The Amazing Singer Vehicle Design

By Gary S. Vasilash

Although the Porsche 911 circa 1989 to 1994 is a beautiful car, the people at Singer Vehicle Design can make it even more stunning.

The team—who are located both in LA and the UK (in Oxfordshire, where you’ll find lots of people who know things about performance vehicles)—do a comprehensive transformation of the vehicle, going down to the bare metal of the chassis and then reconstructing it with everything from new carbon fiber body panels to different seats.

(Image: Singer Vehicle Design)

There is, in effect, a menu that those who are looking to have their Porsches transformed: Classic Study, Turbo Study and Dynamics and Lightweighting Study. The first two, according to Mazen Fawaz, CEO of Singer Group, list for some $800,000 and the last-named $2-million.

Somewhat stunning, right?

But Fawaz notes “Demand is skyrocketing.”

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Fawaz, who became CEO in January 2020, explains the method that the company takes in transforming the cars, which takes multiple months (someone who is booking a restoration had better not be in a hurry as there is a long line of orders there already), as well as why there is a focus on the 964 Porsche 911 rather than other models.

(One thing to consider is that there is a finite production run of the vehicles—on the order of 40,000 units—so there is a built-in boundary of what can be recreated by Singer. What’s more, while the demand for Singer’s services is high and the order books in robust shape, presumably there is only a certain number of people who can afford the price of exclusivity.)

Joining “Autoline’s” John McElroy and me is Mike Austin of Hemmings.

Here’s something interesting to know about Singer Vehicle Design: the company was established in 2009 by Rob Dickinson, a car designer turned rock musician, turned back into car designer. Dickinson was the lead guitarist and vocalist for the British band of the ‘90s, Catherine Wheel. Catherine Wheel’s style of music includes audio distortion.

But the thing about the vehicles to roll out of the Singer operations: there is an aesthetic purity to them, the absolute opposite of distortion.

And you can learn all about it here.

Sunk Anticipation

By Gary S. Vasilash

One of the things that hasn’t been mentioned about the burning then sinking of the Felicity Ace cargo ship, the vehicle carrier that caught fire on February 17, then sank this week in the Atlantic, is that there are now some 4,000 customers who are not going to be getting their Bentleys, Audis, Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Volkswagens anytime soon.

While there isn’t a specific brand or model delineation, Porsche has acknowledged that about 25% of the vehicles that are now sunk (possibly the charred husks of said vehicles), let’s face it: When it comes to Bentleys and Lambos, there is an inverse relation between their volume and their MSRP, so even if there are but a few, that is undoubtedly a big chunk of the estimated $438-million worth of cargo on board.

Audis, of course, are not inexpensive, but compared to the other three, not nearly as much. And Volkswagens, of course, are the everyman accessible brand among the group.

But those brands (all, incidentally, under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group) are, like any right now, be it Ford or Toyota or Kia, still facing the chip shortage. Which means the ability to make vehicles is still restricted.

Which means there are some order-holders who will find their wait has just gotten that much longer.

Porsche Exhibits Product Development

Yes, wrecking cars is part of the process

By Gary S. Vasilash

This is a picture of a Porsche Taycan after it hit—under controlled circumstances, not randomly—a barrier while it was going 50 km/h, a.k.a. 31 mph.

(Image: Porsche)

You think that slow-speed accidents aren’t a big deal?

Look at the picture and think again.

Now as you look at the picture you may notice that the setting is not some engineering facility.

Rather, it is the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, where a special exhibition, “50 Years of Porsche Development at Weissach” opened today. It runs through December 5.

The objective of the exhibition is to show various aspects of how vehicles are developed, from concept through design, engineering, and so on.

Said Achim Stejskal, head of Porsche Heritage and Museum, “Sports cars for the road and thoroughbred race cars have been developed in Weissach for half a century. Dreams are designed, created and tested in the middle of idyllic countryside.”

And as that crunched Taycan shows, it is necessary to do unidyllic things during vehicle development to assure that when the vehicles are on the road or on the track the occupants have measures of protection.

Another Surprise from Porsche

An exercise in cognitive dissonance?

By Gary S. Vasilash

If nothing else, the people at Porsche are imaginative when it comes to promoting its brand.

The latest effort is even more surprising than the hiring of the Science Guy:

A 212-page book titled. . .Hip-Hop Culture—A Road Trip through Europe.

The book is based on a pre-COVID trip that Niko Hüls, publisher of a hip-hop magazine, Backspin, took with people from Porsche.


