A car that “looks like a Porsche, but drives like an ABT” was the objective for “Project 1967” by the noble forge Christian Abt Classic from Kempten Southern Germany. In record time, the managing director Sebastian Riedl’s team converted a Porsche 993 into its very own interpretation of the 911 Carrera 2.8 RSR. At the roll-out of the already very polished prototype at the Porsche Experience Center at the Hockenheimring, Riedl explained in great depth which details had given him headaches in the preceding months.
To put it simply, a Porsche 911 Backdate is understood by the scene to be a late air-cooled 911 with visual borrowings from an original model. The approaches range from straightforward body modifications to completely independent creations. And with technology it’s almost the: from nigh-on prototypes with racing technology to near-production vehicles, there is everything.
Which way did Christian Abt Classic decide to go with Project 1967? “We wanted to build a car that fits like a glove. You should be able to have fun with it right away”, Riedl put it bluntly. A lot of work has therefore gone into the chassis, set-up and drivability. “Our car is undoubtedly sporty, but you can just as easily use it to fetch bread rolls on a Sunday.”
No stone was left unturned in the process. The entire body is individual. Only the doors remained from the original. The team at Christian Abt Classic designed all the other body parts specifically for the Project 1967. A lot of carbon is used, “nothing laminated, but real lightweight construction”, Sebastian Riedl explains to me. The result: less than 1,100 kilograms ready to drive.
This backdate is a solitaire. The impression its body gives you at first glance is very interesting. Because if you hear the ingredients like 964 Turbo fenders and 911 Carrera RSR front bumper, you have an aggressive appearance in mind. But the opposite is the case. Project 1967 is indeed sporty, but on the other hand it is also dainty and elegant. The three-man crew around technical director Oliver Kulder took a bold approach that paid off.
Moritz Birker, for example, who is only 23 years old, convinced his boss to equip the classic racing front bumper with an additional splitter. The effect is terrific. The slightly protruding center section immediately recalls the 70s Group 4/5 racer. But the splitter fitted at the bottom changes the perception in a more modern direction and emphasizes the indentations next to the air intake. It flatters the classic shape entirely.
The body work was the biggest challenge. Everything is individual. For example, when the trunk lid came, we thought the side panels were mounted incorrectly because nothing fit at first.Sebastian Riedl, Managing Director of Christian Abt Classic
Of course, anyone looking for a Porsche 911 Carrera 2.8 RSR as inspiration can’t avoid the ducktail on the engine cover. But the spoiler on the Project 1967 has also been revised. It stands a little higher and is wider than on the original. But as with the front bumper, the part doesn’t look too aggressive. The offset from the rear apron to the wide fenders of the Turbo emphasizes the sporty design language. All these careful adjustments come together to create a coherent shape.
The wheels of the first backdate from Christian Abt Classic are also a novelty. Fuchs-inspired 18-inch forged wheels with central locking are mounted on the specially developed wheel hubs. This has never been seen before on a Porsche 911 Backdate.
Due to the absence of the five wheel studs, the design is more flat and clear than those on the 70s originals. At the same time, it is so mature that laymen would probably think that these rims could have been factory-fitted.
“We have a lot of night shifts behind us,” Sebastian Riedl tells me. In just nine months, he and his team of Oliver Kulder, Benjamin Mang, and Moritz Birker turned a standard Porsche 993 Carrera 2 into a prototype of their vision of the perfect driving machine. In the last few days before the launch date, everyone worked on the car well into the night. But during the first test drive, an engine defect, just one day before the launch, jeopardized the ambitious schedule.
“I broke down after a few kilometers with a sudden drop in oil pressure. Of course, the worst-case scenarios ran through my head. What if we had to replace the engine? And I was so exhausted from the night shifts that I even dozed off sitting in the car while waiting for the tow truck.”
Christian Abt Classic’s crew was able to quickly isolate the problem – small cause, but big effect. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of its racing-experienced team, everything was still completed on time. “I have to pay a huge compliment to my team. What they have achieved in the last few months is unique.”
And you can see the fire, the passion in the eyes of all the employees when they talk about or look at their project. At Christian Abt Classic, they didn’t work on a car. Instead, it’s their baby that they’ve put on the road. The grin on their faces after the three of them piloted the Project 1967 through the winding roads of the Porsche Experience Center speaks volumes.
Sebastian Riedl asks me if I’d like to drive, too. I don’t have to think about it for long. But we’re talking about an irreplaceable prototype here, and the guard rails are sometimes very close to the track. It’s a good thing that the Abt Backdate gives its driver instant confidence. It sits firmly on the road and offers plenty of grip. And the Project 1967 doesn’t even roll on ultra high performance tires.
The suspension with Bilstein/NTP dampers and Eibach springs was already used in Christian Abt Classics Porsche 993 GT2 restoration. It was adapted to the lighter Backdate and is sporty with sufficient comfort. Even harsh load changes don’t upset Project 1967. But if you want to, you can let the car rotate wonderfully and chase it out of the corners with a slightly wagging tail. Where the 993 Carrera 2 turns in a bit spongily, the Project 1967 follows every small steering movement immediately.
The first impact hits the spot! With the Project 1967 Christian Abt Classic has put a driver-focused Backdate of the extra class on the wheels.Richard Lindhorst, Elferspot
Its noise level is logically a bit higher than on the standard 993, thanks in part to the titanium exhaust system. But nothing rattles or clatters. It doesn’t feel like a prototype, but like a fully developed product. The engine responds extremely smooth and is wonderfully rev-happy. Short throttle blips when heel-and-toe downshifting are greeted by the unit with a great sound and perfect rev-matching from the first attempt. Its 3.6-liter unit has no trouble with the low weight and storms towards 7,000 rpm with a wonderful boxer staccato. A fantastic experience! Do I really have to drive out and get out already?
Probably the best news for prospective buyers: The finished product will be even lighter and even stronger. Oliver Kulder has a few aces up his sleeve for the future, such as a lighter flywheel. In general, work is also still being done on the engine. Up to 4.0 liters of displacement are conceivable. “In the end, it will probably be the only Porsche 911 Backdate with its own spare parts catalog. We attach a lot of importance to the fact that the car can be serviced at any Porsche Center,” says Kulder.
The interior – tailored to each customer anyway – still needs individual adjustments. Boss Riedl says: “We still have a lot of work to do, but the basis is very satisfying. For the last few percentage points to make the car perfect, there will definitely be some night shifts again. But we are sure that the effort will be worth it!”
Together with the brains behind Project 1967, I got to spend the entire day of the roll-out. Right from the start, the car ran like clockwork. Looking into the eyes of Oliver Kulder, Benjamin Mang, Moritz Birker and of course Sebastian Riedl, I immediately realized what was happening here.
Standing in front of me was a relieved team of visionaries who had just taken a giant step closer to their common goal. With every lap they drove on the handling circuit of Porsche’s Experience Center at the Hockenheimring, they smiled more and it was noticeable how a huge weight fell from their shoulders. You had the feeling it was “payback time” for the countless hours, lots of sweat and also a few drops of blood here and there that had gone into the project. By the way, if you want one, you have to be quick. Only 20 vehicles will be produced by Christian Abt Classic.
Titelbild: © Francesco Paratore (@fpcapture)