On the face of it, the new 911 Sport Classic doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Customers in Porsche’s largest market can’t buy it. It’s got a double-bubble roof, something associated with Zagato rather than Porsche. Its wheels ape Fuchs’ famous 911 alloys, but have too-shiny surfaces and aren’t made by Fuchs. Finally, anyone can order a new Carrera S with the same mechanicals (Powerkit 3.8, PCCB brakes, PASM Sport suspension) for half the money.
Yet, during a worldwide recession, all 250 cars offered were quickly spoken for. This suggests that Porsches are bought for more than just performance, that some buyers are also looking for something different. And, in fact, Porsche has been building tailor-made cars for such clients for a long time, through a specialist department originally known as Sonderwunsch (Special Wishes).
Have you ever really, really loved a pair of shoes? Well, Sonderwunsch, found in Zuffenhausen’s Werke 1, would happily paint your Porsche to match their color, then wrap every piece of its interior in their leather. As you’d imagine from this example, oddities abounded: A 996 with a baby blue cockpit, a 959 with an under-dash drawer for an Uzi, and a 930 with leather gauge faces and a convertible top that closed itself if it started to rain while the car was parked are but three examples.
Sonderwunsch evolved as Porsche did, eventually taking the name it bears today: Porsche Exclusive. It would be a mistake to think the department is limited to custom-tailoring, however. It also quietly develops production parts, from wheels to Powerkits to aerodynamic aids — many of which become regular options or basic ingredients for “S” or special production models.
The Sport Classic is meant to demonstrate the full capabilities of Exclusive. While the car is based on the mechanicals of the current Carrera S, its wider rear fenders come from the Carrera 4 and give it a wider rear track and a more purposeful stance. While the fatter fenders were in the parts bin, the rest of the body alterations had to be created with production in mind, meeting not only Porsche’s requirements but those of governmental agencies. Thus, the sculpted front spoiler, side sills, revised rear bumper, fixed ducktail spoiler, and double-bubble roof section were all wind-tunnel and TüV tested.
While the ducktail is a clear reference to 1973’s 911 Carrera RS 2.7, the paint is an early 356 gray that faded from Porsche’s color charts. Now called Sport Classic Grey, it’s offset by medium gray stripes over the hood, roof, and ducktail. These disappoint by being self-adhesive rather than painted, and one wonders if they’ll be deleted on some Sport Classics for differentiation — because all 250 cars will have the same colors and equipment. (The sole option is a short-shifter.)
About those colors: Art teachers tell students to avoid mixing cool hues like blue and gray with warm ones like beige and brown, a rule the Sport Classic ignores. Yet the more you look at its color combination, the more it grows on you. The gray exterior warms with the late-afternoon sun, while the interior’s brown leather is deep and rich. Brown interiors are very 1970s, but the most perplexing thing about the color Porsche’s design department chose is its marketing-speak name: Expresso Nature, which means precisely nothing in any language.