February 9, 2013 2:58 PM |
Posted By: Ben__B
Rated 3.5 out of 5.0 by 2 members
Porsche 911 Singer
Being born in the late 70s, my formative years were filled with Porsches of the 80s; 930 911 Turbos and 935 race cars. Earlier cars were old and dated with delicate slim bodies and details with spindly wheels, instead of meaty flares, big rear wings and 10" wide rims. In fact when I was ten I saved up my pocket money to buy a model of a 930 turbo which I proceeded to paint black on black, in satin rather than gloss finish - obviously ahead of my time (in fact I think it was by mistake). Which might explain my indifference to 'long hood' 911s until I later came to appreciate the whole of 911 history. From first reading about the Singer concept a few years ago I was intrigued. As a fresh 964 owner I was lapping up all things 911 and here was a classic looking 911 brought bang up to date with modern components. To my mind it was a very 'polished' hot rod, building on a rich history of hot rodding and 'outlaw' cars in the States; cars that pick and chose components from various sources rather than sticking to OE. After the initial flurry of interest in the orange concept car (the classic, long since out of production, Heure dash clock hinting at the level of attention given to the details) things went a little quiet. Then last year Singer started coming back to the fore of Porsche discussion and a new car based on the 964 chassis was launched. We were teased with stunning images of a reimagined 911 but back dated rather than modernised so the best of 911 evolution could be utilised. Singer's scope and development had taken a leap with a Cosworth built flat six and Ohlins suspension to give further engineering depth to Rob Dickinson's styling vision. When I learned that the car that Dickie Meaden had driven in issue 176 was being shown to a select few in a gallery in Shoreditch I made enquiries to ensure I was there to see in person the 'Ultimate 911'.
This particular customer car appears to have most of the limited options list ticked: Cosworth 3.9l engine with circa. 380hp. Ohlins suspension developed specifically for the Singer: Centred fuel filler, aping 911 race cars of the sixties and seventies; External oil filler (that was dropped from road cars by Porsche due to too many owners mistaking it for a fuel cap and filling it with petrol); Bespoke special woven leather interior with roll hoop and harness bar.
Alongside the special Singer details of: 17x10" Fuchs wheels; Nickle plated brightwork; glass mounted wing mirrors and flared carbon body panels that are inspired by factory race cars.
On this basis Singer set out to engineer a car that integrates a high style content whilst having a real depth of performance that challenges the latest on offer from Porsche today, with the modern acrutriments (like ABS and handling) something, in effect, that could be used daily on road or enjoyed at the track.
My first impressions of this car were tempered by the need to take in all the details individually and then stand back and see how it all hangs together. I arrived just as the event had started and had the opportunity to pour over the car before the crowds converged. I have to say it was a bit of a slow burn. The colour of this car was not to my taste, I like my cars with a more rugged aesthetic, this was almost haute couture handbag in its colour scheme. There was also a rather large distraction in the corner in the shape of a'73 Porsche 2.8 RSR...
As I got to study the Singer more its strengths started to stand out. It is undoubtedly beautifully made and finished. The quality of the materials and the attention to detail in how they are used are very rare. The depth of engineering is really interesting too. There are a few things on the 964 that are over complicated or just plain dated and the Singer addresses these in the simplest of ways. For example the marine sourced heater element tucked neatly inside the rear wing, negating the need for heavy and unsightly heat exchangers around the exhaust headers. A cast aluminum intake plenum with hidden air intake tidies the top of the engine no end and the smoothing of the front boot area really cleans up the working areas of the car.
Personally I'm not keen on the 17" wheels, in magazine photos they can dominate the proportions, making a caricature out of the flared arches. In reality this isn't an issue. You very rarely see the car from such an angle and they fill those carbon arches brilliantly. I think I'd still prefer 16" wheels but understand this could limit brake options.
Being first and foremost a driving enthusiast, its the engineering rather than the aesthetic that appeals. I can appreciate the optional details that make a Singer stand out but I doubt I'd spec my own car the same way. Its the engine, suspension and carbon body parts that really make this car for me. Obviously I'd need to drive one to be really sure, but as I love my 964, I'm sure I could find an appropriate set up.
Upon reflection specing 'my' Singer I'd go all out on the hotrodding with the highest output engine (circa. 400hp) bespoke gearset and LSD, dark grey paint, etched rather than polished brightwork and simple oxblood interior. The wheels would be flat grey without a polished lip or centre caps, making it more understated than the one Singer presented, yet with no less impact.
I think it can be summed up in that to the lay-person it looks like a nice old Porsche. It doesn't shout about its performance or price, but an enthusiast would spot it a mile off and appreciate it for the engineering art that it is. Thats some feat in an age when massive wheels and carbon fibre are used to shout expense and performance.