► Singer Vehicle Design goes turbocharged
► Classic 911 Turbo cues in a modern package
► CAR speaks to founder, Rob Dickinson
Singer Vehicle Design is entering a new era. The California-based 911 reimagineers have stuck to restoring and restomodding classic naturally aspirated 911s – until now. This is the Turbo Study – our first look, and Singer’s first reimagining of a classic 911 Turbo.
Just like every Singer Vehicle design creation, the Turbo Study has been crafted by a team of passionate engineers and, more importantly, true petrolheads including founder Rob Dickinson.
Just look at that!
Absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it? The Turbo Study is a Wolf Blue reimagining of a 964-generation 911 Turbo and the precursor to Singer Vehicle Design’s new focus: restorative commissions for forced induction 911s.
It’s predominantly based on the 964-generation 911 Turbo but, as we all know, that wasn’t the first turbocharged 911. That was the 930. So why not start there? ‘There’s some logic to that,’ founder and executive chairman of Singer Group, Rob Dickinson tells CAR, ‘but there’s logic to taking this wonderful platform in the 964 – it’s a car we love dearly and we understand very well, I think it would have been perverse for us to use anything different.’
CAR drives the Porsche 911 (930) Turbo
All the classic details are present and correct, with some elements being refined or re-used; the shark-fin vents in the rear wheelarches, for example, are re-imagined as air intakes. Fat tyres are wrapped around Fuchs-like alloy wheels, and the classic whale tail of those Turbo models is on show for all to see. Elements of the earlier 930 Turbo cars are woven into the exterior design work, too.
Inside, the Turbo Study takes Singer’s cockpit design to grander, more luxurious heights. This first example is upholstered in Malibu Sand leather with Black Forest wood panelling, with luxuries like electrically adjustable and heated seats, air-conditioning and a place to put your phone – very different from the likes of the Dynamics and Lightweighting Study.
‘It’s a massive opportunity to take things to the next level,’ Dickinson says, ‘we’re introducing wood and cork and – hold onto your hat – granite as a material inside; the Classic and DLS cars have a lightweight, road racing ethic while the Turbo is sporting but it’s a celebration of refinement and luxury, too.’ Hence why the materials are sourced from partners that also work with Aston Martin and Bentley.
I need performance specs, NOW!
And we’re happy to oblige. The Turbo Study uses a 3.8-litre ‘Mezger’ flat-six, developing 450bhp in this case, with power going to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. But, as is the way with each commission, the choice is yours; drivers can request their own power outputs depending on their own requirements. ‘We aren’t particularly interested in the arms race around power,’ says Dickinson, ‘the mission is to ensure the car is captivating at 40mph or 140mph.
‘The Turbo Study also uses twin turbos with electric wastegates and we’ve added air-to-water intercooling, which supports the increased power output,’ adds Dickinson. But what about turbo lag? ‘It’s an iconic part of that car and could be an appealing part of the car still; given we’re still in development, watch this space – the ability to put two different mappings that could result in more or less turbo lag is an interesting one.’
Speaking of lag, couldn’t early 911 Turbos be a bit, er… prickly?
‘Some people like prickly!’ retorts, Dickinson. Naturally, Singer Vehicle Design has thought about this. The bodywork is made from carbonfibre to help keep it light, and those commissioning a Turbo restoration can specify all-wheel drive – something the Singer team have been able to do since 2014. ‘The majority of Classic restorations are rear-wheel drive,’ Dickinson points out, ‘I’d guess we’ll see proportionally more requests for all-wheel drive with the Turbo – but we’ll see how that develops.’
Dickinson also points out that the Turbo commissions have a wider track than the Classic study, as well as ‘Turbo-specific braking’ and with the option of carbon ceramics, and either Michelin Pilot Sport 4S or Cup 2 tyres.
It’s all about choice here, with Singer’s team providing options to make a driver’s Turbo recreation a proper grand tourer or something to slay lap times. The Wolf Blue example here has a suspension setup designed for grand touring.
It’s still reassuringly old-school, then
Well, the team have it at the forefront in their mind that there are unwritten limits to how far they’ll go in terms of dynamics – in order to keep that purity of the engineering. Dickinson tells us he and the team are ‘absolutely fascinated’ by suspension damping, reaching new heights with the lightweight DLS cars, and they are investigating applying electronic adaptive damping in potential Turbo commissions.
‘But there comes a point where you start to erode the very essence of what a 911 is, and we have to understand what our clients want from their cars: an authentic experience of something they can’t get now,’ he says. ‘If we start shovelling in overly modern ways of tempering the natural attitude of an air-cooled, rear-engine car it starts to become a law of diminishing returns.’
So we won’t see a Singer EV…
The short answer? No. At least not for the foreseeable. ‘I’m fascinated by the electric motivation of cars, and we have a network that includes many pioneers electrifying their cars,’ says Dickinson, ‘but I’m less fascinated by motivating an old 911 with electricity. So, while that isn’t to say that the revelation that we’re clearly in the epicenter of isn’t fascinating to us, you won’t be seeing anything like that from us any time soon.’
Even so, Singer’s keeping its options open, with plans for further development all under way. Before we get to that point, though, maybe we should just drink in the details and the single-minded purity of the Californian team’s latest creation.