Super Street: If you're the automotive enthusiast you claim to be and you've never heard of Gunther Werks, you should probably make it a point to visit their website to get a feel for just how obsessed the group is with building the perfect Porsche. Their "budget out the window" approach that addresses every square inch of the 993 from front to back, top to bottom results in a legendary Porsche build that modernizes without dismissing the car's iconic character. And, as you might expect, a hand-built from scratch, one of only 25 ever produced custom Porsche comes at an incredibly steep cost. If you're shaking your head and about to brag about your '90s-era hatchback that makes more power and does so for far less money, you're missing the point of the Porsche 993 Remastered by Gunther Werks entirely. As you'll see in MotorTrend's story below, the car is designed for a specific type of owner and you're not likely to catch one at your local Starbucks.
MotorTrend: "Rear, rear, rear, rear!" Randy Pobst had his palms touching as if in prayer. He was pleading with Cary Eisenlohr, a Porsche suspension guru who also serves as the de facto crew chief of Gunther Werks. Pobst was still inside the cockpit of a yellow Porsche 993 Remastered by Gunther Werks, having just run four laps around the big track at Willow Springs on a coolish day out in California's Mojave Desert. And yes, that's the official name of the car (so says Porsche's legal team) that starts life at $585,000. There will only ever be 25 made, so odds are you won't have to worry about it.
Pobst was sweating and praying because of the oversteer he experienced around turn 9. The Gunther Werks car was hitting around 105 mph through that corner, one of the trickiest in the racing world, and Pobst wanted more stick from the back meats. Of the four laps, number two was the quickest at 1:27.60. That would put it between a 991.2 Turbo Cabriolet (1:27.27) and a Porsche 991.1 Turbo S (1:27.81). Considering the Gunther Werks car makes just 431 horsepower, that's not a bad place to land. All present-including me-thought the car had more in it. They just had to tame that rear.
Call It the 993 GT3 RS Porsche Never Built
Right there in pit lane the GW crew began unbolting the front splitter and loosening up the anti-roll bars. The car did go quicker. We'll get to that later, but first let's talk about this Remastered 993. The Gunthers start with a 993 ("The Cadillac of Porsches," according to Magnus Walker), take every single nut, bolt, piece of wiring, and whatever else off of it before the body-in-white is taken down to bare metal. One of the ideas behind the car is that it's the 993 GT3 RS Porsche never built. Remember the first GT3 RS was the 996.1 model back in 1999. Porsche did race the 993, however, and the Gunther Werks car uses the outer suspension mounting points that are on all 964 and 993 steering racks, just like the RSR race cars of the time. This makes the front end of the Gunther Werks car quite wide. The tires are massive in terms of width, too, with Pirelli Corsas up front measuring 295/30/ZR18, and the rears coming in at a Viperish 335/30/ZR18. By choosing to stay with 18-inch wheels, these are the tires that the GW team stuck with. Modern rubber, and especially modern R compound rubber, is just that good. Plus, as we've seen with the Canepa 959SC (Canepa replaced the 959's 17-inch hollow magnesium wheels with 18-inchers), bigger wheels sometimes look better, too.
Warning, the 993 Remastered by Gunther Werks Is HARD CORE
We'll get back to Pobst 's lap quest with the Sting Yellow, big-wing car in a bit. For now, I'm going to tell you about the Greenwich Green, duck-tailed GW-993 that I got to drive. Fundamental to understanding this car is grasping what it is not. It is not a beach cruiser, nor is it a daily driver. Despite what the marketing might want you to believe, you're not taking your significant other out to the opera in this thing. You just ain't. These Gunther Werks machines are hard core.
The extensive use of carbon fiber for virtually every panel and the additional light-weighting done on top of that means you hear and feel everything. It's like a Porsche 911R taken to a sadistic extreme. Driving on the street with the Sport exhaust switched on is an exercise in pain management. With a helmet on (and maybe ear plugs in) the sound could conceivably be tolerable. We're talking race car levels of interior decibels. To say it again, hard core. This ain't your rich uncle's Singer. (And no, I've never driven a Singer.) Still. Anyhow, the Porsche 993 Remastered by Gunther Werks is a piece of sashimi with a license plate. It's that raw.
