300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964

300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964

Just another 911 restomod? Not a bit of it. The team at Rindt Vehicle Design has really pushed the envelope with this 300bhp wide-bodybackdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964…


Words Steve Bennett

Photography Dan Sherwood


PUT A LID ON IT

A drastically altered 964 Carrera 4 Cabriolet.

FROM MILD TO WILD 964 CABRIOLET REBORN AS WIDE-ARCH COUPE


300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964

The perfect bespoke Porsche? Clearly, there’s no such thing. One enthusiast’s feast is another’s light snack, after all. Customising a car is a purely personal endeavour, which is the whole beauty of the 911 restomod vibe. Certainly, there are trends, influences and influencers. Porsche purists can be a bit sniffy about the whole scene, but we say any high-minded certainties you might have regarding 911 restomods are quite hard to maintain once you’ve witnessed — or better still, experienced — what a good one is all about. A good one? Well, there are many, but in this instance, we’re making a return visit to Rindt Vehicle Design’s Windsor workshop to drive the company’s latest creation. As barometers go, Rindt is right up there. The company carries out every aspect of restoration in-house, adopting something of a production line approach to its builds. And when you witness the starting point for some of the firm’s projects, you’d be forgiven for thinking its employees are miracle workers. Believe us when we say it is often hard to recognise the beginning from the end product.


300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964 - engine

Of course, the starting point for any 911 restomod is the donor. No surprises for guessing this build is based on a 964. Sure, the 993 is starting to gain momentum on the restomod circuit, but its predecessor remains more pragmatic choice and is easier to work with when turning back the clock. That said, unless you’ve already got a 964 to start with, the price of entry into the restomod world has gone up significantly in recent years. Then there’s the moral dilemma of taking a 964 and changing it forever, behaviour certain Porsche factions are becoming increasingly upset about. We get it, to a degree, but it’s worth remembering Porsche built more than sixty-three thousand 964s and most of them still exist. With the best will in the world, it’s hard to imagine the supply chain running on empty.


SEATS ARE FROM A 911 TURBO, CUSTOM-TRIMMED IN SPIRIT OF LE MANS TARTAN, WHICH SEEMS ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE

Workers in Rindt’s body and paint shop know no fear. It’s not that they go out of their way to make life difficult for themselves, more a case of not letting certain impracticalities get in the way. Indeed, those who consider chopping up a 964 to be a heinous crime might feel rather more benign about this particular build — what is now a wide-body RSR-style coupe was once a 964 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. See what we mean? To say a drop-top is not the obvious starting point for a coupe build is to state the obvious. Moreover, the poor old 911 Cabriolet has never really felt overwhelming love from the Porsche faithful, despite the fact most people consider al fresco motoring to be the very definition of a sports car, replacing roof with sky. In other words, there are many Porschephiles who would consider one less 964 Cabriolet as no bad thing. A Carrera 4 variant, at that! Not that we subscribe to the same train of thought, you understand. Is there is method to the madness? Well, yes. As Rindt boss, Brian Richardson, succinctly explains, “coupes are a good deal more expensive and bits are just bits.”


300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964

His words sound almost glib, but then consider the fact this blue belter’s donor 1990 Cabriolet was a “twenty-five grand heap” requiring complete disassembly and restoration regardless of final specification. Indeed, the car was stripped to its bare bones and placed on a Celette body jig. The process of adding a roof was therefore not too much of a concern or, it must be said, a challenge, considering the in-house expertise Rindt can rely on.

Plus, managing everything under one roof gives Brian full control over a project’s budget. Nonetheless, he describes the process of transforming this car from neglected 964 to what you see splashed across these pages as being a huge operation, both in terms of time and effort. While the front end of the 964 Cabriolet remains the same as its Coupe sibling, the former is very different from the windscreen back. This much is obvious, but it’s worth noting the rear quarters are different, as are the inner wings. Nothing is insurmountable when a 911 body is on a jig, though.

NO MATTER WHAT YOUR VIEW OF RESTOMODS IS, YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THE LOOK OF THIS 911 ABSOLUTELY HITS THE SPOT

TOP TO BOTTOM

Rindt’s bodywork fabricators took the shell back to bare metal and then worked from the inside out, welding in new inner arches, a new rear structure and then the rear quarter panels, complete with Brian’s own spectacular take on the wide-body look. Adding the roof was very much the ‘topping out’ ceremony, preceding installation of rear and side windows.


300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964

The Cabriolet’s doors are basically the same as those of the Coupe, the difference being the requirement of door frames. Thankfully, all parts are available through Porsche Classic and aftermarket manufacturers, including JP Group brand, Dansk, which is an OEM supplier. On a bespoke build like this, Rindt’s fabricators will produce much of the car’s bodywork, while other components will be sourced new or from the stockpile of original parts and panels inevitably acquired over time. Indeed, show us a Porsche restoration business and we’ll show you a fascinating stash of spare parts.

