911 Rewind

The cult of the Porsche 911 is replete with subtle aesthetic shifts in its iconography. Enthusiasts worldwide pour continuously over the minutiae of designation numbers and cooling systems. Ducktails are tutted over; transmission types, Targa panels and sunroofs debated; colour, creed and class populate its geekery perhaps more than any other subdivision of the international nation of Porsche enthusiasts.

The reason for this is fairly clear - that the basic form of the Porsche 911 hasn't changed since its launch in 1963 - but the range of cars available in this near half-century is almost too complex to document with any clarity.

Of course, one of the main reasons the 911 has retained its perennial appeal is that Porsche has never rested on its laurels. Right from the start, the search for a perfectly usable car that is as desirable and status-signifying as it is practical has led to an incredible variety of iconic types within the overarching brand of the Porsche 911.

One of the most intriguing manifestations of these time-shifts is the phenomenon of the 'back-date.' This is where an owner takes a modern 911 - perhaps one of the more accessible and affordable versions - and customises it in a retrogressive manner. In this way, the classic elements of 911s past can be woven seamlessly into the more recent evolutions - and a hybrid is formed, a kind of modern classic that can be tailored to a punters very specific requirements.

This sort of thing may make the purists wince - but surely if a motor car of true beauty is created as a result of this sort of backdate in homage to versions past - isn't that something to be admired?

One of the high-points of this sort of reverse-customisation is this black beauty that is currently based in California.

It is based on a 1988 G50 Carrera sunroof coupé.

The original 3.6 motor is still there, but 993 brakes are added. Those Fuchs-style alloys are custom built and there is a fully upgraded track-calibrated suspension package. The transmission has been upgraded too with lightweight flywheels and all sorts of trickery. It has been repainted back to its original black- and there are there are fiberglass bumpers and bonnet whilst the original metal Carrera flares are retained.

The car's interior has received a complimentary retro treatment but there is still the power windows, air conditioning, and heated seats. The look is complimented nicely by those sexy Tag Heuer Chronographs - and there are upgraded Xenon headlights and very modern but retro-styled harnesses keep the driver and passenger safe.

A quick Google around will show up a number of decent examples of late-eighties 911s for something in the region of £12-18K, and while you can expect to spend a pretty penny giving it the retro treatment to the standard of this car, it's a prospect that really appeals to many of us who aspire to own a stone-cold classic original - but whose budgets may not fully meet the standards required.

There are a number of specialist workshops that will take on your project for you - notably PS Autoart - a company that has transformed many a workaday Stuttgart stomper into a bespoke dream ride.

Fuel for thought. In this eco-conscious age you can think of it as high-end recycling.

  • P Ebbs

    Anorak detail:  The ‘original’ engine in this black beauty is 3.2 (not 3.6), in this case... a 3.6 would be a 964 or a 993. Have seen 3.2 Carrera with a 3.6 (993) engine, though.

  • juliano

    I just love this car and in black it looks superb. I would add something though. Using a 3.2 to do a backdate is not really the real deal. The early 911s are all about lightness, revy engines, and economy of design. The 3.2 had a twin mass flywheel, less responsive engine and a heavier gearbox on later 3.2s. Power is not everything. To me the early cars are all about the engine first and foremost. Nimble racy 2.2 and 2.4 units. A 2.7 backdate - now there you would be talking. Superb job though and lovely pics.