Hüls and a Cayenne. (Image: Porsche)

The travels gave rise to profiles of hip-hop artists including Kool Savas (Berlin), Lord Esperanza (Paris), Edson Sabajo (Amsterdam), Falsalarma (Barcelona), Lars Pedersen (Copenhagen) and the Flying Steps (Berlin).

In what may be the understatement of the year, Sebastian Rudolph, Vice President Public Relations, Press, Sustainability and Politics at Porsche AG, said, “Hip-hop and Porsche – at first glance, this may seem a surprising combination.”

He added, however, “But this pairing stands for diversity and cultural values.”

The book is available from Back to Tape.

All proceeds from the book are being donated to Viva Con Agua.

Bill Nye, Porsche Guy

Guess this means the big time for the quirky science enthusiast

By Gary S. Vasilash

Bill Nye is not a real doctor, nor does he have a master’s degree—in science. (A BS in mechanical engineering from Cornell.)

But he has made science interesting to the young and old alike.

There he is, always wearing a bowtie (and a suit or lab coat) rolling out in an understandable manner the science behind everyday life.

Well, he is wearing the bowtie. (Image: Porsche)

And he does so in a way that he seems to be the lovable everyman teacher from one’s middle school.

One of the things that a lovable everyman teacher from one’s middle school probably could only dream of is a Porsche Taycan.

But Nye has been hired by Porsche to create a YouTube channel for a series of shows that explain what makes the $79,900 electric Porsche special.

For some people what makes it special are:

  1. It is a Porsche
  2. It has a starting price of $79,900 and goes to $185,000.

It is worth noting that Porsche had also hired Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter to star in a video, “Going the Distance,” during which they take a road trip in SoCal in Taycans.

While that is somewhat understandable (e.g., getting on the accelerator really does earn a “Whoa!”), it is somewhat sad that Bill Nye has gone Hollywood.

Of course, were he Bill Nye Math Guy he would be able to explain the likely sudden increase in his bank balance.

A Garage in Croatia

Millions of Euros for an up-and-coming EV OEM. . .

Although the classic Silicon Valley origin story has it that someone comes up with something in a garage and the rest is history, that story occurs in other parts of the world, as in Croatia.

There, a 21-year-old Mate Rimac in 2009 thought about the prospect of developing an electric supercar.

In 2011 he started Rimac Automobili.

And today Porsche announced that it was investing an additional 70-million Euro in the company so that it now owns 24% of Rimac Autmobili.

In 2019 Hyundai Group invested 80-million Euro in the company, so it, too, owns a chunk.

It is somewhat surprising to think that a small company could become important to larger OEMs.

Perhaps more surprising are comments from Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of the executive board and member of the executive board for Finance and IT at Porsche: “Mate Rimac inspires us with his innovative ideas.”

Yes, a finance guy talking inspiration.

Meschke went on to note, however, “Our investment in the company has turned out to be absolutely right. Rimac’s value has increased many times since our initial investment.”

Porsche bought 10% in 2018.

Porsche Taycan Driven to a Speed Record–Indoors

As people spend more and more time indoors because of the pandemic, they are doing all manner of things, from baking sourdough bread to learning how to play musical instruments that they had to pull out of the closet where they abandoned them years earlier.

But then there’s Leh Keen.

He decided to set a Guinness World Record: setting a speed record for a vehicle indoors.

The indoor space he chose was not a rec room that hadn’t been used since the kids were small.

Rather, it was Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, which has the largest contiguous-space exhibit hall, of about 1-million square feet.

The vehicle in question Keen selected was a Porsche Taycan Turbo S, an all-electric car that provides 750 hp and has four-wheel drive. The car has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds.

Porsche Taycan Turbo S driven by Leh Keen to an indoor speed record. (Image: Porsche)

Here’s something you probably didn’t think about because you’ve not driven in a convention center space.

The polished concrete floor is slippery.

Keen: “The surface is so unpredictable, so slick, that you have to have complete trust in your car. It truly was like ice – and you’re accelerating flat out, facing a really hard wall at the end. Suddenly, even in a massive space like the one we had, it seems very small.”

The requirement for the record was to start from a standstill and to come to a complete stop.

There are no safety nets. No open doors to escape through if things go badly.

The record was 86 mph. It stood for seven years.

Keen made the run—and the record—with 102 mph.

He said, “102 mph inside a building. What was I thinking?”–gsv