The history of Porsche’s 911 is now so long that there is probably almost no sensible modification that tuners and race preparation companies around the world have not tried on the iconic rear-engined sports car. The most recent phase in the long line of aftermarket conversions was turning narrow-bodied 3.2 Carrera, and even 964 models into Carrera RS 2.7 look-alikes.
This conversion trend was logical as many enthusiasts think the U.S. market-inspired impact bumpers of the ’74-’89 cars are aesthetically fussy and ungainly. In addition, since the later cars were galvanized, they inherently stand a better chance of being a less troublesome long-term driving partner. Certainly, replacing the impact bumpers with the smaller, lighter, earlier version removes weight and improves the car’s looks. Drivability and fuel economy also benefit from the more powerful, larger capacity later engines, even if these replicas are still somewhat heavier than a genuine RS. More unusual however, is the installation of a ’90s-era motor in a 1960s car, and it was this rare and less common combination that attracted me to Nigel Jones’ Blood Orange 911.
All such cars that I have seen so far have been built in the UK and USA, so the fact that this and several other such hybrid 911s exist in Singapore is of far greater interest. Less of a surprise is the fact that these cars were built by UK expatriate mechanic, Andy Tatlow, who has lived in Singapore since the mid-’90s.
Tatlow is a road- and race-trained Porsche specialist who used to work for Autofarm in the UK as a freelance contractor. He was headhunted by Ruf Singapore and subsequently went to work for the official Porsche distributor in Brunei before returning to Singapore to set up Flat Six Road and Race Engineering. With his extensive knowledge of tuned and modified 911s, Tatlow understands the ins and outs of what can and cannot be done to 911s. His Porsche enthusiast clients in Singapore are almost all either expats or locals educated in the UK or the U.S., and are thus familiar with the modified Porsche scene as we know it.
Creating the specs for one of these cars is usually a process of the client approaching Tatlow with a concept, which then evolves. In the course of these discussions, he is able to separate fantasy from reality, and more accurately gauge what will best suit his client’s needs. After all, creating a peaky track-day monster would certainly be the wrong thing to do for someone who actually needs a daily driver flexible enough to tackle the challenge of Singapore’s urban traffic.
I saw the car in an early stage of build in Tatlow’s workshop during a visit to Singapore in August 2009. The shell of the ’69 car had just come back from the paint shop, and my attention was focused on other cars. Then, in the spring of last year, Tatlow told me that the early car was finally finished and that its owner was willing to have it featured in a magazine if I was still interested.
And so almost exactly one year after I first saw the bare shell, I am at Nigel Jones’ house in Singapore looking over one of the most immaculate early 911s I have seen in recent years. Early is the operative word here, as the base car is a ’69 long-bonnet 911, sold new in Singapore, where it now qualifies for historic vehicle status.
You can tell that Jones is a 911 nut, as the daily driver sitting next to his Carrera RS 2.7 replica is a ’94 993 Carrera 2 manual. “I had one of the five ’89 Carrera 3.2 Speedsters in Singapore before the 993,” he says. “I have always driven convertibles, and loved the Speedster, but its canvas roof could not cope with the tropical downpours. On top of that, the air-con in these earlier cars did not work very well. In the end, both these faults were pretty terminal in Singapore’s hot and wet climate, as they meant I turned up at meetings looking like I had swum there.”