Restomod cars shouldn't feel like one of Frankenstein's monsters. The best examples of these modern classics are the ones that pull off feeling totally authentic while possessing a demeanor all their own. They need to look and feel like a million bucks -- and since many restomod classics are hideously expensive, that's not necessarily hyperbole.
Gunther Werks might play second fiddle to another well-known, highly respected, California-based. But its 993-based restomod is just as fascinating to behold -- and even better to drive. Gunther Werks has been around for almost three years, and has delivered five customer cars. Outside of a Monterey Car Week gathering, you'll likely never see one.
The car you see here is Gunther Werks' first development prototype, its odometer showing more than 15,000 miles upon its arrival at my office in Burbank. You can bet 95 percent of those miles were hard ones, too. Yet as I shut the carbon fiber door, fire up the flat-six engine and head out toward the canyon roads that wind through the Angeles National Forest, it doesn't feel like some hodge-podge prototype. It's solid. And it goes.
A big, 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated, flat-six engine provides motivation, sending some 420 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. That's plenty for a car that only weighs about 2,900 pounds, but it doesn't necessarily turn the 993 into a raging, red rocket. Sure, you'll still hit 60 miles per hour in less than 4 seconds, but since peak torque isn't delivered until 5,115 rpm, with all 420 horses showing up at 7,100, you've got to wait a skosh before the 4.0-liter really starts cookin'. This engine is happiest when you keep it on boil above 4,500 rpm, and it'll sing the glorious song of its people as you wind it up high, upshifting just as the tachometer needle kisses the 7,800-rpm redline.
The Getrag G50 6-speed manual transmission is a bittersweet thing. You'll love its short throws, but find you've really got to shove it into each gear for solid engagement. The clutch pedal is so heavy you'll have no problem skipping leg day at the gym, but the throttle and brake are perfectly positioned for quick, heel-and-toe downshifts -- just don't be afraid to strong-arm that gear lever into each position.
The upgraded, lightweight chassis uses a "dynamic suspension," according to Gunther Werks, that will "automatically adjust compression and rebound rates based off steering angle sensors and potentiometers at each wheel." This suspension is supposedly still in development, and was only recently fitted to this test car. It's not what I'd call bouncy or harsh, but you often feel things at the seat of your pants that are not necessarily communicated through the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.
Still, along my favorite stretch of Angeles Forest Highway, the Gunther Werks 993 feels as wholly unflappable as any other fast 911. Much of the credit goes to the 295/30-series front and super-wide 335/30-series rear Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. You can get a bit of rear wheelspin if you dump the clutch and peel off in first gear, but once you've put some heat in the tires, they allow you to carry tremendous speed through corners. Quick steering puts the nose exactly where you want it, and if you've got the engine in the heart of its powerband, the rear end pushes you 'round a corner with just a quick jolt of the throttle.
An unlabeled Sport button is placed just ahead of the gearbox, and pressing it opens the exhaust valves and unlocks an extra 30 horsepower. You don't really notice or need the extra oomph, but the aural sensation is heightened. Turn Sport mode off when you're just cruising, though -- the mid-range drone is enough to drive you mad.
The big takeaway is that the Gunther Werks 993 doesn't feel as fast as it is. Yet the chassis and steering are so explicitly clear in their communication that you can push the car harder and harder the longer you drive it, learning to really trust the unrelenting grip afforded by those huge tires.
The body is made entirely of carbon fiber, and the rear ducktail is optional, though you'd be a damn fool to leave it off. Gunther Werks also makes the forged aluminum, 18-inch wheels, which barely clear the huge, Brembo brakes housed behind. The head- and taillights are full-LED, and Gunther Werks makes the headlight housings, too. Taken as a whole, the coupe is gorgeous -- a loving homage to the original 993, with other throwback cues set on a deliciously thicc body. The way you'll find yourself ogling the car's wide, rear fender flares is almost perverse.
The interior is awash in leather and Alcantara, and all the little details, from the light switches to the gauges to the Porsche Classic radio, look and feel exquisite. Gunther Werks builds the carbon-fiber seats, which are far more comfortable than they look at first glance, and not so snug that drivers of more robust girth will feel like they're in a death grip. Everything here looks like it belongs in a '90s 911 Carrera, but feels a step above in terms of fit and finish.
Of course, Gunther Werks also follows the restomod playbook in terms of pricing. The cost of entry for one of these is $525,000 and does not include the donor car, though Gunther Werks does send each car away with a one-year, 10,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty for parts and labor. That's a hard pill to swallow, for sure -- it's twice the price of the brand-new.
But considering the company is only planning to make about 25 of these, and most of them are already spoken for, no one at Gunther Werks is losing sleep over whether or not you or I deem its 993 too expensive. There will always be a market for super-collectible creations like this. Thankfully for those buyers, they're getting something really special.