When Porsche “tuner” Uwe Gemballa was found dead and wrapped in cellophane late last year, everyone in the Porsche community expressed sympathy for his wife and friends. Nobody deserves to be killed the way Gemballa was.
On the other hand, however, at least the guy wasn’t going to ruin any more Porsches. His “Mirage” 911-slant-nose-arossa-droptops were perhaps the most hideous custom supercars ever built, and Gemballa himself never really appeared to develop anything even remotely resembling an aesthetic sense. His goal in life appeared to be to simply create terrible cars, and he was reasonably successful at this. Porsche purists hated the guy. There was only one thing he could have done for us to have hated him more: he could have turned his attentions towards the irreplaceable aircooled cars once again and ruined more of them.
Which is precisely what “RWB” does.
This hard-hitting piece by former Jalop Davey Johnson covers one of the first two “RWB” cars to be built in the United States. Go read it if you care; if not, here’s the important passage.
In the past couple of years, Nakai-san’s Rauh-Welt Begriff (literally “rough-world concept”) 911s have gone from in-the-know whisper cult status to commanding respect and lustworthy drools from Porschephiles and tuner kids alike. Scotto’s always been a cat excited by new forms—the man was at the vanguard of the hi-riser movement—but he’s always wanted a Porsche. More specifically, a white 964 turbo with a Lobster Red interior, a classic case of the-car-one-drooled-over-as-a-kid made flesh. Meanwhile, he’d been as captivated as anyone with RWB’s cars during his stint at 0-60 Magazine.
The rest of the story unwinds as so: guy buys Porsche 964 Turbo and has Japanese guy hack out some hideous-looking bodywork, drop that bitch into the weeds, and basically turn what was a very complete and satisfying performance car into a rolling caricature. The car is then taken to SEMA so the tribe of mildly retarded sideways-ballcap mooks who clutter this country’s unemployment lists and convenience-store parking lots can crown Scotto as their king.
According to the never-wrong Wikipedia, Porsche built a total of 3,660 Porsche 965 Turbos. That’s not vanishingly rare, but neither is it 1965 Mustang or 2011 Camry volume. Aircooled 911s don’t seem rare, but they are. We are fast approaching the day when there will be more Cayennes on the road than aircooled Porsches of all kinds. A 1991 Porsche Turbo has already survived twenty years. My suggestion is that at that point, the owners of these cars should consider themselves caretakers, not nouveau-riche toolbags with a license to deface. These cars will all have future owners, if we don’t destroy them.
The good news? RWB’s “expertise” runs pretty shallow. Akira Nakai isn’t running Rinspeed or Ruf. He probably doesn’t understand the cars well enough to make major changes on them. Twenty years from now, a future owner of this car will be able to restore the 965 back to stock. Sure, it will cost money, particularly in the rear quarter-panels (and the suspension, which will almost certainly be ruined by the ridiculous wheels) but it will be possible.
It’s bad enough that Porsche’s legacy is under such consistent attack by Porsche itself; to have people like this RWB dude take perfectly decent, streetable classic Porsches and turn them into pallid parodies of race cars that never really existed — well, that’s just tragic. In the long run, everybody wants to see original, period-correct cars. Owners of aircooled Porsches should be conscious of their obligation to future generations. The enthusiasts of the future may not know what a proper short-wheelbase 911 looks like, or a ’79 SC, or a ’95 Turbo, unless you keep yours the way it was meant to be. If you are absolutely compelled to race an old car, go ahead — but start with a basketcase so you’re not taking a nice car off the street.
These “RWB” cars are just as ridiculous as all the “stance” garbage out there, but in this case the victims aren’t thousand-dollar Jettas or Marysville-built Accords. They are limited-production automobiles, built in small quantities under regulatory and business conditions which will never exist again. They’re precious to future generations and they should be left alone.
If you disagree… well, I hear Vanilla Ice’s Gemballa is up for sale. Just don’t expect much in the way of warranty service, okay?