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First drive: Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.

First drive: Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R
This lightweight take on the classic 993-generation Porsche 911 is built to be the ideal modern classic.

   



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Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

On the Suffolk/Essex border, a small garage sells, restores and upgrades a host of classic Porsches, from the originals of the 1960s to the more modern, 21st-century examples. Paul Stephens is a self-confessed Porsche nut, and the latest addition to his Autoart collection gives a glimpse into his philosophy. It's a 993-generation 911, but every aspect is designed to be that little bit better. It is, in essence, intended as the ultimate air-cooled 911, built for discerning enthusiasts with an eye for detail. But is it worth the sort of money that makes supercars look cheap?

Test Car Specifications

Model: Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R
Price: £POA
Engine/motor: 3.8-litre flat-six petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power: c330hp
0-62mph: 5 seconds (est)
Top speed: TBC

Styling

On the Suffolk/Essex border, a small garage sells, restores and upgrades a host of classic Porsches, from the originals of the 1960s to the more modern, 21st-century examples. Paul Stephens is a self-confessed Porsche nut, and the latest addition to his Autoart collection gives a glimpse into his philosophy. Itís a 993-generation 911, but every aspect is designed to be that little bit better. It is, in essence, intended as the ultimate air-cooled 911, built for discerning enthusiasts with an eye for detail. But is it worth the sort of money that makes supercars look cheap?

Interior

Perhaps most work has gone into the 993R interior, where Paul has completely ripped out the original cabin and swapped it for a lightweight composite panel system. The new look is designed to look lighter and more minimalist, yet still offer improvements to quality. There are new Recaro bucket seats and there's a roll cage, but the electric windows, radio and glovebox have all gone in the name of lightness. Even the door grab handles have gone, as have the courtesy lights, while the factory air conditioning system has been replaced with a lighter electric system mounted in the front of the car for better weight distribution. If that sounds like attention to detail, wait until you hear about the door cards. The new trims have been designed to close up the traditional panel gap between the door and the dashboard, increasing the sense of quality. Most wouldn't notice, but it's a neat touch for the discerning Porsche enthusiasts who'll buy one of these things.

Practicality

A 911 is never that practical a choice, but 993R customers can choose how practical they want their car to be. There's plenty of space in the cabin, but storage space is at a premium with no glovebox, and there's little chance of getting passengers in the back as there's a roll cage there, although Paul Stephens is looking at doing rear seats for those that want them. It's better, though, to use that space as a parcel shelf, then make the most of the luggage bay. It has been retrimmed to look and feel more durable, and there's enough space for weekend luggage.

Performance

Customers have a choice of engines for the 993R, but both follow much the same recipe. Both are free-revving, naturally aspirated flat sixes teamed with six-speed manual gearboxes and sending their power to the rear wheels. The basic version, which we tested, is the 3.8-litre engine that churns out around 330hp, although customers can upgrade to a 4.0-litre version with 360hp. Thanks to the lightweight construction, that gives the 993R a power-to-weight ratio equivalent to more modern 911 GT3s, and that makes it very fast indeed.

Paul hasn't measured official performance figures, but we guess this thing is about as fast as a modern 911, although it feels very different. The engine doesn't get into its stride until it's spinning at around 5,000rpm, and it snarls its way to a 7,400rpm redline, catapulting the lightweight car forward. Performance is incredible by the standards of 1990s sports cars, but it's more 'quick' than 'rapid' when compared with modern cars. That said, the noise is utterly addictive, and there's something unbelievably satisfying about dropping a cog to hear the flat six roar.

Ride & Handling

The 993R is designed to be light, and that shows through in the way it drives. It feels urgent and agile and a little highly strung, yet itís still stable. Thereís an adjustable suspension system with a choice of five settings, allowing drivers to pick a softer set-up for longer drives and a firmer, more hardcore options for blasts on country roads or track days. All are well judged and none is bone-shaking, but the softer settings are definitely more conducive to everyday use, feeling as supple as any modern sports car.

But in the stiffer settings, the car comes alive, offering tighter body control and an overwhelming sense of stability. Thereís plenty of grip from those big Michelin tyres, and the steering feel is plentiful, which only inspires yet more confidence in the carís abilities. Immense cornering speeds are well within most driversí grasp, and youíll need a track to explore the carís limits safely (and legally).

Yet for all that, the 993R is set up as a road car, and itís surprisingly good at the grown-up stuff, too. Sure, the mirrors are far too small Ė weíd opt for larger versions Ė but visibility is generally pretty good and the car feels very compact compared with modern 911s. It can squeeze through gaps that would stump one of Porscheís current crop. And the quality is such that it doesnít feel abusive or foolhardy to use the 993R for such tasks. Itís like a 993, but new.

Value

How much you'll spend on a 993R really depends on what you want. You visit the HQ in Suffolk, talk it over and essentially sign a blank cheque. There's a slight air of 'if you have to ask you can't afford it'. But we're talking well over six figures for one of these cars, and that doesn't include the original, tidy 993 donor. Customers will be spending more on one of these than most people would spend on a house.

Verdict

The 993R won't come cheap, and there are more modern, more practical ways to spend that kind of money. On a house, for example. But the 993R is not for 'normal' customers. It's for Porsche enthusiasts and collectors who want the best of the breed. On that front, it delivers, offering a delightfully usable and engaging modern classic with a stunning soundtrack. It's an awesome bit of kit, but you need to be an enthusiast to make the most of it.



James Fossdyke - 9 Aug 2022



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Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.

Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.Paul Stephens Autoart Porsche 993R. Image by Paul Stephens Autoart.







 

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