As arguably the foremost exponent of restomod Porsche 911s, needs little introduction. Its 964-based restorations are renowned for their quality and desirability -- and they are fabulous cars. Richard Tuthill might not be quite so well known, but he crafts equally desirable 911s. A Tuthill creation, however, is more often found with mud up the side. Often African mud. His rally cars have won the biennial East African Safari Classic rally outright on no less than four occasions. Combine these companies' two very different sets of talents and the result is the frankly brilliant All-Terrain Competition Study, or ACS for short, which was unveiled Tuesday.
The ACS is a commission from a longstanding client of Singer and it takes clear inspiration from the famous Porsche rally cars of the 1980s, namely the 959 and the 911 SC/RS. I would suggest it's the former of those two that has the bigger influence, and this really sets it apart from other off-road, 911-based creations that we've seen in the past (both from Tuthill and others such as Leh Keen). It looks, and is intended to be, ready for the Dakar or Baja.
This restomod is powered by a 3.6-liter, air-cooled flat-6 with twin symmetrical turbos and fly-by-wire individual throttle bodies, with an output of 450 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The engine is linked to a five-speed sequential gearbox which allows flat shifting either via the paddles on the wheel or the nearer of two tall levers protruding from the transmission tunnel (the other, predictably, is for a proper hydraulic handbrake). Power is then sent to all four wheels, with plated limited-slip differentials in the front, center and rear.
The bodywork is made of carbon fiber and there is the usual Singer sleekness to the way the curves have been wrought, giving it the appearance of an artwork as much as an automobile. Just look at the fantastically sculptural nature of the rear clamshell, which incorporates an enormous wraparound rear wing and engine cover.
This is not, however, some design study destined to be kept pristine and pampered in a garage; it has been thoroughly engineered for competition. The ACS has a full FIA-spec roll cage and although the beautiful seats (note the red mud splatter motif) are bespoke, they also have FIA certification. That beautiful bodywork has also been designed to allow easy access to the internals of the car at service stops on rallies.
In order to cope with whatever terrain a rally raid might throw at it, the ACS is fitted with long-travel suspension with twin, five-way adjustable dampers at each corner. The 16x8-inch wheels are fitted with BF Goodrich all-terrain tires and there are two spares, one each in the front and rear of the car. To keep the ACS going there is also a long-range fuel tank, and there's a rehydration system to keep the driver and navigator going, too.
As functional and pared-back as the interior is, there is also a definite air of luxury thanks to the harmonious and bespoke red, white and black design theme running across all the facets. Two huge screens keep both driver and navigator informed and, again, the graphics for the driver's display look as though they're bespoke to the ACS.
The steering wheel is at once simple and quite complex, festooned as it is with controls. Two rows of buttons flank the bottom spar of the wheel, while two more (for the oft-required wipers and high beam) protrude an easy thumb stretch away on the cross spars.
Two examples of the ACS have been commissioned; one Parallax White for off-road desert-style rallies, and one in Corsica Red for high-speed tarmac events. No price has been mentioned, however, it seems that the hope is these won't be the only ones if other customers come forwards.
"We feel confident this machine can appeal to off-roading enthusiasm of all kinds, whether it be in the pursuit of professional competition at the highest level or adventure and exploration," Rob Dickinson, Singer's founder, said in a statement. "ACS advances Singer's capabilities in forced-induction, all-wheel drive, off-road ability and dynamic response -- all of which will support our ongoing mission. This pursuit of focused competition studies is something you will see more of from us in the future."
The mind boggles at what Singer and Tuthill might turn their talents to next, but for now I just want to have a go in the ACS. Having been lucky enough to drive one of Tuthill's Safari-spec 911s and also his 997 R-GT rally car, I know just what fun it's likely to be. Richard has a real talent for setting up cars and the photos of the ACS splashing, sliding and jumping on the beach do nothing to suggest that this latest off-road creation is anything other than a (highly capable) hoot to drive.