Not all of us are lucky enough to drive the real deal, but some of us get pretty close.
The Porsche 993 GT2 was a car embellished with firsts and honoured with lasts. It was a car that showcased the height of the Porsche design team’s efforts to tame the rear-engine catapult that was the 911 in all its unruly character. It was a car that borrowed race car technology from the ineffable 959, and was also the car that signalled the end of the Porsche air-cooled flat-six era.
This is not a 993 GT2, but a lowly 993 Turbo, for which I would still offer my first born child. It was put together at the Madlane workshop in Okayama, and in some ways it is better than the car it’s modelled off.
The 993 series was released back in 1995, and unlike previous versions of the 911, this time around Porsche designed 80% of the car from scratch. Of the many revisions and improvements, some of the biggest changes made were to the suspension and driveline. An all new multi-link suspension system made from lightweight alloy was essential support for the all-wheel drive system taken from the 969. This was the first 911 to send power to all four wheels.
The GT2, in accordance with FIA race regulations at the time and thanks to dominating grip monsters like the Audi Quattro and Nissan Skyline GT-R, did away with the AWD system. But for both the road and track, I know what I would rather have…
What the Turbo gains in weight it makes up for with extra front-end grip to smooth out the oversteer that had given previous Porsches such… character. Thankfully, this one retains the innovative AWD system.
GT2: 0, Madlane Turbo: 1.
Another thing that sets the GT2 apart from the run-of-the-mill Turbo 993 is the widened track – 46mm wider at the rear to be exact. Housing all that extra width, the GT2 had its fenders cut off and replaced with plastic bolt-on overfenders.
Madlane’s interpretation of the GT2 has a full carbon fibre kit including arches and front and rear bumpers. We all know carbon fibre is better than plastic, so GT2: 0, Madlane Turbo: 2.
Another first for the 993 Turbo was the offering of lightweight hollow-spoke alloy wheels, undoubtedly iconic in their own right. However, if you’re familiar with Madlane’s creations then you’ll know that Kazuki-san has a bit of a wheel fetish. For this build, he’s chosen custom-built, three-piece Speedlines.
On a mechanical level, the GT2 and Turbo models had basically the same 3.6L air-cooled boxer engine with the GT2 getting an extra 50PS bump from its tune and turbo system. Kazuki-san has managed to source a GT2 ECU which takes care of that.
To complete the GT2 package, this Turbo has had its turbos replaced with the Kühnle, Kopp & Kausch turbos from a GT2. Are you keeping track of how many times I’ve mention turbos so far?
Funnily enough, the air-cooled engine found in the 993 an almost entirely new design. It was a kind of last hoorah, the swan song of the air-cooled flat-six. Ultimately, the efficiency and power gains which water-cooling enabled would open the door for ultimate German combustion. It wasn’t perfect on the first try, but after a few revisions of some faulty designs, the foundation was laid for all the 911 monsters that have followed.
Air-cooled purists will of course tell you that there is nothing like the sound and feel of a classic luftgekühlt Porsche. But they’re probably the same people who only wear lambswool or only ride penny-farthing bicycles. There’s no real benefit, other than it being unique.
All of our favourite cars have had to evolve and go through various generations, some more popular than others. Probably the most desirable models are the cars which were the first or last to introduce some feature. The cars which sat at the cusp of these transitions seem to be the ones that people love; they give us just enough of the old stuff we love with the benefits of the new stuff we need. They also tend to be the models which can have the stuff we don’t like, easily swapped for the stuff we want from the new kid on the block.
Messing around with cars is the best.
This is what I love about car culture – taking a classic and adding a few tasteful improvements in the right places to make it shine. I truly believe that ‘built not bought’ is a philosophy well worth having tattooed across the chest of every car enthusiast. Or maybe a bumper sticker is more sensible…