Almost 50 years ago, on his way to school, Dirk Lührmann saw something right in front of the drugstore of pharmacist von Mletzko. But it was no women, what made a lasting impression, it was a car! Lührmann was blown away by a Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7, that would influence his further life much more, than he could ever imagine. Today, with his family business Mletzko newgen stands for a quality product with an unparalleled attention to detail.
Mr. Lührmann, thank you for having us here! Would you have imagined 20 years ago, that one day you would get out of the real estate business to build a small series of Porsches to your own liking?
Welcome, it’s my pleasure! I’ve always been a bit of a petrolhead. Before I decided to work in the property business, I studied mechanical engineering for a few semesters. As a pastime, classic cars and especially rallying them played a big role in my life. But even when I sold my company in 2010, I had no clue, that my life would revolve around Porsches at some point. With a good friend of mine, I was on vacation in California in 2015. There I saw a Singer and the idea of an aircooled Porsche 911 with modern technology and classic looks very much appealed to me. On our flight home I told my friend: “I will do that as well!” We agreed, that he would buy the first finished Porsche and from then on, everything evolved pretty quickly.
You’ve told me, that you’ve got a soft spot for Italian cars. So, why did you choose a Porsche as a base for a Restomod or Backdate?
That takes some explaining, as I am not your average Porsche freak. But I’m a die-hard aesthete and if you wand an icon, which offers sporty characteristics, there is just no option besides Porsche. Its simplicity combined with the immense power and dynamic is unmatched, if you ask me. Everything is designed without frills, with functionality in mind but it still sparks emotions. To me, there is no car in the world, which combines these characteristics better than a Porsche 911.
So you’ve started with no real background in the automotive industry and wanted to build a carbon fiber Porsche Backdate with modern technology. Where did you take your courage from? And how hard was it to finish the first Mletzko Porsche?
Of course, it was no easy journey. In my professional career, I’m a thorough perfectionist, so acquiring a fitting team for the project was the first big task. During the first years, we’ve had to do lots of design and after 18 months, I had to rebuild the team quite dramatically. A little example to show you, what made designing the car so difficult: Finding the right shape for the swing from the rocker panel to the rear wheelarch alone took almost 50 hours, until everything was perfect. It was all about millimetres, but it paid out.
“I wouldn’t say, that I am all that brave, but I think, that good and honest work will always be rewarded. That’s why I will never sell anything, that doesn’t match my own demands.” – Dirk Lührmann, Mletzko newgen
It would be an understatement to say, that the development and especially the design process was exhausting. During that time, my heartbeat started becoming irregular and I got cardiac arrhythmias. But when I see the finished product today, I can honestly say, that in hindsight, it was worth all the pain. As we wanted to paint the car in red anyway, we found the name for the prototype pretty quickly and called it Mletzko Heartbeat.
What were your main goals in the development of the Mletzko Heartbeat?
Aesthetic comes first for me. I’m absolutely no fan of half-baked solutions and yes, I can sometimes be a real nuisance. The next, nearly as important premise was, that all modifications hat to be TÜV-approved. If you want to get an example, take a closer look to the rear. Do mount the shorter F-model style bumpers to a Porsche 964, you obviously need a thinner cross member. But as we’re mainly dealing with crash safety, you can’t mess with these things either. And as you won’t get such a part at your next parts shop, you need to develop something on your own and have it checked by the TÜV to get the car registered in Germany.
This altered structure of the rear reduces the space behind the engine bay as well. But at the same time, we wanted a drastically improved power output, which is influenced by the exhaust like no other part. When building an engine, which has more capacity and is therefore bigger as standard, with the goal of way more power, you have to be extremely creative in the exhaust design. This development alone took us around 18 months! Every single modification, even the tiniest of them, always leads to numerous other changes. Due to that, a project like the heartbeat often gets much more complicated than anticipated in the first place.
As you’ve mentioned the engine: What kind of a heart beats inside the Mletzko Heartbeat?
As you already know, there were two main goals: TÜV-approval and it had to be pretty! Our engine partner has a lot of experience in motorsports. The final design is a four litre engine, producing 369 hp and 400 nm of torque. This engine is the most powerful, TÜV approved naturally aspirated 964 engine. Besides the fan and the crank case, every single part of it is new. Con rods from titanium and pistons made specifically to our requirements are only the tip of the iceberg.
The aesthetics of the engine and the intake took quite some time as well. In racing, the looks of an engine aren’t priority number one, to say the least. I jokingly say that we had to show these guys, how to build a beautiful engine. Together, we invested hundreds of hours in developing the engine.
“There is no fuse box in the Mletzko Porsche anymore. Everything is controlled via ECUs, which saved almost 20 kilograms, just in the wiring harness. Nearly all body panels are carbon fiber, so our whole car just weighs 1,145 kilograms.”
How many parts have been developed specifically for the Mletzko? And is there a certain part, which you’re most proud of?
Around 700, starting with pretty simple things like brackets and hinges, 17 inch wheels licensed by Fuchs, as 18 inches would have disturbed the lines of the car… My personal favorite is the headlamp design. I wanted a clean look without spreading discs. It had to be LED headlights with clear lenses, great looks and superb function. Taking everything into consideration, I think we’ve created a very well rounded product here. The Mletzko Hearbeat is a very sporty car, but it’s no die-hard race car. You can do 0-62 in less than five seconds and you can really push in the twisties with it, but you can still use it for picking up your rolls on a Sunday morning without having to worry about your spine.
What’s your plan for Mletzko in the future?
I’d love to build up a brand. In doing so, I don’t want Mletzko to be regarded as very fast or very pretty, but as near as you can get to perfection. That’s what I gave as a hint for the journey of my son and my son-in-law. They shall take over the company in the near future to continue, what we’ve developed and built in roughly 33,000 hours and 552 million heartbeats.
Mr. Lührmann, thank you very much for the great insights! Please answer our readers one single question, before we end: How long does it take to build a Mletzko and how much do you have to invest?
It takes around eight months. With the exception of the bodywork, our customers can decide a lot. Color scheme, interior design, leather variety, engine… Our Mletzko Marrakesh for example is fairly subtle on the outside but very flashy in the interior. As you can see, there are not many limits for our customers’ creativity. To get a Mletzko, you need to invest roughly 600,000 Euros, plus a base car.