Gunther Werks’ 25-Year-Old $525,000 Porsche 911 Is Faster Than a GT3

Together, the GT3 and GT2 form the highest echelons of the modern Porsche 911 hierarchy. But, although they’re nowhere near as fast, classic air-cooled 911s are just as valued, if not more so. They’re also popular subjects for restomods, especially Safari builds. In fact, it was arguably Singer, with its fastidious 911 builds, that helped high-end restomodding grow. But Singer isn’t the only Porsche builder in town. There’s also Gunther Werks, which turns 993-gen Porsche 911s into $525,000 stripped-down racers for the road.

Why Gunther Werks’ 993 Porsche 911 restomod costs so much

Silver 1997 993 Porsche 911 Carrera driving around a racetrack
1997 993 Porsche 911 Carrera | Porsche

Gunther Werks’ 400R is based on the 993 Porsche 911, the final air-cooled 911, Car and Driver reports. Though their values have declined somewhat, Hagerty reports, a good-condition one costs about $50,000. Low-mileage, pristine ones go for $80,000 or more. Which makes Gunther Werks’ car seem just a little pricey. However, as Automobile and Jalopnik explain, there is some justification for the price jump.

To make a 400R, Gunther Werks strips a 993 Porsche 911 to its bare chassis, then seam-welds it for more rigidity. The front suspension mounts are repositioned, to reduce the 911’s understeer. The car is then is fitted with custom coil-overs, new bushings, Eibach anti-roll bars, Brembo brakes, and wider tires. Then the rest of the body, interior, and engine take shape.

Red Gunther Werks 400R in a concrete building
Gunther Werks 400R | Gunther Werks

According to the company’s CEO and founder, the goal was to keep the 400R’s weight under 2600 pounds. Car and Driver reports Gunther Werks’ early builds overshot by about 250 pounds, though allegedly, the later versions are even lighter.

Black-and-red Gunther Werks 400R interior, with carbon-fiber bucket seats with red bolstering
Gunther Werks 400R interior | Gunther Werks

Originally, the Porsche 911’s steel door panels were retained for better safety. Now, though, they’re carbon-fiber, like the rest of the body. Including the adjustable rear wing, with built-in air intakes. The battery is lithium-ion, to save weight. The dashboard and one-piece bucket sport seats are also made from carbon-fiber. Though the seats themselves are bolstered with leather and Alcantara. There’s also no rear seat, just a carbon-fiber panel.

Then there’s the engine. The 993 Porsche 911’s 3.6-liter six-cylinder is rebuilt and enlarged by Rothsport Racing to 4.0 liters. As part of the rebuild, the engine gains a second oil cooler, carbon-fiber air intake, and new ECU. It sends power to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual. And the only safety feature is ABS.

What’s it like to drive?

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Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire recently drove a Gunther Werks 400R. Originally, the restomodded 993 Porsche 911 made 420 hp and 330 lb-ft. But that was the development model. The 400R has since gained 10 hp, added the option of KW Clubsport or JRZ dampers, and revised the transmission’s gear ratios.

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To be sure, the development car didn’t exactly need a lot of refinement. The steering, both in feel and weight, was excellent. Top Gear called the chassis and ride “sublime.” And the air-cooled engine sounds incredible.

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The customer version, Farah reports, isn’t just an excellent sports car. It’s a vision of what the air-cooled 911 would have looked like had Porsche continued developing it. It’s light and agile; with no rubber in the suspension, it handles very much like a race car.

And yet, it still has some modern conveniences. For one, it has A/C and power steering. Gunther Werks also fits a Porsche Classic radio, which includes navigation. The ride may be stiff, but it’s also compliant Motor1 reports. The only real issue, Roadshow reports, is a heavy clutch.

Alternatives to Gunther Werks’ Porsche 911

Obviously, Gunther Werks’ take on the Porsche 911 isn’t for everyone. And not just because of the $525,000 price tag. The company’s only making 25 400Rs. Plus, although it’s light, you can find cheaper cars that match or beat its 3.7-second 0-60 time.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera
2020 Porsche 911 Carrera | Porsche

For one, there’s the current Porsche 911 Carrera S. With a $115,100 base price, it’s not exactly cheap. But it can accelerate just as quickly as the 400R. And it’s much more practical on a day-to-day basis.

If you don’t mind buying lightly-used, there’s also the 911 Carrera T. It’s just as quick to 60 as the 400R, Car and Driver reports. But it’s also lighter than the standard Porsche 911, while still including performance features like a limited-slip differential and dynamic engine mounts. There are several listed on Autotrader for under $100,000.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 | Porsche

Finally, if the goal is driving pleasure, rather than practicality, there’s also the Cayman GT4. It’s roughly one-fifth the Gunther Werks 400R’s price. But it too has a 4.0-liter six-cylinder and 6-speed manual. And Motor Trend reports it’s one of the best-balanced cars Porsche has ever made.

Still, credit where credit is due. Gunther Werks’ Porsche 911 restomod may be expensive, but it’s still an excellent take on the air-cooled formula.

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