Francis Fabiculanan’s Porsche was burning. It occurred during a short drive with his nephew. The culprit was a short in the battery cable that touched the fuel tank in the front compartment of his ’79 widebody 911. The car came to a stop and a pop was heard as the telltale signs of smoke filled the arid Los Angeles air.
Francis leapt from the car, and with the lightning-quick thinking and prowess of a Filipino ninja, ran into the nearest Starbucks, grabbed a fire extinguisher and doused the flames that could’ve barbecued his project. And thanks to his cat-like reflexes, european car can bring you this custom car in all of its retro-resplendent glory.
“It was flattering when the police and firemen came,” said Francis. “Because instead of questions about what happened, all they could ask was ‘What kind of car is it?’ and ‘How long did it take to build?’ A couple of them even asked for my business card so they could bring their car to my shop.”
That’s one way to rustle up business.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Mr. Fabiculanan is the owner of a bodyshop, Donlyson Auto Concepts in Los Angeles to be exact. It is here in a 2,000 square-foot shop that he turns his Euro-visions into reality. One of his previous projects, an ’84 BMW 318, turned this writer’s head years ago at a Hot Import Nights VIP show. The bumperless and shaved Bimmer turned out to be a welcome relief from the scads of Lexus’ with white curtains and cupholders.
Fast forward to SEMA 2011 to where we first laid eyes on this ’79 Porsche 911 S. The velocity stacks alone had many a showgoer’s gaze riveted upon them, including that of this most intrepid european car reporter. Thus, a reunion of sorts ensued as we engaged Francis and went after the details.
“When I was kid in the ’80s my dad bought me a toy, which happened to be a Porsche 911,” said Francis. “I told myself that maybe one day I could own that kind of car because I just love the way it looked.”
Years later, our man entered a neighboring body shop and there he spied it, the childhood dream of his in the flesh... err sheetmetal... resplendent in bright red. The owner happened to be a good friend of his so Francis wasted no time in convincing him to sell.
Once he had the car back to his shop he sat down on a stool next to the car and like Jackson Pollock in front of a canvas, let his imagination take over. Whether a quart of bourbon was involved remains speculation.
“I always want to be unique when it comes to design,” said Francis. “And I wanted to have a lowered car without losing ride comfort so I decided to extend the body downward.”
Before you could say “ground effects,” Donlyson Concepts employee Ivan Perez had extended the rocker panel to the ground. Next, he attached sheetmetal to the side and back of the rear bumper to extend it downward and cover the opening. He also cut in a fender into the quarter-panel, which is just one of many functional modifications to adorn this cream-colored cruiser. A louver is attached at the rear section of the quarter-panel as a vent, while the front bumper has been modified with a single air inlet that ducts air directly to the trumpet-shaped oil cooler. The front bumper also uses a center detachable screen instead of a grille, while LED lights have been attached to the bumper and the original blinker has been replaced with a Ferrari nipple blinker. A little Italian style never hurts.
While the removable and adjustable red spoiler up front and splitter out back aren’t as subtle as the indicators, they add another fiery touch to the cream and black color scheme.
I decided to keep the paint scheme retro with cream,” said Francis. “Besides, it matches the wheel faces.
Speaking of the rollers, Francis found those in the same place as the car itself, sitting in the corner of a shop. In a dilapidated state they cried out to him, “Save us from the scrap yard and eternal obscurity!” Actually, wheels can’t speak, but you have to admit that these HREs stir emotion just by looks alone, thanks to the finish combination of black chrome lips and cream faces on the 9x19 fronts and 12x19 rears, with a 6-inch lip. These rims are wrapped in Toyo tires with quite low-profile 245/35ZR19 fore and 315/25ZR19 aft tires to prevent rub and, of course, sidewall flex in the corners.
Bringing things down from speed is a set of brakes rarely seen on a Porsche of this vintage. Up front are Rotora four-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors along with two-piston calipers and 13-inch rotors aft. Rotora also supplied all braided lines and H2 ceramic street compound pads. Braking may be the car’s strongest suit as it has been designed with 50/50 weight distribution under hard braking. Suspending these brakes is a set of Bilstein shocks.
The motor that gets it up to speed is a 3.0-liter air-cooled SC unit. At present, the motor remains mostly stock except for breathing capabilities. Exhaling is performed with Performance Product Motorsports stainless headers and custom dual exhaust tips. Inhaling is performed by the sickeningly attractive set of six carbon-fiber velocity stacks. Looking at these can make one question their sexuality. Listening to them inspires the same type of fervor. Is there such a thing as a carbon-fiber fetish?
Last but not least, Francis pulled off a complete revamp of the interior. The rosso/nero Italian theme continues inside with a custom two-tone double-stitched dash and custom upholstery on the original Porsche seats and door panels. A touch of Hot Import Nights seems to have leaked through from the old days with a back seat crammed full of subs and a dirty little juice bottle. Nonetheless, like a Beverly Hills dentist, this nitrous oxide is delivered in an elegant setting.
Francis Fabiculanan and Donlyson Auto Concepts have joined together with Rotora, Toyo tire and a few other companies to create one of the more unique chariots to lurk down LA’s streets. But of the myriad upgrades to this Porsche, the most important one is... the on-board fire extinguisher.
When I was a kid in the ’80s my dad bought me a toy, which happened to be a Porsche 911.
1979 Porsche 911 S Coupe
3.0-liter flat six. Performance Product Motorsports stainless headers, carbon-fiber velocity stacks, NOS injection
Bilstein shocks/struts, torsion bars, sway bars (f & r)
Rotora four-piston calipers with 14-inch rotors (f), two-piston calipers with 13-inch rotors (r), braided stainless steel lines, H2 ceramic street compound pads
Custom steel fabrication
Custom two-tone, double-stitched dash; custom upholstered seats, door panels
Peak Power: 185 hp @ 5500 rpm
Peak Torque: 195 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm