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Words: Steve Ben­nett Pho­tog­ra­phy: Tom Gid­den What if Porsche had built a 993 GT3? What if in­deed, and this, with­out stretch­ing the imag­i­na­tion too far, is what it might well have looked like. En­ter the Gun­ther Werks 400R

911 Porsche World - - This month -

Odd as it might initially seem, a tow­er­ing rep­u­ta­tion and a history of suc­cess can be some­thing of a dou­bleedged sword, the yard-stick by which ev­ery sub­se­quent un­der­tak­ing is judged and as­sessed, and nowhere does this ring truer than when dis­cussing Porsche and its most beloved of­fer­ing, the 911. Now we're un­der no il­lu­sions as to the stature of the Porsche 911. It's the ar­che­typal sports car, a per­for­mance and styling icon and per­haps the ul­ti­mate proof of the power of au­to­mo­tive evo­lu­tion.

The only downside, from a Porsche per­spec­tive at least, is that the 911's ra­bid, highly vo­cal fol­low­ing is re­sis­tant to change in a man­ner which makes Bob Dy­lan's de­ci­sion to 'go elec­tric' in 1965 seem about as frac­tious as a Sun­day af­ter­noon pic­nic! Nowhere is this all-con­sum­ing love for the 911's her­itage more acute than in the 993, the last of the air-cooled 911s and a model whose val­ues have gone near strato­spheric of late.

While the 993 might well be the last of the pure 911s, de­cid­ing which vari­a­tion de­serves to sit at the very top of the pile is an un­der­tak­ing fraught with risk, not least as there are so many can­di­dates. We're cer­tainly not go­ing to open the world's largest can of worms by at­tempt­ing to tell you which that might be, but one car must surely be in with a shout is the re­cently launched Gun­ther Werks 400R.

Like all the best au­to­mo­tive sto­ries, the idea for the Gun­ther Werks 400R sprang from the mind and pas­sion of one in­di­vid­ual, Peter Nam, the founder of Vorsteiner, a firm known for its

ad­vanced com­pos­ite body styling pack­ages for the great and the good of the su­per­car world. Now it prob­a­bly won't sur­prise you to learn that Nam knows what he likes when it comes to the 911, with his model of choice be­ing the afore­men­tioned 993, and he needs lit­tle en­cour­age­ment to wax lyri­cal about its in­stant throt­tle re­sponse, short wheel­base, ex­quis­ite han­dling and, of course, its air-cooled en­gine.

So far, so reg­u­lar 993. Where the Gun­ther Werks car dif­fers is in its con­cept, that and the sheer brav­ery re­quired to carry out such mas­sive, ir­re­versible changes to one of the most valu­able mod­els in the 911 lin­eage of course!

“I'm a huge fan of the GT3 and have owned sev­eral, but of course the story of that par­tic­u­lar car only be­gan with the 996,” muses Peter Nam. “The de­sire to build our own take on the GT3, to build the car which Porsche never did, that lies at the very heart of the Gun­ther Werks 400R.”

Ev­ery­one in the com­pany and my friends thought I was crazy when I started to im­ple­ment the plans for the Gun­ther Werks,” Nam laughs. “We at Vorsteiner have suc­cess­fully been man­u­fac­tur­ing high­qual­ity aero kits for dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles for 14 years, and we have built up an im­mense knowl­edge dur­ing this time so we are able to re­alise 80 per cent of the Porsche con­ver­sion di­rectly at our com­pany.”

Just 25 400Rs will ever be pro­duced, a mi­nus­cule num­ber no doubt helped by its eye-wa­ter­ing ask­ing price of $525,000 – a fig­ure which doesn't in­clude the base 993. Not that the lucky 25 buy­ers will be in any doubt as to the cal­i­bre of the work they're in­vest­ing in, with the Gun­ther Werks pro­duc­tion process be­ing akin to a com­plete, nut-and-bolt re­cre­ation of a Porsche clas­sic. The aim? To cre­ate the 993 GT3 which Porsche never could.

As you might ex­pect given the sheer scale of the project at hand, the first 400R was a mam­moth un­der­tak­ing, one which tested the re­solve and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of

The aim? To cre­ate the 993 GT3 which Porsche never could

ev­ery­one associated with the pro­gramme. Part of this was down to a need to en­sure that ev­ery­thing added to the car com­ple­mented the work un­der­taken by Porsche's own en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment a full quar­ter of a cen­tury ago, but also the de­sire to im­prove upon it, to en­hance an al­ready near flaw­less bit of au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing. Pres­sure? What pres­sure!

