Being an almost perfect balance of performance and handling out of the box, the Porsche 911 is prime material for tuners. It’s always been this way, and no matter how good the car becomes, human nature seeks something more individual.
Although the latest 911 Carrera (991) was only launched at the turn of the year, German specialists TechArt, Gemballa and SpeedArt had examples with larger wheels, lowering springs, body styling and bespoke interiors at the Geneva Auto Show in March.
Delays in early deliveries meant that everybody worked really hard to make the Swiss deadline but, when the curtain went up, all the cars were in place like clockwork.
At this time, none of these tuners are planning ECU software upgrades for the latest 911 Carrera because the horsepower gains are outweighed by development costs. So most owners will have to be content with just intake and exhaust systems for now. All are awaiting the new Turbo model next year to give a bigger bang for the buck.
Two weeks after the doors closed at Palexpo, we found ourselves in Leonberg outside Stuttgart with an appointment for seat time in these three tuner 991s.
The tuner’s art is exemplified by the different body kits, wheels and ancillary parts that perfectly embody each aspect of the business. And as with fine apparel, customers favor the style of a particular company over others, coming back time and again for more.
Speed yellow certainly grabs attention, and TechArt made full use of this retina-popping hue to showcase its first styling conversion for the 991.
Aerodynamic additions complement the elegant lines, adding just enough visual spice. The rear wing, for example, is an interpretation of the GT2 item that suits the silhouette well. The overlapping exhaust below is TechArt’s house style, discreetly finished in black.
The car came with PASM active damping, so TechArt swapped in 30mm lowering springs. Together with bigger wheels and tires, the ride height gives a more purposeful stance.
The standard 20" factory wheels on the Carrera S leave little wiggle room for the tuners. A Porsche engineer told us a lot of work went into making sure they cleared the housings under all bump and steering conditions. Modern German tuners have to be similarly methodical to gain the coveted German TüV approval while trying to use wider front wheels, recommending specific tire brands because each tire manufacturer has slight variations in the exact width of the same sized rubber.
In this instance, TechArt fitted 245/30 ZR21 front and 305/25 ZR21 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on their 21x9" (ET50) and 21x11.5" (ET77) wheels.
Bespoke interiors are a TechArt specialty, so they went to town; color-matching the trim inserts to the body. The seats and door panels also got black alcantara inserts with yellow cross-stitching to escalate the wow factor.
German tuners like black cars but it can hide the subtle lines of a body conversion. However, Gemballa stuck to tradition, perhaps in recognition of its status as one of the oldest of the larger German Porsche tuners. Indeed, it was founded in 1977 by Uwe Gemballa but is now owned by Andreas Schwarz, who bought the assets following Uwe’s untimely death in 2010.
As well as the black paint, the Gemballa 991 sported six exhaust tips; an instantly recognizable company trademark.
The body kit looked organic, accentuating the standard car. It was designed along modular lines, allowing more components to be added as they become available. For now, the GT package debuted with new bumpers, side skirts and a rear valance using the factory mounting points. It’s also easily reversible, should you need to return the car to stock at some point.
Another highlight was the 21" lightweight, forged one-piece wheels. A contemporary interpretation of a classic Gemballa style, they weigh less than the factory 19"equivalents, helping performance and handling.
Gemballa has specialized in bespoke interiors from day one, being responsible for some spectacular work in the past. But since the GT package is a first step, the interior was kept simple, with impact coming from color alone.
Orange leather was used on the steering wheel, shift knob, console, door pulls and armrests. The same color also highlighted the instruments, stitching and floor mats. Not exactly subtle, the orange breathed life into the black interior.
The youngest of the three, SpeedArt founder Bjorn Striening prefers to use GRP for his aerodynamic parts rather than the carbon fiber of his competitors in order to keep costs down.
The resultant body kit consisted of a front lip, side skirts and rear diffuser incorporating cutouts for a quartet of polished tips on the stainless steel exhaust. And because the small wing takes its cues from the cooling slats of the factory engine lid, it looks like it’s always been there.
Unlike the spoilers, SpeedArt’s 21x9" and x11" LSC forged wheels aren’t any cheaper thanks to the lightweight, three-piece design. The distinctive double-spokes continue into the polished outer rim–a visual trick to give the appearance of being even larger. They’re shod in 235/30 ZR21 and 305/25 ZR21 Michelin rubber.
After the relatively sober exterior, the interior features a riot of bright color including lime green seats inserts. The same hue is found on the console, dash and door trims, steering wheel, shift knob and instrument cluster. It’s contrasted by blue stitching and while the combination looks great in a show car, we wouldn’t like to face it everyday!
These three 991 conversions are relatively minimal in approach, but create plenty of impact. They collectively represent the first rung of the 991 tuning ladder that will surely culminate in wild Turbo models and GT derivatives. So if you’re thinking of buying a new 911 and know you won’t be satisfied with stock, check out these examples from Germany’s finest to score greater exclusivity.