Record Breaker

The SF90 flips its lid and sets a new high-water mark for horsepower.

Photo: Record Breaker 1

 

Since its launch late last year, the 812 GTS has held the title of the world’s most powerful convertible. But it turns out 800 horsepower only goes so far inside the halls of Maranello—in mid-November, Ferrari unveiled the 1,000-hp SF90 Spider.

Like the 812 GTS (and F8 Spider), the SF90 Spider receives a two-piece retractable hard top that folds down atop the rear deck in 14 seconds, leaving behind a pair of buttress joined by a glass window that serves as a windblocker or can be lowered for the full free-air experience. The SF90’s aluminum chassis receives extra bracing to accomodate the removal of its original fixed roof, contributing to a 220-pound increase in dry weight. But with its 1,000 ponies, the 3,681-lb. SF90 Spider still offers a better power-to-weight ratio than a 488 Pista—and that’s far from the only trick in its performance arsenal.

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Hennessey Venom F5 First Look

The Venom F5’s basic ingredients make for astounding reading. Hennessey plans to build just 24 of these hypercars—12 for the United States market and a further 12 for the rest of the world—at $2.1 million a pop plus taxes (up from the original price of $1.6 million), and the F5 is targeting a top speed in excess of 311 mph (500 kph for you European types). Its twin-turbo 6.6-liter V-8 produces—wait for it—1,817 hp at 8,000 rpm and 1,192 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm. Hennessey calls its mighty motor the Fury and claims it’s the most powerful production road car engine ever produced. Those headline-grabbing power figures are produced on E85 fuel and with the Venom in F5 Vmax mode. Pump gas will reduce the total output by a couple of hundred horses, we estimate. (Hennessey has yet to release solid power numbers for the car on non-E85 fuel.)

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50 Years of Ferrari

Photo: 50 Years of Ferrari 1

In 2004, The New York Times published a story about high-end automobile mechanics and restorers. The piece begins, “‘I was worried,’ David Letterman said, ‘that he wouldn’t see me when I called him.’” The “he” Letterman was referring to was François Sicard.

Sicard, who speaks English with a very strong French accent, is 77 years old yet has the lean form of a marathoner and moves impishly around the cars in his care—which at the moment include a 750 Monza, a 250 GT PF Cabriolet, two 330 GTEs, a 365 GT and a 512 BB. He got his start in the Ferrari world working on Luigi Chinetti, Sr.’s Le Mans cars in the 1960s, then moved in and out of the racing world, working on everything from sports cars to Can-Am, from Formula 5000 to Formula 1, before opening his current business in 1979. Although Sicard counts Letterman and Larry Auriana as his primary clients, he’s far from a mechanic to the stars; he works for people he likes who really like their cars.

Passion, not money, motivates Sicard, which is why he usually doesn’t answer his telephone, preferring instead that his apprentice, Tom Yang [“Against All Odds,” FORZA #87], screen potential customers for their suitability. He lives and works deep in the woods at the end of a gravel driveway which has no markings or address off the main road. Even with directions, it’s easy to get lost trying to find him.

FORZA visited Sicard at his secluded home and modest-looking workshop to talk with him about his decades of working on Ferraris.

 

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2021 Lexus LS500’s Edgy Styling Belies Its Soft Side

2021 lexus ls500

Large sedans are disappearing from some luxury brand lineups. Cadillac’s CT6 and Lincoln’s Continental are on their way out, while the Q70 was culled from Infiniti’s showrooms after the 2019 model year. With the Acura RLX ending production after 2020, that leaves the Lexus LS as the only Japanese flagship we get stateside. The remaining big-baller sedans are from either Korea—from Genesis and Kia—or Europe.

This is the segment that the original LS, launched for the 1990 model year, was successful at disrupting. That car’s clean lines, uncompromised quality, and stately appearance set the Lexus brand up for decades of success. This latest generation LS, launched in 2018, hasn’t garnered the same praise. Which is why, just three years in, Lexus is making some changes in an attempt to boost the car’s relevance (read: sales).

