Mild Mod

Also from Issue 192

  • Interview: Matthias Müller
  • 2012 Cayman R
  • Huschke von Hanstein
  • 1998 911 Carrera S Cabriolet
  • 1962 356B cabriolet
  • 1979 914-6
  • 1987 944
  • Buyers Guide: 356 and 912
  • 2011 Cayenne
  • Tech Forum
Buy Excellence-192-cover
Mild Mod 1
Mild Mod 2
Mild Mod 3
Mild Mod 4
Mild Mod 5
Mild Mod 6
Mild Mod 7
Mild Mod 8

The car’s original Blaupunkt Frankfurt still functions and is now accessed as a sound source by the Parrot controller. The controller also handles phone calls with Bluetooth, thanks to a microphone hidden behind the headliner. “The small controller is just stuck onto the dash and can be removed anytime,” says Welles.

The rest of the stereo gear resides in the trunk, in a fiberglass enclosure Welles fabricated and installed in the spare tire well. The JL Audio HD 600/4 amplifier works with a JL 8×7 subwoofer in the trunk and 6.5-inch JL XR speakers in the doors.

“When you get in the car, if you didn’t know there was a high-end stereo installed, you would never notice it,” says Welles. “The small window (in the tach) is the only giveaway.” He’s the first to admit that many Porsche purists cling to the notion that the engine is the only real music you need. “You can have both,” he says. “That’s what the volume knob is for.”

Keeping with his theme of upgraded amenities, Welles replaced his 911’s manual windows with later 911 power windows. But he didn’t stop there; he wired the switches to a DEI control unit, allowing one-touch operation as well as remote actuation. “Honestly, this is a great upgrade, since no A/C means the windows are up and down all the time,” he says.

His 911 also has keyless entry via a DEI key fob, which allows remote control of the retrofitted power door locks as well as a dome-light delay, horn actuation, and exterior light actuation. The control boxes were all mounted on the firewall. “I’m neurotic about my wiring, so everything has custom harnesses and there’s a new fuse and relay sub panel in the unused battery box.”

In person, this 911 comes off as a very well-built car. At idle, the combination of SSI heat exchangers and Dansk muffler lend the 2.7-liter six a deep voice. Inside the car, however, engine noise is more pleasant than intrusive.

On the move, this 911’s accommodating experience continues. It’s far from raw and edgy, which was exactly one of the goals of this build. Around the streets of the Hollywood hills, the car feels exceedingly well screwed-together, bobbing and traveling over rough sections of asphalt with hardly a creak or tremor.

It’s not hard to find the Mr. Hyde side on a particularly sinuous stretch of Mulholland Drive, however. Thanks to E cams and 2.7 liters of displacement, torque is immediate — propelling this 911 out of corners with a raspy, eager howl. The E cams give the engine an interesting character; judged against the tall powerband RS cams provide, this flat six is all about midrange torque. While it happily revs past 5000 rpm, it doesn’t do much beyond that point. What it does below 5000 rpm is extremely invigorating, however.

Rolling onto the throttle in second or third gear produces immediate, gratifying acceleration, the kind that’s more useful on the street. When it comes time to grab a quick up- or downshift, the Rennshifter is a revelation, transforming the stock 901’s loosey-goosey shifting characteristics into that of a precise, slick-shifting gearbox.

Welles has also arrived at a suspension setup that’s nearly perfect for the street. The ride is definitely firm over bumps and dips, but it never threatens to knock your fillings out. Grip is extremely good considering the relatively narrow 60-series tires, and the chassis displays a neutral attitude — both through tighter hairpins and sweepers taken at higher speeds.

Body roll is almost entirely absent, which contributes to quick turn-in and a stable, planted feel. There’s enough easily accessed torque that booting the back end out on the exit of turns is not only possible, but seemingly encouraged. There’s just an eager nature to this car — it’s the kind of setup that yields no evil surprises as your cornering speeds rise.

Overall, no one thing about this 911 stands out. Actually, let me correct that: What stands out is how harmoniously everything works together. The car’s dialed-in suspension and conservatively sized tires are perfectly matched to its power and torque, as are its brakes.

Welles is just as happy with the results. “It’s exactly what I wanted,” he says. “I feel it’s an absolutely perfect combination of old and new, sportiness and comfort.”

Connect with Excellence:   Facebook Twitter