The Gunther Werks Air-Cooled 4.0-liter Flat-Six Rips
Going a sentence further without mentioning the GW's air-cooled masterpiece of an engine would be a crime. Wowee! What a great thing! The engine rips! Not only does it rev out to 8,100 rpm, but because of its medium-weight flywheel, this motor loves to rev. Zip, zip, zip!! Intoxicating if not addicting to boot around. The highly regarded Porsche engine specialists at Rothsport Racing did most of the engine work, and the results are superlative. The air-cooled, 4.0-liter flat-six produces 431 horsepower and 312 lb-ft of torque.
Not crazy numbers by today's standards, but huge for a luftgekuhlt mill. Also, team Gunther claims the car weighs less than 2,700 pounds. That's crazy light these days, and it means the power to weight ratio is around 6 pounds per horsepower. The 992 Carrera S comes in at 7.6 pounds per horsepower, whereas the Corvette C8 is 7.2. That said, don't put too much stock in pound per horsepower numbers, as the 797-hp Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody's number is 5.7 pounds per hp. Point is, the revtastic, big, and torquey (for an air-cooled) engine is a joy buzzer of an awesome powerplant.
How Does the 993 Remastered by Gunther Werks Drive?
The green GW-993 has taller gears in its Getrag G50 transmission than the yellow, trackified car. That said, man, does this thing scoot! I'm not even talking about clutch-dropping launches. Simple stuff like getting up to freeway speeds is a breeze, as are triple digits. Power is everywhere, and it feels muscular. Gunther Werks is going to swap the shorter gear set into the green car and would like me to have another go, but I'm thinking, why? I really dug the ratios. Of course, I'm also thinking hell, yeah as who wouldn't want to spend more time with this crazy, white rhino rare thing? I say yes, I'll drive it again! If I were running things, I'd change the length of the shifter, shorten the length of the throws, and also get greasier synchros (the transmission didn't want to go into gear at times), but for street purposes, I thought the green car's gears were set up great.
I'd previously driven the Gunther Werks prototype (then dubbed the 400R) and literally loved the way it steered. There was just a sweetness to it that felt as if GW heard all the flowery stuff steering geeks always drone on (and on) about and via what must be magic translated it properly. I ran into a Scottish journalist friend of mine who had driven the 400R the day before I did, and I asked him, "Is this thing as good as I think it is?" He laughed and said yes, it is.
The GW-993 steers about 90 percent as well as the prototype. That is to say, the production car's steering isn't as delightfully wonderful as it could be, but it's better than whatever you're driving. The handling is straight madness seeing as the grip is high and the weight is low. The GW-993 just slashes its way through turns. Braking is superb in terms of stopping power, though the rear-end wags around and tramlines a bit too much. That's another way of saying the front end gets surprisingly light under braking. Not surprising at all if you're familiar with air-cooled 911s, but I just want to point out that this is a 20-year-old chassis that's gone under a heavy knife-not a brand-new car.
Wide Body and a Rear Wing Equals Desirable
Then there are the looks. Knockout, homerun, touchdown, goal!!!-apply your favorite overused sports metaphor here. In a world gone mad with Porsche 911 lust, Gunther Werks managed to make one even more desirable. Designed by people involved with the Carrera GT (look at that front bumper), Gunther Werks wanted to visually hide the fact that the front track was as wide as the rear. This thing isn't an AWD car, after all. They disguised the new width masterfully.
Head on, the Remastered 993 looks like an anaconda's face: powerful, a bit primal, and wide. But as soon as you begin moving around to the side, clever curves trick your eyes into thinking the rear wheels poke out further than the fronts. It's an illusion, but your brain buys it. Then there's that as close to perfection as an automotive object can get ducktail spoiler. Just outrageously excellent in terms of aesthetics. Rightfully so; performance perschnomance-when you're trying to convince people to throw down $600K on a hot rod 911, it had better look the part. This one does, and then some. The interior is pretty sweet, too. All totally customizable, of course.
