Even if you're not a Porsche aficionado and can't discern the numerous models that, save for the SUV, crossover and EV offerings, carry similar aesthetic, versions like the 2019 Porsche 991 Turbo S tend to separate themselves in crowded 911 waters based solely on their numbers. They do so with the sort of stuff you can certainly appreciate - you know, like that twin-turbo 3.8L Boxer that belts out a cool 580hp and sends it through all four wheels. The tough part, at least for the high-tax bracket dwellers that can afford to buy and modify these rockets, is figuring out how to stand out even further from the crowd.
For some, it might be a funky vinyl wrap and wheels, while others, like Eric Wong, chose to go way beyond over-the-counter bolt-ons and eye-searing color schemes. This 991 has been given the very exclusive Gemballa GTR 8XX Evo R treatment and is but 1 of 50 in existence across the globe. We'd say that's a pretty good way to make a statement. Not familiar with Gemballa? They've been in the tuning business officially since 1981 and have earned a much-deserved reputation for churning out some of the most extreme (and yeah, expensive) conversions on various models from the likes of McLaren, Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari, in addition to Porsche. Their unique take on these high-end vehicles maintains a healthy demand - at least among those who can afford them.
To perform the Porsche's surgery, Wong reached out to DTM Autobody of El Monte, Calif., a group we've worked with on several occasions and you've seen their handiwork applied to numerous Super Street features over the years. Essentially a do-it-all outfit, DTM can handle your basic insurance claim fender bender, can source various OEM and performance parts, take on resprays and complete color changes, and they've established themselves as a force in the completely custom bodywork arena as well. How Wong found DTM is pretty simple in that they've had a relationship for quite some time, with the shop taking care of his Rolls Royce, McLaren and more.
Two More Special Porsche
Forest Green Metallic 993
Widebody conversions and fender flare add-ons have been all the rage for ages, but in the last five years specifically, both the Japanese and European markets have been flooded with new options almost monthly. Some are pretty good, and others are atrocious in their blatant kidnapping of factory lines that are usually replaced by the same fender curves and girth of the rest of their line-up in a "one-size-fits-all" affair. In the case of Gemballa, the intended bulking that's been applied to the 991's physique, which is noted for its lean muscle, is custom tailored with a look that strongly suggests factory special edition rather than universal mail-order bits and pieces. Of course, to get there, you can expect pricing for the exclusivity of a 1-of-50 complete conversion to set you back more than a few paychecks.
What's in the Box?
The complete GTR 8XX package includes the hood and front bumper, fender flares and side skirts, rear bumper, diffuser, wing and engine cover. The aero pieces are produced in carbon fiber, though the owner opted to paint much of the outward facing pieces, and DTM expertly masked off specific portions of the fiber mix that you have to look a little harder to see. From a few feet back, the rich black paintwork seems to cover every inch of the body, but step in a little closer, and the inside of the wing's uprights and inner portion of the bonnet inlet maintain their naked zig-zag design.
That new wing towers over the car's rear and extends beyond the intakes on the factory decklid. The third brake light is also still intact, though now joined by a glowing red "Gemballa" logo that sits between the taillights, just above the updated rear bumper that tightly houses Gemballa's Sport exhaust system with rounded finishers.
It's Bulking Season
Take a step to the side (a much bigger step than you would when working your way around factory quarters) and it's the fender arches that you'll take in with the rear additions measuring two inches wider than Porsche originally intended (1.2 inches in the front). That leaves enough breathing room for 20x11.5 GRS-F2 forged rollers and Pilot Sport Cup 2 that measure 325/30 out back and 20x9.5 with 265/35s up front. Much of the success of the front and rear fender extensions flowing properly on this chassis can be credited to the side skirts that tie the two halves together effortlessly.
What You Can't See
The additional downforce afforded by the menacing rear wing and the additional grip provided by the wider tire setup is as much a necessity as it is a styling cue. The already potent 991 Turbo S has been extensively upgraded via Gemballa's performance package.
The updates start inside the block with beefier rods and a drop in compression, paired with their head port treatment and larger valves, turbo manifold upgrade that hangs meaner turbos, high-flow cats and the aforementioned exhaust system, all which make the sort of difference you'd expect from a virtually new, built engine setup, with power figures jumping up to 818hp at 7,050 RPM. This is all controlled by Gemballa's process of remapping both the engine and the transmission to keep pace. All of that goodness is neatly packed away, and other than the exhaust tips, there isn't much to see under the factory plastics. This is by no means a sleeper, obviously, but given the fact that all of the newfound grunt is hidden away, you might fool a few people at your local cars and coffee, Toretto.
Not Too Much, Just Enough
Now back to that exterior makeover - reimagining the front end entirely might have pulled the design too far away from the car's sultry flow, and to that end, Gemballa smoothed the inner edges of the left and right grill openings and angled the pillars that separate the top and bottom portions. An integrated splitter aids in providing downforce and actually fills in a visual gap that the original version possesses with its lower outer ends. The splitter and reworked bumper seem to bend and round out the front fascia as it carries to those larger front flares, and whether that's visual trickery or dimensionally accurate, it's undeniable. The scallops on the Gemballa hood are a massive departure from the flat, factory hood, and even-out the aggressive nature of that rear wing perched overhead.
You've often read or heard about how tough black paint is to apply and care for, and the owner put his trust in DTM to deliver paint and body work at a level that would match that of the car's high-dollar fashion, and the shop nailed it. Each factory panel and the once bare carbon fiber pieces applied to the Porsche match perfectly, and there aren't any flaws to be found. DTM describes the process, "We took the car apart to mockup all of the widebody pieces and then actually installed the parts to check for any misalignments or imperfections before drilling holes. You can only drill those holes once - there's no room for error." Not just a simple bolt-on affair, the new arches required cutting away some of the factory body in order to fit the more aggressive wheel and tire set up. DTM worked with Wong on deciding which parts would be painted and which would be left in raw carbon look, then everything was disassembled, properly painted, and reinstalled yet again to finish up the conversion. There were no shortcuts involved, even down to the hardware, which was specifically chosen for its black finish to blend in with the updates. How the owner maintains it from here is up to him, but we imagine someone with the sort of money needed to buy a 991 Turbo S and have it fully built, then fitted with an extremely limited body conversion has people for that.
With all of the aggression applied to the exterior, you might expect a set of non-adjustable, rigid bucket racing seats, but in actuality Gemballa kept things sporty and comfortable, with premium surfaces, of course. From the red stitched, alcantara dashboard that flows right to the upper portion of the door cards, to the bright red leather touches, highlighted by even more red-stitched black alcantara, the cabin is every bit as impressive as the outside.
The look and feel of Gemballa's GTR 8XX Evo-R isn't for everyone, and that's exactly the point. The lengthy process of designing something so extreme, along with the painstaking R&D process and ensuring it carries its worth isn't a simple process and the sticker shock that comes from a very low-volume, carbon-fiber aero kit, wheel and tire combo, and complete engine overhaul package isn't for a frugal enthusiast. It's expensive, but for some, the value in owning something only a handful of others on earth can afford to put in their garage is worth every penny.