Welcome Updates

While updates to the exterior are subtle, the LS sports a redesigned front fascia, an updated front bumper, and a dark mesh insert for the grille. Drawing inspiration from the LC coupe and convertible, the LS adopts revised LED headlamps and a darker surround, while taillights swap chrome elements for glossy black. Similarly subtle updates to the interior include thicker padding for the armrests and seat cushions as well as revised steering wheel and center console buttons. An update to the active noise-cancellation feature more effectively drowns out road and engine noise, resulting in a quieter cabin per the automaker.

Lexus has mercifully updated the LS’s infotainment system to include a touchscreen display, giving the driver and front passenger reprieve from the infuriatingly fussy touchpad controller on the center console. Unfortunately, the new system continues to run the older version of Lexus’s software interface, which is neither as responsive nor as intuitive as rival systems in the Audi A8, the BMW 7-series, or the Mercedes-Benz S-class. The touchscreen was moved closer to the driver by a few inches relative to the prior screen’s location, but we still found it tough to reach—forcing us to choose between leaning forward to jab at the screen or to continue to fuss with the console-mounted touchpad.

The LS500’s secondary functions are likewise too complicated for easy usage. For example, although Lexus added a shortcut button to the infotainment menu that controls the heated seats and steering wheel, the user must still interact with the infotainment system itself to access those features or adjust the temperature. A single physical button, mounted on the center console, the door, or even the seat itself, would be easier to use.

Identity Crisis

Like a middle-aged man donning a hypebeast wardrobe in a desperate attempt to appear more youthful than he is, the LS500’s overtly aggressive appearance doesn’t match what’s underneath. Opting for the F Sport model exacerbates the issue, adding bigger dark-gray wheels, black grille inserts, sport seats, and a more aggressive front spoiler. Why?

The twin-turbo 3.4-liter V-6 is smooth and amply powerful. The last time we tested an LS500 F Sport, it was a 2018 model with all-wheel drive. That car delivered a 5.0-second zero-to-60-mph time and completed the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds at 106 mph. Lexus recalibrated the car’s 10-speed automatic transmission for 2021 to keep the engine spinning at a more optimal part of its powerband, and the company claims that a rear-wheel-drive LS500 is capable of getting to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. We couldn’t verify that, since we were unable to make it to our test track during our brief time with the car.

In Comfort and Normal driving modes, throttle response is muted and the LS delivers an effortless, easygoing type of luxury. Switching into one of the car’s two sport modes (Sport S and Sport S+) dials in some sharpness, but the difference is trivial. The LS500 is a big softie. The steering is calibrated for the sedate life of a large luxury sedan, and the LS serves up a serene ride and a whisper-quiet cabin.

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2021 lexus ls500

LEXUS

And it’s a relative bargain. The cabin offers plush seating for both front and rear occupants, generous legroom, and high-end materials and features. Long-haul road trips would undoubtedly be dispatched with nary a whiff of fatigue. A well-equipped all-wheel-drive F Sport model, with the optional panoramic sunroof, 23-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system, and 24-inch head-up display rings in at $88,460—which is about where pricing begins for rivals from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. While it is possible to run up a more expensive tab, the LS500 always represents a decent value proposition when compared to similarly equipped German competition. An all-wheel-drive Genesis G90 3.3T Premium, though, starts at $76,475. Genesis wants to be Lexus—not current Lexus but 1990 Lexus, rocking the foundations of the old-world luxury hierarchy.

On paper, the LS500 seems like it might have the recipe to rekindle that original LS400 mojo, but an exterior design so out of step with a car’s driving dynamics leads to an incoherent overall picture. The touchscreen retrofit to the infotainment system didn’t much help matters there, either. It might be time for the LS to finally abandon the value play and go for full-on extravagance. Lexus certainly knows how to do it. Just look at the LC coupe and convertible, both of which better exemplify the role of a flagship for the brand.

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New Direction

The Sweet Life. That’s the English translation of the title of Federico Fellini’s 1960 cinematic classic La Dolce Vita, and it’s also a pretty good description for a day spent exploring both the Piedmont region of northern Italy and one of the most interesting cars to come out of Maranello for some time.

No, the Roma isn’t the fastest, the most expensive, or the most technically advanced Ferrari you can currently buy, but it does push the marque in an exciting new direction. Or maybe that should be an exciting old direction, because this new GT takes its inspiration not from the modern Formula 1 team but from a pre-supercar age when Italian cinema was the toast of the world, and if you were ever lucky enough to catch sight of its movie stars, you might well find them in something fast and glamorous like a 250 Europa.

