You’ll acquisition no curtailment of YouTube videos assuming hiked-up Porsche 911s announcement forth forestry roads, arid trails, and beaches. Accepting dirty, and admiring it. Captured on GoPros, the drivers attending bemused as 11-year-olds accepting their aboriginal ride on the 128-mph, 45-story Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Abundant Adventure.
Welcome to the apple of the “safari” 911.
Porsche owners can use readily accessible genitalia to catechumen their cars, or appoint a specialty boutique to anatomy a custom 911 with a aerial stance, big tires, and affluence of added advanced lighting. Conversions of this array are not cheap, and that’s afterwards accounting for the donor car. If you go the able avenue for a conversion, you’ll acquisition prices ambit from a bit beneath $100,000 to $500,000. And you may acquisition cat-and-mouse lists, too.
The 911 carnival artful did not appear out of the blue, but instead sprang from a bend of absolute Porsche history. The aboriginal motorsport achievement for a factory-backed 911 came in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally, with disciplinarian Herbert Linge and Porsche architect Peter Falk scoring a chic win and demography fifth overall. Their 911 was one of aloof 35 cars out of 237 entrants to accomplishment the albino 3000-mile race.
Rally drivers acclimated the 911’s ability and rear-biased weight administration to abundant effect, afloat to backpack acceleration through curves. European Assemblage Championships for the 911 followed in 1966, ’67, and ’68.
Upping its game, Porsche in 1971 entered the East African Carnival Rally, advised the world’s toughest, with a five-car aggregation of 911 STRs. (Two were convenance cars.) The 4000-mile multi-stage chase took entrants over abominable routes through Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Only one of the branch 911s finished, demography fifth. (One of the two convenance cars was offered in a contempo Gooding & Co. online auction.)
In 1984, nine of the 20 911 SC/RS models congenital became assemblage cars, best abundantly in Britain’s Rothmans cigarette cast livery. (An added SC/RS was congenital later.) Among their abounding victories was acceptable the FIA Middle East Assemblage Championship. Porsche congenital three 4WD 911 assemblage cars, accepted as the 953, for that year’s Paris-Dakar Rally—and won. The 953’s 4WD arrangement would be acclimated in the Porsche 959, which took aboriginal and additional in the 1986 Paris-Dakar. Originally congenital for the FIA Group B chic that was annulled due to its dangers, the 959 became a supercar legend.
The aboriginal Carnival chase would become a Apple Assemblage Championship event, and the East African Carnival Archetypal Assemblage was afterwards launched in 2003 for pre-1986 two-wheel-drive, artlessly aspirated cars. A 911 congenital by British Porsche specialist Tuthill won the nine-day, 3000-mile Archetypal in 2011. Appropriately, the champ was a 1971 archetypal piloted by Bjorn Waldegård, who had won Monte Carlo alert (’68 and ’69) and taken additional in the ’74 Carnival active 911s.
Tuthill-built 911s won the Carnival Archetypal afresh in ’15, ’17 and ’19. (In the 1980s, aggregation architect Francis Tuthill had able the Rothmans 911 SC/RS assemblage car anatomy shells.) The aggregation today offers custom carnival 911 builds, including for aggressive in the chase that aggressive the name. In America, the carnival trend has bent on as yet accession alcove for creatively adapted 911s. Here’s a attending at a few of the players:
Elephant Antagonism fabricated its name in Porsche alley antagonism circles with abeyance and anatomy components. So, architect Chuck Moreland was absolutely afraid 12 years ago back a chump alleged allurement to accession his wide-body Turbo.
“He was in the British Virgin Islands and said he capital to about-face his Turbo into a ‘rally’ car so he could drive it on the abhorrent roads,” Moreland recalls. “We were up for the challenge, and so he alien his car to us.”
At Elephant’s Santa Clara, California, shop, Moreland begin a way to accession the car while alienated abeyance geometry problems. Elephant has congenital a few added conversions and has awash carnival bales for added than 100 cars.
One chump was Avant-Garde Collection, a high-end car banker and Porsche specialist boutique in Portland, Oregon. A 1983 911 SC the boutique angry into what it alleged a “Safari RS” was awash on Bring A Trailer to Erik Swan for $142,000. In accession to Elephant abounding coilover suspension, the A-G car appearance 16-inch Braid auto with BFG All-Terrain tires, alluvion plates, a TRE ablaze pod, Warn winch, and the archetypal Porsche “Pasha” (checkerboard) upholstery.
“He drives it a lot on clay anchorage and sends us photos of the car activity through creeks,” says Avant-Garde Collection buyer Matt Crandall.
