Joe Fabiani's 1987 Porsche 930 Flachbau
There were a few ways you knew you had made it in the '80s. You'd jet to Europe on a supersonic passenger airplane. You had your stock portfolio anchored in blue-chip hairspray manufacturers. Or maybe you made telephone calls from your car using a gigantic electronic brick known as a "cellular."
Or, if you really were a badass, your car was this: a Porsche 930 with the factory-installed Flachbau (Slantnose) option, which completely reinvented the standard wide-eyed 911 front end with one derived from the menacing, ground-scraping, belouvered 935 racecar that dominated its class racing venues from 1976 to 1981.
By most accounts, in those days (and some would argue even to the modern day) the 911 Turbo "Slant" (or Slope) was-strictly using a technical term-"The Shit." The Flachbau option was an expensive one because it entailed a complete re-fabrication of the car's front quarter sections by hand. The option could theoretically be applied to lesser non-Turbo 911s, but since the modification was so costly-cars equipped in this fashion could supposedly command price premiums of more than 50 percent over the standard cost-most customers would opt for the top-tier turbocharged model as their starting point. Although shadetree face conversions were rampant both during and after the 935's competitive tenure, few factory-sanctioned Flachbau conversions were built and these cars command a significant premium even today.
This one is owned and operated by Fabspeed Motorsports in Ambler, Pa., East Coast high-performance tuning house with a penchant for hardware born out of Zuffenhausen. Founder and president Joe Fabiani has been an active participant in PCA driver education and club racing for the last two decades. He acquired this car about three years ago and the Fabspeed crew has been slowly and carefully restoring it since that time, turning it back to showroom-floor spec along with a raft of well-placed performance modifications.
Engine work began with engine disassembly from the heads inward, cracking open the crankcase, and commencing with removal and inspection of all internals. The innards were then reassembled with new rod bolts and bearings. This done, the flat six was buttoned back up with new piston rings and each end capped off with reconditioned heads. Additionally, all external metal was carefully detailed to give it a factory-fresh, off-the-lot look a la 1987.
Fabspeed undertook the same process with the gearbox, first disassembling it and inspecting all internals, replacing any compromised components, sealing it back up, and detailing the exterior in similar fashion as the engine for a like-new finish.
With the basic power unit bulletproofed and screwed back together, external performance additions were considered. First on the list was preserving the vital oil supply, the temperature control system augmented with an additional oil cooler from Patrick Motorsports and new adapter lines to link it to the existing right rear OEM (930S) oil cooler. The heart of the performance matter is a K27S turbo, a popular upgrade for this engine. This turbine assembly was paired with Fabspeed's proprietary MAXFLO third-generation headers with F1 Indy car-style merge collectors and a cast turbo collector, along with a Fabspeed MAXFLO sport exhaust.
On the cool side, induction begins with a signature Fabspeed MAXFLO Cup-style intake system. The intake charge is chilled with a massive Kokeln intercooler unit and piped through a bored and port-matched intake manifold interfacing with 38mm billet intake blocks. Throughout the build, all turbo oil feed lines were replaced, as was the fuel distributor unit and all fuel lines. Last, to take advantage of the bigger flow coming through the punched-out intake tracts and K27S charger, the cylinder heads were endowed with a hotter set of 964 cams. All this is good for 397 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque as measured at the rear wheels on the Fabspeed dyno.
Three years is a long time to be building a car, but anyone who has tackled a ground-up restoration knows that time in such circles ceases to have the same meaning. This job was as much about cleaning and reconditioning as it was upgrading performance. According to Fabspeed general manager Jeremy D'Avella, every section of the car has been in pieces at one time or another.
For starters, while the mechanicals were out for work, the entire chassis was painstakingly pressure washed and detailed down to the undercarriage and wheel wells. Any section that needed it was repainted in original Guards Red. The suspension was removed and its components similarly detailed, and then added back in with upgraded hollow torsion bars, Bilstein HD Sport dampers, and a Rennline front strut brace.
Likewise, the factory brake assemblies were broken down to their basest elements, down to the caliper internals themselves, any worn or tired-looking hardware replaced, then reassembled and bolted back up to the axles. HRE 590R three-piece forged alloy wheels are bolted over these, one of the only non-factory performance upgrades added to the exterior.
The interior remains largely factory-spec since it was in pretty good shape, aside from a short-throw assembly for the four-speed shifter and a 934 boost gauge installed where the factory clock used to be. There's also an Alpine head unit embedded in the center dash (supported by an Alpine amp in the boot and component speakers throughout the cabin). A new set of 930S floormats from Performance Products adorns the footwells.
