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Air-cooled 911 reborn with 317kW

2009-09-28 07:49
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Singer
Model 911
Engine 3.82l
Power 317kW
Torque 460Nm
Transmission Six-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 4 sec
Top Speed 280km/h
Weight 1 088kg
Airbags No
Tyres F: 225/45 17 R: 275/40 17
Front Suspension MacPherson struts
Yearning for the halcyon days of proper, air-cooled, 911 RS cars? Well, an American rebuild, by Singer, could be the most apt offering to satisfy those vintage 911 ambitions.

Ever since Porsche reverted to water-cooling for its 911 range’s venerable flat-six engines in 1998 (pandering, quite understandably, to emissions control regulations), something has been amiss with the cars from Zuffenhausen. Nothing critical, it was just as if an octave of the classic flat-six’s burble had been silenced…

With Porsche showcasing the rather cynical, limited production, 911 Sport Classic at Frankfurt (250 units worth of horribly overpriced parts jumble 997), the minds of enthusiast must be wondering over to works of aftermarket Porsche specialists – who appear to offer something wholly more authentic.

UK based Porsche guru, Autofarm, has been offering contemporary 1973 2.7 RS heritage conversions for quite some time now.

These cars, based on 911 SCs, still feature torsion beam rear suspension though (which might be a trifle too adventurous for some) and peak power is only 220kW.

Wheels are three-piece Fuchs items (probably the coolest 17s ever) shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres.

The American solution

Across the Atlantic though, Californian concern, Singer vehicle design (bossman Rob Dickerson), has just released details of an even more compelling air-cooled RS alternative.

Although the name – Singer 911 – sounds rather ridiculous (is it a performance sewing machine or elocution emergency call?), the prototype should have classic 911 aficionados reaching for the defibrillator.

Singer says it has attempted to fuse the lightweight design principles of the 1970s RS cars, with the styling detail of the original mid 1960s 911s, whilst retaining the engineering integrity of the last of the air-cooled 911s, the 993.

The net result is a sinfully attractive 911.

Singer says any 911 from 1969-1989 can serve as a groundwork chassis.

Styling is garnished with the requisite retro-themed details.

Those 911 RSR themed fender flares are menacing, whilst the front indicator and headlamp arrangement (which features Hella bi-xenon illumination) is classic early 911.

Framing the Singer 911’s bonnet is a new lip-spoiler which reduces front axle lift at speed by 12%, whilst an archetypal 911 rear-spoiler is speed sensitive and retractable in operation.

All the Singer 911’s surface changes are hewn from either carbon-fibre or Kevlar honeycomb, with only the doors finished in steel.

Seat detailing and shifter-top are vintage 911. Steering wheel pure endurance racer.

Cabin refurbishment is even more extensive, yet continues the dovetailing classic/contemporary theme.

Instrumentation is old-school 911, which means a set of probably the most legible engine and road speed dials ever wired inside a car.

A modern interpretation of the traditional Momo Monza three-spoke steering wheel is at the helm.

Electrically adjustable Recaros seat the driver and passenger, whilst electric air-conditioning, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth phone interoperability acknowledge modern ergonomic comfort and convenience advances.

Beyond the impeccably conceived exterior styling changes and carefully constructed cabin architecture, Singer’s 911 does justice to the performance heritage of the erstwhile air-cooled 911s with some rather bespoke drivetrain specifications.

Modern infotainment amenities (MP3 enabled headunit and iPod interface) dovetail with classic 911 interior detailing - especially those Beetle-like ventilation controls...

Meticulously rebuilt 3.82l flat-six

Powering the Singer 911 is a thoroughly reworked version of the final air-cooled flat-six produced by Porsche – the 993’s 210kW 3.6l. The engine is built by Jerry Woods of San Francisco – who is responsible for a host of other Singer 911 componentry too.

Swept capacity is increased to 3.82l, thanks primarily to fat, 103mm bore, oversized pistons courtesy of British Porsche racing specialist Ninemeister – headed by racing engineer Colin Belton.

Ninemeister - what a great name for a Porsche performance parts specialist, huh?

Other Ninemeister bits include the beautifully machines cylinder heads.

Created from billet aluminium for the latest 24-valve 997 GT3 racers, these heads feature the latest in port-flow architecture (enabling seamless gas-exchange and flow patterns).

Ninemeister valves and camshafts ensure the 12-valve 993’s inlet and exhaust gearing is up to task of fuelling the Singer 911’s 3.82l engine all the way to its 8 000r/min limit too, with six individual throttle bodies and a custom exhaust system ensuring the requisite flat-six acoustics.

Masterful engine rebuild by Jerry Woods of San Fransisco. Current 911 GT3 supplies the crank (which sits in the middle, not at the bottom, obviously), titanium conrods keep the British sourced pistons inside their sleeves at 8 000r/min.

Although the engine retains its characteristic air-cooled configuration, many water-cooled 997 goodies are onboard.

The dry-sump lubrication is pressurised by a 2009-spec GT3 oil pump, whilst the horizontally opposed Ninemeister pistons are driven via a late model 997 crankshaft too.

Motec’s M800 ECU ensures everything runs together with perfect timing, and when tallied up, the numbers are hugely impressive – 317kW and 460Nm of peak rotational force, all without having to revert to immoral forced-induction.

Drive is to the back wheels, where a limited-slip differential apportions torque to either wheel.

A Getrag G50 manual transmission offers six-forward ratios, spaced for symmetrical acceleration change intervals instead of highway sensitive cruising capability.

Coupling is via a twin-plate carbon clutch and lightweight fly-wheel, which should ensure plenty of embarrassing low-speed stalling antics in traffic.

Still one of the sexiest stances in motoring history. Orange paint job and turn-indicators nearly indistinguishable in bright sunlight though...

Real RS performance

Performance, considering the Singer 911’s RS-like mass of only 1 088kg, is unsurprisingly rapid. Benchmarked against modern Porsche 911s, the 0-100km/h sprint, in four seconds dead, and 280km/h topspeed, are hugely competitive.

Reigning in the madcap orange air-cooled 911 is a set of Brembo stoppers, comprising 930-derived (okay, pre-1989 911 Turbo for the traditionalists) four-pot callipers and rotors.

Suspension is obviously a delicate subject with any 911, even more so when you’re attempting to create a vintage 911 homage car updated with monumental power and not trying to send your customers to an early grave.

Singer was under no illusions - the stock torsion beam rear suspension would have to be binned.

MacPherson struts do duty up front, whilst wheel attachment technology is thoroughly contemporary, with Eibach coil-overs at each wheel corner, augmented by fully adjustable Moton dampers.

A Jerry Woods sway-bar set-up ensures resolute high-speed stability.

Jerry’s responsible for the electro-hydraulic power-steering arrangement too, which promises parking speed convenience and comparable feel to the original ZF rack-and-pinion RS roadcar systems, which is quite a bold claim...

Currently the tasty Singer 911 is still a prototype, with no indication on pricing – you can only imagine it will be wincingly dear, making even Porsche’s 911 Sport Classic appear good value.

The hybrid 993/997 engine, modernised underpinnings and impeccably executed period styling details stir all the best of wailing air-cooled 911 emotions.

If you wish to play Steve McQueen, this is the car for you...


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