Malibu, California, is one of a handful of locations on Earth where a 911 Turbo wouldn't normally cause a big stir. It's the place where guys race McLaren SLRs along the oceanfront while their buddies launch Ferrari Enzos into telephone poles, for God's sake. That kind of hubris is difficult to top.
This Turbo is different. It's a Gemballa GTR600, and it's pretty clear this is not just another 911. As we blast up Pacific Coast Highway in search of suitable canyon roads, people in Malibu notice. Blinding Speed Yellow paint, revised ventwork, an in-your-face rear spoiler, and an extra inch of sheetmetal at all four corners conspire to educate the uninformed. And if these cues are too subtle, 600 bhp screaming through hand-wrought exhaust tracts and 100-cell catalysts should.
Gemballa's cars are based on the plain-clothes factory models, but the German-based outfit has devised programs that revise most everything onboard, from wheels and tires to the interior and aerodynamics. Notably, the GTR designation indicates that this car wears a genuine all-metal widebody conversion that not only extends the fenders outward for a more muscular look but also helps augment airflow into strategic hot spots like the engine and brakes.
All told, the fender revisions increase the car's width in front by 2 inches, one on each side. The rear was increased 1-1/4 inch on each side. The process of expanding the rears also included modifying the side intakes, which allows for improved air uptake into the engine bay. There are also intake vents molded into the backs of the Gemballa rocker panels, presumably to promote better rear brake ventilation.
And, oh yes, you'll notice the doors are fitted with special hinge mechanisms that allow them to fold skyward when you go to enter or exit the car.
Up front, Gemballa's GTR EVO front bumper cover replaces the factory cover in its entirety. It incorporates blacked-out louvers interfacing with the new carbon-fiber hood and revised side ducts to take maximum advantage of the forward airflow. Similarly, the Gemballa rear bumper features enlarged air "outtakes" that assist in drawing airflow through the overstuffed engine bay and help improve turbo and intercooler performance.
Within the engine bay, select new bits were placed in the stead of their factory-issue counterparts, specifically the custom turbochargers and new intercoolers. Gemballa adds a third intercooler to the system as part of the package, this one laid across the top of the engine bay beneath a new, raised-clearance decklid and integrated rear wing shaped to catch and funnel air directly over the intercooler core. According to Gemballa's North American representative, Heinz Meis, it assists further in preventing heat soak under heavy use or abuse so the charge pressures and power outputs remain constant. The rest of the 600-hp package includes new turbo plumbing and new exhaust manifolds and pipes which terminate in laser-etched dual tips. There's also an auxiliary oil cooler and, of course, proprietary ECU software optimized to make sure all this new hardware plays well together.
Beneath the widebody panels, an adjustable set of coilovers drops the 996 chassis over a set of Gemballa Racing wheels, 9 and 11-1/2 inches wide front to rear, to bring them flush with the muscular new fenders. Behind the splayed mesh spokes, you can see the upgraded Gemballa binders, which are comprised of 15-inch perforated rotors gripped by eight-piston Gemballa-spec Brembo calipers up front; four-piston calipers grab 13-inch rotors in the rear. Ever-willing Continental SportContact 2 tires, sized an intimidating 315mm wide on the rear wheels, provide the contact patch.
Unless you're a little girl, driving a modern 911 Turbo, particularly a Tiptronic model like this one, is nothing to get sweaty about. It's just as easy to drive as, say, your grandma's Camry, except for a harder ride and the monstrous power crouching beneath the accelerator pedal. Increase the power by almost 200 hp and the dollar value by a hundred grand or more and the proposition becomes a bit more precarious. I can only speculate what it would be like driving this package on a two-wheel-drive GT2. The grip on the AWD Turbo appeared endless, body roll nonexistent. You would almost expect it to break sections of pavement loose and fling them into the ocean before it lost grip.