Theon Design Porsche 964 Chi001 66484 1668441039

Theon Design Porsche 911 Restomod Is No Backup Singer

We must wait for the day when automotive craftsmen reimagine third-gen Camaros or Fox-bodied Mustangs into immaculate carbon-fiber-bodied restomods that command six-figure prices. Until then, we’ll have to keep slumbering with the 964 generation of the Porsche 911.

Of course, there are many reasons why the penultimate air-cooled 911 is the frequent muse for high-end tuning outfits. There’s no shortage of cars to boot, Porsche sold over 60,000 of all variants worldwide between 1989 and 1994. Interest (and values) are also high enough to find a market for expensive transformations.

The best-known recreater of the 964 is undoubtedly Singer in California, which has been producing versions that cross the line from car to car art for more than a decade. But an increasing number of other stores are now entering the same space. Last year we told you about an EV version produced by Everrati in the UK, although we struggled to see what the electric drivetrain added to the experience.

Now here is another British firm, but this one sticks to internal combustion. The little shop is called Theon Design, and it delivered C/D the chance to experience a partially carbon fiber 964 just before it was shipped to a buyer in Chile, hence the car’s CHI001 name. Oh, and that client is a successful blueberry farmer, in case you’re wondering about the reason for his violent violet color scheme.

As with many similar businesses, Theon Design was born out of a personal passion, in this case, the quest of a man named Adam Hawley to build his own perfect 964 while working a 9-to-5 job as an automotive designer for large car companies, including Jaguar Land Rover. The car was eventually finished to a standard that friends and acquaintances asked him to create something similar for them, leading to the founding of Theon Design with business partner Lucinda Argy, who is also his wife.

While the Theon CHI001 shares its basic shape with the 964, its details are clearly inspired by those of earlier 911s. It lost the full-width taillight bar it was built with and gained both 930 Turbo-style bumper overriders and headlamp rings. The original car under the conversion was a Carrera 4 sold in Japan, but it was stripped down to components and completely rebuilt. Structural changes include a carbon fiber roof, trunk lid, engine cover and spoiler. The fenders and bumpers are made from a stiffer carbon-kevlar blend.

Weight savings over a regular 964 is about 220 pounds, according to Hawley, with the part-composite body also making the car stronger. Up close, the attention to detail is close to obsessive, including touches like the symmetrical mounting of the two ignition coils on the engine firewall and the invisible integration of a center, high-mounted brake light into the rear window surround.

Theon’s customers have a choice of powertrains, including the intriguing option of a supercharger conversion that the company developed for the air-cooled flat-six. The CHI001 has a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter engine; individual throttle bodies and careful internal balancing take peak output to 400 horsepower at 7100 rpm. It also lost its original four-wheel drive system, and power is now sent exclusively to the rear axle through a six-speed 993-generation gearbox and a limited-slip differential.

Not every part of the experience has been updated. When we get in, we find the familiar, slightly tucked-away driving position, and although it’s been beautifully refreshed in a vibrant color to match the exterior paint, the cabin’s basic architecture is unchanged. But starting the engine reveals an immediately different character from a regular Carrera of this generation: first, the bark of the exhaust, which variable acoustic flaps vary from loud to very loud; second is the immediate response of the engine to even slight accelerator pedal pressure, thanks to an ultralight flywheel.

theon design porsche 964 chi001

Theon Design

Comparing Theon’s car to a regular 964 is complicated by the increasingly distant memories of what the original car was like when new, but this one drives with a level of poise and precision it seems hard to imagine that any stock 964 owns, even when factory fresh. (with the possible exception of the famous RS variant). The CHI001’s steering feels direct and slack-free for an air-cooled 911. It retains hydraulic assist, but it’s now powered by an electric pump. Revised suspension geometry, stiffer bushings and active dampers increase the precision with which the front end can be positioned, although it also means there’s less feel for the 964’s fundamental rear-biased weight distribution in corners.

If you ease off the throttle with the chassis loaded, the line gradually tightens, but not quickly. The biggest dynamic difference is probably due to the modern Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s mounted on the period Fuchs-style rims, which provide an abundance of grip. The ride is firm even with the adaptive dampers in their softest setting, but not uncomfortably so.

Still, the engine is the CHI001’s main feature – impressively muscular down low, but with what feels like an inexhaustible appetite for revs that the scalpel-sharp throttle encourages a driver to exploit. The tach only goes to 8000 rpm, but the limiter is actually another 500 rpm beyond that. Operating at just 2570 pounds, it also feels 21st-century fast. The gearshift is perfectly weighted, and despite the switch to carbon ceramic brakes, the center pedal feels equally natural in its responses.

This love story might make you question our critical faculties, but the car does have some downsides. The first is the price. While that’s well short of the seven-figure outlay required for one of Singer’s pixel-perfect offerings, a buyer would still have to pay Theon around $500,000 (at current exchange rates) to get something similar to this car — plus the cost of the donor 911 The second is the wait: the company already has a significant order bank that it needs to work through and can build at no more than five cars a year.

theon design porsche 964 chi001

Theon Design

Furthermore, while “perfect” is a strong adjective to apply to any car, the Theon comes perilously close to earning it.

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