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Automotive Traveler Magazine
Automotive Traveler Magazine: 2011 03 First Look Porsche Singer 911 Page 1

First Look: Singer 911

Looking for a brand-new air-cooled Porsche 911? Richard Truesdell checks out the Singer 911 from Singer Vehicle Design.

To many Porsche 911 purists, the last real 911 was built in 1989. It featured a shorter wheelbase than the 911s that followed, while still sporting the 911's legendary shape--a shape that evolved (some say, was diluted) in the years to come. Between 1989 and 1997, the 911 retained its air/oil-cooled flat six with its distinctive baritone growl. Yet it grew in size and complexity in response to tightened emission standards and increased mandated safety equipment.

The final nail in the coffin came in 1998, when the first water-cooled 911 reached our shores. Some thought it heresy.

What if you could turn back the hands of time? Take all the styling elements of the beloved pre-1990 911s. Incorporate them in a highly evolved version of the classic Porsche 911 air-cooled flat six. Add contemporary amenities designed for high efficiency--think climate control and in-car entertainment. The result would be the Singer 911.

So, just what is the Singer 911? It starts with a road-legal, longer-wheelbase 911 (1969 to 1993) donor car that is stripped to its shell. The reincarnation retains the original wheelbase, the A-pillar position, the roof line, the suspension mounting, and the transaxle mounting points. Everything else is restored, reimagined, and vastly improved for performance by the designers and engineers at Los Angeles-based Singer Vehicle Design.

The reimagination process starts with upgrading the suspension and stiffening the unibody structure. This involves a labor-intensive stitch-welding process and improves the torsional rigidity of the chassis to contemporary levels. The suspension upgrades include a conversion from torsion bars to the Macpherson struts, with a Carrera SC rear trailing arm with coil over set-up seen on vintage racing 911s.

Moton dampers with remote oil reservoirs and Eibach springs are found at all four corners, offering multiple settings for ride and handling that the steel shell can now fully exploit. The Singer 911 also benefits from extensive use of Smart Racing suspension products, such as multi-adjustable anti-roll bars, suspension bushing that help main-tain correct geometry.

Next comes a carbon fiber body that draws from the best elements of the classic road and race era 911s from 1969-1989. Only the doors remain steel, to preserve their OEM crash-worthiness.

"The Singer 911 is no mere imitation, clone or retro-hot rod, but a re-interpretation and rebirth of the early performance-focused 911s," Singer Vehicle Design founder and creative director Rob Dickinson tells me. "The new vehicle is the result of a fusion between the purity of the original 911 and modern materials, design, and updated technologies, and aftermarket experience into a unique sports car that recaptures the essence of the early 911's golden age."

(Fans of alternative rock may wonder whether this is the same Rob Dickinson who was the lead singer and guitarist of Catherine's Wheel. It is. The group hit the charts with the single Black Metallic in the early Nineties.)

A highly efficient and responsive Jerry Woods Enterprises electric/hydraulic power-steering system is fitted to the Singer 911. The system maintains the vital 911 steering feel and feedback while quickening the steering reactions compared to the original ZF rack-and-pinion setup.

Brake upgrades include competition-grade Brembo four-pot calipers and rotors that are derived from the 917 and 930 models. Emulating the style of the early Fuchs wheels, the Singer 911 features lightweight, period-evoking Zuffenhaus five-spoke, three-piece forged aluminum wheels, 17x9 up front, 17x11 in the rear.

The stick is Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires measuring 225/45/17 up front and 275/40/17 in the rear.

Under the hood are three highly evolved versions of the classic 3.6-liter Porsche air/oil-cooled flat six found in the 993 series 1990-1998 version of the 911.

Each engine is comprehensively stripped and then meticulously blueprinted, balanced, and hand built using new or state-of-the-art components.

The three engine choices range from 3.6 to 3.9 liters, each with their own characteristics. The engines produce 300, 380, or 425 horsepower, with the top version aimed at owners who expect to take their Singer 911s to the track to exploit their capabilities.

Each engine is mated to a nearly indestructible six-speed Getrag G50 transaxle from the 964 series 911 that has been revised with close-ratio gears and a limited-slip differential. A twin-plate carbon clutch capable of with- standing 700 lb.- ft. of torque and a light- weight flywheel help transmit engine power to the transmission.

The Singer 911 is 50-state legal thanks to lightweight stainless-steel heat exchangers that flow to 100-cell catalytic converters, and a Singer Design stainless-steel muffler that helps enhance the motor's sonorous tone.

With a curb weight of just 2,400 pounds, the Singer 911 provides supercar levels of performance. Equipped with the 425-horsepower engine--with a power-to-weight ratio of 5.6 pounds per horsepower--the Singer 911 explodes from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds, 0 to 100 m.p.h. in 8.5 seconds, and exceeds a top speed of 170 m.p.h.

The interior retains the feel of the early Porsche 911 models. Four-way adjustable seats recall the low-backed Recaro sports seats of the Sixties and Seventies. The leather-trimmed seats are compatible for use with either standard seatbelts or the optional Schroth racing harnesses.

The rear seats, upholstered to match those in front, feature dual backrests that fold down to provide additional luggage space.

The classic 380-m.m. Carrera RS wheel of 1973 is standard fitment on the Singer 911--complete with the "butterfly" horn push assembly and a delicate, leather-wrapped rim to complement the legendary steering feel.

The classic off-white-on-black background gauges contribute to the cabin's wonderful retro ambience. Five gauges display fuel and oil level, oil temperature and oil pressure, the tachometer, a speedometer recalibrated to 180 m.p.h., and a clock.

A completely restored version of the classic Blaupunkt Frankfurt AM/FM radio from the early 1970s is standard equipment, complimenting the bespoke appointments throughout the cabin. These radios are essential equipment in an early 911 interior and complement the dash like no other head unit.

They come complete with power amp and state-of-the-art speakers. An integrated iPhone/iPad interface for the head unit and a Sirius satellite radio tuner are both optional.

The price of all this goodness? It depends on the donor car chosen and the components and options selected. The base version starts at under the magic $200,000 price point. Fully equipped, as is the first production car pictured on these pages, the tariff will likely approach $300,000 by the time the team at Singer Vehicle Design hands you the keys.

That might seem like a great deal of money, but consider how much a documented, low-mileage, fully restored Seventies-era 911 would cost you. A lot, and then some. The closest comp would likely be the 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS Factory Remanufactured Special that sold this past summer for $440,000 at RM Auctions' Sports & Classics of Monterey event.

And you would probably be so afraid of what might happen if you drove it, the car might stay locked in your garage fovever.

For more photographs of the first production Singer 911, as well as the original prototype, visit the Stinger 911 album in the Automotive Traveler Image Gallery.