We’ve already brought you a review of a Porsche 911 by Theon Design. That was as comprehensive as we could make a review of a very visceral car appear on paper, but to really get the message across about what goes into a Theon car and, most importantly, the noise these cars make, we decided to produce a video as well. We hope it’s something more than a simple PH Christmas stocking filler.
The car we covered before was a car destined for Chile. It was a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre with an engine that outputs 400hp and revs out to around 8,500rpm. That’s the more purist, hardcore proposition, because that’s what the gentleman who ordered it likes. He has a few GT3s, apparently, and when he turned his own Porsche 964 Carrera 2 over to use as a baseline, he asked for something at the rawer end of the spectrum.
This car is a different thing. It’s still based on a 964, because all Theons are, but its lucky owner – who, to prove the international nature of Theon’s customer base, is from Belgium – wanted something a little softer and calmer. Something more in the mould of a grand tourer. He also has a penchant for supercharged Jaguars and Aston Martins, so guess what? Instead of being naturally aspirated, it comes with a sizeable supercharger bolted on where the factory air conditioning compressor once went.
That’s been accommodated because Theons have an electric air conditioning compressor and electric power steering, and both units are housed in the nose. This solution is not only more efficient but also has the added benefit of shifting the weight distribution forward and towards the front – always a welcome fillip in a 911.
It’s a smaller-capacity engine this time, as well. Instead of 4.0-litres this one’s 3.6, but you can have a halfway-house 3.8-litre motor if you want. You can also opt for turbocharging if that’s your bag. Theon is all about creating a car tailored to the individual. Whatever the engine specification, they all follow the same basic principle, though. The starting point is a 964 motor, preferably the original one to keep the numbers matching, but with a heavily upgraded specification. To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, the updates include independent throttle bodies, flowed and ported heads, a lightened bottom end, motorsport-grade Mahle barrels and pistons, Carillo conrods and custom profile cams. The first cars used a mechanical throttle linkage, but later cars are moving over to a drive-by-wire system.
The list of upgrades doesn’t stop there, of course. The suspension is fully polybushed – although there are rose joints in the rear to help reduce the lift-off flex of the trailing arms. The last car we drove also came with carbon fibre bodywork, but this car sticks with steel. Most of the panels are still new, though, to create Theon’s classic 911 look; and in case you were thinking it's the cheaper alternative, think again. Since the price of steel is so exorbitant and every panel is hand beaten into shape, it’s actually more expensive to produce than composite. The tooling required for carbon panels isn’t cheap, but once you've made the moulds the build process is much quicker. This car also sticks with iron discs instead of the option of Surface Transforms carbon ceramics. Again, don’t think that means the brakes are left stock: they’re 964 Carrera RS discs and calipers.
On the road, this car has a much more relaxed gait than the naturally aspirated car I drove. It’s a little softer – the Tractive switchable dampers have been set up with a cushier operating window than the Chile-bound car – and this Belgian car is not as loud. I don’t think anything I’ve driven on the road is as loud as the Chile car, which when you opened up the switchable sports exhaust could be heard in the next county. But this one still isn’t shy – it remains awfully, yet wonderfully, noisy but, as with the other car, not intrusively so. It’s a beautiful, rich and perfectly tuned note, and still layered with flat-six tones all the way through the rev range. The difference is the supercharger noise. The owner didn’t want any on-throttle whine, so there isn’t any, and instead asked to have it chatter off-throttle. It does a lot of that. That's just another example of a customer asking for something very personal and Theon making it happen. It's what the company is all about.
But what’s the point in me explaining how it sounds when you can experience it for yourself? You'll also hear me getting very excited about driving a Theon again. That’s not simply because this is a very expensive and very fast Porsche 911, but because it’s a very, very good Porsche 911. An exquisite car, in fact, beautifully and thoughtfully produced by a passionate team of people. And Adam Hawley, who is the brainchild and owner of this operation. His aim was to produce the perfect 911, and while nothing in life is perfect, by Jove, he’s delivered something that’s not far from it.
Specification | Porsche 964 by Theon Design
Engine: 3,600cc, supercharged, flat-six
Transmission: five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400 @ 6,260rpm
Torque (lb ft): 367@5,440rpm
0-62mph: sub-4.0 seconds
Top speed: 180 (est.)
Weight: 1,265kg (wet)
Price: £380,000 (plus taxes/ donor car)
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