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Chris Harris on the 911K: 'driving in its purest form'

Harris praises the lightweight, ear-shattering masterpiece from Tuthill Porsche

Published: 11 Sep 2023

The restomod scene is more congested than the Blackwall tunnel on a Monday morning, but there is still enough breathing space in the melee for some extra special diamonds to shine much brighter than others.

The shining in this case isn’t due to the hardest form of carbon, but coachwork so golden you wonder if it isn’t a nugget that was melted and cast in the form of Butzi’s lozenge shaped legend.

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It is called the 911K and it is the work of Tuthill Porsche.

It doesn’t look especially naughty: the shapes are generic backdated 911. For the nerds, the K is an ST shape in terms of rims and arches. For the non-nerds, it’s actually more voluptuous in terms of wheelarch shape than a 2.7RS, but missing the ducktail. It’s diminutive, delicate and looks tiny next to a modern 911.

The K came about because Richard Tuthill has always loved anything Leichtbau. His dedication to the philosophy is so complete he appears to weigh about 32kg himself. He set about making the lightest 911 he could imagine and somehow ended up with a machine that, when full of fluids, weighs 846kg. That’s silly.

Even sillier is the engine which displaces 3.1 litres and was designed and built by Swindon Powertrain. It revs to 11,000rpm. That isn’t a typo – it really does rev well beyond 10,000rpm.

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So what we have here is perhaps the ultimate expression of what most people who love driving think they want in a car – low mass, high power, atmospheric aspiration and thin rubber. I drove the car 24 hours ago and I’m still not quite sure what it is I was driving – the ultimate backdated Porsche? An angry crocodile in the form of a car? A four-wheeled motorcycle perhaps?

In many ways, it was a reminder the boffins have contorted the basic rules of driving physics. Heavy cars now pull from low revs because the turbos are so computationally well managed. But an old school 11,000rpm engine can only surprise you with how well it lugs from 3,000rpm because the bodyshell it sits in is lighter than a sparrow’s wing. At 5,000rpm, the K is pulling hard enough to make you nod in appreciation, by 7,000 your brain is saying it’s time to snick the next gear... and then it just keeps going. The noise then hardens between 10,000 and 11,000. That last bit is harsh – as if the valves want you to know they’re straining like a power lifter.

There is great pleasure to be had from being 25 years in an industry and experiencing something new. This combination of revs and low mass in a car that drives like an old 911 isn’t something I’ve tried before. The gearbox is 915 derived and requires that awkward blend of delicate firmness they all seem to. The brakes are full carbon ceramics and are fantastic, the interior is sparse and a million miles from a Singer – a car which everyone will inevitably want to compare the K with.

But they are apples and pears – the only similarity being Butzi’s pen. This is an assault on your senses. The sound deadening is nonexistent – if anyone announced they were intending to drive it to Stuttgart tomorrow you’d suggest they seek professional help.

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It is, however, driving in its purest from. Shorn of mass, electronics and, after even brief exposure, your eardrums. Thank you Richard for making it.

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