King of cool
Whatever your view of the retro-look 911 there’sno denying that Paul Stephens’ offerings warrant a second glance. And, aswe discover, they drive aswell astheir modern underpinnings and some modest tweaking would suggest
I t’s the 911 look that everyone wants. The pre-1974 chrome-bumper 911 is currently as ice-cool as Steve Mcqueen and the 2.4-litre ‘S’ that he drives in the opening scenes of Le Mans. It’s reflected in demand and prices, particularly for ‘S’ models – and, of course, for the iconic Carrera 2.7 RS.
The original purist shape has aged remarkably well, and those classic lines now accentuate the clumsiness of the big bumpers and ugly rubber bellows inflicted upon the later SC and Carrera 3.2s. Those oh-so 1970s’ Dayglo greens and oranges – the safety colours, as they’re known – once abandoned to the wilderness of bad taste suddenly look absolutely fantastic.
You want that Mcqueen ‘look’, but there is only a finite number of cars out there, unlike the seemingly huge numbers of impact-bumper cars built between 1974 and 1989. You want the purist ‘look’, but the classic-car angle that comes with it, together with that non-galvanised body shell, rendering it garage-bound in the winter, doesn’t work for you. In short, you want your cake and you want to eat it.
Suffolk-based independent Porsche dealer Paul Stephens understands your needs perfectly. In fact, he not only understands but has as a result developed a range of retro-look cars that for once don’t slavishly copy the 2.7 RS. He understands that it’s the ‘look’ that’s important, and to achieve it he’s taken a different path to the more traditional replicas on the market.
He’s also taken a rather different path in terms of donor cars. Before we get down to the detail just take a closer look at the accompanying photographs. No prizes for guessing that the white car is based on a SC (could also be a Carrera 3.2, says Stephens), but the dark-blue metallic machine doesn’t quite compute. That’s because it’s based, believe it or not, on a 964. That’s old-school looks combined with Porsche’s first significant upgrade in terms of running gear. It’s a compelling package.
Taking the road less travelled in terms of these creations has been something of a double-edged sword for Stephens. On the one hand he has managed to avoid some of the metalwork involved in an exact replica, but on the other he’s had to create his own mouldings for the front and rear bumpers and, rather more radically, commission a range of split-rim Fuchsinspired wheels in sizes up to 17 inches in diameter. There are numerous other details, too. Enough, indeed, to form a PS brand. PS 240C This is where the range starts. First, though, if you already have an SC and you rather fancy the idea of the early-look front and rear, then forget it. Unless you’re happy to go the whole hog then Stephens isn’t in the market for panel jobs and a quick blowover.
Indeed, once a car is submitted for the process it’s all or nothing. That means a ground-up rebuild from a bare body shell, with any suspect metalwork renewed without question. It’s the only way to get the quality. Best plan of action, then, is to find yourself the least desirable colour combination available. Something in bronze with a brown Pasha interior (as this donor was) should fit the bill. Solid, yet pretty much unsaleable, a donor such as this could be yours for around £8000. Don’t worry too much about the running gear, either, because it’s going to be rebuilt anyway. The 240 in 240C means 240bhp from the rebuilt and breathed-on motor. The ‘C’? That stands for Classic.
So where does the PS car differ from other similar replicas in terms of its creation? Well, for a start it manages to retain the standard SC front wings and bonnet, which in turn means that the original front slam panel is also retained. How is this achieved? The lip of the bonnet is extended with a new panel, which is leadfilled. An insert meanwhile bridges the gap between the front of each wing and the new bumper/spoiler. The indicator housings and slatted intake mouldings are specially made to follow the very slightly different contours of the SC wings. It’s all bolt-on stuff, too, so if you ever wanted to revert to impactbumper specification then you can.
The rear end is rather simpler, with a single moulding replacing the big bumper. Left to right: it’s all in the detail. Retro dials, repro Fuchs and even an Rs-style 3.0 badge combine to create the classic look that Paul Stephens is striving for