Before we get back to what Pobst was ultimately able to wring out of the car in terms of a lap, I'd like you to read what he thinks of Gunther Werks' creation and we can see if what I'm feeling jibes with his impression: "In the late 1990s, my introduction to driving Porsches was the 993 RSR of Alex Job Racing. This Porsche 993 Remastered by Gunther Werks takes me back to racing the 12 Hours of Sebring. The sounds, the shifts, the quirky ABS brake pedal hinged on the floor like a VW Bug. But more. I bet this car would run with those full-on race machines, even though it's swaddled in luxurious finishes and features. Hey man, I'm a racer-I love it!" Yes friends, the GW-993 reminds our resident two-time Daytona 24 Hour winner of a full-blown race car. Hey, same here! Or at least what I imagine actual racing machines are like at 100 mph. Like I said, this is an extreme car. Time for tracking, as Pobst says.
How Fast Did It Go at Big Willow?
After 45 minutes or so of fettling, the Gunther Werks boffins had done all they could to increase the yellow car's rear grip. The GW-993 features fully adjustable dampers on all four corners, including compression and rebound. You can quickly play with camber, toe, and ride height, too. At one point Gunther actually raised the nose to try to give Pobst the ride he wanted. The scuttlebutt in the pits was that Gunther Werks would like to see a time under 1:27.00. Out went Pobst and the yellow big winger, and I assumed my usual place on the wall along the front straight where I like to hand time laps. Pobst blasted off and I started my (phone's) stopwatch. Eisenlohr had said he thought a 1:26.90 was possible. After Pobst held the throttle pretty much flat over the jump corner, I watched the tiny yellow object moving towards turn 8. Looked like it was moving pretty good, but it's hard to tell from what must be a third of a mile away. It does seem quick. Here comes Pobst onto the front straight. My thumb taps the phone. I look down and see 1:26.89. That is dang quick.
After Pobst is out of the car, we check the Vbox data and learn that my thumb is a hundredth of a second off. The Gunther Werks' Remastered Porsche 993 ran a 1:26.90, just like Eisenlohr thought it would. As for the time, that lap puts the GW-993 between a 515-hp AMG GT S (1:27.04) and a 650-hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (1:26.48 with a 10-speed auto). That's a crazy decent lap for such a relatively low-powered car, methinks. And now comes the part where I give you internet warriors something to fight about. When the Ford v Ferrari movie was made, some scenes were shot on the big track at Willow. The surface was refinished. Not repaved, just sorta painted black. I think it's slower as a result. How much slower?
Well, before Big Willow got resurfaced, Pobst popped off an unofficial 1:25.88 using a Chevy Camaro ZL1 with a 10-speed auto. Officially we got that 1:26.48 lap from the 10-speed car (and a 1:26.16 from a manual). After lunch, our testing team left, but the rest of us kept screwing around with the auto ZL1's tire pressures, and using the car's built-in Performance Data Recorder we saw the 1:25.88 lap. Fast-forward to after the track is wearing its shiny, black new surface, and Pobst ran a 1:27.23 lap in a Camaro ZL1 1LE with the 10-speed automatic. The two Camaros make the same power, but the 1LE version with better tires, way more aero, and a suspension that's much better for track purposes went over a second slower? Did Chevy make a slower car? Did Pobst get slower? No to all, so the obvious answer has to be that the new surface is slower. Could be 2 or 3 seconds a lap slower. Both of the lap times that bookend the Gunther car were done pre-resurfacing. Meaning the Porsche 993 Remastered by Gunther Werks is even more impressive as a track machine than it appears. Commence your freak-out.
Does the above justify the price? Should you, if you could, buy what Gunther Werks is selling? With only 25 being made, car 11 just starting production, and most of, if not all of, the cars being already sold, I'm not sure how much my opinion here matters. Obviously, the GW-993 is for a specific type of Porsche 911 fanatic. One with the means, of course, but also a buyer who can look past strict, formal history and use a bit of their imagination. The buyer would also have to be the type who's into driving race cars on the street. Not my bag in particular, but I've met people who love doing exactly that.
Jim Glickenhaus famously drives around Manhattan in a Lola T-70 with no air conditioning. To bring it all together, the man who owns the Sting Yellow GW-993 that Pobst lapped is buying a Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 004S. You like it rough? So does Gunther Werks. For now, at least, as I hear more cars are coming. Wink, wink.