It’s weird, wonderful, and one of a kind. Back when Porsche’s were air-cooled, this one-of-one four-door 911 was created by two guys fascinated by fabrication. But this homemade masterpiece is just more than cobbled-together cars. It served as an example of how Porsche could expand their demographic, a forward-thinking rendition of a Porsche passenger car.
The four-door Porsche 911
It’s a custom car to rival all custom cars. It started as a normal Porsche 911 before it was cut in half. That, however, was the easy part. From there, Tom Barnes and Dick Troutman machined a brand new roof, installed a center B-pillar, and created a rear door well that could house a Porsche 911 door.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that this four-door 911 has “suicide doors,” or doors that open in different directions. The rear door of this four-door 911 is actually just a regular door flipped backward. Of course, some metalwork had to be done so the windows would match, but the handles and hinges are all in the right places.
And then there’s the interior, composed of a custom leather taken off of Dick Troutman’s shoe. After sending a sample of the leather, as well as some money, Porsche returned to Dick two front seats and a matching rear seat in that orange-brown color.
But the car was still rear-engined, and still air-cooled. It was just elongated. Road and Track got a chance to drive the creation on their test course back in 1968, but beyond that, we’re not sure what’s happened to it. What we do know is why the car was built, and how much money was sunk into it.
How much did it cost, and why was it built?
To build this, it cost about as much as a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. But this is back in the 60s when a Rolls Royce cost just $30,000, fairly cheap by today’s standards. But after throwing that number into an inflation calculator, this one-off likely cost around $230,000 in today’s money. A lofty sum of money for this labor of love, but a worthwhile one.
Dick Troutman presented this car as a Christmas gift to his wife, which was the main reason for building the car. But the car did have a secondary purpose. Dick wanted to showcase his creation to Porsche and prove that there was potential in making a four-door version of their iconic sports coupe. And while it’s never been directly stated that Porsche was inspired by this build, some design elements hold true.
Four-door Porsches of the modern era.
Today, the Porsche Panamera and electric Taycan are the closest examples we have to the original. Neither of them boasts a rear-engined layout, or suicide doors, or a custom leather interior (though with enough money, you could make that happen). But these aren’t the only recent examples of four-door Porsches heavily inspired by Dick and Tom.
Back in 1988, Porsche revealed the 989 concept. Heavily inspired by the 911, and perhaps the four-door version from 20 years prior, the car was never destined to be a 911. The engine wasn’t in the rear, nor was it an air-cooled flat-six. Instead, Porsche stuffed a water-cooled 4.2L V8 in the front, otherwise, it would’ve been in the same market segment as Tatra. Comparing a family-oriented luxury car to those budget commuters wouldn’t make the 989 as glamourous.
But this luxury family car wasn’t destined for the success Dick had believed it could’ve, and at the time Porsche needed a hit. Instead, they shifted their funding to the uglier, but marketable Porsche Cayanne. It sold fast, putting the dreams of a four-door 911 to rest.
So we don’t have a proper four-door 911 today, and chances are we never will. In a world where SUVs are the only way to appeal to families, the idea doesn’t have much merit. But even still, the passion behind Dick and Tom’s creation can’t be discredited.