Porsche 911 Reimagined by Singer: Posher Than Ever

SPEAK MEMORY Singer Vehicle Design in Torrance, Calif., restores and modifies classic Porsche 911 Carreras from 1989-1994. The air-cooled, largely analog cars represent a ‘sweet spot’ in Porsche’s history, says Mazen Fawaz, the company’s CEO.
SPEAK MEMORY Singer Vehicle Design in Torrance, Calif., restores and modifies classic Porsche 911 Carreras from 1989-1994. The air-cooled, largely analog cars represent a ‘sweet spot’ in Porsche’s history, says Mazen Fawaz, the company’s CEO.


  • Dan Neil dips his toe in the world of hyper-restored cars from Singer Vehicle Design and finds the ‘Hollywood Commission’ of the Porsche 911 a drastic improvement in almost every way

OUR TEST CAR cannot be bought for love or money. This 1991 Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer Vehicle Design—called the “Hollywood Commission," in Bahama Yellow—is one of only 450 examples that the Torrance, Calif.-based fantasy factory will build, all of which are spoken for, with average costs in the high six figures, not including the donor car. Which is a pity. I was this close.

Some might ask why even bother driving Mr. Hollywood here, since Singer’s “Classic Study" cars are basically unobtainable. People ask silly questions, don’t they? For Porsche fanatics, such a car lives at the end of an impossible, aspirational rainbow, right next to their pot of FU gold. Imagine, a fully modern, daily driveable vintage 911, with a flat-six engine rapping and wailing at over 7,000 revs, meshed with the perfect five-speed (or six) stick shifter—a car with all the charisma of the classic design but twice the performance, rebuilt to standards of precision that make those schlubs back in Stuttgart look like cave dwellers.

I suppose one could consider this a preview of coming attractions. Singer is now taking orders for its Turbo Study, based on turbocharged versions of the same car, known as the 964 series. The Turbo Study starts at $835,000, before options and personalization. If you call in the next 15 minutes, yours could be rushed to you by 2027, says the company.

Singer is building an even more bat-guano crazy, nth-degree restomod: the Dynamics and Lightweighting Study. Developed with F1 technology house WAE, the DLS gets the full Singer treatment, including a motorsports-tuned rebuild of the turbocharged flat-six engine. Prices start just shy of $2 million. Only 75 will be built. At last count, more than 50 commissions had been completed.

Obviously, Singer has the common touch.

Founded in 2009 by musician Rob Dickinson, Singer started humbly, and relatably, as one guy getting in way over his head restoring an old car. But he had game. “Pretty soon, people were asking Rob to do another, and another," said Mazen Fawaz, Singer’s chief executive. This was fortuitous inasmuch as Dickinson had once trained as an industrial designer.

Dickinson is by no means the first to slam and tune a 911, but it’s fair to say no one has ever gone quite so far, at such a high level of precision, with such impeccable taste and with so little regard for propriety.

It only takes a couple blocks in the “Hollywood Commission" to tell that it’s a drastically better car than the donor ever could be. For one thing, it borrows from its technical near future, using the steering rack and brake package of the 993-chassis GT3, with ABS and rotors the size of Saxon shield bosses. The motorsports-evolved front end is one reason the test car corners with the smartness of a modern track car instead of gently obsolescing junk.

In back, under the engine cover—watch that you don’t klonk yourself on the big spoiler—you will find a beautiful ceramic-finish plenum, also nicked from the 996-series GT3, wrapped in braided stainless steel. When they see it, dudes make a face like pirates opening a treasure chest.

Before my visit, I winced at the word “reimagined," but it kind of works as a last option. You can’t call what Singer does restoration because so much of the donor gets binned, starting with the steel fenders, which get swapped out for luridly flared, flawlessly finished carbon-fiber hips. In our car, the doors and monocoque frame remained in the original German steel.

It’s not re-manufacturing, either, since what’s left is not returned to original. Every widget has been breathed upon, updated or mutated for motorsports.

Nor might you call it tuned. What Singer does is more invasive than that. While the suspension layout (upper wishbone and lower A arms in front, and trailing arm in the rear) is faithful in principle, the geometry is radically different. The front and rear track are much broader, wheels are wider, the ride height lower, the stance vastly slinkier.

The componentry is state-of-tomorrow hot-rodding, including fully adjustable Öhlins suspensions, heavy-duty bushings, forged aluminum links and bars and heim-joint adjustable cross-strut brace up front. Note: All of this can be ordered, a la carte or prix fixe, according to the client’s wishes, la-tee-dah.

The traditional 60%/40% front/rear weight balance remains intact, but the handling is unrecognizable. Oversteer, schmoversteer. Hunkered over fat Michelins, the car’s grip on the street is unshakeable.

Glory be, listen to that engine. Typically, the donor’s flat-six gets bored and stroked to 4.0 liters displacement, around 390 hp. It then gets a motorsports makeover from top to bottom, with lightened valvetrain, titanium conrods and forged pistons, forged crankshaft, lightweight flywheel—the proverbial works, if your proverbs include bratty Shanghai billionaires.

At full song, over 5,000 rpm or so, the free-breathing six snarls and snare drums, on and off throttle, with a titanium-piped resonance that is thrilling, tromboning, outrageous. In the driver’s footwell: three small pedals, perfectly positioned for heel-and-toe footwork.

In contast to all the high-tech hot-rodding, the 964’s steel frame needs little to no additional bracing, I was told. Singer will seam-weld a car’s monocoque if asked, but it’s considered unnecessary. For one thing, the car emerging from the process weighs 400-500 pounds less than it did going in.

Which brings us to my takeaway: Among all the wonders of Singer’s fabrication, the haute-couture upholsteries and the orological obsession with precision, the most astonishing bit of kit remains the 911’s monocoque structure, a design that dates back almost unchanged to Ferry Porsche’s original in 1963. Of all the liberties taken it’s practically the only thing that remains sacrosanct.


1991 Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer ‘Hollywood Commission’

Base price: $1 million

Powertrain: Naturally aspirated 4.0-liter DOHC flat-six engine; six-speed manual gearbox; rear-drive with mechanically limited-slip rear differential

Power/torque: 390 hp at 7,200 rpm/319 lb-ft at 5,900 rpm

Length/wheelbase/width/height: 163.0/89.4/69.0/49.3 inches

Curb weight: 2,740 pounds

0-60 mph: 3.3 seconds

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