Filmmaker Chris Kippenberger looked for Willi Thom for four years. After all those long years of searching, he was rewarded with one of the most perfectly built Porsche 911s in the world. A lightweight car with the bare essentials, crafted to provide the ultimate driving experience.
Willi Thom has a very special work ethic. He doesn't have a phone, email or website. To find him, you have to talk to one of his existing clients who will refer you to him. His shop is hidden somewhere in the German suburbs, in one of Berlin's far corners. Masked like a regular garage with frosted glass, Willi Thom creates some of the world's finest Porsches inside. He explains the glass is to keep prying eyes away from his work and also to avoid unwanted visits at night.
This particular Porsche was a two man operation; on one hand there's Willi Thom and on the other Achim Anscheidt; Bugatti's head of design. Characterized by a sense of secrecy and subtle specialty, this 911 was built to be as minimalist as possible. It took two years to shape this beautiful work into its current state. The most interesting thing is watching how the head of design at one of the world's most opulent car brands drives something so bare, pure and stripped-down. That might be because a stripped-down Bugatti looks like an Apollo capsule.
It all started in 2011, when Achim started sending Willi pictures of custom Porsche builds around LA. Each car was a personal build and Achim would extract the best details from them. I want the fuel filler to be like this, headlights like this and many more details. There were no instructions to it, Willi had to figure out how to do everything perfectly. Achim had a lot of demands which excuses the two year build time for the car. It's a blend of two different men, two extremes and a ton of money and ideas in between.
For Achim, the car had to be perfect. The body panels had been painstakingly shaped into perfection. Each part went through numerous revisions until everything was perfect. Achim's designer eye would catch on to the tiniest details and Willi had to find a way to perfect these tiny details. He wanted this car to be perfect in every way. They could've used street parts but they are too heavy and vague. Motorsports parts are lightweight and responsive but they too rough. So together, they decided to create nearly everything from the ground up. The shifter took almost an entire year to build. There were no pictures, no plans and no blueprints. Achim sat on the car and put his hand on an imaginary shift knob and said "This is where the shifter should be". Willi had to comply and after hundreds of hours, the perfect shifter was created. The gear shifts were now longer and the whole thing felt pleasurably mechanic. Being moved in an entirely new position, the shifter had to be put in a housing that Willi created out of sheet aluminum, cut in select places to expose the mechanical movements going on underneath.
But the interior had to be massively revamped to fit the new gearbox positioning. Normally, a car shop would've already rendered it in 3D and figured out everything but Willi is not running a normal car shop. He's very old-school so he had to bend everything by hand, using nothing but heat and quartz sand. Achim was a perfectionist and to fit into his vision, Willi had to rework many of the pieces and bits of the car. The dashboard was shaved to remove all the holes. He cut covers for the intake trumpets from his shop's mesh trash baskets. On top of the engine, a plexiglass cover so the rain doesn't go into it. A custom front end to fit the newer model front hood to match the older model latch. The entire body of the car is kevlar, resulting in a weight of only 820kg. Combined with the punchy engine, this 911 sounds like a symphony and drives like a dream.
This Porsche 911 is full of overwhelming details that take weeks to digest. The naked eye would simply fail to notice them but the car has a certain aura. You can tell it's special but you can't point your finger to anything. That's until you drive it or at least hear it drive. Take a look at the car in action below and tune in to the beautiful throaty sound of the 6 individual throttle bodies. You can purchase this dreamy Porsche 911 on TheArsenale by clicking HERE.