Notably, Elephant offers carnival anatomy kits for all 911 ancestors except the new 992. Elephant has alike congenital a carnival Cayman. Kits accommodate appropriate weld-on reinforcements advised from Elephant’s acquaintance advertisement the 911’s anemic credibility in alley racing. To acknowledgment the car to stock, the bolt-on abeyance genitalia can be removed. The added reinforcements, which do not affect ride height, can abide in place.
Another Elephant customer, and one that Moreland credits with popularizing the carnival niche, is acknowledged Porsche alley racer Leh Keen. In 2016, he congenital a 911 carnival to adore at his southern abundance retreat. Back he let accompany sample the car, he aback begin himself in business.
“The aboriginal being to drive my car bought one,” says Keen, who calls his action the Leh Keen Project. “We aloof delivered our twenty-third car in aboriginal August. We accept six beneath architecture and orders for 40 more.”
Keen specializes in converting 1980s Carrera 3.0 and SC 3.2 models. He emphasizes, however, that these are congenital for apart surfaces, alluvium trails, and clay roads, not racing. Each chump car is aboriginal brought up to snuff with a active agent and transmission, forth with some accessory achievement tweaks. High ability is not needed.
“You’re not activity actual fast with this affectionate of driving,” Keen explains.
The cars get one of Elephant Racing’s bewilderment bar abeyance packages, forth with appropriate long-travel shocks from Motion Ascendancy Suspension. Alluvion plates are installed, and the anchor bent is confused aback for lower-grip surfaces.
The assemblage attending is functional, with bonanza bars, a ablaze pod and mud flaps. The 935-style mirrors abbreviate bottomward the car for attenuated trails. Best cars are congenital to agnate specs for about $90,000-$100,000 on top of the 1980s donor 911 that Keen says ability amount $35,000–$45,000.
Forget about the archetypal 911’s ability for snap-oversteer, too, Keen explains.
“On apart surfaces, it’s added of a controlled rotation. You accelerate but you don’t spin. I accept barter who had aught acquaintance with this affectionate of driving, and aural one or two hours, they were afloat through corners.”
Keen’s 911 carnival interiors accept fatigued absorption for the about amusing patterns. The wild-looking fabrics use some archetypal Porsche colors.
“I acquainted that if you were activity to do this to a 911, you should get blue with the interior,” he says.
Being headquartered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Resolute Motorsports founders Gal Bar-or and Scott Birdsall capital to action barter a 911 that could handle the anguish that Northwest acclimate and forestry anchorage can bowl out. They alarm the Overland; they don’t like the “safari” label.
“The Overland is a absolute off-road machine,” says Bar-or, whose assorted accomplishments includes architecture and aerial backcountry planes. “It’s not absolutely a Baja car, but you could run a rally.”
Resolute focuses on converting 1983–1989 models. To anatomy an Overland, the absolute car is gutted and about remodeled, with an Elephant Antagonism coilover abeyance about-face that includes new amplitude bars, Turbo tie rods and reinforcements on all analytical points. Agent achievement is bumped up a bit to 225 hp.
A complete new autogenous includes covering seats, a cycle bar, and four-point harnesses. Assemblage wheels, off-road tires, and abounding bumper-to-bumper under-car aegis accomplish the Overland accessible for asperous trails. In a nod to assemblage ancestry and active thrills, the Overland comes with a alluvion brake.
“It’s aloof clutch-in and blow the alluvion brake, and the rear end comes loose,” says Bar-or. “Then aloof acclaim add ability to put the car into a controlled drift. Barter adulation it.”
A Stage 2 advantage gets a distinctively congenital 320-hp twin-plug 3.4-liter engine, a rebuilt chiral and cogwheel with custom gearing, and more. Stage 3 replaces all banal electrics with MilSpec base and abounding MoTeC electronics package. All anatomy holes are closed to block baptize and dust. About-face prices ambit from $85,000–$220,000 to start, with added options available.
“Our barter appetite a fun car they can booty out on backwoods trails, hit bumps or rocks at acceleration and not anguish about damage,” says Bar-or. “But it’s still absolutely able on approved anchorage and not too loud or unrefined.”
Let’s say you appetite to booty a 911 absolutely far off the baffled path, area the “roads” are sometimes aloof the advance carved in the arid apparent by cartage traveling advanced of you. Think Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
Jeff Gamroth, architect of Rothsport Antagonism in Sherwood, Oregon, has been road-racing Porsches back 1987 in SCCA, IMSA, and Porsche Club competition. Looking for a new challenge, he congenital a brace of 964s—one for himself, the added for chump Cameron Healy—to chase in North American Off-Road Antagonism Association contest in Baja. His aboriginal attack in the NORRA Mexico 1000 in 2016 concluded with a DNF.
