A stunning 417bhp 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 993 replica
This once-silver 993 Carrera starred on the cover of 911 & Porsche World in 2019. It’s now back with a vengeance, a new owner and is transformed into an RS replica with potential for delivering 417bhp...
Words Steve Bennett
Photography Dan Sherwood
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417BHP LIGHTWEIGHT 993 RS REP
SECOND COMING A stunning 993 Carrera RS replica.
SHARK BLUE BEASTWITH 3.8-LITRE BITE 993 RS REP
We’ve been here before. A different day, a different year, a different owner even, but the same 911, not that you would believe it. Or me, for that matter, despite being the Porschephile journo at the wheel both then and now. Rewind back to June 2019 and what is now an eye-popping Shark Blue 993 Carrera RS replica was a rather more humble Carrera. It’s very much a project, though. Previous owner Matt Rowley determined to create his own vision of a lightweight 993. As you’ll note, the word ‘vision’ will crop up. Indeed, it’s what this 911 is all about, but as with so many things in life, vision comes in all sizes.
Matt’s car wasn’t the only 993 involved in our cover shoot back in the day. The photographs were taken for the August 2019 issue of 911 & Porsche World, to be precise. Enter Matt’s compadre and our good friend, Andrew Maude, whose rather more standard Carrera was on hand for a bit of ‘mates with 993s face off’. We were the in the referee’s corner to adjudicate proceedings. All good fun, impossible to come down on the side of one car over the other, though Matt’s 993 impressed with its lightweight-on-a-budget ethos, which certainly made itself felt on track.
CONNECTING RODS ARE FROM CARILLO, WHILE CAMS AND VALVETRAIN COMPONENTS ARE SOURCED FROM SCHRICK
And then, as is so often the way, when the project was realised, it was time for Matt to move on to a different Porsche — he bought a 996 Carrera for another adventure in 911 lightweightery. He also returned to the pages of 911 & Porsche World with his Guards Red 968 Club Sport, which we splashed across the cover of our July 2021 issue.
HAS PETER’S CAR CLOSED THE GAP, BUT NOT COMPLETELY CROSSED IT, WITH ITS EXTRA POWER AND CERTAINLY MORE HARDCORE SUSPENSION?
Fast forward to 2022. Enter Peter Topping and a whole new level of Porsche enthusiasm and vision. Perhaps that should read project of a lifetime? Now, it should be noted, I’ve never met Peter before, but he’s not backward in coming forward. In a good way, of course. Indeed, ebullient would be the dictionary definition. He’s a prime mover in the world of digital video platforms, from entertainment to major sporting events, such as the Olympics and the just-concluded FIFA World Cup. We’re of similar age and time, and though Porsche is our common ground, we grew up in the same area and cut our teeth on fast Fords, as well as the beguiling (but futile) world of fast but equally ferrous Fiats and Lancias. As is the case with so many of us, Peter’s first Porsche experience was a revelatory moment. As he puts it, “I bought a German car, which worked.”
Despite already owning a 997 GT3, he was on the lookout for another 911, even if he wasn’t quite sure what age or model. A previously owned Riviera Blue 993 still resonated. The Porsche world being a small one, he became aware Matt was selling up. The connection was made and what Matt thought was a finished 993 project was about to become something far grander in scale. This was in late 2019, not long after the car’s earlier showcase feature in these pages, but even at that point in time, Peter hadn’t joined the dots regarding his new toy’s potential and future path. “Matt’s car was the right specification for what I wanted, chiefly a light 911 I didn’t need to be too precious about. In fact, I called the car The Rat and still do!” A Carrera RS rep was clearly on the agenda — Peter actually bought a completed Midnight Blue RS replica in February 2020. “It just didn’t speak to me,” he shrugs. And so, he turned his attention to The Rat, which was, to all intents and purposes, a blank canvas, allowing him the opportunity for a massive project and to return to thoughts of his much missed Riviera Blue 993.
THE BODY WAS BUILT UP INTO FULL RS SPECIFICATION, WITH LIGHTWEIGHT GLASS AND GENUINE PORSCHE RS APRONS
Above and below Even better than the real thing? Comprehensively rebuilt engine and considered chassis upgrades make a strong case for arguing in favour of Peter’s build over a genuine Carrera RS.
This sounds like fighting talk to us. For sure, Peter hasn’t disappointed in terms of ‘massive’ and ‘vision’. We’d like to add ‘ambition’ and ‘scale’, both going way beyond Porsche’s own take on the 993 Carrera RS. This is probably a good(ish) time to remind ourselves as to what exactly Porsche’s take was?!
