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Paul Stephens Porsche 911 300R
8/10

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Porsche 911 Paul Stephens 300R

Driven January 2010

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Step away from your piggy bank; every 911 Sport Classic has been sold. If this statement has ruined your world, if you still yearn for a retro-looking 911 on (relatively) modern running gear, then take heart from this. Developed by Paul Stephens Autoart, the 300R takes a 964 chassis (that's a 1989 911) and then drops an old-school bodyshell on top.

But don't for a second think of this as a cheap welding job. All of Stephens' cars cost over £85,000 and the engineering prowess that gets fed into them is as serious as any mainstream manufacturer. Each car has the same warranty as a ‘works' Porsche, and each uses genuine Porsche parts in the greasy bits.

The beauty is that you can have virtually whatever look you want - the 2.7 RS pictured here is shouty, but other customers go for a more Q-car feel. Stephens is currently working on making a 993 RS look like a 1970s 911 ST. Retro doesn't get much cooler.

The first thing that hits you about the 300R is the smell - it has real old-car ambience inside, there's so much character and respect for the genuine 2.7 RS. All the major touch points reinforce this - the view forward with the thin A-pillars, the steering wheel being mounted a fraction too low in your lap, the retro seats lacking the last inch of support of a modern car.

These aren't criticisms. They're what make this car stand out.

Not that it needs any help, as the ducktail spoiler and sports exhaust shout enough. Thanks to that exhaust, the engine sounds fantastic. It's too loud for the requirements of a modern 911 - these need to be able to cruise quietly as well as sound enthusiastic - but the 3.8-litre engine has got that flat-six purr which newer 911s have dialled out.  

The 300R is compromised, though. It's still a relatively old car, and there is only so much that Stephens can do to make it match up to modern standards. But that's not a problem. Any little tiny foibles mean that nothing seems out of place, nothing jars. There's a symmetry that just works.

There's a temptation to get a little bit snobby about these things. The sort of attitude that afflicts replica racing cars - that if you can't buy the original then you shouldn't bother. But you can't be like that; this is Porsche fever at its best. Enthusiasts getting enthusiastic.

Piers Ward

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