911 Porsche World - - Ps Autoart Group Test -

The 911 2.4S that we men­tioned? Well, Paul was keen that we drive it against his Clas­sic Tour­ing Se­ries II. This is an­other car I saw in devel­op­ment about three years ago, it's prob­a­bly the point when I re­alised just how PS was mov­ing the game on in terms of qual­ity and de­tail, with ev­ery com­po­nent care­fully con­sid­ered, re­stored or recre­ated. There's very lit­tle that's off the shelf here. Switchgear is ma­chined, the steer­ing wheel is to PS spec (and a nice change from the usual, ubiq­ui­tous Momo), the in­te­rior pan­els are all in house cre­ations again, sump­tu­ously trimmed, and the seats to PS’S de­sign, but re­tain­ing the elec­tric func­tion­al­ity of a later chair.

The ex­te­rior gleams in lus­trous black (the hard­est colour to get right), and of course the shell has been nar­rowed for the early look. And to all in­tents and pur­poses that's what it looks like – a 911 2.4S. Lift the rear lid and you'd have to re­ally know your en­gines. It's not com­pletely au­then­tic, but the black crackle fin­ished in­jec­tion stack is to­tally of the pe­riod, even if it’s a mod­ern re­work­ing. It helps to give the 3.4-litre en­gine 290bhp, which gives the 986 four-pot calipers all round some­thing to do and the 7 x 16in Fuchs op­tion wheels and 205/225 Pirellis a work out.

The 2.4S is a good one. I say that be­cause of­ten they aren't quite as to­gether as you would hope. The en­gine is smooth, with no in­jec­tion/ig­ni­tion flat spots and the 915 ’box is as good as one of these is ever go­ing to be, which is to say pos­i­tively vague, rather just just vague. The driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is dic­tated in part by the flat and springy seats. You feel like you're sit­ting on, rather than in the car. There is an abun­dance of body roll and the rear end, where all the weight lies, doesn't have the same sort of con­trol as a mod­ern 911 or even an ’80s one, but to­gether all these facets make up the clas­sic 911 ex­pe­ri­ence, with clas­sic be­ing the op­er­a­tive word.

Ped­alling the PS ma­chine is an ab­so­lute riot. All that in­cred­i­ble build qual­ity and at­ten­tion to de­tail is matched by its per­for­mance and the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Of course it's got the air-cooled vibe, and nar­row body feel, but none of the woolli­ness. KW Vari­ant 3 can be specced for the Clas­sic Tour­ing, but this build fea­tures Bilstein Sport dampers all round and up­rated roll bars. It's per­fect, with just enough roll to make it feel slightly retro, but plenty of body con­trol, too. The 290bhp will breach the tyres’ grip, but only if you're bru­tal, bet­ter to use the power to give the chas­sis the sort of work­out that you don't get with a mod­ern 911, un­less you're right on the edge. And with a lit­tle over 1100kg to punt around, it's bloomin fast!

My favourite car of the day, and I would just love to see the ex­pres­sion on the faces of mod­ern Porsche driv­ers as this 'clas­sic' ut­terly smokes them from the lights – or any­where else for that mat­ter.

We're en route to Bent­wa­ters air base in Suf­folk. The once Cold War fa­cil­ity is now home to nu­mer­ous small busi­nesses and a lot of film in­dus­try ac­tiv­ity. For our pur­poses, though, it gets us off the pub­lic road on to fast sec­tions of the air base’s perime­ter “roads. It's a great place to have some fun, ba­si­cally. Half way there I hop into the 280R, or PS Autoart car No2. If the 240C was a straight­for­ward back­dat­ing ex­er­cise, thanks to the 911’s largely un­changed bodyshell, then the 964 based 300 was a real head scratcher. Could it be done? In­deed, should it be done? In many re­spects Paul did the ground­work ahead of the likes of Singer here, prov­ing that 'could' and 'should' would work by do­ing it.

