You could be forgiven for thinking the trend towards so called retromoderns is something new, a recent phenomenon brought about by a groundswell of enthusiasm for classic cars coupled with a desire to use them like a modern car. It’s a trend that’s easy to understand, with the benefits clear: some of the most iconic classics of yesteryear are remixed with modern mechanicals to deliver a stunning and unique driving experience, with that delicious style we so love about classics.
And it’s becoming ever more popular, with reimagined versions of everything from the Jaguar E-Type and Jensen Interceptor to the Alfa GT and Austin Healey, available with a modern heart beating beneath their classic curves. But surely the biggest exponent of the retromodern philosophy (and perhaps the most suitable) is the Porsche 911. While California based Singer grab many of the headlines (they are, undeniably, stunning objects), while Paul Stephens in the UK will happily build you something equally stunning via his PS AutoArt division, with Autofarm and 911 Retroworks getting in on the game too.
Although it may seem to be a modern trend (Singer was formed in 2009), there is a little known company in the countryside west of Frankfurt who first imagined the concept and completed a car in 1994. It’s the same car you see on these very pages, the fi rst ‘Emmerling Porsche’. The story dates back to 1991 and the Geneva Motor Show introduction of the now enshrined 964 RS. Emmerling decided he had to try one as soon as possible, and the subsequent drive left a big impression on him. A fan of the classic 911 look, he started dreaming of how amazing it would be to transplant this level of performance and technology into his favourite classic 911 shape, the wonderful 2.8 RSR of 1972.
Well, if you’re going to recreate a masterpiece, why not choose the best version, of the best version? Of course, this would be a challenge fraught with difficulty. The engine and gearbox should prove simple enough – but transplanting the modern electronics, the ABS system, the chassis components, and providing a shell with the requisite stifness? This would be a far harder task. So it seemed natural to turn the whole problem 180 degrees, and think about it like this: if it’s not possible to retrofit the older shell, why not fi t the retro look, and a dose of that wonderful classic character, to the later car? So was born the fi rst Emmerling project, the result so good that it was never sold. Just like the 1972 RSR it pays homage to, it looks sensational in the flesh.