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Porsche Exclusive will create bespoke one-offs, factory restomods

The 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition barely scratches the surface of what's possible.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

The 911 Targa Heritage Design Edition is just a hint of what Porsche Exclusive can do.

Ryan Greger/Roadshow

For decades Porsche's Sonderwunsch (aka "special wishes") program has allowed buyers to spec their cars in special colors, and in recent years the Exclusive Manufaktur division has offered hundreds of options through the standard Porsche catalog as well as the ability to spec custom color and trims. Now, Porsche's Exclusive Manufaktur and Classic divisions are teaming up for a massive expansion of what's possible, allowing customers to order completely custom one-off cars, fully recommission and restore older models, and even create new restomods.

What price exclusivity?

Porsche Exclusive currently is able to realize about 1,000 custom cars a year, but those are mostly relegated to things like special colors (like through the Paint to Sample program), leather-covered interior components and unique graphics packages. But Porsche says it has customers that want a lot more than that, leading to the company introducing this totally bespoke one-off program. 

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Depending on how out-there the request is, Porsche's designers and engineers have to go through an evaluation phase to make sure it's actually possible -- and the buyer will need to pay for that out of pocket, which could cost tens of thousands of dollars. It can take up to four years to develop and build a one-off car, as basically the whole company gets involved, and the customer is an integral part of the process the whole way. Porsche is able to do consulting and development virtually now, but in prepandemic times the customers would be flying back and forth to Germany or one of the major Porsche centers in the US.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

New Exclusive-created special editions will come out every year.

Ryan Greger/Roadshow

Porsche Exclusive says that it's currently able to handle about half a dozen one-off projects per year (and the same amount for the Classic stuff), but that could grow with demand as the brand starts seeing what customers are really dreaming about. When it comes to a customer's wishes, the only time Porsche will say no to something is if it would actually be impossible to produce. So if someone (like me) wants a hot pink 911 Turbo with a mint green interior and chrome exterior trim, they'll do it, even if the designers think it will look awful (it wouldn't).

Apparently, the one-offs that are currently in development are more timid than you might expect from such a bespoke program -- the cars in the works have subtler custom touches like a new shift knob, reshaped air intakes and different wing designs. So we're not talking something like the Ferrari 812 Omologata, though that type of totally coachbuilt body and custom interior are absolutely possible, Porsche says. In a roundtable call with representatives from the brand, feasible ideas that were thrown around include a modern 911-based tribute to the 959, or a car with a one-off Speedster body style. There are some limitations, though; Porsche won't copy anything from another brand, so if you want your new 911 to have a rear wing that looks like the one from the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, you're out of luck.

In addition to this new bespoke program, Porsche is working on further expanding the Exclusive options that are available as standard through the normal configurator. Currently that includes more interesting colors, interior trims that go beyond your standard leather, and different exterior options like new wheel finishes and stripe packages. The brand will also be releasing many more special editions created by the Exclusive division, like the 911 Targa you see here as shot by my talented friend, Ryan Greger.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

Customers can order totally custom color schemes and liveries.

Ryan Greger/Roadshow

The Exclusive division has mostly focused on the 911 and 718 up until now, though the Panamera, Cayenne and Macan are all available with a host of Exclusive options. But the new Taycan EV is becoming a focal point for the division, as it has been a massive success for Porsche so far and is bringing in a new type of customer for the brand. Porsche says that the Taycan has a well-above-average level of individualization compared to the rest of the lineup, and while the Taycan is so fresh Porsche hasn't had any crazy inquiries for custom specs yet, the car already has a huge list of Exclusive options like blue-tinted headlights that have a high take rate. 

What can Classic do for you?

The stuff that Porsche Classic is now able to do might be even more exciting than a coachbuilt new car, depending on the sort of Porsche fan you are. Let's say you own a 997 GT3 RS, but you're bored of the standard black and orange color scheme that your car shares with so many other GT3s out there. You can take your car to Porsche, and it will completely repaint and reupholster the interior in whatever paint color and leather you want.

And it doesn't have to stop there. With a recommission Porsche could also fit different wheels, make modifications to the body and even upgrade the suspension or engine. Full restomods are also on the table, too. The Classic division could put a modern watercooled engine into an original 930 Turbo, for instance, or stick a new 718 Cayman GT4's motor into a first-gen Boxster. 

