It was quite a thing, how this idea came about, and I can’t say that I played any part in it other than agreeing to be a part of it..!
My mate Andrew’s mate’s mate is Steve Bennett, Editor in Chief of the long running 911 & Porsche World magazine, and following a conversation whereby Andrew wanted to glean an independent and experienced opinion on the effects of lightweighting a 993, a byline was drafted.
There was to be a Photo Shoot of my modified 993 and Andrew’s more stock 993, which I presumed would be a fairly perfunctory affair; a couple of shots of the cars, perhaps I could photo bomb one of them. Anyway, you get the idea, it wasn’t going to be that Big of a Deal. But as the agreed date neared, Steve informed Andrew and I that in fact, the targeted issue of the Magazine would be running our Feature as a Front Cover Leading Article.
What. The. Hell.
We agreed to weigh our respective 993 a day or so before the Meet at the Longcross Test Track, so that we could know the difference before it was felt. In all fairness, it sated my curiosity too as to how far I had taken the hollowing out of my 993, so all good there..
I had trouble finding the place to be honest, I think I missed a couple of turns, took a road for too long, missed another turning, then arrived and didn’t know where to go. And Longcross is massive, I had never even heard of the place, let alone it being a Film Studio where a lot of what is broadacst on British TV is filmed. I was crazily nervously excited too, which didn’t help the MattNav; I think I stopped twice for a Bathroom Break en route I was that excited. Ridiculous.
I found the Test Track [okay, I was directed] parked up and waited for Andrew, Steve and renowned Automotive Photographer Paul Harmer to arrive. I watched a couple of Mclarens performing some warm up figure of eight, then head out onto the Track. This was Mclaren’s Test Track. Woah.
McLaren’s Test Track.
What is immediately apparent is that Steve knows a lot [if not everything] about every 911 there has ever been. He has driven each and every incarnation of the 911, multiple times, in every colour and configuration, so he knows what he’s talking about. And despite that, he’s still excited by them, each of them, including mine..! And Andrew’s of course, but mine..! I mean, he was genuinely interested in what I had done, why I had done it, where I got the parts from to do it, and the lessons I had learned along the way, it was a really engaging conversation; I think I prattled on too much [I can do that, ask Hollie].
Paul took this Interview Time to snap some great detail shots of both our Cars, highlighting and capturing the modifications and lightweighting aspects of my 993. Amazing.
Even the Wolveroon got his Andy Warhol Moment..
With the Static Shots complete, it was time to head out on to the Track for some Motion Shots, this really was like a Childhood Dream coming true.
Driving around a Test Track.
I thought it was gonna be kinda tricky to pull 60mph so close to Andrew, being mindful not to plough into the back of the car that Paul was precariously hanging out of the back of. No need. All the shots would be taken at 20mph, I cracked a smile. Does that mean that all those Photos you see in all Magazines of Cars at speed on the open road, are taken with the cars only travelling at 20mph..?? Yes, it would seem so.
Not that it wasn’t tricky to do the above at 20mph..! Metal hitting Metal at 20mph would still make quite a bit of damage, but after a couple of passes, and a few corners at close quarters, we had it nailed.
Paul was a great Choreographer and I hope we were good Students; the Photos certainly infer that we were. Amazing.
With the round of Side by Side Shots over, it was time for some Solo Snaps. First, of the outside of the Car, from every angle, taking in the curvy iconic lines of the 993 [that I had spent 3 Hours cleaning, polishing and buffing the evening before]. Damn it looked good. Damn Damn.
Next thing, Paul wanted to get in the 993 with me and take one of me driving.. Eh..? I tried to look cool, to pose as if I was ambivalent, yet engaged. I think I looked like I was holding in a Fart.
Relinquishing the Reins of the 993 to Steve was a moment of anxious anticipation. What if he drove it and thought What the Hell has this Man done to a Perfectly Good Automobile? What if he considered it to be an abomination, a 911 that had had the 911 taken right out of it..? Did his opinion matter? Yes of course it did, his experience founds his opinion; his opinion commands respect. He set off, driving away from me in my car.
“Less weight and less weight to transfer. That’s what you really feel on Matt’s car. The stiffer more controlled suspension, combined with a lower ride height and less body roll make the lighter car feel almost mid-engined. It’s a very dynamic illustration of of controlling the 911’s weight distribution and reducing the pendulum effect of the engine’s position and influence.
“It’s the more exciting car to drive, no question.And despite its weight loss and lack of interior comforts, it doesn’t feel too compromised from a refinement point of view..”
Reading that, when the Magazine hit the Shelves early July, was all the affirmation and attestation I needed; to know that I had made all the right decisions in modifying my 993. I hadn’t realised what I had developed and created until I was told; a kinda Wood for the Trees kinda situation.
What a great day it had been, and to meet up with Andrew is always good fun, I think he’s more enthusiastic about his 993 than I am about mine! It was great to hang out anyways, and it has helped Andrew to decide the direction that he is going to take his 993 in too, which I think was the point of this exercise for him. And for me? Well, I think it was about wrapping up the evolutionary journey that has been the first/last two and a half years of 993 ownership. And of moulding and shaping a 911 into the Street Rod that I have always wanted in a Porsche.
Is this the end? No way! I have some plans for further lightweighting the 993, including some modifying of the bodywork, and addition of some RS parts. Having said that, I might change my mind over the next few months of driving and enjoyment. That is the fun part though, not doing it all at once. Not opening a wallet and giving someone else free reign on my 993, but building it my way in my time at my pace.
The photos featured in this Blog Post were all taken by Paul Harmer, please respect his intellectual property rights and do not save, share nor publish any of them. Mucho gracias Amigos..