“We didn’t accept abundant ride height, and the tires were too small,” says Gamroth. “We got ashore about 20 times, but we abstruse a lot.”
Returning to Baja bigger able in 2017, he took fourth in class, and Healy took third (out of eight entries). In 2018, Healy won chic and Gamroth took second, and they antipodal that adjustment in the 2019 NORRA 500. Hot Rod Films actual their adventures in two abbreviate films, “1,000 Ways to Fail” and “Icarus.”
The Rothsport cars accept 11 inches of arena approval application 29-inch BFG All-Terrain tires. The 3.6-liter engines are basically banal “with a slight tune,” giving 325 horsepower. Gamroth says the 911’s rear abaft accoutrements assignment able-bodied in Baja but that the MacPherson strut advanced is the anemic link. Rothsport uses its own custom lower ascendancy accoutrements and “trick shocks” from England.
“We able the advanced to booty the hits. I can hardly call how asperous it can get,” he says.
The Rothsport cars abrasion added than 100 pounds of alluvion plates fabricated from quarter-inch 6061 aluminum plate. Over that goes a able blended that helps the car accelerate over bumps, rocks, and added obstacles.
“In Baja, there’s every apparent you could imagine,” says Gamroth. “It can all go amiss quickly, and your chase is over. But it’s an adventure. I adulation it.”
Think you ability adulation it, too? Rothsport is currently architecture a third Baja 911 racer to sell.
Maybe you’d like a 911 that could run a arid chase but still be acclimated on the street. That’s the basal abstraction abaft the Baja 911 crafted by T.J. Russell. Afterwards accomplishing artifact for Singer Vehicle Architecture for nine years, he absitively to architecture and anatomy a 911 that could comedy in the SoCal arid like his ATVs and side-by-sides. Russell’s 964-based dual-purpose apparatus was one of the 2019 SEMA Show brightest stars.
“My abstraction was to brainstorm if Porsche had kept growing its off-road affairs afterwards 1989 and congenital a car for Baja,” says Russell. “What would that attending like? What affectionate of abeyance would it have?”
Supposing what Porsche’s antagonism administration ability accept done, he able the 911 carapace and adapted it for arena approval and safety. The advanced bulkhead, for example, is closed off from the ammunition cell, a antagonism requirement. There’s a abounding racing-spec rollcage, and the car is closed from dust intrusion.
Russell makes his own differentials and abounding added parts, while subcontracting some machining and composites. His A-arm abeyance uses custom spindles, adjustable coilover shocks and NASCAR-style amplitude bars. Combined with the Toyo Open Country AT II tires on Fifteen52 Integrale wheels, there’s 13 inches of arena clearance.
The accepted 3.8-liter and 4.0 liter advancement engines appear from Rothsport Racing. The 3.8 makes about 365 application and teams with a 996 Turbo chiral transmission. The aboriginal car started from a C4 and retains the all-wheel drive, but barter can opt for 2WD, too.
The Baja 911, which Russell describes as a “luxury prerunner,” shows austere off-road absorbed with Recaro SPX seats in checky Alcantara, a MoTeC agenda display, Sparco antagonism harnesses and ascendancy knobs to acclimatize brake, torque and cogwheel bias.
“It can be a circadian driver, and you could additionally go out to the arid for a camping cruise or into the mountains,” Russell says. “I ran about 50 laps at Homestead in Miami. It’s still a sports car.”
Russell affairs to anatomy aloof four cars a year, priced about $500,000. He’s additionally alive on a 993-based version.
Porsche already congenital its own street-legal 911 arid runners—sort of. Twenty years ago, Porsche Cars North America outfitted two C4s with aloft suspension, off-road tires, and alluvion plates and beatific them beyond California’s Mojave Arid and to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The cars were nicknamed Max and Petunia.
Porsche acclimated the achievement to draw absorption to its all-wheel drive and additionally its abutment of a trail-restoration action advanced of its Cayenne SUV launch. One of the drivers was amateur James Brolin, who additionally served as the aisle project’s spokesman.
PCNA alternate the cars to stock, fabricated all-important aliment and awash them. Unfortunately, a aggregation agent informs Hagerty that photos from Max and Petunia’s accomplished chance assume to accept been lost.
Anyone accept Brolin’s buzz number?
The column Porsche 911 “safari” conversions are abiding in a dirt-slinging assemblage attitude appeared aboriginal on Hagerty Media.