Gunther Werks 400R First Drive: Air-Cooled, Reimagined

My first drive of a 993-series Porsche 911 threw me for a curveball. Having owned (and loved) a 1983 911 SC, I was weirdly drawn to the final iteration of air-cooled Porsches. The 993, whose model years spanned 1995 to 1998, represented the ultimate evolution of the breed, the end of an era. But when I finally got behind the wheel of these fabled machines, the 993 felt almost too refined and soft, the kind of car that would make an excellent cross-country cruise missile, not a raucous track tool.

Enter 2018 and air-cooled 911s have become endlessly fetishized by the Porsche cognoscenti. Handcrafted Singer Vehicle Design models can reach the $750,000 mark, and their success inspired a wave of customizers out to build high-dollar re-workings of late, great air-cooled P cars. And so I find myself at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch at the helm of a Porsche 993 that’s virtually unrecognizable from the bone stock mild child of my first introduction, one that stretches the air-cooled paradigm to the extreme.

The Alcantara steering wheel I’m grasping belongs to a 993 reworked by Gunther Werks, a completely ground-up re-interpretation with a laundry list of lust-inspiring mods under the purview of Peter Nam, founder of Vorsteiner, the SoCal-based firm responsible for high-end aftermarket wheels and carbon fiber bodywork.

But befor...