RE: Singer Vehicle Design | PH Meets

RE: Singer Vehicle Design | PH Meets

Tuesday 16th July

Singer Vehicle Design | PH Meets

The premise behind the new DLS was simple: building something that would never, ever be beaten



Having spent a decade restoring air-cooled 911s in California - in the process building a rock solid brand and pretty much creating a new industry out of nothing - Singer Vehicle Design had license to do whatever it wanted. Turns out, what Norwich-born Rob Dickinson and American Mazen Fawaz desperately wanted to do next was another reimagined 911. Albeit with a difference.

"The whole idea with DLS - and we can't say it without sounding like real pompous dicks - was to do something that would never be beaten." That's company founder Rob, who talks so bluntly and freely that if you didn't already know he spent the early part of his adult life fronting a rock band and not climbing a corporate ladder, you'd soon work it out. "We wanted to create a car that would be historically important; one that would get into the Porsche books that will inevitably be written. And we knew we couldn't do it sitting in California. We had to work with a proper engineering company. For us, the 911 is the most important sports car in the world and it's nothing more than it deserves."

Ask again a day later and both Rob and Maz, as he's known, will tell you they really just wondered what the ultimate air-cooled 911 would be like (they both admit to being hopelessly obsessed by Porsche's dainty sports car). So they set about creating it. Like the cars that emerge from Singer Vehicle Design's workshop on the West Coast - now referred to as Singer Classics - the DLS is a 964 restoration, but with serious funding and an unprecedented level of expertise lavished upon it. The primary technical partner is Williams Advanced Engineering - the consultancy division of Sir Frank's Formula One team - but Singer also worked closely with Michelin, BBS, Brembo and others in pursuit of the best possible results.


The machine - DLS stands for Dynamics and Lightweighting Study and the car is the result of it - isn't a trackday special, although I'm told it'll find its way around a circuit very happily indeed. Instead, it's been developed primarily for road use and even with day-to-day driving in mind. But to equip it with a level of performance and dynamic ability that no air-cooled 911 road car has ever known before, Singer pulled out all the stops, reaching far higher than the factory ever did. The front suspension, for instance, is a bespoke double wishbone setup. The rear suspension is bespoke as well. And anything that could be made out of carbon fibre or titanium or the hollow bones of tiny birds has been. Specify your DLS in the right way and it won't weigh any more than 1,000kg.

Perhaps the real innovation is the four-valve-per-cylinder head, a pair of which sit atop what is still an air-cooled engine. That's a first. The engineering challenge was titanic but has yielded 560hp without any form of forced induction. That'll give the car a power-to-weight ratio not unadjacent to a Bugatti Veyron's. There's so much more about this car I can't possibly list it all here, except to say it's been completely overhauled aerodynamically as well. Its ducktail spoiler actually does something; it's no longer an ornament.

Of course, the wonderful thing about selling 75 restored 911s at $1.8m apiece is that you can sit back and watch your bank balance swell as though you've won the lottery. Or not. "Everybody thinks we're making so much money," comments Rob. "We won't tell you how much we've had to spend on this project, but it's cost three times more than we thought it would. It's bonkers. We spent $500,000 engineering new door seals."


"What a lot of people don't understand," adds Singer MD Maz, "is that there's no economy of scale at 75 cars. You may as well be doing one. And it's f****** expensive. Everything is important? I joke it should be everything is expensive."

Rob jumps in: "But there was never a moment when we said, 'Nah, let's not bother.' It's a mad, neurotic attempt to to do something highly unusual and very, very good. We did everything. It doesn't really make business sense. I know that nailing what Singer can possibly stand for with this car will ultimately be good for our business... it's just not making much business sense at the moment!"

Neither Rob nor Maz embarked upon this project knowing it would scarcely wash its face, but nor were they prepared to compromise on the final product in order to turn a profit. That unbending attitude probably tells you why a car like this has never been created before. "Nobody quite gets the historical importance of this thing yet," reckons Rob. "We know how good the car is and once people start to drive it and see a few around [that will change]. Ten years from now when the new 911 is electric, the DLS will be seen as a line in the sand as to what this ancient old stupid piece of engineering could be."


