American restomodder turns 993 cabriolet into ultimate, money-no-object, air-cooled Porsche 911 – is it any good?
Gunther Werks’ headquarters is white and clean, spacious and cool.What adorns the walls depends on which area you’re in: some car stuff, of course, but also expensive bottles where customers receive their cars and sci-fi models elsewhere – an apparent enthusiasm of Peter Nam, founder of both Gunther Werks and a company called Vorsteiner, which makes wheels and high- end carbonfibre components.There’s an element of cartoonish fantasy to Gunther Werks’ cars, too – although technically they don’t make cars. You buy a stock 993-series Porsche 911 Carrera 2 (1994 to 1998) and they take it and remaster it, creating the 993 Speedster Remastered by Gunther Werks – the sort of naming convolution that keeps intellectual property people happy.But let’s call it the Gunther Werks Speedster. And let’s call it a restomod born from the idea of ‘what would a money-no-object 993 look like?’Nam and co think it would look like this; a bit like if Porsche had built a Porsche GT3 RS version of the 993, last of the air-cooled 911s. There will be 25 Speedsters like this, following 25 coupés, whose production/modification run is now drawing to a close.Gunther Werks can help you source the donor 993 coupé or cabriolet; ideally a car with a clean title with no accidents, probably costing £40,000 to £60,000, and there are enough in the US that they’re not going to run out. Then the work starts.The most obvious thing is a widening of the front track, for which the suspension already has mounts from racing homologation. Then a fair degree of weight reduction and adjustment goes on. The air conditioning and power steering pumps are moved from the back, where they were driven by the engine, to the front, and made electrically powered.New body panels are made, all of them but the doors from carbonfibre. A wider front bumper allows one rather than two oil coolers and for them to face the airf low rather than be perpendicular to it.Gunther Werks (and Vorsteiner) is a maker rather than an assembler of things, so aside from engine and transmission, which quickly head off for work, it does all of this itself. In all, Gunther Werks says 250kg comes out for the car to sit at 1235kg.Weight distribution is 45:55 front to rear – rather more evenly balanced than a regular 993 as part of Nam and co’s attempt to alter the conventional old-911 driving style, which features a light front end that needs careful speed management on corner entry and a lively corner exit.That the two ends of the car do different things and operate at such different rates and frequencies can confound some chassis engineers, who love old 911s but still don’t make easy sense of them.This is meant to balance that out; and to help the turn- in more are 11in-wide front wheels inside 295-section tyres. Whereas old 911s are “slow in, fast out, now it’s fast in, fast out”, says Nam. On Gunther Werks’ 993 coupé, you could specify a neatly integrated roll bar, and I think I would have, because I like torsional rigidity, which is of course higher in the coupé than it is in the Speedster.Nonetheless, there’s strengthening in the front bulkhead, similar in the rear bulkhead high behind the driver, and double-skinned sills, which leave the Speedster’s torsional stiffness higher than a standard 993 coupé’s.It gets a Gunther Werks-trimmed interior, which is beautifully done to an exquisitely high standard.There’s no roof option and a carbonfibre windscreen surround for the 964-era Speedster windscreen. But owners of this £650,000-plus car seem to have enough metal to choose from that they can wait for a dry day.The luggage compartments and engine bay get equally clean-looking overhauls. When the flat six returns, it’s a 4.0-litre engine making 435bhp for a healthy 352bhp per tonne.But crucially, Nam says, it’s a car that’s more engaging than current supercars in which “you have to be doing 120mph to feel anything”. In this, “we’ve taken an analogue car and used technology to enhance the driving experience”. Let’s see.They send the car away on a truck and I follow, catching up with it as it’s unloaded in the car park of a shopping centre near some hills, which happily are home to one of the greatest roads I’ve ever driven.You sit 2in lower in the Speedster than in a standard 993 cabriolet, so you feel in it, rather than on it, as you can feel in a standard 993 coupé.