How Porsche Created a Built-from-Scratch 993 Turbo
A look into Porsche Project Gold with project manager Uwe Makrutzki
Porsche's Project Gold landed with a glittery boom during Monterey Car Week, giving us a taste of what a remanufacturing program from Porsche would look like. This is the first built-from-new "classic" car we've seen from the German automaker, somewhat following in the footsteps of new "vintage" cars from Aston Martin and Jaguar. During The Quail event during Car Week, we sat down with Uwe Makrutzki, the manager for Factory Restoration for Porsche Classic, and one of the masterminds behind Project Gold.
Where did the inspiration for Project Gold come from?
UM: The idea was a combination. On one hand, there's the 70th anniversary of Porsche sports cars. Then, our colleagues from the Exclusive Manufaktur, they built the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Series. Of course, they informed us about their project and we saw the first prototype they built—it was amazing. An awesome car. More than that, the color was great. Then, we remembered we had an original Turbo body, untouched for decades, stored in a warehouse.
What was it doing there?
UM: Very often, the production line produced too many bodies, so they would ask several departments if they wanted one, otherwise they'd have to throw it away.
When was the body "rediscovered," or found?
UM: We've had this body since about 1996. It was totally dusty, stored in the corner of one of our warehouses. We drove over there, and took a close look it—it was just dirty. So, the idea was born from that point.
From our first discussions, there was a decision: "Let's build a 993 with the design elements of the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Series." The challenge was, the 993 must keep its heart and soul—do not mix modern and period elements and make an entirely different car. That wouldn't work. Our team from the Design Studio and from the Exclusive Manufaktur discussed how we would approach the project, including seats, stripes, brake caliper colors, and so forth.
Where did the engine come from?
UM: We built this engine from new parts. Every single part, even the block did not have an engine number. The special part is, when we ordered things like the pistons and rods, we would order like 35 new pistons, weigh them, and pick the six best, lightest examples.
It makes 450 horsepower, correct?
UM: At least. After the show, the car will be back in Stuttgart for the final check, and we will put it on the dyno.
What are some of the upgrades when compared to a regular 993 Turbo?
UM: All the lights, for example. We tinted all the lights gray, like the 991 [Exclusive Series]. The brake calipers are black, with gold lettering. Most of the technology is really original. We don't want to build a special race car like RUF or Techart, nothing like that. We want the best performance using 100-percent original parts. We played with the design, interior, colors, lights, and so on.
But the engine does have "better" components, yes?
UM: Yes, but all original parts. No race parts from Weissach. Take the clutch for example—you can measure the clutch. We ordered five or six clutches, and took the best one. We are talking about tolerances. Cherry-picking!
What were some of the biggest challenges of the project?
UM: If you ask one of the workshop specialists, they disassemble the car to begin, and remember and document how it was originally. This one is a naked body! We're dealing with 10 kilometers of wiring harness that was never installed in the car, so you need a harness that fits our configuration. Usually, things like the harness are installed on the production line by a different guy. No one was specifying which harness worked with which configuration, so if we made one single mistake …
... Car wouldn't run.
UM: Car wouldn't run! This was a huge challenge. But we're very happy. When I did the first test drive on the development track in Weissach, there was a white notepad and pen on the passenger seat for writing any issues and things to fix. The paper stayed completely blank.
I've worked with Porsche for 38 years, and I remember very well when the 993 Turbo was new. It was a long time ago, but if you were to find the best, cleanest 993 Turbo in the world, drive it, then get in [Project Gold], it's amazing. It's so different and better. At the end, it's a 993—not a 991 or anything else. But it feels so special.
Where do you go from here? Are we going to see more cars like this in the future from a bespoke program?
UM: Honestly, this is not up to me. Of course, if it were, I would say, "Where's the next project? We will build everything you want."
If someone walked up to you tomorrow with, say, $5 million, and asked you to build a 1967 911T from new parts, do you have a body you could use?
UM: We have no more new bodies for anything. This was it. But we are able to build a body if we want. Specifically from hand-made parts.
Here's a fun one: A Porsche executive comes to you and says, "Alright! You have a blank check to build one of anything you want." Maybe not for you, but for the Exclusive program. What do you build?
UM: What I would like is a car that looks like a 1965-73 911 that has the underpinnings from a 959. Engine, four-wheel-drive, 500 hp. We would work the body out to be as wide as we need. A car that looks like an old-timer but goes like a race car. And it would be done like a Porsche: without compromise.