The Theon Design Porsche 911 Restomod is not a duplicate

We’ll have to wait for the day when automotive craftsmen reimagine a third-gen Fox-bodied Camaro or Mustang into immaculate carbon-fiber-bodied restomods commanding six-figure price tags. Until then, we’ll have to keep messing around with the 964th-generation Porsche 911.

Of course, there are many reasons why the penultimate air-cooled 911 is often the muse of high-end tuning. There’s no shortage of cars for starters, Porsche sold over 60,000 of all variants worldwide between 1989 and 1994. Interest (and cost) is also high enough to find a market for expensive conversions.

The most famous 964 reproducer is undoubtedly California-based Singer, which has been producing versions that cross the line from automotive to automotive art for more than a decade. But a growing number of other stores are now entering the same space. We told you last year about the EV version is made by Everrati in the UK, although we were hard pressed to find out that the electric drivetrain adds to the experience.

Here is another British firm, but this one adheres to internal combustion systems. The little shop is called Theon Designand it gave C/D the opportunity to test the partially carbon fiber 964 just before it was shipped to a buyer in Chile, hence the car’s name CHI001. Oh, and this customer is a successful blueberry farmer, in case you’re wondering the reason for her bright purple color scheme.

Like many such ventures, Theon Design was born out of a personal passion, in this case a man named Adam Hawley’s quest to create his own perfect 964 while working 9 to 5 as a car designer for major car companies including Jaguar Land Rover. The car was eventually brought to a standard where friends and acquaintances asked him to build something similar for them, leading to the creation of Theon Design with business partner Lucinda Arghi, who is also his wife.

While the Theon CHI001 shares a basic shape with the 964, its details are clearly inspired by those of the earlier 911. It has lost the full-width taillight panel it was built with and gained 930 Turbo-style bumper covers and headlight surrounds. The original car under conversion was a Carrera 4 sold in Japan, but it was stripped down to its components and completely restored. Design changes include a carbon roof, trunk lid, engine cover and spoiler. Wings and bumpers are made of a stronger mixture of carbon and Kevlar.

According to Hawley, the weight reduction over the regular 964 is about 220 pounds, and the partially composite body also makes the car more durable. Up close, the attention to detail is close to obsessive, including touches like the symmetrical mounting of the twin ignition coils on the engine firewall and the invisible integration of the central, high-mounted brake light into the rear window surround.

Theon customers have a choice of powertrains, including an intriguing supercharger conversion option the company has developed for the air-cooled flat-six. The CHI001 is powered by a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter engine; individual throttles and careful internal balancing bring peak power to 400 horsepower at 7,100 rpm. It’s also lost its original all-wheel-drive system, and power is now sent exclusively to the rear axle via a 993-generation six-speed gearbox and a limited-slip differential.

Not every part of the experience has been updated. Sitting down, we find a familiar, slightly offset driving position, and although beautifully done up in bright hues to match the exterior paint, the basic architecture of the interior remains unchanged. But starting the engine immediately reveals a different character to the regular Carrera of this generation: first, the exhaust roar that switches, the acoustic flaps vary from loud to very loud; secondly, thanks to the ultra-light flywheel, the engine responds even to a light pressure on the gas pedal.

Theon Design

Comparing Theon’s car to a regular 964 is complicated by increasingly distant memories of what the original car was like when it was new, but this car drives with such a level of poise and precision it seems hard to imagine what any standard 964 would possess, even if it was fresh from the factory. (maybe except for the famous RS variant). The CHI001’s steering feels straight and without sag for an air-cooled 911. It retains the hydraulic assist, but now it’s powered by an electric pump. Revised suspension geometry, stiffer bushings and active dampers increase the precision with which the front end can be positioned, although they also mean the 964 has less of the principle rear weight distribution when cornering.

Easing off the accelerator with a loaded chassis pulls the line in gradually, but not abruptly. The biggest dynamic difference probably comes down to modern Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s mounted on Fuchs-style discs that provide plenty of grip. The ride is firm even with the adaptive dampers in their softest setting, but it’s not uncomfortable.

Yet the engine is the CHI001’s main feature – impressively muscular low down, but with what seems to be an insatiable appetite for revs that the scalpel-sharp accelerator encourages the driver to use. The tach only reaches 8,000rpm, but the limiter is actually another 500rpm. Working against just 2,570 pounds, it also feels 21st century fast. Shifting is perfectly weighted, and despite the move to carbon-ceramic brakes, mid-pedal response is just as natural.

This love story might make you question our critical faculties, but the machine has some flaws. First is the price. ​While that’s well short of the seven-figure sum required for one of Singer’s pixel-perfect offerings, a buyer would still need to pay Thean around $500,000 (at current exchange rates) to get something like this car — plus the cost of the 911 donor Second, the wait: The company already has a sizeable order book to work through and can produce no more than five cars a year.

theon design porsche 964 chi001

Theon Design

Also, while “perfect” is a strong adjective for any car, the Theon comes dangerously close to earning it.

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