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Drew Coblitz & his Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer

21.03.2024 By Richard Lindhorst
Drew Coblitz & his Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer

When thinking about car collectors, you’ve probably got the image of older men like Jerry Seinfeld or Jay Leno. Car/watch collector and curator Drew Coblitz on the other hand started out as a racer. Meeting the 35 year old, who was one of Singer Vehicle Design’s youngest customers was a very refreshing surprise.

Welcome Drew, it’s a pleasure to have you with us. A lot of Singer fans may know the name Drew Coblitz, but would you please introduce yourself to our audience?

I’m a full-bore Porsche fanatic who grew up in the Philadelphia area and have spent the past 17 or so years of my life driving, racing, collecting and loving 911s in particular. Even from about age 3 I had this innate fascination with cars and would sit outside the house I grew up in and watch cars go by while my parents likely hoped it was just a phase… Obviously it wasn’t. That was just the beginning of my automotive passion.

My budding love for cars eventually took me to both roads and tracks and lead to participating in both amateur PCA Club Racing and even briefly the Grand-Am road racing series. During this time I also developed a passion for watches and watch collecting alongside the cars. I ended up creating a business curating people’s “passion based” alternative asset portfolios/collections while growing my own collection over time.

Why did you end up being a Porsche afficionado? What led you there? Was it the racing?

My first car was actually a manual BMW 325ci which was my first taste of driving something sporty. I hadn’t done any competitive karting or anything motorsports related before as many pro-drivers did when younger. But like many in the car world, I definitely had that cliche “need for speed”. I ended up participating in the Skip Barber High Performance Driving School at Laguna Seca when I was 16. That became my first experience with real performance driving and also first time on a race track. 

Luckily for me, there were a lot of cars to try out. One could choose to drive a Dodge Viper, BMW M3, Porsche Boxster, 996 and 997 and all of them on the race track. I definitely enjoyed the M3 in particular, but I was instantly in love with the 911s. From the moment I got in, I was thinking, “Nothing else in the world feels like this…it feels so natural”. Driving either 911 just clicked for me and I immediately got into to a rhythm which turned into something rather life shaping as I’d soon find out.

You started racing with a very unusual car choice. Tell us more about it!

That’s right. My first track car was a 2001 Porsche 996 Turbo in Arctic Silver that popped up for sale locally and I quickly went to go see it at the dealership. I took the car out for a test drive and just had a feeling this was going to be a safe and forgiving car to go REALLY fast in for track events. I had thought the extra stability from being all-wheel-drive would be good for a beginner. The car was purchased and then I had it sent to Dougherty Automotive local to me to have it prepped for the track.

We installed all the standard safety and handling equipment like a roll bar, Recaro race seats and adjustable coilovers. Then I set off to my first track event in the Turbo which was at Virginia International Raceway. The 996 Turbo was amazing and even in the rain which persisted through most of the event, the car  was unbelievable. I really had a great time with it.

Shortly afterwards, I started participating in my local region’s Porsche Club of America track events. I knew our “Reisentöter” region had incredible instructors and drivers at the time. They had a run group system denoted by different color groups starting from green to red. I thought that would be fun to climb over time. To end up in the fastest group (black/red ran together), you usually need a few years of experience. In my case, I ended up in the top group within a year. I was absolutely addicted to the race track with my friends who ran with me in the PCA region and became life long friends thereafter. 

What about your first races? Did you have immediate success?

I got to know my very good friend during that time by the name of Bill Dougherty. He owned the shop that did all the work to my car. Bill really became a second father to me. He suggested that I should I go into the PCA Club Racing series given the quick progression in speed I had managed over that year. I said, “hell yeah!” and signed up for my first race at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia.

There I was in my 996 Turbo, driving against mainly 996 GT3s in the J stock class. Everyone said the Turbo wouldn’t stand a chance given the weight of the car and it’s consumables wear over a race. But they were wrong. I won my first sprint race ever in it and with a strong lead over the closest 996 GT3. In the second race at Summit Point, which was an endurance race, I had the lead by a good margin again! But I ended up hitting a deer at 120 mph around 4 laps from finishing. If I didn’t damage a control arm, I’d have been able to finish first but alas, the deer did it’s damage.

After the race, the marshals offered the antlers to me, as it is traditionally done when hunting. I managed the nickname “Deer Hunter” from there on out. In hindsight, I should have kept it for the story. At Limerock a month or so later I managed to win every race in my class without any hiccups. Though almost completely out of fuel for the enduro and managed to set class records doing it. Needless to say, the 996 Turbo was a beast and I was in love with racing. 

Why didn’t you continue racing? Seems like you’ve had a lot of talent.