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
Ryan Greger/Roadshow

One major thing that Porsche Classic has ruled out when it comes to modifying older cars is EV conversions, and it's for purely technical reasons. Sure, there are aftermarket companies out there that will turn your 911 into an electric car, but Porsche won't perform that job itself as the brand doesn't think it could get the true Porsche performance and driving character out of it. In order to really do an EV conversion the way it wants, Porsche would need to develop new platforms, battery and motor setups, and totally change the packaging. Porsche also won't rebuild or make major modifications to limited-run cars like the 911 R, and it has no plans to make continuation cars like those from Aston Martin or Bentley, though it did dabble in such things with the 993 Project Gold.

If you have an old car in need of a restoration but don't want to make any modifications, Porsche will do that, too. In addition to a restoration center near Porsche's headquarters in Stuttgart, there's a similar facility in Atlanta as well. Recently, Porsche Classic completed a full restoration of the very first 911 S Targa to be delivered in Germany, the result of over three years of work.

Porsche Classic usually starts supporting cars 10 years after the end of production, which means there are around 870,000 eligible vehicles out in the world. There are 75 certified Porsche Classic Partners worldwide as well as four locations that deal exclusively in classic cars, with services including complete technical checks, repairs and information verification. The brand is able to recreate hard-to-find parts, reissuing around 300 new spare parts per year since 2013, and over 60,000 existing spare parts and accessories are available through Porsche's catalog. Porsche is also launching a new lineup of Performance Parts upgrades, releasing two first-gen Cayenne prototypes and a number of production-ready components.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

Special 911s always attract friends.

Ryan Greger/Roadshow

Driving the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

To get a feel for the type of stuff that Exclusive is able to do, albeit on the smaller and more production-ready scale, I spent a week with the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition, a special edition developed by the Exclusive division that was released last year. Limited to just 992 units and priced at $181,950 to start, a $43,400 premium over a regular Targa 4S, it has unique design touches inspired by the 356 sports car of the 1950s and is absolutely fabulous. Porsche is planning on releasing a new Heritage Design Edition every year or so, each one using design elements and special touches taken from iconic Porsches of different decades.

It's painted in Cherry Red, a stunning, deeply metallic color that otherwise isn't part of the 992's standard color palette. The red paint is accented by white spear graphics on the front fenders, a Porsche script along the lower body side, and large white circles that you can spec a personalized racing number in. (You also can get the Heritage Targa without any of the graphics, but I don't know why the hell you would.) Even in Los Angeles where new 911s -- the Targa included -- are a dime a dozen, this Heritage model got a ton of attention, especially from other Porsche owners.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

The Heritage Design Edition has a unique interior color scheme.

Ryan Greger/Roadshow

More special exterior details include a Porsche Heritage badge on the rear engine cover and a gold finish to the Porsche badge and model designation at the rear and the Targa badge on the roof bar. The Porsche crests on the hood, wheel center caps and steering is also the retro design used on the first 911s in 1963, which is a cool touch. The Fuchs-style wheel design and gloss-black finish isn't unique to the Heritage car, but it definitely adds to the overall look. 

The interior is where things really get interesting. The Club leather is finished in a special Bordeaux Red and Atacama Beige two-tone, with the red covering the dash, steering wheel and the top of the doors and the beige covering everything else, including the lovely perforated headliner. (You can also get the interior with black instead of the red, but again, why would you?) But the coolest part is the centers of the seats and the door cards, which are covered in corduroy. Corduroy upholstery was an option on the original 356, and while it doesn't sound like a super-appealing fabric to use in a sports car at first, it both looks and feels luxurious and special. There's one big problem, though: Corduroy isn't a very breathable material, and you can't get ventilated seats. Prepare to sweat.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

Corduroy feels more luxurious than you might expect.

Ryan Greger/Roadshow

There's some other nice interior touches, too. The numbers and details in the gauge cluster and Sport Chrono stopwatch are a sweet retro green color, which looks especially cool at night, and the car also has a gold badge on the dashboard that denotes the specific car's serial number.

If you missed out on buying a Heritage Design Edition, Porsche's got you covered. Every 911 is available with a Heritage Design Interior Package that adds some of the features from this special edition. It costs $15,150 on a Targa 4S (but is cheaper on the Turbos and pricier on lowlier models), and you get an all-black or a black-and-beige interior with the corduroy inserts, different floor mats, additional leather trim pieces and the green-accented gauges.

While the Targa Heritage Design Edition doesn't drive any differently from a normal 911, it certainly feels more special. Each retro element sparks joy every time I see it or touch it, and it certainly stands out as something unique. It's nice to see a company embrace its design heritage and bring a bit of fun back to modern sports car specs, and with subsequent special editions set to resurrect some of my favorite design touches -- psychedelic '70s Pasha fabric, anyone? -- I can't wait to see what Porsche does next.