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.
Dropped into the middle of the web of tubing is an '89 3.3-liter aircooled turbo flat six that Schimmel purchased in pieces. Custom intake manifolds and plumbing feed a pair of Garrett GT3071R turbochargers whose intake charge is cooled by an air-to-water intercooler. The core itself has been removed from the top of the engine, the factory location, and placed over the transmission to allow for maximum airflow through the Turbo decklid, and according to Schimmel it dramatically improves cooling performance within the forced induction system.
The aircooled engine itself relies on a front-mounted oil tank and twin 964 oil coolers, one in each fender, to stay healthy. Everything else bolted to the engine block is pretty much custom as well: headers, exhaust, fuel rails. Schimmel also wired the car himself using a harness of his own design. Engine management is overseen by a standalone DTA S80 Pro ECU interfacing with a Racepak instrument cluster and data logging system that allows Schimmel to toggle between three digital displays and log up to 32 sensor inputs. Inputs include dual wideband O2 sensors and dual EGT sensors, one for each side, air temperature sensors before and after the intercooler, intercooler water temp, oil temps, oil pressure, and so on. The DTA also allows for closed-loop system adjustments per turbo and cylinder bank for maximum efficiency. And it lets Schimmel monitor virtually every aspect of the powertrain's performance and tweak the fuel and boost maps accordingly via laptop. There's also a six-stage boost controller linked to the high-beam switch that lets the driver instantly up the pressure from the system's standard 6 psi with the flick of a switch.
Schimmel drove the car fully assembled and primered for about a year before tearing it all apart again and color matching every bit of structural metal and exterior panel in factory Midnight Blue Metallic. He says he never intended it to be a show car, but the attention to detail is impeccable.
So far the 911 has reportedly put down 600 hp at the wheels on pump gas; Schimmel estimates that's likely only between 60 and 70 percent of its potential. And he says there's more to come, but for the near future he's focused more on business rather than throwing more money at the car. "Plus those rear tires are expensive, like $400 each," he confesses. Six hundred horses can tear through some rubber.
And interestingly, he claims the tubing used to brace the chassis was intentionally kept to a smaller diameter that precludes sanctioned participation in competition drag racing. To keep himself honest. "Just so I wouldn't get caught up in all that again," he says. After all, he's got kids to look after now.
When you ask how many hours of labor have gone into the project--you've got to be at least a little curious--Schimmel is at a loss. "I spent four years building it in my spare time," he says. "One thing though... I've probably got about $50,000 invested in it, but I feel it's worth at least that. All the issues I had with my Corrado have been resolved with this car."
1985 Porsche 911 Turbo
Longitudinal rear engine, rear-wheel drive
3.3-liter twin-plug flat six. Custom twin-turbo system with air-to-water intercooler and methanol injection, front-mount oil tank with dual 964 oil coolers, custom intake manifolds, headers, exhaust and fuel rails, DTA S80 Pro ECU
OEM Porsche G50/50 five-speed manual, custom shift linkage
OEM 911 front, OEM 993-spec independent coilover rear
OEM 993 Turbo assemblies
*Wheels and Tires
OEM 993 Turbo "Twist" alloys,8x18 (f), 10x18 (r)Bridgestone S03 Pole Position, 245/40 (f), 295/35 (r)
Full OEM 993 sheet metal swap
Recaro SPG bucket seats, Schroth harnesses, OEM 993 pedal cluster
*Performance* Peak Power: 600 hp (currently)*measured at the wheels