One of only three air-cooled generations to rock the RS badge, the 993 was also the last of the aircooled RSs, which itself ensures a passionate following among Porschephiles. With 3.8 litres over the standard 993’s 3.6, plus Porsche’s patented VarioRam engine induction system, the model produced 300bhp delivered through a six-speed gearbox. Built using the time-honoured RS recipe of thinner glass and body panels, the 993 RS also jettisoned interior comforts for lightness, weighing in at a hundred kilos below the standard Carrera’s 1,379kg. With lowered and tuned suspension, the RS was one of the sweetest handling 911s and retained a compliance lacking from its 964 Carrera RS predecessor.
Below Previous owner, Matt, had already used the car to experiment with lightweighting, the results attracting Peter and his wallet.
Just 1,123 993s were built. Of that volume, less than fifty examples were configured for right-hand drive. Rare as hen’s teeth, then, and one of the reasons so many enthusiasts build replicas. It’s a mighty fine look and, helpfully, all the bits to achieve it are readily available. Peter has dubbed his ‘993 RS CS EVO’, which might seem a little grand, but like we said earlier, what he’s achieved takes the 993 RS to a new level. And he was determined to steer this project every inch of the way. “I wanted to be a part of the process, not just the guy paying the money. Everyone working on the car let me get involved, which was very kind. I hope I wasn’t too demanding!”
As anyone embarking on an ambitious restoration or restomod project knows, the only place to start is with a bare, stripped shell. Peter entrusted the job to the appropriately named Riviera Autobody, based in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. This is a good point in our story to skip back to Matt’s tenure with the car. As we reported in 2019, it had come to him from Scotland, where winters are particularly gruelling and roads are very salty. Unsurprisingly, this had a big impact on the 993’s undercarriage. An £11,000 impact, to be precise. Yep, this is the figure Matt paid to get all the corrosion sorted.
Some of it had creeped back, however, as Peter discovered when the guys at Riviera Autobody starting poking and prodding. With the problem swiftly rectified, Peter had a few surprises in store. A sunroof delete (a complete replacement roof) was a given and well within Riviera Autobody’s skill set, but Peter also wanted the ‘double bubble’ roof look. The team made it happen with some very skilful panel work. We’re sure you’ll agree, the end result looks absolutely stunning. The body was built up into full RS specification, with lightweight glass and genuine Porsche front and rear RS aprons, plus wings sourced from Paul Howells, a name known to most in RS circles. The colour, of course, needs no introduction: it’s Shark Blue and, like its namesake, it’s got a sharp amount of visual bite.
With the bodyshell complete, Peter passed the baton to LG Trimming in Camberley, not far from his Weybridge base. While there aren’t really many ways to paint a car, once the colour has been decided, there are certainly many ways to create and personalise an interior. There are many ways to really mess it up too, should one’s colour palette be somewhat, er, challenged.
No such issues here. A mix of dark grey leather and Alcantara is never going to look out place, but the contrasting blue stitching lifts the effect, as does the treatment of the door panels, seat squabs and backs, with feature-perforated grey Alcantara over a solid blue base. The result is subtle and elevates the car beyond the pure road racer look. Indeed, Peter is determined this should be a perfectly road usable 911 and not stripped to the point of journey fatigue. With this in mind, lightweight sound deadening material has been used under the Rennsport Perlon lightweight carpet.
Back to those leather and Alcantara seats. They’re Recaro Pole Position pews — what else?! — on Recaro mounts with titanium torx fixings and are joined by Schroth safety harnesses. And just as Recaro is pretty much the only acceptable form of Porsche seating for an RS replica, then a MOMO steering wheel is the only way to orchestrate driving duties. This particular 350mm drilled three-spoke is finished in Alcantara with blue stitching. Blue contrasts elsewhere, too, most prominently with the blue seatbelts and imposing Heigo half roll cage, which is a work of tubular art in itself. Rennline pedals and aluminium kick boards look the part and add fancy footwork functionality. For the rest of the build, Peter looked no further than his longterm collaborators at GT One, who, like him, are domiciled in Weybridge. Handy when you want to pitch in and keep on top of your Porsche project. We’ll leave the engine until last, largely because it’s still in progress.
Suspension now, though. All the reusable components were stripped, vapour blasted and rebuilt. At the heart of the set-up are Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, attached at the lower end to 993 GT2/ RS front uprights, GT2 tie rods and Porsche adjustable anti-roll bars. At the top, Rennline monoball top mounts, front and rear. Polybushes are used throughout and the build rolls on genuine 993 Carrera RS three-piece eighteen-inch Speedline split rims, offering eight inches of width at the front and a fulsome ten inches at the back. It almost goes without saying that stretched over the rims are Michelin Cup 2 tyres (235/40 at the nose, 285/35 at the rear). And finally, Turbo/RS ‘Big Red’ calipers and Pagid pads do a good job of scrubbing speed.
