers were seemingly willing to accept the “Any color you want, as long as it is GT Silver” philosophy. OK, Porsche built a good many black Carrera GTs too, along with a handful of yellow cars and, of course, some Guards Red.
But the overwhelming majority of the 1,270 Carrera GTs built rolled out of Porsche’s Leipzig, Germany, factory in GT Silver with tan leather upholstery. At the time, Porsche’s idea of wild and crazy personalization was permitting customers to specify a carbon-fiber shift knob in place of the throwback 917-style wood shift knob that was standard equipment.
They say the one thing money can’t buy is time. Surely that is true, but maybe if it can’t buy more time, it turns out that money can rearrange the calendar for Porsche collectors who missed the chance to buy a new Carrera GT. Or, for people who did buy one and settled for the same ho-hum color scheme as most of their peers.
This is the opportunity presented by the Porsche GT Recommissioned project recently presented by Porsche Classic Factory Restoration at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Atlanta.
You might recall that the German branch recently turned back the clock by assembling a brand-new classic 911 using the company’s inventory of parts for its older models. The Project Gold 911 serves as a calling card for the possibilities, especially when the creator is a car manufacturer and not a restoration shop.
That’s how this stunning green Carrera GT came into existence. This isn’t a restored Carrera GT, or a repainted one. This is a new one that Porsche built starting with an existing GT Silver 2005 Carrera GT. The car’s odometer reads 0.0 miles—or did before it rolled out of the shop for shakedown runs.
Porsche unveiled the car, which it dubbed the “Recommissioned” Carrera GT, at the Amelia Island Concours, where fans flocked to it but perhaps didn’t grasp the car’s true significance or the ludicrous amount of work that went into creating it.
“There are misunderstandings where people think we just painted the car. That’s not true to the concept,” says Ray Shaffer, manager for Porsche Classic Factory Restoration in the U.S. “The customer truly has a new Carrera GT. To build something like this, you completely disassemble the vehicle. You measure everything. This is something only a factory can do. We use equipment and tools that a body shop doesn’t have. When we put this back together, can we claim, ‘This is the wear and tear of a new carbon fiber-chassis car.’”
Porsche meticulously inspected that chassis for any signs of wear or damage, then refinished it so that it looks new.
“From ultraviolet rays, you can get a haziness to the clear coat,” Shaffer explains. “It tends to make it look a little yellow. That was the situation with this car’s tub. So, one person spends 350 hours to sand down through that clear coat so it can be refinished. Sand through the clear coat and you’ve ruined the tub. There is a lot of pressure to ensure he’s doing that properly, so I’m sure that was a tense 350 hours.”
There are plenty of Porsche specialist shops that can provide professional service for the Carrera GT’s 5.7-liter, 612-horsepower V-10 engine. But only the Porsche Classic Factory Restoration has the engine’s original assembly technician and equipment to do the job today.
“The engine builder was part of the program when the car was new in Weissach,” Shaffer says. “Porsche has the only V-10 run stand, which was at Weissach, and is now at Classic.”
The genesis of this car was from a conversation between a new Porsche collector and Shaffer, in which the customer expressed wistful desire for the Carrera GT of the poster on his bedroom wall in his youth. When he said that he wished he could buy a new Carrera GT, Shaffer pitched the notion of Porsche Classics building him one from an existing car. Thus, Recommissioning was born. The customer selected the 1970s Porsche color Oak Green Metallic, in tribute to the hue favored by Porsche family members. Ferry Porsche’s personal 1969 911 S was Olive Green Metallic. When the one millionth 911 rolled off the assembly line in 2017, Porsche chairman Dr. Wolfgang Porsche selected Irish Green as the car’s color.
So opting for an emerald shade helped the Carrera GT’s new owner connect the recommissioned car with its heritage, while providing a unique color that sets his car apart from the (relative) masses of GT Silver examples.
The interior is black and white with burgundy accents, another departure from the original tan color. The magnesium BBS wheels mimic the classic style with gold-painted spokes and what look like polished rims. But magnesium can’t be polished to a chrome-like finish the way aluminum can. Porsche Classic’s solution: silver plating protected in clear coat to prevent tarnish.
The gold color of the spokes is echoed throughout the car, in the “Porsche” lettering on the brake calipers, in the engine bay, on the intake housings, and inside on the steering wheel centering stripe at the top of the wheel.
The body, paint, and interior work was all performed by Porsche Classic Factory Restoration in Germany, while the disassembly and reassembly was done at the U.S. branch of Porsche Classic.
The car’s debut was an eye-opener for Porsche fanatics, who hadn’t considered that having the company create a brand-new version of their existing car was an option. Shaffer says one such owner has accumulated 60,000 miles on his Carrera GT, and is primarily interested in having a new one again.
Others are only now discovering that they don’t have to live with the boring original paint and upholstery choices and can change them with legitimate Porsche sanction rather than having an aftermarket shop spoil a car’s originality. Because their new appearance will be original from the Porsche recommissioning, these cars will be totally original, and not modified.
“We have quite a growing list of interested customers,” Shaffer says. The problem is, as the focus was creating this one car, Porsche Classic did not anticipate potential customers’ reactions or prepare to accommodate requests for similar work. “We haven’t decided the next steps just yet. There is tremendous interest and I’ve spoken with a good number of people. We just don’t yet have a process in place for that yet.”
It’s possible that other interesting models could be suitable for this treatment, once Porsche figures out a process for commissions. “I could see that with a 996 GT3,” Shaffer says. “If somebody wanted to do that, we would certainly entertain it. With all the exclusive GT3s, you did not see paint-to-sample. They only had one interior color, and it was rather sparse.”
Hmm, maybe keep an eye out for a really cool recommissioned version of the 996-generation 911 GT3, perhaps as a spark to encourage interest in the generation of 911 currently seen as the least collectible.
Regardless of the specific Porsche model, interested parties should plan to bring dump trucks full of cash, as the price is one of those “upon request” deals. “The budget for each project varies depending on the car,” Shaffer explains. “It’s like building a house. Costs tend to vary. It’s going to be all over the map.”
Much like an architect’s renderings of proposed house designs, Porsche Classic can also provide a glimpse of what a proposed car might look like. For a price.
“How much do they want to see ahead of time?” Shaffer says. “Getting into renderings from the design studio will drive the cost. The people who come to us are looking for that level of engagement.”
It will still be hard to choose between the wooden shift knob and the carbon-fiber one.