Even the most savage modern car sounds smooth, honed, tuned, this thing sounded like it was firing nails through the block and would probably bite your face off in a bar fight.
Modern cars have evolved to such a point that delicacies and nuances of handling get lost in an ocean of grip. To actually have fun in a new Porsche 911 and overcome the slabs of rubber that pass for rear tyres you need to drive at speeds that normally attract a helicopter escort.
An abundance of older cars now on the road, too, thanks to the magic of galvanised steel that resists the onset of rust, the classic car scene has never been stronger and sports car fans that really want to enjoy themselves are often picking up the specialist press rather than the latest brochure.
With all the money they’ve saved paying for the salesman’s hair gel, and the kind of depreciation that only the US dollar can understand, they’re taking their new old toy to the tuners, too. And that can result in real monsters, like this Porsche 993 Turbo with a simply mental 600bhp.
Jan Fatthauer made his name with the headline-grabbing Vf400 and followed up with the GT9, which should be the fastest production car in the world soon enough as soon as he can find the right track on the right day and breeze through the 258mph mark. But a visit to his mighty Dortmund workshop reveals a collection of 996s, a 944 Twin Turbo and even a GT2-powered classic camper van. The public face of the company does not convey the sheer madness of the projects behind closed doors.
It often starts with a simple restoration for a valued customer, but when you’re dealing with a man who has created an 1100bhp 911 Turbo Cabriolet then a few tweaks are inevitable. Blessed with hindsight Jan can improve upon the originals and then just keep going to an inordinate, dangerous level. As he has here…
Because a simple shove on the throttle elicited the kind of fearsome response you might expect from walking up to a sleeping lion and kicking it squarely in the testicles. Even the most savage modern car sounds smooth, honed, tuned, this thing sounded like it was firing nails through the block and would probably bite your face off in a bar fight.
There are whole forums devoted the air-cooled vs water-cooled 911 debate and this, the 993, was the last of those regulated by simple cold air. That means it’s about as refined as a Tasmanian Devil and has a deep growl that is somehow more dangerous than anything we could come up with today.
Then there was the open road, a set path that 9ff describes as its “test route”. In fact it’s the road next to the airport, a place I have wiled away many an afternoon in deep discussion with the local police about what constitutes a safe speed. In a car like this, another little chat seemed more than inevitable.
Because although the Turbo remains eminently drivable and simple beneath 4000rpm, with just the long throw of the gearshift, the stiff pedals, the gruff bark from the Flat Six and the funky dials to remind that this is a throwback to olden days, it goes absolutely, window-licking mental in the final 2000rpm.
This is where it all happens and I had to grab the next gear fast and hard to avoid running out of revs as the car blasted through the 60mph mark in around 4.5s and on to a top speed in excess of 175mph. You can get faster with a modern 997 Turbo, but it won’t have nearly the sense of occasion and with no traction control or major electronic safety nets.
After fitting the GT2-style bodykit and refurbing the BBS period-look wheels, Fatthauer’s boys retrimmed the sports seats and set about producing a perfect yet authentic interior. It truly looks the part and while it’s neither a perfect GT2 or Turbo, but a hybrid of the pair, only a true expert, or anorak, would care about such things.
Inside it’s a beautiful dissertation in 90s design, with bright orange needles playing freely round the backlit dials and chunky plastics that were the peak of automotive couture just a decade ago but wouldn’t make it past the drawing board at Tata right now. Even the key, a bog-standard, unblippable metal cylinder reminds us just how far cars have come.
Of course if they opened the engine cover they would probably run for the hills, as the Flat Six Twin Turbo is now completely invisible thanks to the intrusion of an epic, simply stupid intercooler that is as big as Physics allows and runs right to all four corners of the bay. Obviously cooling was an issue when they tuned this mid-90s powerplant to the max and lowering the charge pressure was just about the hardest step in a car that relied on simple, cold air to stop the engine melting.
From there it’s the usual story of new pistons, air intake, sports exhaust and the usual accoutrements that go with a big power conversion. And that results in the kind of horsepower figures that would have the international press drooling all over Ferrari’s stand at Geneva, in a car that hit the market in 1995. But the power is only half the story, it’s the way it’s delivered that sells the whole classic car market and when a tuner with the balls-out approach of 9ff gets involved then the character can go to a whole new, dangerous level.
And 9ff fitted its own fully adjustable suspension kit to the car, which at 1500kg isn’t much lighter than its modern counterparts but still manages to give that pin-sharp feeling thanks to a lack of power assistance and smaller dimensions than the relatively huge 997. A lack of feel is the problem in a modern car, thanks to a combination of monster tyres and electronic interference, but there’s none of that here. The car takes an armful of muscle to throw in, but the wheel feels connected to those alloys in a way that most of us could never imagine.
It might not be as fast as the modern equivalent and in this state of tune it costs about the same, but I climbed out the 993 with a big smile and a healthier respect of what could be achieved with cars from years gone by. For those with the luxury of choice, a modified classic is an interesting proposition.