If you’re tired of over-restored, over-valued air-cooled 911s, there’s one kind of Porsche build that’s arguably their anti-thesis. That would be the Safari 911, where tuners turn the rear-engine sports car into a lifted dirt-pounding ersatz rally car. The trend has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years, and Porsche may be thinking about getting in on it. At least, that’s what a recently-spotted test mule appears to suggest.
The Safari Porsche 911 trend has exploded recently
There’s no exact formula for making a Safari Porsche 911, Hagerty reports, but there a few basic ingredients. Start with a 911, install a lift kit, off-road tires and wheels, some skid plates and underbody protection, and hit the dirt.
Typically, a Safari 911 build starts with a rear-wheel-drive air-cooled model. However, famed Porsche tuner RUF recently created a one-off concept based on an AWD water-cooled 996. And owners can add a wide range of extra features besides the basics. Some builds feature roof racks, bumper-mounted winches, rally lights, and even roll cages.
The Porsche 911 isn’t the only car getting the Safari treatment, though. One Ferrari 308 GT4 owner famously did it to their car. The owner of a totaled Alfa Romeo GTV resurrected their car with a Safari build, Autoweek reports. It’s also inspired Mazda Miata, Porsche 924, and even Nissan GT-R owners to lift their cars.
However, so far no one’s done the same to a brand-new 992-gen 911. But that might not be the case for long.
The lifted Porsche 911 mule fueling the rumors
Recently, photographers spotted an all-black 992 Porsche 911 running laps on the Nurburgring, Motor1 reports. Besides the paint job, the camouflaged test car sports tacked-on fender flares, and most crucially, a higher ride height, Road & Track reports.
It’s unclear precisely which trim of Porsche 911 the mule is. Based on the footage above, it sounds like it has a turbocharged engine. However, the entire 911 lineup has turbocharged engines. Barring any potential upcoming GT models, of course. Though based on the lack of intake scoops, it’s likely not a Turbo or Turbo S.
But it’s the ride height that’s the most intriguing part, The Drive reports. That’s one of the most basic requirements of any off-road build, Safari 911 included. And the fender flares suggest wider and/or larger tires, which would also benefit ride height and off-road grip.
Could it be something else?
R&T points out that this unknown Porsche 911 could just be testing out a new suspension design or tire-and-wheel package. It’s also possible that the body’s a disguise for an upcoming powertrain. It might not even necessarily be something destined for the 911, but the Panamera or the Cayman instead. After all, the Cayman GT4 is often compared to the 911 in terms of handling prowess.
However, in a response to The Drive writer Stef Schrader’s tweet of the article, one Twitter user suggested another possibility. 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the AWD Porsche 959 supercar winning the Paris-Dakar Rally. Could Porsche be considering bringing it back?
There is some historical precedence for this. R&T reports the original 959 is based somewhat on the contemporary 911. And the 959’s AWD system, turbocharging, and—rather fittingly—height-adjustable suspension has influenced modern Porsche technology, Car and Driver reports. So, in some ways, a lifted Porsche 911 would bring history around full-circle.
We’ll just have to wait and see what Porsche has planned.
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