Singer Vehicle Design, the company behind the stunning examples of lovingly resto-modded Porsche 964s. A Singer’s 911 is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of restored air-cooled Porsches out in the market today. Singer Vehicle Design was founded by Robert Dickinson, a former member of a British alternative rock band. The company is named after Norbert Singer, a former Porsche engineer responsible for some of Porsche’s victories in Le Mans, and Dickinson’s own history as a vocalist.
Singer’s cars are absolute works of art. Meticulously engineered and fastidiously put together; they are essentially dream machines for the absolute Porsche fanatic with deep pockets. The flat-six air-cooled engines in Singer’s 911s have been reworked by Cosworth, their interiors can be customised to any and all specifications based on individual customer’s preferences. It is realty befitting of the name: Reimagined by Singer.
But today, my main focus is on the collaboration between Singer Vehicle Design and Tuthill Porsche, one of the leading builders of rally-ready 911s. The Porsche 911 Reimagined by Singer, All-Terrain Competition Study. Or the Singer ACS for short. The Baja 1000 and Dakar Rally ready off-roading Porsche 911.
Now Porsche themselves aren’t strangers to the rallying scene. The limited-run all-wheel-drive Porsche 959 started life as a Group B rally car before Porsche produced 25 road-going models for homologation. And people have been taking their modified Porsche’s off the beaten track since the 1970s. Stands to reason then, that an undisclosed customer approached Singer to produce such a machine.
At a glance, the Singer ACS may resemble a flattened VW Baja Bug or a safari 911. But under the sublime fabrication work, you’d find the bones of what once was a 1990 964-generation 911. The body panels are all carbon fibre. And even though it doesn’t look like it, Singer says the panels are designed to be easily replaced if damaged. Though I can’t imagine the sheer cost of replacing just one rear quarter panel.
The rear spoiler inspired by the one seen on the 959 Dakar safari, and there is a milled aluminium rear bumper with twin exhaust tips that are strikingly similar to the 991-based Porsche 935 race car.
The Singer ACS has the ability to carry two full-sized spare wheels. Lift the front and rear clamshell bonnet and hatch up, and you’ll see one wheel residing in the front, next to the long-range fuel tank, and one in the rear. The wheels are rather special too; Turbofan inspired 16-inch forged aluminium rims wrapped in BF Goodrich off-road tyres. Each wheel hub gets 2 five-way adjustable dampers per wheel, giving the ACS a total of 8 dampers. Quite an amazing suspension setup. Stopping power is provided by steel brake discs with 4 piston callipers on all four sides.
Inside, there are two FIA Spec bucket seats, an FIA spec full roll cage, and lashings of red paint that spruce up the cabin considerably. Both seats are equipped with a motorsport hydration system that provides both driver and co-driver with their own supply of water for those long desert races. The driver gets a digital race speedometer, and the co-driver gets a large navigation screen.
There are several bits of trim that look rather out of place in the utilitarian cabin, such as the door pulls with metal inserts, extensive use of carbon fibre, the beautifully knurled sequential gear lever, and a carbon fibre hydraulic brake lever.
The engine is a masterpiece. An air-cooled, 3.6L twin-turbo flat 6 developing roughly 450 horsepower. But that figure can be increased depending on the various race requirements. Mated to the engine is a 5-speed sequential gearbox that can be operated via the paddle shifters or a sequential shift lever and permanent all-wheel drive. The turbos are actually situated just aft of the rear shocks, beneath the rear canopy.
The most amazing thing about the Singer ACS is the way that Singer has managed to make it such an attractive car, but under the surface, retains its off-roading capabilities. It really isn’t all bark and no bite. The harmonization between both companies, Singer and Tuthill Porsche, is an astonishing feat. As Richard Tuthill himself said, “It’s a bloody good combo”. And who are we to disagree.
But should you want one yourself, just remember that a “standard” Singer 911 would already set you back anywhere from 6-figures to north of a million. A Singer ACS could possibly be way dearer than that.