If the ethos of the 240C was to evoke the look and driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of the early 911s, then the 964 based ma­chine is about mix­ing the look, with a more mod­ern driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It does drive to all in­tents and pur­poses like a 964, al­beit one with a beefy 300bhp, 3.8-litre en­gine. The in­te­rior is more be­spoke, less light­weight, while the ex­te­rior is a smoke and mir­rors homage. Hur­dles and headaches? Both front and rear aprons had to be sub­tly re­shaped to ac­com­mo­date the 964’s crash struc­ture. The sills, too, are very dif­fer­ent and Porsche in­tro­duced the curvy sill cover/skirt for a rea­son, to ob­scure what was no longer a sim­ple curved box sec­tion, with some pipework run­ning front to rear.

Big­gest headache, though, was the wheels. Retro look de­mands the Fuchs look but 964's had com­pletely dif­fer­ent off­sets, hence Paul had to com­mis­sion a three­piece, 17in Fuchs style wheel, with an off­set that pretty much oblit­er­ated the clas­sic deep dish Fuchs look. It was a com­pro­mise that would in time be over­come.

On the road now and the 300R is bom­bas­tic in com­par­i­son to the 240C. The big ca­pac­ity flat-six blud­geons its way through the peaks and troughs of the power curve, start­ing big and stay­ing big. Apart

The 964 based car is about a more mod­ern driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

from that and the vis­ual il­lu­sion, it’s pure 964 and more so in­side where, apart from the cor­duroy trimmed retro re­clin­ers, PS di­als and ju­di­cious use of leather, the 964's raised cen­tral trans­mis­sion tun­nel is the big give­away. Not that there is or was any in­ten­tion to de­ceive.

Like the 240C, the No2 car re­flected the mar­ket at the time. The 964 was the unloved mod­ern 911 – the 996 of its day, if you like. Donor cars could be picked up for next to noth­ing and com­plete and stand­alone this or­ange wheeled ma­chine was a £50,000 in­vest­ment. Dif­fer­ent times.

Ar­riv­ing at Bent­wa­ters and time to take a look at ex­actly what we've got here. Did I say six cars ear­lier? In­deed I did, so I should qual­ify that. That's six PS built cars and an orig­i­nal 911 2.4S, which you can read about in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing side­bar. To the PS built cars, then, and we have num­bers one and two, plus an­other 964 based ma­chine, the Tour­ing R Se­ries II, a 3.2 Car­rera based Clas­sic Tour­ing Se­ries II and the two most cur­rent ma­chines, the limited edi­tion Le Mans Clas­sic Clubs­port and the Clubs­port Se­ries II, which is pretty much build fresh, with its first owner, David Webb. Both are Car­rera 3.2 based, but there is very lit­tle left of what was orig­i­nally built in Stuttgart well over 30-years ago, save for their re­spec­tive bodyshells.

You'll note there's a lot of 'Se­ries II' ref­er­ences here, which is sig­nif­i­cant in that it marks a tran­si­tion from early out­sourc­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion, to pretty much full in-house pro­duc­tion, from en­gine build­ing to body and paint­work, very lit­tle now is out­sourced and what is is com­mis­sioned and de­signed ex­clu­sively for PS cars. Through­out this be­spoke Porsche build­ing jour­ney of 15 years and count­ing, ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion I've ever had with Paul re­gard­ing the whole PS con­cept, the one con­stant has al­ways, al­ways been qual­ity and at­ten­tion to de­tail, and what is clear now is that by tak­ing full con­trol, he's close to that Nir­vana. That said, for an ob­ses­sive, he is re­mark­ably laid back, toss­ing the keys out to the as­sem­bled ma­chin­ery and urg­ing max­i­mum com­mit­ment and at­tack. Don't mind if I do...

The 964 based Tour­ing R Se­ries II – or the Monaco car as it is known, due to its com­mis­sion­ing owner’s lo­cale – is the orig­i­nal No2 300R evolved and be­spoke and a mas­sive evo­lu­tion of the con­cept – just note the evolved body­work, the sills in par­tic­u­lar and the more con­vinc­ing so­lu­tion to the Fuchs wheels. Me­chan­i­cally it can be any­thing from 3.6-litres and 275bhp to 3.8-litres and 350bhp, with ei­ther KW or

Oh­lins sus­pen­sion. Ev­ery­thing else is up to the cus­tomer, and in this in­stance dark brown leather abounds to­gether with ma­chined switchgear and a cus­tom four-spoke steer­ing wheel. It's a real Grand Tourer, with an abun­dance of power. The Monaco tag is per­fect, be­cause this is the car that you would hap­pily drive to Monaco.