What's curious to me is that the pair set out to be deliver what they hope will be a seminal 911. That ambition has driven them for three years. But Rob and Maz are both so close to the project they haven't yet realised this: they are in fact creating a seminal performance car full stop.

And the automotive world is sitting up and taking notice. "I think we've entertained most of the car companies on planet Earth," says Rob. "We wanted to do something that was respectful to Porsche's heritage. Other companies have spotted that maybe we did a reasonably solid job of it and are interested in what we could do for them. We've said no to all of them."

That being the case, what'll be next for Singer Vehicle Design? Rob and Maz remain tight-lipped. But you can be sure there is more to come; they certainly aren't about to wind the company down. "This whole process has been so costly," says Maz, "but in exchange, we could probably walk into any OEM tomorrow and do a deal. What would you pay for that? What's the size of the cheque that gets you into that position?"


Rob knows that whatever they turn their attention to next, it must be for the right reasons. "The day we do something that isn't simply for me and him to drive," he comments, pointing to his business partner, "is the day we'll have a catastrophic failure."

As they stand on the brink of achieving something remarkable, I wonder if Rob and Maz have found the time to enjoy the process. "Some parts have been tremendous fun," notes the latter, perhaps recalling the Spanish test tracks and many happy hours at the wheel or in a bar alongside DLS development drivers Chris Harris, Richard Tuthill and Marino Franchitti, "but we've also been through periods of dread. It's a slow process too; you don't do any of it quickly. These last five yards feel sometimes like they could take 10 years, but then you take a huge leap forward and it's just fantastic."

"Enjoyment?", asks Rob. "Dude, I don't know the meaning of the word. But would I give it up for anything else? No chance. It gets me out of the bed in the morning. It drives my life."

Author
Discussion

Roy m

Original Poster:

72 posts

157 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
And good luck to them!

mat205125

15,635 posts

157 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Stunning

Oneball

84 posts

31 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
The original ducktail spoiler wasn’t just an “ornament” it did do something. C’mon guys you’re supposed to be car journalists.

C.MW

157 posts

13 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
A very expensive piece of mish mash work. When it comes to Porsche, I want original or nothing.

DoubleSix

9,494 posts

120 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
If I could own any one car....

SmartVenom

410 posts

113 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Just a matter of time before they knock out an electric one.

RobDickinson

26,654 posts

198 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
SmartVenom said:
Just a matter of time before they knock out an electric one.
Unlikely..

keirik

2,064 posts

87 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Did I miss something in that article?

Like, what have they actually done.

Seems to be a fanboy write up with no actual substance to it.

3/10 must try harder

Maldini35

2,099 posts

132 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
C.MW said:
A very expensive piece of mish mash work. When it comes to Porsche, I want original or nothing.
So, built down to a price for mass production rather than best quality components hand built.


RobDickinson

26,654 posts

198 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
They are a work of art, I recommend them.

Esceptico

1,753 posts

53 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
I’m not sure about this. I’ve owned two early 911s, the last was a hot rod that weighed around 1000kg and had about 210-215 bhp. For road use that was absolutely perfect. Enough power to be seriously quick yet not so much power that you couldn’t use all of it. I’m sure on track it would get lapped pretty quickly by this Singer and it didn’t have any creature comforts (no radio nevertheless AC). However it was brilliant to drive and I did two drives around Scotland (starting near London) and it was comfortable enough (and didn’t let me down).

You can have too much of a good thing.

trails

548 posts

93 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
C.MW said:
A very expensive piece of mish mash work. When it comes to Porsche, I want original or nothing.
Along with all the compromise required for mass production/profit.

