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

911 Porsche World - - Ps Autoart Group Test - Sto­ry­byst eve Ben­nett Pho­to­graphs by­brett Fraser

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

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