Bill Schimmel's993-Body '85 911 Turbo
For a long time there's been a heated debate on what constitutes a performance "tuner." Some guys seem content to throw on a shiny set of dubs and an ill-fitting exhaust and consider the vehicle "tuned." I like to think the best among us would call that particular interpretation a load of steaming horse crap.
Whatever your definition, you wouldn't dare call Schimmel Performance a mere automotive "tuner." The grassroots operation out of Warminster, Penn., must be considered something else altogether. They are power tuners for sure, but they're also fabricators, machinists, drivetrain and chassis engineers. In essence, they're mad scientists of the highest degree.
The Schimmel Performance web homepage posts the outfit's mission statement: "Dedicated to setting new levels in Volkswagen performance." Consider a couple past Obsessions like Brian Berwind's 500-plus hp boosted Corrado or Eric Thompson's mid-engine, rear-drive version, both of which have been featured in these pages.
Within the online picture gallery showcasing Schimmel's past work--go to www.spturbo.com to see more cars like these--the 911 is somewhat an anomaly. It's currently the only non-VW vehicle in the gallery. But we challenge you to find a more insane, or thorough, or insanely thorough, project buildup.
In spite of initial appearance, this car is not a 993 in the purist's sense. It began life as a 1985 911 Euro, which was subsequently reduced to its barest elements and resurrected, phoenix-like, from the resulting pile of metal.
Schimmel's first experience with European high performance was with a turbocharged Corrado, a competition drag racer that he says was the fastest watercooled VW at the time, capable of running an 11.1-second quarter mile. This was around 1997, the same time the Japanese drag scene began to blow up. Volkswagens didn't have near the same level of support as the Hondas, and Schimmel had difficulty finding sponsorship help. With some 600 hp going through the front-wheel drivetrain, he says, "I had crazy issues keeping the clutch, transmission and driveshafts together. I got fed up and decided my next car would be rear drive with a solid drivetrain."
In time he found the bare '85 911 chassis--no engine, no transmission, no wiring, no interior--and a set of 993 body panels. After that he came across a complete 993 rear suspension assembly that included the factory coilover components for 400 bucks and was able to bolt it straight into the existing shell. Previously Schimmel had been splitting his time between general contracting and building cars, but as the car business began gathering steam he was able to devote his full attention and proper resources to his 911. The rest is history, as they say.
The car's rear end is what really makes it special--that, and the fact that every exterior body panel, other than the roof, is OEM 993 sheet metal grafted onto the '85 endoskeleton. The core is a chrome-moly tube frame painstakingly cut, bent, assembled, and welded by hand. Schimmel acknowledges getting the chassis together was the most challenging aspect of the build. But since he was a carpenter by trade, he already knew a few things about structural engineering and saw the project as a way to expand on his crafting skills.
"The only difference between cutting wood and metal is basically the tools," he says. "It was exciting to learn something new--metal work, welding."
The 911 represents his first attempt at re-engineering an entire car from the ground up. He researched and executed the work himself, and through a lot of trial and error ended with the piece you see here. The rear incorporates the 993 independent rear suspension, with all its mounting points tied into the tubing. The cage also integrates all engine and transmission mounting points such that the whole mechanical assembly can be unbolted from the chassis and rolled out from underneath the car in its entirety.