But if that suggests this new Ferrari is some kind of halo model, the reverse is actually true. In fact, it sits quite close to the bottom of the range, costing only a few grand more than the Portofino it’s based on, where its job is to attract new customers to the marque. Around 70 percent of Roma buyers are expected to be first-time Ferrari buyers, and they will use their new Ferrari differently from existing clienti. They may well drive it daily rather than save it for weekend blasts, and annual mileages are expected to be in the 4,000-6,000-mile range, a 50-percent increase on the average use most of Ferrari’s sports cars get.

Photo: New Direction 2

You might be thinking you’ve heard this before: Wasn’t the Portofino supposed to bring new customers to Ferrari showrooms? The Portofino that costs pretty much the same and, since it’s a retractable hardtop convertible, can transform into a coupe like the Roma whenever desired? The answer is yes, but the Roma is different in many ways, especially the way it looks.

Those familiar with Fellini’s La Dolce Vita might recall it concerns Marcello Mastroianni’s gossip journalist, who longs to leave his debauched and high-octane but empty life behind for something classier and more meaningful. Is this what Ferrari is saying with the Roma, offering customers a car that wants nothing to do with the nonsense of lap times and vulgar aerodynamic devices?

Because visually, this is a very different kind of Ferrari. Though some are front-engined and some mid-engined, all of Ferrari’s cars have a similar, recognizable look. They’re modern, aggressive, race-inspired. Even the Portofino styles itself as a miniature 812 Superfast.

Photo: New Direction 3

Steep center console purposefully separates occupants.

The Roma is something else. It’s Ferrari does Aston Martin, a classy, time-only dress watch to its complicated chronograph Maranello stablemates. It’s effortlessly cool and sophisticated, but it doesn’t shout to let people know. It’s a Ferrari for people who don’t want to attract the kind of attention a regular Ferrari attracts.

That’s not to say the Roma is some sort of wallflower, however. The fascinating new front grille sees to that. Supposedly inspired by the sharky snout of the 250 GT Lusso, it’s also available in a contrasting color, though I think it looks great as-is. Interestingly, its modest air-intake openings are made possible by the reduced cooling requirements of a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s mounted in the rear (along with the electronic differential) and connected to the engine via a rigid torque tube, just as on the 275 GTB/4.

There are more visible nostalgic cues. The peaked front fenders and pronounced hood bulge nod to the 250 Testa Rossa, while the semi-Kamm tail tips a hat to cars like the 456 GT, itself inspired by Ferrari’s 1960s’ GT models. And is it coincidental, or is there a hint of the Daytona’s softer sister, the 365 GTC/4, in the shape of the side window over the rear fender?

Photo: New Direction 4

Taillight design new to Ferrari lineup.

Whatever the case, Ferrari design director Flavio Manzoni and his team have managed to integrate those cues with new touches like the slash-cut tail lamps to deliver a car that looks sharp and modern yet classically styled without being retro. They’ve also concealed the aero trickery at play. While a small, three-position spoiler rises automatically from below the rear window at 62 mph to improve stability, much of the work is done by vortex generators hidden beneath the car. (Ferrari says the Roma produces 210 pounds of downforce at 155 mph.)

IT’S APPROPRIATE THAT I’M HANDED THE KEY to this incredibly elegant Ferrari outside the Albergo dell’Agenzia, a hotel located next to the University of Gastronomic Sciences, a lynchpin of Italy’s slow food movement; the Roma could well be the automotive equivalent. That key is so gorgeous—it’s essentially a leather-backed hood badge, something I first encountered on the SF90 Stradale—that I spend a moment weighing it in my hand before climbing inside and prodding the new touch-sensitive starter button (also inherited from the SF90). With no haptic feedback, firing up the V8 feels like less of an event than before, but the final result is anything but underwhelming.

Having bemoaned the loss of engine noise that has accompanied the switch to turbo power over the last half-decade, I’m pleasantly surprised by the twin-turbo V8’s vocal idle, particularly given this car’s GT leanings. The volume and serious tone hint at the extra 20 horses this 620-hp V8 offers over the very similar unit found in the Portofino, though in fact it would be more like 40 hp if not for the particulate filter fitted to the exhaust. This emissions-control device is mandatory in Europe, not in the U.S., but Ferrari has decided to standardize its engines across the globe.

Photo: New Direction 5

TFT instrument panel first seen on SF90 Stradale.

Pulling out along the cobbled track from the hotel, it’s not the new power I notice most but the supple ride. The adaptive magnetorheological dampers are optional, but most customers will choose them [and so they should!—Ed.]. As on the SF90, the “Bumpy Road” mode that softens the shocks is now activated by pressing the steering wheel’s manettino, rather than a separate button.

And what’s this? In addition to the Wet, Comfort, Sport and CT-Off settings, this manettino offers a Race mode, the first such appearance on a junior GT Ferrari. Maybe the Roma’s elegant styling is a red herring?

By the first corner, I’m pretty sure it is. It’s the brakes I notice first, which have got the same firm, short-travel feel as the SF90. Not so short that they’re too snappy to modulate without applying spoon-bending powers of concentration, but short enough to give you some real confidence on unfamiliar roads. They also separate the Roma from more luxury-oriented rivals like the Bentley Continental.

Photo: New Direction 6

There’s real precision to the steering, which feels more measured than in Ferrari’s sports cars and relays plenty of detail about what the optional double-five spoke forged wheels are doing way down that long, domed hood. It’s an epic view, and the pronounced fender peaks help me place the car through turns, though the fairly thick A-pillars and large door mirrors can get in the way on really twisty roads when I need a wider field of vision.

I’m going fast enough through those twists to need a little more damping than Comfort mode can deliver. One clockwise click of the manettino to Sport solves the problem. Now the car feels noticeably flatter as I pitch it into turns and settles sooner over crests and through dips in the road.

Switching to Sport also highlights the benefits of the eight-speed transmission. It’s the same unit fitted to the SF90 Stradale, although where that hybrid car uses its electric powertrain to reverse, this one has a regular mechanical ratio for backing up. The way it slurs changes at low speeds, and responds to downshifts in manual mode at high ones, is seriously impressive—but not as impressive as the auto-shift mapping which seems to select the right gear on approach to a corner almost before I’ve even realized I might need one. It’s great in Sport and almost telepathic in Race mode, where the combination of iron-grip body control and zero-tolerance attitude to wheel slip turn the Roma into a seriously capable back-road weapon, and banish any thought that this is Ferrari going soft.

Photo: New Direction 7

Updated 3.9-liter V8 produces more sound and fury (620 horsepower) in Roma specification.

One might look at the Roma and expect it to be a softer, less exciting car than the Portofino, but it’s actually the other way around. The feel of the brakes, the way the transmission responds, and the better roll resistance and steering precision mean it’s the Roma that’s the more satisfying car to drive hard. Yet it’s also feels more luxurious, more comfortable, and just more relaxing when cruising.

Stepping up from seven to eight ratios translates into a nicely tall top gear for relaxed motorway cruising and more acceleration in the intermediate gears. Ferrari says there’s 15 percent more longitudinal pull in third gear in this car than there is in the Portofino.

From the lights, the Roma is a tenth of a second quicker to 62 mph than its convertible sister. And while the Roma’s 3.4-second time is more than the 2.9 seconds the 720-hp F8 Tributo needs, the level of go feels exactly right for this kind of car. It’s strong and exciting but never too manic. Turbo lag is next to non-existent, and because Ferrari’s clever engine mapping doesn’t deliver the 561 lb-ft of peak torque in one dollop in the lower gears, instead making me work the engine to access it, it feels just like a hugely powerful naturally aspirated V8.

Photo: New Direction 8

Brake and wheel sizes unchanged from Portofino.

In the higher gears, the mapping allows boost to build sooner to make that torque more accessible for effortless freeway passing. There’s some exhaust drone depending on cruising speed, but the driving environment and excellent seat comfort means I wouldn’t think twice about using the Roma for commuting or even filling it with luggage for a cross-country vacation. You won’t get much in the way of human cargo in the vestigial “2+” rear seats, but with the seatbacks folded they offer a handy 2.6 cubic-foot extension to the already useful 9.6 cubic feet of trunk space.

There’s a hint of early Corvette about the double arches of the dashboard, which separate the driver from the passenger better than a chaperone at a religious school’s prom. Both the configurable TFT instrument cluster (operated by touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel) and the retro-look transmission selector debuted in the SF90, but the latter makes more sense in this context than it does in the modern supercar.

That said, the slick-looking portrait touchscreen above that selector is a reminder that this Roma is also a thoroughly modern Ferrari. That’s where you access the HVAC, navigation, and radio controls, though if Ferrari’s promised software update to fix the lagginess doesn’t work, you might prefer to holler “Ciao Ferrari” and use voice commands instead.

Photo: New Direction 9

Hood bulge recalls 250 Testa Rossa, striking grille another new design element.

Modern or not, there are still some convenience technologies Ferrari isn’t ready to offer. While you can order adaptive cruise control (that’s the ugly box below the front bumper, by the way), you can’t have any kind of active lane-keeping assistance. That may surprise those new buyers coming from other, less sporting luxury cars, but it’s still a step too far for Ferrari, which is trying to preserve its brand strengths while pushing in a new direction.

And the Roma is unquestionably a new direction. When it was first announced, I wondered what it would offer that the excellent Portofino didn’t. After spending some time in one, though, the Roma reveals its own unique character, and driving experience, and I can definitely see how it might steal sales from cars like the Aston Martin DB11 that the Portofino couldn’t. While it might not be aimed primarily at fans of Ferrari’s sports cars, it’s easy to imagine how the cool, classy Roma would make a great garage companion to something more highly strung, like an F8 Tributo or an 812 Superfast.

Back in 1960 on the set of La Dolce Vita, Marcello Mastroianni’s Marcello actually drove a Triumph TR3. But we reckon Mastroianni, one of the most famous film stars of his generation and arguably the sauvest Italian man of all time, would have loved the Roma. And so do I.

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Porsche Reveals its First 992 Generation 911 Race Car, the GT3 Cup

Porsche is slowly but surely spreading the 992-generation 911 lineup. Now it includes the race cars. Starting at the Porsche Carrera Cup North America event, held at Sebring International Raceway on March 16-17, 2021, drivers will race the new, 992 based, GT3 Cup race car.

The new GT3 Cup continues to use a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine, but horsepower bumps up to 503 at 8400 rpm, 900 rpm higher than the outgoing motor. Torque peaks at 347 lb-ft at 6150 rpm and the six horizontally opposed cylinders pump pistons as fast as 8,700 revolutions per minute.

Record Breaker

Photo: Record Breaker 1

Since its launch late last year, the 812 GTS has held the title of the world’s most powerful convertible. But it turns out 800 horsepower only goes so far inside the halls of Maranello—in mid-November, Ferrari unveiled the 1,000-hp SF90 Spider.

Like the 812 GTS (and F8 Spider), the SF90 Spider receives a two-piece retractable hard top that folds down atop the rear deck in 14 seconds, leaving behind a pair of buttress joined by a glass window that serves as a windblocker or can be lowered for the full free-air experience. The SF90’s aluminum chassis receives extra bracing to accomodate the removal of its original fixed roof, contributing to a 220-pound increase in dry weight. But with its 1,000 ponies, the 3,681-lb. SF90 Spider still offers a better power-to-weight ratio than a 488 Pista—and that’s far from the only trick in its performance arsenal.

Aside from the new roof, rear deck, chassis bracing, and some aerodynamic tweaks (including new cooling louvers in the engine glass and revised underbody vortex generators to increase downforce), the Spider offers all the same hardware and software as the SF90 Stradale. That means a combined 1,000 hp and over 900 lb-ft of torque from its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and 162-kW three-motor hybrid system delivered to all four wheels, an 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the latest version of Ferrari’s electronic driver’s aids, and the optional, track-oriented Assetto Fiorano package. Not to mention a 2.5-second 0-62 mph time and 211-mpg top speed, also the same as the Stradale.

Ferrari’s launch of the SF90 Spider was an online affair, as has been the case with many car launches during the coronavirus pandemic, so we can’t yet tell you what it’s like to drive. Those who are fortunate enough to buy one will find out pretty soon, however: Deliveries in the U.S. are expected to begin in the third quarter of 2021.

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Captain Kaos

A few years ago Erik Lind decided he needed to have a vintage, air-cooled 911 in his life. He also decided that whichever example he ended up with would have to be in one of those weird but wonderful colors that populate the Porsche color palette. “I really wanted one of the odd colors—Green, Aubergine, etc.,” he says. Lind was also open to the browns and tans that were fashionable on Porsches in the 1970s and early 1980s. The second criteria for his ideal 911 was that it needed to be one of the practically bullet-proof SCs that Porsche made from 1978 to 1983, saying: “SCs are still somewhat affordable, the 3.0-liter is an excellent engine, and the galvanized body is a big plus!”

It didn’t take long for Lind to locate the perfect example that ticked all the right boxes. A day after telling his wife he was on the hunt for a 911, what appeared to be an ideal candidate popped up for sale on an online classified forum. The car in question was a 1980 911 3.0 SC coupe. It came with extensive service records and looked to be in very nice shape, at least judging from the photos that the seller had posted. Perhaps most importantly, however, was the fact that it had departed Stuttgart finished in Bitter Chocolate. Paint code #408 is a rich brown color, so it definitely checked the ‘odd color’ box.

“The owner was a longtime PCA guy, a racer, and had two 930s he was restoring,” says Lind, who quickly booked an airline flight to Montana, where the car was located. “It was almost snow time, so he had it priced accordingly. I flew up, checked out the car in the airport parking lot and blasted off.” The condition of the car was even better than the seller had claimed, which was a relief. “I drove it home over two days, mostly in pouring rain and eventually snow over the Sierras.” Thankfully, the old SC ran and performed flawlessly for the entire drive. By the time he arrived home, tired but elated, he knew he had bought the right car.

While this was his first time purchasing a 911, Lind had prior experience with the brand included a 2.0-liter 914 that he had restored in his garage. After he sold that, he built another 914, but instead of keeping it stock, he slotted a fuel-injected Buick V8 into the engine bay in place of the original air-cooled flat-four. Interestingly, before owning the two 914s, Lind had leaned more in the direction of Bavaria when it came to his preference for German cars.

“I was always a BMW guy when it came to sports cars,” he admits. “I never really got the whole Porsche thing.” At least he didn’t until he bought that first 914. Owning the two mid-engine Porsches served as a pretty convincing gateway into the larger Porsche world. “The handling sold me,” he says. A 911 seemed like a logical progression in his ownership experience. “It’s almost hard to define why it is the way it is, but there is something very special about the 911.”

Another thing about Lind is that he definitely falls into the camp of believing there is always ways to improve on an original, stock car. “I’m a serial hot rodder,” he admits. “I can never leave anything alone.” And the Bitter Chocolate 911 is an excellent example of just that philosophy. Since its acquisition, pretty much every aspect of the SC has been altered, upgraded or customized in some way. In fact, Lind’s desire to improve his 911 and the ensuing success he experienced prompted him to start a new company. He now runs Sports Purpose Garage in Livermore, California, where he specializes in classic Porsches.

While some of the changes are aesthetic in nature, the majority of them were done with a few different goals in mind. Those included more power, better handling, and more immediate stopping ability. But Lind also wanted to lighten the 911, which would yield a purer, more focused driving experience.

“I went all Colin Chapman on the car and removed anything unneeded, lightened what I could, and tweaked the ergonomics to suit my frame,” he says. “The goal was a fast, reliable car that can go on a long trip, hit the race track, or daily drive if I feel like it.” But while he wanted more performance, he also didn’t want to spoil the Porsche’s usability, which is one of the brand’s most cherished qualities: “I wanted to keep it civilized enough to take my wife and daughter for rides without them hating me.”

The initial stages of the build involved tweaking the chassis but leaving the 3.0-liter engine stock, which was originally rated at about 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. In order to increase the SC’s stopping ability, Boxster brakes have been installed at all four corners. The setup uses larger calipers and rotors that are bolted to the existing suspension with the use of adapter blocks.

On the handling end of the equation are KW Competition coilovers at all four corners. An Elephant Racing bump steer kit was installed to eliminate the tendency of lowered 911s to exhibit bump steer over surface undulations. Body roll around corners has been virtually eliminated with larger front and rear Tarett adjustable anti-roll bars. There are also Tarett camber plates at the top of the front struts, Elephant Racing offset ball joints and bushings, a zero friction kit, and welded-in shock tower reinforcements.

Over the years Lind has gone through multiple sets of wheels before arriving at the setup that the 911 currently rolls on. Sourced from English company Group 4 Wheels, the gold-colored Campagnolo-style wheels are wrapped with 225/50-16 front and 245/45-16 Toyo RA-1 rear tires. The design of the wheels was inspired by those used on 1970s rally cars. Honestly, the aesthetics are a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous Fuchs alloys that are seen on the majority of classic 911s.

Once he had the handling and braking set up to his liking, Lind turned to upgrading this 911’s powerplant. Anyone familiar with these cars knows that options are vast. And while it would have been relatively straightforward to rebuild the original 3.0-liter for more performance, Lind couldn’t resist that old hot rod adage, there’s no replacement for displacement. The solution came by way of a larger displacement but still air-cooled 3.6-liter engine that was sourced from a 1991 964-generation 911. The engine’s seller had already tuned it to produce around 268 hp with the addition of a Steve Wong chip and Fabspeed headers.

Remember earlier when Lind said he was a serial hot rodder? It’s not surprising that the 3.6-liter wasn’t left stock for long. After putting some miles on it, the engine was handed over to John Holleran of Holleran’s Performance in Auburn, California. Holleran tore the engine down and then rebuilt it with a multitude of internal upgrades, some for reliability and some for added performance. And all of them trade secrets. The heads on the 3.6 have also been rebuilt with larger valves and extensive porting and polishing.

The original port injection on the engine has been ditched in favor of a programmable electronic fuel injection setup from Megasquirt. Fuel and air are now delivered through 46 mm (1.8 in.) ITBs (Individual Throttle Bodies) from PMO. The stock SC fuel pump was retained, and an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator ensures a consistent fuel supply. Erik also eliminated the stock 964 distributor and replaced it with a custom coil-on-plug ignition that uses Toyota Smart Coils. “It’s super simple, cheap and has great ignition energy,” he says of the Toyota ignition.

When the engine was first put back in the 911, the exhaust consisted of a Dansk Sport muffler and Bursch tubular headers. “After several iterations, we determined that the standard banana-style mufflers everyone is running won’t support a bigger bore, higher flowing engine,” says Lind. Hoover Chan of TurboHoses R&D crunched some airflow numbers and then started developing a better exhaust solution for these larger displacement Porsche flat-sixes.

Photo: Captain Kaos 4

“The Dansk Sport and big Bursch headers sounded great,” says Lind. “But when we unbolted the muffler, the engine picked up 30+ peak horsepower and more in some areas of the power curve.” The result of the ensuing research and development led to the creation of what Lind calls the Barry White exhaust, named, of course, for the singer with the deep and soulful voice. “We were able to achieve open header power,” he says. The exhaust also incorporates a vacuum-actuated valve that closes off one pipe on the dual outlet muffler, forcing the exhaust back through a crossover pipe and out one side of the exhaust. The result is a reduction in exhaust noise at cruising speeds. “It works great and doesn’t sap any power since it’s wide open when you’re in the throttle.”

All of this hard work and diligent R&D has resulted in a far more powerful and responsive 3.6-liter engine. On a chassis dyno the engine kicked out 313 hp to the wheels and an equally impressive 265 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers compare quite favorably to the 247 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque that a 1991 964 3.6-liter puts out at the crank.

Externally, the 911 hews to its ’70s roots with the addition of front and rear fiberglass IROC bumpers and a ducktail in place of the steel engine lid. Minimalist Vitaloni Sebring mirrors are perched on the end of stock 911 bases. Further setting the 911 apart are customized 911R-style taillights fitted with brighter LED bulbs, the latter of which have also been fitted to the headlights and side markers.

The reflector panel has been replaced with an aluminum panel with mesh-trimmed holes from Rockabilly Jay at Porsche Punx. Additional weight was shed by swapping the stock rear glass window with a lighter Lexan unit. Lind also deleted the sunroof. “I used a sunroof delete panel from Fenn Lane Motorsport in England and we bonded it in with 3M PanelBond,” he explains. “My painter then resprayed the roof.”

Film buffs might have made the connection between the “CPT KAOS” license plate and a famous car movie. “At the beginning of Cannonball Run, J.J. (Burt Reynolds’ character) takes out a brown 935 and proceeds to wreck it,” says Lind. “Captain Chaos, played by Dom DeLuise, is introduced at this point. One of my English, car nerd buddies mentioned that I was driving ‘the Captain Chaos Mobile’ and it took off from there.”

Photo: Captain Kaos 5

Lind happily tossed me the keys without a second thought so I could familiarize myself with this distinctly colored and extensively modified 911. When I climb inside for a drive, I find an interior that is just as customized as the other aspects of it. The aesthetics also mirror the brown and gold theme of the exterior. The seats are grippy Recaro Pole Position buckets that have chopped headrests for a more vintage look. The seats have also been re-covered in brown leather and black diamond-stitched leather centers. Another change are the 1973 911 RS-style door panels, which have been re-trimmed and modified with custom door pockets. The lightweight theme continues with deleted dome lights, sun visors, and rear seat delete. In an effort to further lighten the car the factory sound deadening and carpeting was ripped out and replaced with a lightweight carpet kit.

The steering wheel in front of me is an extremely rare, NOS (New Old Stock) Victor Interspeed unit. With its unusual squared-off top spoke, the wheel is a refreshing change from MOMO Prototipos that have become commonplace on vintage 911 builds.

“There’s a guy in the Netherlands who collects rare wheels,” explains Lind. “He found three Victors, two larger black ones, and one “N” small one with the bronze center. They were new, in-the-box, but 30-40 years old.” In a nice coincidence, when he received the wheel, it turned out that its color was a chestnut brown that perfectly complimented the aesthetic vibe of the rest of the car.

Just past the steering wheel is a brown-faced tachometer emblazoned with “Captain Kaos” and Lind’s R Gruppe membership number. A gold-painted roll bar and Schroth harnesses add a dose of safety to the proceedings.

A twist of the ignition key lights up the tuned 3.6-liter. At idle, the engine rumbles with a deep, air-cooled sound that- at low rpms at least, is almost low-key. Give it some revs, though, and it responds instantly, the tech needle spinning freely around the dial. First impressions are that this 3.6-liter feels more like a race-prepped, smaller displacement 911 engine. The shifter itself is a Rebel Racing Rennshift setup, which has been relocated back and up by about 4.0-inches.

Photo: Captain Kaos 6

“You have to cut up and modify the shift shaft, do some other fab work, relocate the seat belt receptacles, and do some custom work to make the e-brake work,” notes Lind. “It puts the shifter in perfect placement just to the side of the steering wheel and eliminates having to reach for third and fifth.” The shifter is topped by a handmade, 917-style balsa wood shift knob sourced from Manuel Campuzano in Mexico City.

Depressing the heavy clutch, I slot the rebuilt 915 five-speed into first gear. It’s almost immediately apparent that Lind has managed to create a driving experience in his old SC that is hugely addictive. The engine lives for revs, rocketing up through the powerband with seemingly endless enthusiasm. At higher rpms the exhaust note transforms into a hard-edged metallic howl that in some ways sounds more like a high strung, water-cooled 911 Cup car than an old-school air-cooled powerplant. And thanks to the diet that the car has been put on, it’s extremely quick, happily reeling in the Northern Californian horizon as I run it up through the gears. The conversion to individual throttle bodies and electronic fuel injection has thoroughly improved throttle response. The Holleran-built engine picks up revs instantly with a blip of the throttle.

Snapping off gear changes through the 915 five-speed is effortless thanks to the Rebel Racing shifter that shortens and considerably tightens up throws between gears. And like Lind points out, the shifter’s location is just a short drop from the wheel. Though this 911 was built primarily for canyon dicing with like-minded R Gruppe drivers, the way it responds to driver input feels more like a race car. Despite the 911’s extreme nature, he routinely puts on 500 to 1,200 miles on backroad drives around NorCal, with sessions at local tracks thrown into the mix.

Thanks to the lack of weight and stiffened up suspension, body roll is pretty much banished. Meanwhile, the steering has that trademark 911 feedback as I guide the car through a series of corners. Lind also installed a Wavetrac limited-slip differential that helps put all that added power to the ground.

Despite the generous amount of horsepower and torque that the 3.6-liter puts out, it’s never intimidating to drive, just flat out fun. While he may have set out to park an unusually colored 911 in his garage, Lind has ended up with a finely honed impact bumper 911 that more than lives up to the vanity plate bolted to the back end.

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