Porsche has been toying with the idea of a hardcore 911 off-roader for quite some time. Now they’ve finally been caught guilty of testing one too. But can Porsches go off-road? Seems like there’s a history behind it. The obsession for an off-road 911 started when Singer Vehicle Design unveiled their ballistic Porsche 911-All Terrain Competition Study (ACS). This means the off-roader was created and based upon the 1990 Porsche 911 964, draped in Parallax white. It’s insane sound, courtesy of the 3.6-liter flat-six engine with twin-turbocharger, the air-cooled engine left everyone at Shiftup gasping for some air. The dramatic rise in ride height and suspension travel, coupled with a video where the 911 was flung through muddy terrain, strings the heart of every enthusiast. So, without any further ado, let’s jump into the history of 911 and off-roading.
Porsche’s are desirable and part of that credit comes from their versatility in multiple motorsport disciplines. But rallying in particular, showed off their innate abilities to endure and overcome obstacles. Combined with their philosophy to build lightweight, high-performance cars with enough engine power to compete in long endurance races, helped House of Stuttgart defeat many manufacturers with bigger pockets. Porsche first truly established their prowess in the world of broken tarmac in 1978, with the East African Safari rally. This ‘Eastern Safari Classic Rally’ is one of the toughest rally races, aside from racing a 5000-km long track in the sweltering heat and torrential downpours. There were unpredictable elements like large boulders, rivers, and even elephants appearing out of nowhere.
Safari Martini racing photo
The 911 SC ‘Safari’ Martini Racing: PSE car sat 28 cm high off the ground, courtesy, special suspension systems. With an underbody guard, a 110-liter fuel tank, and an additional 20-liter of fuel, and 16-liter of water on board, the 1978 911 SC ‘Safari’ yet managed to weigh just 1,250 kilograms. At the back was a modified 3.0 that produced 250 hp, 50 more than stock. The grueling track took a toll on the rear-axle of one and a driveshaft issue on the other car, yet Porsche managed to finish the race with a respectable 4th and 2nd position. This would be the last ‘Safari’ Rally that Porsche would ever participate in.
RothMan 956 photo
It was not until, both Jurgen Barth and Roland Kussmaul under Rothman’s sponsorship, another off-road 911- the Rothman 956 born. A rare piece of beauty had only 20 homologation models known by RS in the market, and they were built so just so that they could participate in the FIA’ ‘Group B’ classification. In essence, the SC RS was a modified 3.2-liter Carrera that used a 911 Turbo chassis, and the suspension was fitted with lightweight materials with ‘Lexan glass everywhere except for the windshield. The modified engines produced 255 hp, over the stock engine 204 hp output. The Rothman’s 956 won most of the Le Mans championship between 1982 to 1983. Such is the rarity and exclusivity of the car, that the 911 SC RS does not have any official launch date, because people were never informed, and there was no big ceremonious launch as such.
And these glory days seem to be coming back. For the past few months, reporters have spotted a ‘mysterious’ camouflaged, high-rise Porsche doing laps around the Nurburgring. The unusual ride height has everyone guessing that it’s going to be a Safari model. And then Porsche dropped some actual 911 Safari Photos, something that has been driven on the gravels of the company’s Weissach facility. The Vision Safari was developed in 2012 and it is still a prototype, but drivable. It is designed with the livery based on its ancestor the 78’ SC 911 ‘Safari’. If recent spy shots are to be believed then Porsche is on its way to launch a ‘Safari’ version of the 911.
2012 Vision safari
Gathering from the images, both the front and rear fascia have been slightly reworked, to accommodate better approach and departure angles. Pundits are guessing that the 2022 or 2021 911 ‘Safari’ will get the same twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six engine from the Carrera 4S model. This might also be another Heritage Design Edition model, which is currently solely populated by the 911 Targa 4S HDE in the line-up. There will also be a Sports Classic on the horizon, but nothing official hasn’t been disclosed as yet.
But we keep coming back to the Singer 911 ACS
The Singer ACS can be considered as a proper homage to the SC car. Under the hood, the 3.6-liter flat-six churns out 450 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a five-speed sequential dog-box, which helps in flat-shifting, a feature mostly found in rally cars. Only two Singer 911 ACS are available and both were commissioned by two long-term clients.
In the video, as mentioned above, the ACS was being driven by Mr Richard Tuthill himself, owner of the leading Porsche Rally workshop. The way Tuthill flung around the Porsche in the middle of the forest, on a beach – displayed in full glory the potential of the ACS. There are many features that are usually not found on a standard 1990 Porsche and this includes – a roll cage, a long-range fuel tank, and a rehydration system for both driver and navigator.
The Singer Porsche ACS will definitely go down as one of the meanest Porsches. And yet intriguingly, it will not be officially regarded by Porsche since the Singer was a privately commissioned project. Despite the crazy response, Porsche had asked Singer and Tuthill to take down the car from their website. As much as they appreciated the effort, the House of Stuttgart had to take the mean step to protect the brand’s authenticity, which the ACS violated by having the company’s name on the car.