Gunther Werks remasters the 993, the last generation of air-cooled Porsches
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You likely think of Monterey Car Week as a celebration of classic cars, what with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the vintage races at Laguna Seca and so many other events featuring collector cars. But increasingly for the makers of contemporary vehicles, Monterey is a place to tout their newest products, and even their future possibilities.
You might except such activity to focus the major consumer auto shows held in huge conventions centers in places such as Detroit, Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. And it is. But more and more, the car makers are finding it very effective to showcase their high-end vehicles at events attended by those who enjoy luxurious lifestyles, events such as those taking place on the Monterey Peninsula each August.
Take, for example, the 16th edition of The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, staged Friday by The Peninsula Signature Events at the plush Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley. Featured classes this year included 70 Years of the Iconic Porsche 356, the 50th anniversary of the Lamborghini Espada & Islero, The Great Lancias and Custom Coachwork, as well as a wonderful display gathered under the banner of The Spirit of the Mille Miglia.
But those cars shared the resort’s golf-course fairways with large stands erected by automakers to tout not only their latest luxury vehicles but increasingly, their visions of what such vehicles might be like in the future.
Also competing with the classic cars were the large tents where attendees could dine on amazing food, such as spice-rubbed salmon with carmelized Meyer lemons, salt-and-pepper prawns, beef short-rib strozzapreti with cherry tomatoes and pickled corn, kay yang smoked ginger and lemongrass-brined chicken, okonomihaki with Napa cabbage, shitake mushrooms, shaved bonito and nori, and roast port tenderloin with red wing figs and hazelnuts, all included with the price of admission.
But back to the automakers. Bugatti, Bentley, Pagani, Genesis, Porsche, Acura, Infiniti, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi, McLaren, Koenigsegg, Rolls-Royce, BMW, Maserati, Singer Vehicle Design, Byton (from China), Hennessy Performance, Rimac Automobili, Genovation, and Polestar (Volvo’s electric car division) had display stands, and many of them used them to unveil new production or concept vehicles. There also were stands for companies offering yachts and aircraft. W Motors of Dubai and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus had their supercars cars on display. Porsche had a second and much larger if temporary structure it built just across the driveway.
And then there was Southern California-based Gunther Werks, a company working to combine past and present.
There is no Gunther in Gunther Werks, which was launched by Peter Nam, who also heads Vorsteiner, the wheel manufacturer and carbon-fiber panel producer.
The company was named for a very detail-oriented German scientist who worked for NASA, making sure the astronauts were safe and secure in their capsules before then closing the door for launch.
Nam explained that he was a fan of the last air-cooled Porsche 911, the 993, and of the GT3 version of the subsequent water-cooled 911s, and wondered what a 993-based GT3 might have been. He wondered to the point that he decided to start a company to make just such a car.
Gunther Werks unveiled a prototype for a “remastered” 993 at The Quail in 2017 and this year was back with two customer cars — one completed, and sporting everything from a whale-style tail to Bluetooth and other modern technologies, and one displayed only as an all-carbon fiber body shell awaiting its engine, suspension and other components.
Nam said his goal is to “take the emotional driving experience” of the 933 and to add in modern technology, both mechanical and electronic.
Working with Nam on the cars are veteran air-cooled Porsche engine builder Jeff Gamroth of Rothsport Racing and suspension specialist Cary Eisenlohr of Eisenlohr Racing. Engines produce more than 400 horsepower and suspension systems are active, enhancing dynamic capabilities by making more than 1,000 calculations each second to determine ideal damping for each wheel.
The working name for the cars is Gunther Werks 400R, but that may change before the cars are delivered to their owners. Only 25 remastered 993s will be built, though Nam plans to offer additional Porsche-based series in the future.