From Scratch

Also from Issue 200

  • Short Test: Panamera GTS
  • Driven: Ruf Rt12R
  • Jerry Seinfeld's 550-03
  • 991 across America
  • Bandido: Hot-rod 356 Speedster
  • Peter Schutz looks back
  • 2011 Rennsport Spyder
  • In aluminum: 356 Abarth GTL replica
  • 362,470-mile, one-owner 912
  • Fairy tale 24: Daytona 2012
  • The Longest Day, 1982
  • Stolen! Is your Porsche safe?
  • Tech Forum: Inside the 911 R
  • Interview: Dennis Aase
  • Smart Buy: 912
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Jerry estimates he has close to $60,000 in the car, and he’ll continue to show and drive the car because it’s the culmination of a lot of work and the fulfillment of a dream. “I think the completion of this car justifies the vision I had for it. It has the appearance of the original 1989 widebody Speedster, yet at second glance it has a somewhat more dangerous feel. For me, knowing I built it from scratch — or seeing the look on someone’s face when I show them a picture of the chassis I started with — is almost as much of a kick as when I drive it down a twisty mountain road.”

Behind the wheel

After hearing Jerry’s description of his car, I’m itching to get behind the wheel. As I settle in, the 993 seat’s contours hug me perfectly. I notice the benefit of that odd, flat-bottom steering wheel immediately: more thigh room for my XL thighs. My XL feet, however, notice a certain tightness to the left of the clutch, the result of the chassis bracing.

The turbocharged flat six bursts to life easily and, with the top stowed, I’m treated to the “roar” Jerry finds so intoxicating. I blip the gas pedal a few times and find myself smiling and in complete agreement. Soon we’re on a hilly, twisty section of Gar­den State two-lane with top speeds in the 45-mph range. Throttle response is excellent as we squirt from 25 right up to (and a little past…) the posted limits. Shifting is pure G50 — smooth, with a satisfyingly mechanical feel.

Handling through tight corners is neutral, with sharp turn-in and great feedback. The roads are typical Northeast. Despite their less-than-perfect surfaces, there’s absolutely none of the cowl shake I have experienced in some factory-built open cars. I mention this to Jerry and he’s quick to credit the chassis reinforcements. What’s more, I don’t hear any squeaks or rattles — although, with the top down and the motor singing, that might be expected!

The 930 brakes are known for their impressive bite and ease of modulation, and this set of stoppers is no exception. The powerband, however, comes as something of a surprise. When I think “impact-bum­per 911” and “tur­bo,” I expect neck-snapping bursts of acceleration with a bi­nary, on/off powerband. But this setup exhibits no such behavior. Instead, the flat six has a linear powerband that’s more torquey Ameri­can V8 than peaky German F6. Altogether, it’s a wonderful car to drive. It’s a convertible 911 that offers strong acceleration, great handling, and good noises. What’s not to like?

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