And so to the engine, a collaboration between GT One and Surrey-based Roland Alsop Machine Shop, an engineering and machining company ordinarily flying under the radar, but delivering fantastic results to those in the know. In this case, the meticulously flowed cylinder heads on Peter’s 3.8-litre build, plus balancing of all the internals. In short, if it spins and goes up and down, then it’s been weight relieved. Paul Howell’s name crops up here again — he supplied genuine 3.8-litre RS pistons and barrels for the build. Connecting rods are from Carillo, while cams and valvetrain components are sourced from Schrick. A 996 GT3 oil pump ensures full protection, while Fabspeed equal-length RS headers fire into an exhaust system from the same Fort Washington manufacturer.
The work in progress element of the engine? Well, thus far, fuelling uses largely stock Porsche inlet and induction, albeit with an enlarged seventymillimetre throttle body. The cylinder heads, however, have been flowed to handle much more fuel and air. A number of power figure variables have been calculated — depending on cam lift and fuelling, a maximum 417bhp is considered achievable. Peter is the first to admit such a figure from this car would be way too peaky for the road.
Instead, to maximise current build specification, a 996 GT3 plenum will be fitted, while fuelling and ignition will be suitably mapped to produce a tractable, roadable 360bhp. Right now, in not yet run-in state, output is around 330bhp, which is still usefully up on the standard 993 Carrera RS.
Before we pinch the keys, we should talk about the transmission. Transferring power to road level is a six-speed Getrag G50/21 close-ratio gearbox with Motorsport Cup limited-slip differential and a lightweight 997 GT3 RS 4.0 clutch and flywheel, helped along in the shifting department by an FD MotorSports RSstyle Golden Rod and topped with a Function First performance gear lever and knob. If all this reads like a menu, then I guess it is unavoidable. The parts maketh the car, after all. It’s the ethos that counts more than anything, though.
Above and below All credit to Peter for not being fussy about using his 993 in challenging weather, as we experienced during our photo shoot, though the car’s bright blue paintwork had no trouble cutting through thick fog.
Hardcore as this build might sound, Peter is determined for it to be a 993 that will get regular road use. To this end, he maintains drivability is crucial. “You’ve got to be able to spend more than half an hour in a car. If it’s too hardcore for the road, then it’s not going to work. The build will have failed.” Well, then. Hit or miss? Firstly, Peter is spot on. If it doesn’t work on the UK’s ‘unique’ roads, then it’s not fit for purpose. This applies to both the chassis and the engine. Revs are good, but torque is crucial, too. If you’re pogoing from one side of the road to other, while trying to access a power-curve looking like the north face of the Eiger, then you’ve built a car for the track, not the street. Funnily enough, the first 911 RS I ever drove was a 993. I therefore have a bit of history with the model. I was beguiled by its on-road stability and allround planted feel, particularly the rear, taken up by Porsche’s LSA (Lightweight, Stable, Agile) rear axle suspension system, which made immediately clear where the 964 Carrera RS was going wrong. If anything, though, despite what I’ve wanged on about in terms of on-road suitability, the standard 993 Carrera RS was perhaps a little too sophisticated.
Has Peter’s car closed the gap, but not completely crossed it, with its extra power and certainly more hardcore suspension? Yes, I reckon so. The flat-six at play may not yet be at peak potential, but its lack of inertia is felt directly through the throttle as the revs flair, a testimony to the unit’s balanced components. The only drawback is a slightly tricky clutch, but you soon get used to it. There may be more to come, but this car feels plenty strong enough to me, with mid-range guts and a top-end coming alive, flexible and responsive, with a delicious hollow bark.
It’s the suspension and overall ride I’m more interested in. Fortunately, we’ve inadvertently found some quite nasty Buckinghamshire B-roads for a full work out. And praise be, it’s good. Very good. Detailed dialogue connects me with the road surface, and despite front camber angles set for fast turn in, the front end doesn’t fidget or dart around. Pleasingly, both front and rear work with the road’s lumps and bumps, rather than against them. Like all the best 911 chassis, you can relax into the driving experience and let the car just go. It’s not quite sitting back and enjoying the ride, but if you’re hanging on grimly to the wheel, then things aren’t working.
Is there any comparison between the car Matt built and Peter’s vision for the same 911, born into reality and the star of this 911 & Porsche World article? Er, no, not really. They’re based on the same 993, but that’s about as far as it goes. Reluctantly, I hand the keys back, but not before a final stroll around Peter’s project. I fear we haven’t done it justice on a snatched test day in what is early December, but equally big respect to him for not being precious about braving the elements. This is a stunning build, one that keeps throwing up details, a testimony to all those involved. With more to come from the engine, I’m thinking it’s unfinished business. Another go Peter? Please?
Above Expect to see the car making many appearances during the highly anticipated 2023 show season.
Above Every inch of the car has been painstakingly renovated, not least the interior, which benefits from a retrim
Above Affectionately referred to as ‘The Rat’, this stunning Shark Blue 993 RS replica stunned visitors to Porsche Club Great Britain’s recent Christmas party, hosted at Bicester Heritage.