With a driveline that was now approximating that of a 993 Turbo, the last piece of the puzzle was making the car look like one. Mervin got lucky when he found a set of OEM bumpers and inner bodywork being sold by a Canadian racer who was installing more radical bodywork on his 993 race car.
“The rear wing came from LA Dismantler,” says Mervin. “The rear quarters, rockers, and underside plastic were new from Porsche.” Chris Jones at Canyon Auto Rebody in Mehama, Oregon handled the cosmetic work. Why send the car so far away? On yet another business trip, Mervin came across Canyon Auto Body in the local PCA newsletter. “When I called Chris and gave him the scope of the project, he said he would get back to me after considering it,” says Mervin. “He emailed a quote, and we haggled back and forth to keep the cost down. Then we agreed to a price.”
The first step was stripping much of the existing bodywork away and replacing it with the wider Turbo bodywork. “The most difficult part was the rocker panels and the rear quarter panels,” explains Mervin. “Porsche didn’t make (Turbo) Cabriolet rear quarters, so Chris had to modify the factory pieces to conform to the Cabriolet top mounting.”
The top edge of the quarter panels were carefully reworked and massaged to allow the bottom edge of the soft top to fit properly for a factory look. “I spent a lot of time scouring factory manuals and parts diagrams to determine just what was different about the Turbo,” recalls Mervin. “It was a lot of work for a fairly subtle change to the exterior.” The finished body was painted Midnight Blue, the car’s original color.
The “illusion of factory” is completed by a set of 18-inch, hollow-spoke Turbo wheels wrapped in sticky 225/40R18 and 285/30R18 Michelin tires.
The result of all the work that went into this 993 is stunning. In person, it looks factory fresh — as if Porsche just rolled it off the assembly line. Swinging the door open for a drive reveals the fact that Mervin didn’t neglect the interior, either. 993 hardback sport seats with Midnight Blue backs and black leather surfaces were installed. Continuing the theme, the rest of the interior was liberally swathed in black leather supplied by Autos International, which also provided the carpeting. The center console matches the exterior, while a three-spoke 996 GT2 steering wheel was installed. When Mervin acquired the 993, it came with a rare Root Wood shifter, which I grasp as I reach for the ignition key.
The twin-turbo 3.6 wakes up with a hollow whir. Despite the modified mufflers, the powerful flat six sounds surprisingly civilized. Clutch effort is considerable and, with a lightened flywheel, moving away from a stop smoothly takes a little practice. Once underway, though, any niggling complaints about the clutch fade quickly. The six-speed manual is a joy to operate, with relatively short throws and a light, positive action.
Down a straight road, this Cabriolet positively bolts for the horizon. The acceleration becomes considerably stronger around 3000 rpm. By 4000 rpm, the car is lunging ahead, pushed inexorably down the road by those deep-breathing hybrid turbochargers. It’s the kind of power that pushes you firmly back in your seat, if not quite pinning you to the leather. Into third and then fourth gear, it doesn’t take long to get well into triple digits. Lift off the throttle for a corner, and the exhaust pops and bangs fantastically on the overrun.
Over bumps and dips, the front end goes light in typical 911 fashion, with the steering wheel writhing in my hands as the front tires hunt for traction. Commit to a corner and you’ll find the car to be fantastically grippy thanks to its all-wheel-drive, compliant coil-overs, and fat tires. While the feedback delivered by the 993’s chassis is neither as fine nor as generous as a 996 Turbo’s, there is enough information coming in through the wheel and the seat of the pants to know what the tires are up to.
There is an occasional rattle from the doors and the body, a reminder that Porsche has come a long way in the last 18 years when it comes to the rigidity of its convertibles. Overall, though, this is an incredibly stable, solid 911. It also feels surprisingly compact on these roads, a sensation gone missing in the latest 911s.
Ultimately, Mervin’s car is about all you could want from a convertible 993. It looks terrific, has tons of grip, and is awfully quick in a straight line. Perhaps best of all, he still drives it regularly. Says Mervin: “Once a week, I commute 105 miles each way to work — and this car makes that a fun trip every time.”