There was only ever one can­di­date when it came to propul­sion du­ties, an air-cooled flat-six mounted in the rear of the car, al­beit one heav­ily mod­i­fied from the Stuttgart orig­i­nal. A full 4-litres in ca­pac­ity, the high- revving, de­li­ciously old-school boxer pushes out a mighty 438bhp at 7800rpm and 315lb ft at 6500rpm, and all with­out a turbo in sight. It’s built by Roth­sport Rac­ing and re­tains just the orig­i­nal crank­case, plus a GT3 4-litre crank. Ev­ery­thing else is be­spoke in­clud­ing Car­illo rods, Mahle pis­tons, Dema El­gin cams, in­di­vid­ual Jen­vey throt­tle bod­ies and high flow in­jec­tors, twin-plug ig­ni­tion and a GT3 style car­bon plenum. All that shove is then routed through a six-speed Ge­trag trans­mis­sion, sin­gle-plate GT2 clutch and lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial, all cus­tom de­signed and spec­i­fied for this ap­pli­ca­tion.

Part of the ap­peal of the 993, and the GT2 in par­tic­u­lar, has long been its looks, with many view­ing it as the best look­ing 911 of them all. The Gun­ther Werks 400R takes ev­ery­thing which made the GT2 such an iconic look­ing ma­chine, and turns it up to eleven. The roof, boot, arches, bumpers and rear wing are all ren­dered in high-grade car­bon fi­bre, bring­ing both ex­treme strength and light weight, all with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the de­sign lan­guage which made the orig­i­nal such a stun­ning car to be­hold.

En­gine and styling aside, one of the most

cru­cial as­pects of the Gun­ther Werks 400R is the man­ner in which it drives, and here Nam and his team turned to KW and specif­i­cally KW’S two-way ad­justable Club­sport coilovers with alu­minium uni­ball top-mounts, plus up­rated anti-roll bars and polyurethane bushes.

The KW Club­sports boast 2-way ad­justa­bil­ity and a 16-set­ting re­bound ad­juster knob. This en­ables own­ers to dial in their de­sired setup, with broad scope for in­creased in­flu­ence over wheel and tyre loads, grip and, in a wider sense, han­dling. The Club­sports also boast in­de­pen­dent com­pres­sion damp­en­ing via an ad­just­ment wheel with 12 'clicks' gov­ern­ing low-speed damp­en­ing.

Fi­nally, and in a nod to ev­ery­day prac­ti­cal­ity not nor­mally seen on cars of this na­ture, Gun­ther Werks opted to add one of KW'S Hy­draulic Lift Sys­tems, al­low­ing the 400R to rise up a full 40mm at the press of a but­ton. It means that no ramp or kerb is too steep, and there's no dan­ger of clout­ing that stun­ning body­work.

It re­ally is quite hard to over­state what Peter Nam and his team have achieved with the 400R. They've ef­fec­tively taken one of the most revered ex­am­ples of the world's most beloved sports cars, one with a fan­base known for be­ing in­tensely pro­tec­tive of its cho­sen sub­ject, and made it bet­ter. The end re­sult is noth­ing more than a whole­sale up­dat­ing of the Porsche 993 legacy, all achieved with­out in any way sul­ly­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of the Stuttgart orig­i­nal. It's more than one man's trib­ute to his favourite car, it's the ul­ti­mate 993 and the ver­sion which Porsche re­ally should have built. PW

It’s hard to over­state what Peter Nam and his team have cre­ated

GUN­THER WERKS 400R

GUN­THER WERKS 400R

Gun­ther Werks 400R is clearly in­flu­enced by the 993 GT2 from a styling point of view, but with­out the crude bolt on arches, which is more in line with Gun­ther Werks’ idea for what a 993 GT3 might have looked like

Car­bon, leather and Al­can­tara, the 400R’s in­te­rior is func­tional with­out be­ing too aus­tere

A stun­ning look­ing ma­chine and one of the best mod­ern Porsche up­dates we’ve seen along with the Singer out­put

En­gine is a 4-litre flat-six, putting out 438bhp. Just the orig­i­nal 993 crank case re­mains. Ev­ery­thing else is be­spoke

Liv­er­ied and with dif­fer­ent wheels, Gun­ther Werks 400R with in­spi­ra­tional 991 GT3. Which would you rather have?

Above: Fab­u­lous 18in three-piece splitrims, plus mon­ster Brembo calipers and discs look the part

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