The Monaco car it­self is a few years old now and again things have moved on. The pin­na­cle is, of course, the Le Mans Clas­sic Clubs­port, the car that will be limited to a run of just 10 and pre­sented at the 2020 Clas­sic Le Mans. We've driven it once al­ready, but I missed out so I'm ea­ger for a pedal. Be­fore­hand, though, it's worth tak­ing a tour of this amaz­ing ma­chine with its cre­ator. I'm for­tu­nate that I saw it in build at the PS work­shop, al­though at that time it was some­what shrouded in se­crecy, but the two tone green and black stripes did seem fa­mil­iar on the smoothed, de-seamed white body shell. They are, of course, the colours of the Le Mans Clas­sic event.

To be clear, this isn't a back­date, retro or resto mod, or what­ever else you want to call it. It's a car that stands alone, a model in its own right. Its orig­i­nal un­der­pin­nings are al­most ir­rel­e­vant, such is the re­work­ing of the Porsche orig­i­nal. Sure, a fac­tory built Porsche 911 in the ’80s would look hand built com­pared to a cur­rent gen­er­a­tion 911, but this gen­uinely is hand built, from the ground up and vir­tu­ally ev­ery com­po­nent has been re-thought, re-worked, re­man­u­fac­tured, even.

Lift the en­gine lid and Paul points to the tow­er­ing GT3 plenum stack, which strad­dles fuel in­jec­tion throt­tle bod­ies, that feed air and fuel to the hun­gry 300bhp, 3.4litre en­gine, packed with light­weight mov­ing parts to fa­cil­i­tate a near 8000rpm red­line. The 16in Fif­teen 52 wheels con­ceal mod­ern Porsche calipers and KW Vari­ant 3 sus­pen­sion, de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for tor­sion bar equipped G Se­ries Porsches.

The qual­ity of the pan­els and paint­work is be­yond re­proach. A shout out here for Paul's long term col­lab­o­ra­tor, Mark Walk­lett of Ginetta fame, whose com­pos­ite work has made pos­si­ble the mod­ern take on the duck­tail wing, with its hor­i­zon­tal satin black slats and front and rear aprons, the lat­ter fea­tur­ing an ex­tended satin black lip and cool­ing ducts, which again add a mod­ern look. It's sub­tle, but ef­fec­tive and cat­e­gor­i­cally no RS pas­tiche.

In­side, the Le Mans car goes be­yond mere restora­tion. Whole swathes, like the dash top and door cap­pings are re­man­u­fac­tured, be­cause the orig­i­nals are these days just too old and dis­torted to be reused. Other in­te­rior trim is clearly cus­tom made like the cen­tre con­sole and sill cov­ers, which morph into the footwell pan­els. Again all this cus­tom mould­ing is

Be­low left: It’s all in the de­tail. Switchgear is be­spoke, even the steer­ing wheel is ex­clu­sive to PS. En­gine looks the part with spe­cially made in­jec­tor stacks, which are ECU con­trolled

At a glance, you’d be hard pushed to sep­a­rate the orig­i­nal 911 2.4S from the PS Clas­sic Tour­ing car, but that’s the idea

The Tour­ing R feels very much like a 964, but with a torque curve boosted by its big ca­pac­ity 3.8-litre en­gine. It’s got power ev­ery­where

Be­spoke in­te­rior is a real step for­ward. Much of the switch gear is cus­tom ma­chined

Giv­ing it some! And why not. A Porsche is built to be driven. Let’s hope the 10 lucky Le Mans Clas­sic Clubs­port own­ers will give as good!

In­te­rior has many unique fea­tures and re­pro­duc­tion fixtures like the dash top and door caps. 3.4-litre en­gine is a mas­ter­piece of ligh­weight in­ter­nals and cus­tom in­jec­tion sys­tem

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