After two decades of crafting its bespoke Autoart 911s, Paul Stephens Porsche has attempted to reinvent the restomod.
The 993R is based on the last (1994-1988) iteration of the charismatic air-cooled 911, but takes inspiration from the scalpel-sharp GT3 models that followed. The end result feels like a greatest hits album for the world’s best-loved sports car.
Whenever the words ‘Porsche 911’ and ‘restomod’ are used in a sentence, it’s compulsory to mention Singer. The British-built 993R is a very different proposition to the Californian car, though: less likely to get likes on Instagram, or draw a crowd at a Cars and Coffee meeting, yet more focused on light weight and driving dynamics. Poseurs need not apply.
Braced for action
Having sourced a suitable 993 Carrera, Paul Stephens starts by bracing and seam-welding the shell to add stiffness, also bolting in a rear roll cage. The redesigned bumpers and engine lid – which incorporates a squared-off version of the classic 911 ducktail – are hand-made from fibreglass, while the thinner window glass comes from Porsche Motorsport.
The 993R also owes its tarmac-hugging stance to suspension parts from Porsche’s race car catalogue, combined with spidery 18-inch wheels from a 996 GT3 RS. Tractive Ace adaptive dampers offer five settings for firmness, adjusted via a knob beneath the dashboard. A Wavetrac limited-slip diff and bigger brakes from a 993 Carrera RS round off the chassis modifications.
Behind the back axle is a rather more potent flat-six than the 993 left Stuttgart with. A longer stroke stretches capacity from 3.6 to 3.8 litres, with lightened pistons and conrods, solid lifters, six throttle bodies and a 997 GT3 crankshaft and oil pump all working towards 330hp at a heady 7,400rpm. Want more? Paul Stephens offers a 360hp upgrade, or a 4.0-litre engine with close to 400hp.
And the revs keep rising
Still, with only 1,220kg to shift – 150kg less than the standard car – you really don’t need more. The 993R does without electric windows, central locking, a radio or even a glovebox lid, while the air-con is swapped for an electric system mounted in the front to improve weight distribution.
It’s basic, then, but quality is faultless (Paul Stephens replaces aged plastic panels with its own fibreglass parts) and every touch-point – from the aluminium column stalks to the customised Momo wheel – feels exquisite.
Drop down into the carbon fibre Recaro bucket seats and you grasp the six-speed manual gear lever (no PDK paddles here), noticing the tab on the drilled throttle pedal to help you heel-and-toe. The tuned engine’s single-mass flywheel sounds abrasive at idle, but it all coalesces into a traditional air-cooled howl as the revs soar. The naturally aspirated GT3 aside, no modern 911 sounds nearly so spine-tingling.
Rebooted and remastered
Like the limited-run 911R that Porsche sold-out in 2016, the 993R is intended as a road car, not a track-day tearaway. That’s evident in the motor’s ample mid-range torque, its refinement at cruising speeds, and the pleasingly supple ride in the softer damper settings.
The slim-hipped Carrera body is wonderfully compact, too: shorter and narrower than a new 718 Cayman. On hedge-lined Essex lanes, I never once strayed over the centre line, despite this prototype being left-hand drive.
Push harder and the reborn 993 struts its stuff with athletic poise and joyful exuberance. Turn-in is immediate and the whole car feels light on its feet, your angle of attack controlled by the throttle as much as by turning the wheel.
It’s the classic 911 experience, but rebooted for 2022 in high-definition. If a GT3 – or even a Singer – seems too obvious, this might just be your perfect Porsche.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research
TORQUE: 266lb ft
TOP SPEED: 170mph
KERB WEIGHT: 1,220kg