The question remains: Is this the ultimate 911? Compared to the modern 997, examples of which roll through the Fabspeed shop on an almost weekly basis, D'Avella simply says, "It's just different. A 997 Turbo could take this car off the line, but once the boost comes, it's like 'hold on.'"
Not to mention a lighter, purer chassis and a lot more road feel: "You have no electronics taking everything away from you, no PASM or PSM."
At the time of this writing it is the dead of winter in eastern Pennsylvania. During the cold months, the Slant lives in a quiet corner of the Fabspeed garage, slumbering beneath its tailor-fitted cover. But as reliably as the inevitable turn of seasons, when the weather gets warmer, the car will come back out. You can put money on it. Also on the fact that this Slant won't be housed under another roof any time soon.
"We're gonna keep it, " D'Avella says. "We're going to die with that car."
Origin of the flachbau
Women can recycle fashion cues; however, in automotive circles it requires a delicate balance. The decade that was responsible for the purity of the Volkswagen GTI also delivered the cheese-grating Ferrari Testarossa. But perhaps no single vehicle from the '80s can sum up those times moreso than a 911 Slantnose. No one knows how many "custom" conversions have been done, using everything from a 1965 912 to an off-the-showroom-floor Turbo.
During the height of the conversion craze, there were dozens of small companies offering up front fenders of varying quality in steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. The headlights came from several sources-928, 924, Mazda RX-7-and some with no headlights at all but rectangular lenses in the front spoiler. The bling didn't end at the front. Massive rear flares and wider wheels, rear quarter panel ducting that was in most cases purely cosmetic, often silly-looking rear spoilers that were "wind-tunnel tested" via handheld hairdryer. Thousands were sold, many project cars were started and never finished, and many times the stock front fenders were eventually bolted back in place (mercifully). Conventional wisdom states that every end has a beginning.
Flashback to Weissach and Norbert Singer looking over the Group 5 rules issued for the upcoming season. The 1976 Porsche 935 didn't start out with a slanted nose, but the design was quickly adapted for one important reason: It was an advantage. And it was an immediate hit among enthusiasts. But a 935 for the street?
For many in the U.S., it took 1978 Road & Track cover, showing a Targa with Slantnose fenders and 928 headlights, to show what was possible. But the initial tip of the hat belongs to Rainer Buchmann and B+B Auto-Exclusiv Service located in Frankfurt. His firm and its ideas and execution were ahead of the industry curve but eventually fell victim to overexpansion and cheaper competition. Others were quick to note B+B's long list of clients and the landscape for tuner shops quickly began to change.
Where was Porsche during all this? The realization slowly came that there was good money to be made in the business of giving people packaged exclusivity, hence formation of the Sonderwunsch (Special Wish) Programm. By late 1983, Zuffenhausen workshops at Werk 1, under the direction of Elma Willrett, were busy fulfilling those desires, whether it was a Flachbau conversion for a Turbo, upgraded leather for a 928 interior, or a rear valance for a 944. Werk 1 also provided a series of power upgrades that added go to the show.
Porsche had the advantage of its modifications being factory-authorized to justify the extra costs associated with the program. This was a major selling point for those who ordered new cars and had them delivered directly to Werk 1. Actual production numbers of customer-ordered Slantnose options has never been fully confirmed-the given number is 262 cars completed, although former Werk 1 personnel have put the number closer to 400. Regardless, by current standards the factory Slantnose should be viewed as a limited production car, and one of the most rare. Just make sure you check the paperwork. -Kerry Morse
Longitudinal rear engine, rear-wheel drive
3.3-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve. Reconditioned engine block and heads, K27S turbo upgrade, 964 cams, Fabspeed MAXFLO intake, 38mm billet intake blocks, ported intake manifold, Kokeln intercooler, auxiliary Patrick Motorsports oil cooler, Fabspeed MAXFLO headers and sport exhaust
Four-speed manual, short-shift kit, Powertech aluminum pressure plate and sport clutch
Hollow torsion bars, Bilstein dampers, Rennline front strut brace
Reconditioned OEM assemblies
Wheels & Tires
HRE 590R, 8.5x18 (f), 10.5x18 (r)
Sumitomo HTRZ, 235/40 (f), 285/30 (r)
Color-matched front grille
Peak Power: 456 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 368 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm