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14 Mar 2024

From West Coast to West Country

The homegrown restomod that realised a childhood dream

Having fallen for Porsche in the back of an air-cooled 911, Tarquin Clarke is one of a growing number of new PCGB members fulfilling ownership ambitions first formed in childhood. 
By day, the Bristol-based father of two is a financial consultant whose hobbies include tennis, skiing and managing his own veterans’ football team. But his real passion, one familiar to most of us, is speed. “I’ve always liked going fast and cars are a big part of that, of course,” Tarquin says. “I was going down the motorbike route for a little while because a couple of my friends ride, but I got a hard no from the wife on that one. Instead, I’ve ploughed all my energy into cars.”
The first performance car that Tarquin bought new was a Mercedes-AMG C63 S, a relatively practical high-performance coupé that he would take on long European road trips. But there remained a different sort of itch that needed scratching. “The Porsche thing has always been there,” he explains, “and it runs quite deep for me personally. My dad had a Supersport Targa when I was four or five years old and I remember being in the back, looking out of the window at the treeline going by – we would have been in France or Spain at the time – and hearing the engine rumbling away next to me. I think that was probably the moment when I got suckered in.”

For a long time, Tarquin had been playing around with the idea of a bespoke 911 build, a car with a classic silhouette and modern-day levels of performance and dependability, inspired by the rash of restomods that appeared on the West Coast of America in the late 2000s. “The whole idea came about seven years ago when I started coming across Singers. There’s something more elegant about the older generations of 911, while the newer cars are more performance-focussed. But it’s a level of performance the average driver is seldom going to tap. I wanted a car that was practical so I could at least put the kids in the back, but also something I could enjoy alone on a quiet A-road on a Sunday morning.”
Tarquin went as far as to contact Singer to establish the lead time and rough build cost of one of its cars. He recalls “quite a short conversation.” Undeterred, he began to look around the UK for more affordable local alternatives, all the while investigating which model he should be hunting down as the best possible donor. In the end, he settled on a 993 as the right balance of classic character and tractability, and commissioned Rick Findlow at Yorkshire-based 911 Retro Works to carry out the build. 
Tarquin sold his Mercedes to part-fund the project and sourced a suitable 993 donor in early 2022. Work began in July of that year, marking the start of a 10-month process that would see an entirely stock Carrera fully rebuilt and radically transformed into his dream 911. “I had a really fixed image in my mind,” he says. “It went from 3.2 to 3.8 litres, with uprated pistons and barrels, new cam and headers, titanium valve springs and an emerald ECU remap. We filled in the sunroof to give it a cleaner roof line and remodelled the interior. And there were lots of little things that I focussed on to make it feel quite pure and classic.”

One highly influential element would be a vintage Heuer Super Autavia dashboard chronograph. The vivid orange detailing of this timekeeping stalwart, the go-to for rally drivers in the 1960s, is picked up around the exterior of the car, on the bodywork and even on the uprated Brembo brake callipers. Classic Fuchs alloys and time-honoured Oak Green Metallic bodywork complete a unique homage to Porsche’s past and the culmination of a lifelong ambition.

But it is the interior that Tarquin points to as his personal highlight. This highly bespoke cabin, painstakingly hand-finished in a range of natural materials, encapsulates his approach to the build. “There’s a lot of suede in the cabin, around the door sills, through the footwells, on the centre console and running through the back,” he says. “Rick spent about two months getting it right, but it produces this feeling of opulence without being flashy, which was part of the design philosophy of the whole car. No massive spoilers or big air intakes either. This needed to be pure and understated.”
Part of the reason for that is that Tarquin intends to drive the car as much as possible and is already racking up the miles. “I smile just walking up to it. That’s what it does to me. It revs to the limit so quickly in first gear and, with a quick change into second, you’re already doing 60mph. It doesn’t feel like a classic car at all. It feels as quick as the Mercedes it replaced but, when you start pushing it through corners, you feel so in touch, so connected with it, and that’s something you absolutely didn’t get with the C63. It’s so much fun to drive.”

Even at a more sedate pace, Tarquin’s unique car delivers in ways his Mercedes could only dream of. “You can be cruising in third and fourth and you hear these lovely coughs and burbles from the exhaust. And then you see people discreetly taking pictures or bikers give you the thumbs up. It seems to be universally adored. I’ll be at work and find myself smiling, just knowing I’m driving it again later. That tells the whole story, really.”

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