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Need a Porsche 911 Dakar on a budget? Kalmar will build you one using a cheap 996

Choose a Carrera or Turbo donor car, jack up the ride height, and head for the hills

Published: 25 Jan 2024

Quite a few people saw the Porsche 911 Dakar and said “it’s cool, but £173,000 for a 911 GTS wearing wellington boots?” And promptly pointed to homebrew conversions of older 911s into zombie apocalypse-proof off-roaders.

So how’s this for an idea: take the cheapest generation of used 911 – the water-cooled 996 – and subject it to the frosty eyebrow, waterproof trouser treatment? We give you the Kalmar Automotive RS-6. And yes, that hyphen is doing a lot of heavy lifting against Audi’s lawyers, we reckon.

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What we have here is an old Porsche 996, if the 996 had been designed by Bear Grylls. It’s been tested on Lapland’s frozen lakes in temperatures as low as -35°C. It’s had all its soundproofing and much of the trim lobbed into a bin, and a roll cage bolted inside.

There’s up to 8mm of underbody armour, um, underneath. And it rides 80mm higher than a stock 996, on custom springs with adjustable dampers. Driveshafts, struts, top mounts and bushes are all reinforced or swapped out for gnarlier components.

You can spec an optional hydraulic system to drop the car 50mm for sportier on-road handling. But that’s not the choice we like most of all.

No – it’s the fact the RS-6 treatment can be applied to any hard-top 996. So you can take along a Carrera or Carrera 4, but if you’re feeling brave and boosty, offer Kalmar a 996 Turbo instead. They’ll even tickle it up to 500bhp for you. You could try a GT3 but you’d have to go into witness protection once the Porsche faithful found out.

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Then it’s just a small matter of deciding on your bespoke livery, and paying up €45,000 (£38,500) plus taxes for the work to be completed.

With the UK’s cheapest 996 Carrera currently on sale for £12,495 (for a 105,000-mile Tiptronic, yummy) you could potentially have a fully safari-ed 911 of your very own for less than the cost of a well-specced Cayman – and a third the price of a new Dakar.

So, is modding the less-loved 996 the future of ‘reimagined’ Porsche 911s?

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