Me, I'll take the handbuilt no expense spared variant smile

forester2945

28 posts

101 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Oneball said:
The original ducktail spoiler wasn’t just an “ornament” it did do something. C’mon guys you’re supposed to be car journalists.
If I recall correctly, in a previous magazine article, the Singer team conducted a lot of wind tunnel research and found the height of the roofline blocked the airflow to the spoiler causing the air to stall before hitting it, hence it produced no downforce, they developed a small spoiler at the rear edge of the roofline specifically to counteract this which resulted in the ducktail being able to do the job it was originally intended for (but never actually functioned), I guess the state of aerodynamic modelling has come on a long way in the intervening decades.

There are several other vehicles where the spoilers produced little more than drag (Lamborghini Countach for one - yes I know it was technically not a factory fit item but an aftermarket item fitted immediately after manufacture).

I could be wrong mostly getting this for car/evo articles and various you tube channels (Harry garage ref the Countach)

Vee12V

818 posts

104 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Love the technical details underneath but to look at, it's a bit of a mess. I much prefer the regular Singer.

ZX10R NIN

14,766 posts

69 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Very detailed work love it.

Oneball

84 posts

31 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
forester2945 said:
If I recall correctly, in a previous magazine article, the Singer team conducted a lot of wind tunnel research and found the height of the roofline blocked the airflow to the spoiler causing the air to stall before hitting it, hence it produced no downforce, they developed a small spoiler at the rear edge of the roofline specifically to counteract this which resulted in the ducktail being able to do the job it was originally intended for (but never actually functioned), I guess the state of aerodynamic modelling has come on a long way in the intervening decades.

There are several other vehicles where the spoilers produced little more than drag (Lamborghini Countach for one - yes I know it was technically not a factory fit item but an aftermarket item fitted immediately after manufacture).

I could be wrong mostly getting this for car/evo articles and various you tube channels (Harry garage ref the Countach)
Porsche always said the ducktail was to increase top speed on the 2.7RS and not about downforce.

camel_landy

2,617 posts

127 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
C.MW said:
A very expensive piece of mish mash work. When it comes to Porsche, I want original or nothing.
Normally, I would agree...

...but there's 'something' about this car which is just sooooo right.

M

cmoose

44,796 posts

173 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Car interesting. Article not so much. Almost no information, just lots of hyperbole about how expensive it was to create with a solitary example regarding the door seals. There must be loads of interesting info about this car to talk about but none of it is in this piece.

And as above, the ducktail was functional from day one, and very much so. Where the idea that it was a 'ornament' comes from...who knows?!


cmoose

44,796 posts

173 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
Oneball said:
forester2945 said:
If I recall correctly, in a previous magazine article, the Singer team conducted a lot of wind tunnel research and found the height of the roofline blocked the airflow to the spoiler causing the air to stall before hitting it, hence it produced no downforce, they developed a small spoiler at the rear edge of the roofline specifically to counteract this which resulted in the ducktail being able to do the job it was originally intended for (but never actually functioned), I guess the state of aerodynamic modelling has come on a long way in the intervening decades.

There are several other vehicles where the spoilers produced little more than drag (Lamborghini Countach for one - yes I know it was technically not a factory fit item but an aftermarket item fitted immediately after manufacture).

I could be wrong mostly getting this for car/evo articles and various you tube channels (Harry garage ref the Countach)
Porsche always said the ducktail was to increase top speed on the 2.7RS and not about downforce.
The ducktail was about reducing lift, not creating downforce. Which it did. You don't need to do anything terribly clever to disturb the big, fat area of low pressure behind a standard 911 silhouette. Am sure the Singer revisions improved its functionality, but it's wrong to say it didn't work. It did.

100SRV

1,504 posts

186 months

Tuesday 16th July
quotequote all
"We won't tell you how much we've had to spend on this project, but it's cost three times more than we thought it would. It's bonkers. We spent $500,000 engineering new door seals."

Below that text a photograph of the dash area in front of the driver - a dymo tape label for "lights".