Ever since we came across the matte-black Porsche 930 from tuner Rauh-Welt Begriff at the '09 Tokyo Auto Salon (et 7/09), we scrambled to get the story. The car became an overnight sensation online and people were hungry for information.
Judging by your emails, most of you were equally as curious but we bided our time until we could get a little more information on the company. The problem is, the reclusive owner speaks no English and hides from the spotlight. As a result, several stories have been written yet little is known.
What we do know is that the small tuning shop has a big following. It specializes in transforming older Porsche 930 and 964 models into the craziest widebody cars imaginable, reminiscent of the mid-'70s Porsche 934 prepared for Group 4 endurance GT racing.
This was perhaps the pinnacle of 911 racing, where Porsche swept all before it, winning championships worldwide. These were also the cars that encapsulated the classic coke-bottle shape of the widebody Turbo cars that became the wall posters for generations of schoolboys.
By rekindling the menace of these GT racers, Akira Nakai has achieved cult status for himself and his company. The machines he produces are instantly recognizable for their outrageous aerodynamics and bold colors that run the gauntlet from matte-black, through pastels to the bold orange and green you see here. No two cars are exactly the same, with owner's giving each a unique personality.
Nakai-san remembers the moment he fell in love with speed. It was while watching an American movie aged 7. He saw a car tail-slide around a corner and it stirred something inside.
Movies like the original Gone in 60 Seconds and The Cannonball Run brought images of the Eleanor Mustang and Lamborghini Countach into the young boy's head. As a result, he now sleeps in the same workshop where he creates these amazing machines, claiming that waking up to the sight of his 911 inspires him for the rest of the day.
The company was formed about 20 years ago in the building he still occupies. It's where customers become family and where he has become comfortable.
The name Rauh-Welt Begriff is German and one of those interesting Japanese contrivances that doesn't translate directly into English. However, "rauh" means "rough" and "welt" means "world". This represents the way Nakai likes to drive his Porsches, "in a rough style," according to our translator. It also reflects the world he has shaped, where he does not seek perfection in his creations.
Unlike most tuners, Nakai-san sees the flaws in each car as part of its character; the same way most of us view older cars, where the ritual of repairing faulty wiring or cajoling a stubborn starter motor brings you closer to the car. As a result, he builds the cars with rivets, tape and zipties, ignoring imperfections in search of the car's soul.
For clarification, "begriff" is also German and translates into "concept" or "idea". We're told Nakai-san selected it "because he liked how it sounded with Rauh-Welt," and so the Rough-World Concept was born.
Even 20 years ago, Nakai preferred the older Porsche 911 models such as the legendary 930 (1974-89). So this is what he first drove and what he continues to drive today. And although the 930 was the first production car to use turbo technology, he rates the naturally-aspirated models over the legendary 911 Turbo, which established the 911 as the first modern supercar.
His own matte-black 930 in our photos has a 3.8-liter motor on carbs to retain that period feel and the need for constant maintenance. It wears RWB's own 930 Racing widebody kit, as well as RWB suspension and massive SSR wheels in the same matte-black.
Fitted with a full rollcage, racing seats and sliding windows, the interior is a web of loose wires for racing switches and gauges. With its bare floors, roof and doors, the owner could undoubtedly have created a tidier finish but wanted to remain true to his Rough World status.
All RWB cars are dual-purpose; built for the street and track. "Neither is more or less important," we were told. However, his greatest inspiration is from driving on the street. "When he catches his car's reflection in a shop window, that's when he sees the car showcased."
This response caught us off guard. Conventional wisdom suggests this sort of widebody conversion is dedicated to hardcore motorsport, but Akira Nakai's honesty is disarming. He simply loves the way the cars look.
In addition to his own parts, RWB also incorporates genuine Porsche parts, as well as tuning parts from the US. Nakai-san talked of his respect for the renowned European tuners such as Ruf, Gemballa, etc but doesn't appear to work with them.
The stunning green and orange 964 ('89-94) models in our photos are two customer cars. "I made the green Porsche for Toshiya Ichiraku," Nakai told us.
"He wanted to build a car like the latest 997 GT3 RS with his 964. And after I made that one, Mr Makabe liked it so we painted his '90 Carrera 2 in the GT3 RS orange!"
Both cars wear the Rauh-Welt 964 widebody and RWB suspension with 18'' SSR wheels. However, Toshi's green '93 Carrera 2 has race-spec dampers along with a carbon interior and gold SSR wheels - these are 18x10''front, 18x12'' rear with 265/35 and 295/35 Bridgestone tires, respectively.
Although built for the track, Toshi uses the car as a daily-driver, preferring to take his wife to dinner or pick up his kids from school in the Viper green 964. "I built it for a Hollywood movie," he confided. "I would love to see an RWB Porsche in a movie, so I made this green 911 for that. I also wanted to make the older model look cooler than the 997 GT3 RS," he explained, and we think he's succeeded with that wish...
Toshi has known Nakai-san since they raced Porsches together in 1990, and he still has an RWB 930 for the track. They became friends and Toshi is now trying to help Rauh-Welt grow.
So we asked him about the top Porsche tuners in Japan, and Toshi claimed RWB is undoubtedly best for bodywork. We also asked whether it was difficult to own a Porsche in Japan, surrounded by so many cheaper domestic options. His answer was typically and mysteriously Japanese: "It's not easy to own one of these cars, but if you are a real man, you can do it. There is no word for it in Samurai..."
Despite creating some of the coolest Euros on the planet, Nakai-san will work on other cars. Yet when he started drifting in a Toyota Corolla AE86 he painted it the same olive color as the awesome Ruf 911 BTR to maintain the Porsche connection. He lives and breathes Porsche, and is keen to expand his horizons, even offering to travel to any country where a customer wants to recreate one of his RWB Porsches. He also indicated he was particularly keen to tackle the latest 997 model.
If nothing else, Rauh-Welt Begriff proves there's plenty of life in the older, cooler 911 models. It's good to see such a huge following for these iconic sports cars, which can be bought for bargain prices right now. For more information on this incredible company, check out rauh-welt.com