There were opportunities. One of Bill’s guys was a crew-chief in Grand Am for example and gave me the opportunity for a seat in a 997GS car. I did take the seat for the 6 hours at Virginia. But to be honest, I couldn’t get to grips with the setup the team’s lead driver Ryan Eversley used. He is by the way SUCH a talented racer even still today. He preferred softer-sprung cars and I loved razor-sharp response that came with much stiffer springs that I had been used to. And as you had to share the car between drivers, I just never got super comfortable with that setup. I then thought I’d look towards some of the higher classes using factory built race cars that I’d be more attuned to.

I REALLY want to run the Daytona 24 once before I die!

Drew Coblitz

Afterwards I was thinking about going to the Daytona Prototype class with help from another local friend. I even thought about attempting to move into Nascar as career wise it would have been a solid move. I was talking to a few people about arranging testing for the above. But then a nerve issue with my arms started getting significantly worse and no one seemed to have a fix for it. Not wanting to waste anyone’s time or money, that stopped my racing career. To be honest, I miss racing to the moon. I will be undergoing a procedure which if works would maybe let me do a seat in a future race. But it also led me onto a new path for my career, as I dived deep into the world of buying, designing and collecting exotic cars.

How did you get into that position?

If you go back ten or fifteen years, the sports car market was very different. In 2010, a Porsche 993 was a 30,000 dollar car and many of these Porsche models were more approachable than they are today. I managed to trade around various 911s amongst other cars. I became a go-to-person for people to ask for purchasing/speccing advice for cars they were thinking about buying. All while I was also investing in my, slowly at the time, but growing collection and gaining experience with various sports cars. 

© Drew Phillips

I was able to help people design their own dream cars and curated a couple of peoples’ collections over the years. I watched so many people’s passions grow. The most fun I had during this time was driving all these cars though. I literally drove everything I could get my hands on, from base first gen Boxsters (986) to Carrera GTs. As a bonus, this enabled me to really compare all the vicarious iterations of sports cars and give even more feedback when asked about a potential purchase.

What was the sort of advice you gave to people who said “Alright, I’ve made myself some money and want to build a car collection”?

I’ve loved helping people grow their collections from scratch. What I’ve learned is, that many HNWI (High-Net-Worth-Individuals) are often not sure about their first sports car purchase. They have about 911,000 questions before they make their first buy. The most important thing I always tell them at the beginning of their journey is, that I don’t care why you want x, y or z car, as long as you love it and it makes you happy. There’s always time to grow a collection or invest in the car space. But the best thing about the car world is the passion we share about it and that needs to be first and foremost!

I don’t care why you want x, y or z car, as long as you love it and it makes you happy […] the best thing about the car world is the passion we share about it and that needs to be first and foremost!

Drew Coblitz

More often than not, after a few years I’ll have one of those guys who was nervous about buying a 997 Carrera S end up telling me that he’s now interested in something like a 911 R, 997 GT3 RS 4.0 or Carrera GT. It’s amazing how fast things can escalate in that world when someone gets bit by the car bug and have the capital to play/invest in it. Many of these newly formed collectors also enjoy the “car-guy lifestyle” that comes with the collecting world as well and that community within it. 

You’re thinking of Concours events and such?

The destinations of the events are often a driving factor as well. Events like Pebble Beach, Villa d’Este and so on set in gorgeous sceneries and buzzing with fellow automotive enthusiasts poking each other to buy various cars rolling through the auctions over the events. Lots of people are like “Oh, I love this world!” after getting into it.

In the end, you want a fun toy that you can enjoy. And I try to help people enjoy as much as possible while also not losing money, or maybe even making a little here and there along the way. One needs to identify little micro-trends in the market that are developing constantly. You have to be as on top of these as possible to make the best recommendations as far as what to buy. In the past, you’d lose a good amount of money on every deal.

Drew Coblitz

Done right, today you can enjoy your passion often with just the outlay of capital instead of lighting your cash on fire the moment you leave a dealer. Admittedly, even with a little market balancing happening currently, there’s never been a more fun time to be involved in the watch and car world with more people than ever taking a part in each.  

A lot of Porsche enthusiasts know the name Drew Coblitz for your connection to Singer Vehicle Design. Please tell us how that started out!

In 2016, there was a chance for me to buy a completed 2014 commission aptly named, “Philadelphia”. It was by far the most expensive car-vestment I had ever made. Honestly, it was at the time one of the riskiest. There really wasn’t a market for them as so few had been made. But I just KNEW this was a special car and a company that bled passion as could be seen by YouTube videos I had watched on Singer Vehicle Design. 

The day after purchasing the car, I got a call from Tim at Singer. They said, they heard I had the Philadelphia commission now and welcomed me to the family.

Drew Coblitz

The day after purchasing the car, I got a call from Tim at Singer. They said, they heard I had the Philadelphia commission now and welcomed me to the family. I was offered to have Singer take the car back to the factory for some updates. From 2014 to 2016 there were a lot of changes to the cars. They wanted to bring mine to the new standard and said, they’ll take care of it and give me a fresh year warranty. I totally freaked out and said “ABSOLUTELY!”