Cabriolet becomes Coupe. With the not-so-small matter of the roof resolved, the Rindt crew set about applying Brian’s take on the wide-body look. The full-fat front arches are direct replacement panels, while the long bonnet and required slam panel are a pre-requisite.


300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964

A deep front chin spoiler features per RSR style, though the Rindt team has added its own styling touch with the addition of a splitter following the spoiler’s contours. At the rear, a ducktail is an RSR must. Below the engine lid, Rindt has taken the bumper overriders and centre section and extended them in order to accommodate the twisting primaries of the exhaust system, as well as its enormous silencer and twin centre tailpipes. The look makes quite a statement, as if the whole engine can barely be contained. This isn’t too far from the truth, but we’ll explain more shortly. For now, we’re concerned with the all-important aesthetic. The colour? Seasoned Porsche colour palette spotters will recognise it as being OEM Aetna Blue. The retro-look solid hue is enhanced with orange body graphics and satin black trim for the windows, door mirrors, handles and headlight surrounds.

SEATS ARE FROM A 911 TURBO, CUSTOM-TRIMMED IN SPIRIT OF LE MANS TARTAN, WHICH SEEMS ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE

They say clothes maketh the man, which means wheels must maketh the car. In this case, we’re looking at a set of eighteen-inch Group 4 Wheels Fuchs-style deepdish rims finished in silver and anthracite. They’re decorated with colour-crested centres (for extra detail) and are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. Take a step back and breathe the whole effect in. No matter what your view of restomods is, you have to admit the look of this 911 absolutely hits the spot. And this is before we’ve peered inside the cabin to examine the work of Rindt’s trimming department.


300bhp wide-body Coupe backdate based on a 1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet 964

As is the case with the body paint, there’s a retro-modern mix to marvel at. Aetna Blue is further exposed on the floorpan and is offset with grey 356-style square-weave carpets and Rindt-etched aluminium pedal boards.

Seats are from a 911 Turbo (930), custom-trimmed in Spirit of Le Mans tartan, which seems entirely appropriate. Additionally, the blue in the cloth is a near perfect match for Aetna Blue. Tartan extends to the dash centre, while corresponding soft blue leather is used on the seat squabs, the centre console and on the RS-style door cards.

SEATS ARE FROM A 911 TURBO, CUSTOM-TRIMMED IN SPIRIT OF LE MANS TARTAN, WHICH SEEMS ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE

Neat touches include the lovely milled wooden Rindt gear knob, the near obligatory MOMO Prototipo steering wheel and a Blaupunkt Bremen SQR 46 DAB head unit, which looks as though it has been lifted straight from the 1980s, but is thoroughly modern, offering Bluetooth connectivity and digital radio. Crucially, considering even the humblest of modern cars feature it, air-conditioning is included and came as a bonus with the Cabriolet donor vehicle.


NO MATTER WHAT YOUR VIEW OF RESTOMODS IS, YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THE LOOK OF THIS 911 ABSOLUTELY HITS THE SPOT

On to mechanical matters. The aforementioned barely contained engine is a fully rebuilt 3.6-litre M64 flat-six. In standard 964 form, this would mean 250bhp, but to add some ‘go’ to the ‘show’, technicians in Rindt’s engine building department fitted Jenvey Dynamics 48mm throttle bodies for maximum air and fuel flow efficiency. Obviously, such a setup needs appropriate management. Brian is a recent convert to Emtron. The name is new to us, but he rates the flexibility of the firm’s ECUs, which make for quick and easy mapping. To power the system, Rindt has installed its own custom wiring harness. Interesting to note, Emtron is an Australian concern, significant because the land Down Under has always been synonymous with high-end fuel injection management systems and associated software.

NO MATTER WHAT YOUR VIEW OF RESTOMODS IS, YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THE LOOK OF THIS 911 ABSOLUTELY HITS THE SPOT

We look forward to hearing more about Emtron’s offerings in the near future.

We’ve already mentioned the ‘statement’ exhaust semicovered by the rear apron. Working efficiently in tandem with the Jenvey throttle bodies, this raucous collection of tubes helps the engine produce 300bhp. An ample sufficiency, we reckon.

Completing the running gear is a fully refreshed Carrera 4 transaxle and front differential. As intimated, four-wheel drive has rarely been the purist’s choice, but it does add another modern twist to the 911 restomod vibe. Besides, the proof is very much in the driving experience. Nestling inside the Group 4 rims are the bigger brake discs and calipers from a 964 Turbo, plus all new brake lines and ancillaries. The standard MacPherson strut suspension has been substituted with tried and tested Bilstein PSS10 coilovers. As you’d expect, every nut, bolt, bush and fixing has been restored, renewed or re-plated. Brian’s right-hand man at Rindt Vehicle Design, Trevor Ward, is keen we have a drive of this blue bruiser. It would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?! Immediately apparent, attention to detail extends all the way to the starting procedure, which is to say the custom Rindt ignition key is milled from solid billet with enamelled detailing, adding a pleasingly weighty feel. It’s the kind of touch adding all the difference, when the easiest thing to do would have been to keep the standard key and its plastic fob.


