The events of the days leading up to the meeting of these three tuned Panameras read like a suspense novel. In fact, some aspects that played out were so bizarre, you couldn't make it up.
It all started back in March, when my friend and fellow European contributor Matt Davis suggested we do a shootout between as many tuned Panameras as we could muster. I liked the sound of that, so we divided up our preliminary list and began to ring around.
It was a big ask to fill our initial six-car list, so we agreed that happiness would be five cars. Realistically, we'd probably find four tuner versions of Porsche's super saloon turning up on the big day.
OEMs use press fleets from which they can allocate cars whose sole mission in life is to service the media. As much as they'd like to do the same, tuners simply do not have the resources. Invariably, the cars you see on their show stands are always for sale, or are customer cars that have to be delivered as soon as possible.
In this case, some of the cars weren't going to be ready on time. And then the Icelandic volcano decided to throw a tantrum. Rather than trying to fight the universe, we pushed the date back two weeks.
A week before the rescheduled shootout date, we had confirmations from FAB Design, Oakley Design, Sportec, and TechArt, and an "if it isn't sold" from Lumma Design.
The logistics of shooting four Panameras on public highways were daunting, and as Mercedes had kindly lent us its Malmsheim test track for an unrelated story, it made sense to assemble the Panameras there too.
Then it all started to go south. The Friday before, we were informed that Lumma had sold its car. But the bigger shock came on Sunday, the day before I was due to leave for Germany, when I was told that the Oakley Design car had been stolen in Spain.
Luckily, from then on, everything else began to fall into place. The three remaining Panameras turned up on cue, and the rain forecast by the weatherman held off.
FAB Design is famous for its Mercedes conversions, so it was a big surprise to see a white, widebody Panamera next to SL and SLR conversions at last December's Dubai Motor Show.
"Some of my Middle Eastern customers had just acquired Panameras and asked me to do something radical for their cars," explains FAB Design boss Roland Rysanek. "Although we are very successful with Mercedes, it is getting harder to survive with just one brand, and as the demand is there, my next step will be a special Cayenne."
Of the three Panameras in this group, the FAB Design car is the one that turns heads and stops people dead in their tracks. Its body styling is so radical that it tones down the Panamera's hump-backed rear. This was Rysanek's first design objective.
"The most important thing was to change the proportions, particularly at the rear," he says. "To my eyes, it's too long in relation it its height and width, so I had to change that relationship with wider wheel arches that also give the car a more purposeful stance. A small but important detail is the concealed rear door handles that give the car the appearance of a four-door sports coupe."
At this end of the market, clients want only the best and are willing to pay for it. Thus, the new front and rear wings and bumpers are made from carbon fiber, while the side skirts are molded from a carbon-composite material.
The front fenders are bolted to the factory mounting points, while rears require cutting into the panels and bonding the flares to the sheet metal. The flamboyant rear wing looks fixed, but still rises via the factory motor at 75 mph. The diffuser under the rear valance is functional, and flanks the unique triple exhaust outlet array.
Filling out the huge wheel arches are FAB Design's new deeply offset 22-inch alloy wheels unique to their Panamera. These are shod with 265/30 and 325/25 Pirelli P Zero rubber.