A few months later, I picked it up at the Pebble Beach SVD house party. I drove it for the first time after the overhaul and I was beyond blown away. The suspension  felt like a 996 GT3 Cup car’s, but with compliancy. I immediately fell in love. There was never a car that combined so many traits from so many different 911 platforms into one single car. And with a sound that mad e my knees weak coming from the 3.8 liter quasi RSR engine setup that car was upgraded to.

What is the experience and the process of speccing it like?

It’s nothing short of amazing. Singer’s CEO at the time invited me to drive the 4.0 liter version at Laguna Seca during the same trip that I picked up the updated Philly car. I took Singer’s 4.0 demo car out of the pits after having spend an entire day on the track in my car. Already at the pit exit, I remember cursing. The CEO at the time asked if something was wrong, and I said, “yeah, this 4.0 blows my 3.8 out of the water and I’m not even off pit exit!” So I said I needed one and that I’d sell/trade mine for a fresh slot to start the fully bespoke process and build a car to my spec.  

Luckily for me, there was a guy who had a slot for a commission and wanted to gift the car to his wife. That was at the point, where the body was ready and the car could be specced and wasn’t locked in. Instead of speccing a new car, he said he’d be interested in buying mine and letting me spec the car he was in life for. So in the end, he bought my Singer and I was able to take his slot. This is how I was able to design my dream car with Singer and 5 years later became the owner of the Sine Qua Non. That’s Latin for essential to existence’ish. Every single thing within that car is essential to that cars being special to me.

“It took over a year to develop and then make each trim part”

Working with the designers at Singer was a dream for a design nerd. You don’t feel like a customer but like family working with the team there. We deliberated on every little detail. After a lot of back and forth plus 40 paint samples, we created this bespoke exterior color for SQN. It’s a very dark blue, one shade away from black, which we call “Ink”. Singer then went about developing a special dark trim that had a slight brown hint to match the interior using a new DLC process that was a whole undertaking of its own.

It took over a year to develop and then make each trim part. We opted for the 390+ hp 4.0 liter engine and saved as much weight as possible everywhere else, as I wanted this to be a very sporty build. The rear wing is fixed for example. That saved what had to be 15 lbs on its own. Not to mention leaving out backseats and painting the interior jacuzzi instead of covering it in leather. My build is definitely one of the lighter ones they’ve done. 

What about the driving experience?

That is just as amazing. At the annual post-Pebble Beach Singer track day in 2017 I really experienced the car to the fullest for the first time. Every track day since then I’ve had my car out at Laguna Seca with Singer. Since then I’ve put over 1,000 of its current total of 5,000 miles on my current car at Laguna alone. It’s mind-blowing how unbelievably good that car is from a chassis perspective and how much feel these cars provide.

It is mind-blowing how unbelievably good that car is from a chassis perspective

Drew Coblitz on his Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer

I know exactly why these cars are as expensive as they are. You can’t really find another 911 Restomod or Backdate product this sorted and thrilling to drive yet useful for many purposes/conditions and with a build quality like what Singer manages. It feels like a blend of 964 RS and 996 GT3 Cup all in one car. Even compared to the other unbelievable Porsches I’ve had in my collection, I still put Sine Qua Non at the top. And that includes cars like the 911 R, Carrera GT and even 918 Spyder. I love it that much.

Having driven so many different cars over the years, why are you in love with Porsche in particular? And if money was no object, what else would you put in your garage?

I can give you an example of why Porsche is so great to me. Take the 996 GT3. I cannot think of any other street-legal car whose capabilities were that close to the respective race car from the factory. A 996 GT3 only needs slicks with an alignment, a small brake upgrade and proper harnesses to be one of the most amazing road-legal cars that really weren’t far off of a full fat 996 Porsche Cup Car speed wise in the hands of a skilled driver. That really said a lot about Porsche’s focus on racing and performance for many of their cars to me. One could also say this about the new 992 GT3RS compared to a current Cup car as well and I can’t wait to take delivery of mine and test that out.  

To be fair, as much as I love Porsche, my second favorite brand is McLaren. That is the only car brand which comes as close to being a perfect sports car as Porsche has managed with their 911 GT-series. The 765LT is an absolute hammer. It has to be one of the fastest cars I’ve ever owned with some of the best steering in a sports car I’ve ever had. McLaren definitely knows how to build a driver’s car. If they had a wider reaching service center network and were able to source parts faster, I’d easily recommend them as a Porsche alternative. Although some Porsche people already went to McLaren instead of playing the current additional dealer markup game so many GT car owners have to go through.  

And what would be your go-to car, if you could own just one for the rest of your life?

I can say with overwhelmingly 100% certainty, that it’s the Singer for me. Even after four years, I still haven’t found anything better.

Thanks, dear Drew Coblitz, it was a blast!

© title image: Evan Kline

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