MAIDEN VOYAGE

The great thing about a custom build? It delivers a custom driving experience. Key in hand, spin the engine and the 3.6-litre boxer woomps into life on fast idle with a bellowing note. For the lucky owner of this car, there’s knowledge the interior space is tailored for them and them alone. For us, there’s the knowledge said lucky owner has yet to drive the car, which instils a certain sense of responsibility.

The first few miles is an acclimatisation period, as is the case with any modified 911, especially one which is far more than the sum of its parts, with individual character traits demanding you apply yourself to the job in hand. The engine impresses with its drivability. For some, a race car engine on the road is the ultimate crossover. Not for us. This 3.6-litre powerplant, complete with added Jenvey induction, is just about perfect. At 300bhp, it’s got the power, but it’s also got torque where it’s needed, which is to say just about everywhere.


SEATS ARE FROM A 911 TURBO, CUSTOM-TRIMMED IN SPIRIT OF LE MANS TARTAN, WHICH SEEMS ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE

When the opportunity arises to rev out, the engine’s true character is revealed. As the needle passes 5,000rpm, induction and intricate exhaust extraction kick in, opening into a sophisticated howl building in intensity. It’s a sound you’d never tire of, but below this threshold, it’s civilised enough for long road trips.

In keeping with the engine’s user-friendly power supply, the Carrera 4 transmission is equally engaging. Again, this is a road car, so why make life difficult with a tricksy clutch and flighty flywheel? The engine is tuned for rapid response as it is. Sticking with the road car vibe, there’s the suspension. And the steering. Being a 964, the latter is hydraulically assisted. The fat fronts add slight resistance over the stock sixteens this 964 would have originally rolled on, but on the move, there is enough chit-chat through the steering wheel to give you the sense of driving an older Porsche. Do we notice there’s a front differential and additional drivetrain in the action? Not really, though this might be down to a bit of negative front camber, helping to sharpen up turn-in.


HIT THE ROAD

Engine good, gearbox and drivetrain up to scratch, steering chatty and convivial. This leaves the handling and chassis department to report back. The Bilstein PSS10 set-up is tried and tested, a system offering ride height adjustability and up to nine settings for damping. Suspension configuration is obviously a very personal thing, but for me, if a 911 of any description isn’t set up to properly work on a UK B-road, then it isn’t fit for purpose. Clearly, the team at Rindt agree — damping is firm but fair on particularly gnarly backroads near the company’s headquarters.

As mentioned earlier, feedback gives the sense of driving an older Porsche, but without the bobbing and camber sensitivity capable of afflicting some stiffly sprung 911s. A 964 Carrera RS on stock suspension is an immediate and relative example springing to mind. Despite the big boots and wide track, this is a compact 964 at heart, meaning it feels small and agile, while constant feedback through hands and hips relays all the dynamic information you need to understand what the chassis is up to. Importantly, this feedback comes without ever being intrusive, intimidating or distracting.

All the signals to indicate you’re in charge of an oldschool 911 are there, adding to the way the car looks, the sound of the engine and the natural ebb and flow over bumpy backroads. Pick up the pace and there’s perfect balance between light-nosed 911 turn-in and traditional rear-engined traction. Maybe there’s a hint of Carrera 4 up front when pushing on a bit, but just like there would be in a standard four-wheel drive 964, it’s very subtle. Time to wrap up the drive and get back to Rindt’s base. I’m reminded the car’s owner has yet to take to the controls. I can only imagine how he must be feeling about seeing his Porsche hot rod vision fully realised. As far as 911 transformations are concerned, this one certainly goes above and beyond, but then Brian’s team likes a challenge and he’s clearly never happier than when there’s an exciting Porsche project to get stuck in to. And there are plenty more of those due to roll out of the company’s workshop doors in coming months.

PICK UP THE PACE AND THERE’S PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN LIGHT-NOSED 911 TURN-IN AND REAR-ENGINED TRACTION

Above From any angle, this transformed drop-top, which rolls on eighteen-inch Group 4 Wheels Fuchs replicas, is anything but subtle.

Above Exhaust system is barely contained behind the rear bumper, which has been heavily modified to accommodate the pipework Below The cabin is full of fantastic details, including laser-cut speaker holes in the leather door cards

FOR THE LUCKY OWNER OF THIS CAR, THERE’S KNOWLEDGE THE INTERIOR SPACE IS TAILORED FOR THEM AND THEM ALONE

Above Custom splitter was fabricated to follow the lines of the front bumper

Above 3.6-litre flat-six makes use of Jenvey throttle bodies, with fuelling managed by a standalone Emtron ECU, resulting in a solid 300bhp

Above and below Spirit of Le Mans tartan cloth has been used for the 930 seat centres, which distracts from just how spartan the cabin really is.

Above Looking at the finished article, it’s difficult to believe this was once a an early 964 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Below Rindt fingerprints are evident throughout the car.

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