DRIVEN: AUTOFARM PORSCHE 911
A classic motoring experience without the classic tantrums? Kyle Fortune finds out
If there were ever a sports car that's omnipresent it's the Porsche 911. That means there are countless to choose from, making picking the perfect one even more difficult.
Personally, I love the purity and focus of the GT3 and its RS sibling, but the compromises that come with them are rather extreme. I like negotiating speed humps without shaving the front splitter. If I'm being honest, and it'll upset a few here, the new cars are just too damned quick. Sure, they're involving, interesting and feelsome at lower speeds, but to really enjoy them you need to take liberties with your licence - or spend every weekend at a track.
This black 911 recreation is just one of a number built by Autofarm. Taking a 3.2-litre Carrera as its basis, it's an intriguing blend of old looks, a rust-resistant body, four-pot brakes from a Boxster, a 964's flat-six and bodywork from a 911S. The 3.2 Carrera is the best starting point, as not only does it offer the advantage of a galvanised body, but it's also proportionally correct when fitting the period details like bumpers and lights. This example apes the classic style of a 911S, its owner eschewing the more common RS recreations for a more subtle-looking machine. It's stunning.
You really can have anything you like. Autofarm currently has a stunning green ST recreation in stock that's awaiting a new owner. It's a cosmetic job, still running the donor car's engine, but it wouldn't require too much investment to have an engine rebuild befitting of its looks. If I hadn't just blown everything I've got on a house, I'd be very tempted.
Fifteen-inches for alloy wheels might seem comically small today, but when fitted to the S and wearing period correct-profile Pirelli P6000 tyres they look fantastic. Behind them are four-pot calliper Boxster-sourced brakes front and rear, but you're hard pushed to see them behind the five spokes of the wheels.
What's most important is how it feels on the road. Get in, turn the key and the 3.6-litre engine fires quickly. It settles down to that familiar air-cooled flat-six rhythm. Crucially, it also starts first-time, which is useful. There's even a London parking permit on the window, as this car sits outside all year round and is a daily driver. Try that in a period 911 S and you'd need a full restoration every couple of years. That's part of the recreation's appeal, it looks every inch the classic, but comes without the classic problems. It's not too precious to actually use, either.
The beauty of the driving experience can be summed up in one word - feel. There's loads of it. Whether it's the constant stream of information coming from the steering wheel, the brake pedal or just the seat of your pants, the Autofarm 911 reminds you that driving doesn't need to be about electronics. The suspension is taut, with the body being nicely controlled, yet the ride doesn't suffer - thanks in no small part to the massive sidewalls on those Pirellis.
The brakes are strong, and without ABS you need to be sensitive to how much grip's available to prevent locking up. The same is true when you push the accelerator; you need measured inputs rather than simply mashing the floor-hinged accelerator to the floor. With 250bhp there's plenty of speed, but it's the challenge of driving it that's so pleasing.
It all comes down to what you want. A modern 911 might monster the Autofarm 911 on the road in pure performance, but you'd have more fun behind the wheel of the recreation and worry less about your licence. It's way cooler, too. Pricing is difficult to pin down, as each car is tailored to suit its owner's tastes, but you could have a recreation like this for around the same money as a decently specified new 911. I know what I'd buy...