UP CLOSE: PORSCHE 911 BY SINGER
A teasing meeting with the gorgeous Singer 're-envisaged' Porsche 911
So I loiter in the alley behind the studio chatting to his business partner Mazen for an hour until the truck arrives. He's excited because Singer has had a visit from a Porsche family member who was curious to see just what was going on.
The truck pulls into the alley and this very expensive Porsche - think $300,000 - is gently disgorged via some rickety wooden ramps onto the road. It looks gorgeous and yet not quite right. Missing are the rear light lenses, expensively engineered like so much of the car by contractors to Singer. Not quite production ready, Rob fastens them temporarily in place with mastic.
we met Rob earlier thisyear his background is somewhat surprising. An English ex-pat and graduate of Coventry University's automotive design course he then went rock'n'roll with the band Catherine Wheel. He still performs to this day when not "re-envisaging", as the Singer PR people insist I say, 911s.
The basis of the current Singer - they've built four or five - is the 964. "It's the high spot in the 911 range for me," says Rob. "An honest, proper, tough 911. That's the reason you see more 964s at the 'ring than 993s. A fundamental part of the mission is to make it look like something Porsche might have done. Bigger wheels and brakes, but an interior that looks period."
And significantly lighter too. Wings, bonnet and engine cover are ripped off to be replaced by carbon composite panels that produce shut lines tighter than the original. All painted, and not a weave in sight.
Cosworth-built unit that develops a sensible 350hp.
It's the foundation of a mechanical specification that veers wildly away from what you'd expect to find in a car that looks, initially at least, like it might be 40 years old. Lift the engine cover and there's a 996 GT3 plenum chamber with individual throttle bodies, coil-on-plug. Tucked away on the left is a gas-powered heater from a truck - because there isn't the plumbing for the usual 911 heating.
Front suspension from the 993 RS bolts straight in, along with the brakes front and back. Rear suspension remains basically that from the 964 with uprated bushings.
But generally the Singer 911 avoids the excess that you might expect from California. The interior is simply stunning, the deep red leather on the seats upholstered at vast expense, the fascia nickel plated and then covered in leather. There's a lot of nickel plating on this car, $11,000 dollars worth.
So the Singer 911 is not a faithful copy of anything in Porsche's history, and it's the better for it. If you're looking for a 911 with a more organic approach than the increasingly digital products produced by Stuttgart, this could be the one for you. Next time we're over we need to drive it...