It is apparently common for a new owner of a Singer restoration to call the home office with questions. Why, they ask, does their newly delivered pride and joy feel a bit distant, stiff in the knees?
“Just drive it,” Singer people say. As with any new restoration, the Porsche 911s from Rob Dickinson’s shop require break-in. The shell is old but the parts are new, and those parts need mileage to get happy with each other.
The car we tested for this story had a few thousand miles on the clock. It thus carried the standard Singer magic: a Porsche 911 that somehow delivers, in one single car, everything worth loving from the name’s greatest hits. Monster torque? Huge traction but ready willingness to slide? Germanic obsession with finish and a perfect balance between handling precision and comfort, all draped in the looks of an RS 2.7 sketched by Syd Mead? Sign us up.
On a mountain high above western Los Angeles, we were granted a handful of miles with a left-hand-drive 1990 911 in Sport Classic Grey. That car wore all-wheel drive, a 4.0-litre flat-six producing a claimed 390 horsepower, carbon-ceramic brakes, and a six-speed manual.
I’ve tested some 911s reimagined by Singer and poked around dozens more, and the details always delight. With all-wheel-drive cars, Singer replaces the stock 964 front-axle equipment – differential, driveshafts, and so on – with 993-generation Porsche hardware, then adds dozens of other tweaks to help the car respond and work. Combined with the company’s various cosmetic and driveline updates, the result is a piece of jewelry with incredible feel and raucous intake honk. Jewelery you can hammer at a track day or slog through traffic – simply a car, reliable and comfortable, cold air and great seats, designed to be used.
These cars, in this form, are worth every penny Dickinson asks. The catch is how that price draws a specific customer; you have to be quite successful to afford a machine of this value, and success often means a life with little free time. Some owners sell their cars after a year or two and only a smattering of miles. Which means they never see the magic.
Shame. Every Porsche 911 was built to move, after all. Dickinson’s just happen to be far better at it than most.