Meet a few of Porsche Classic's finest winners from this year's Restoration Challenge

Written by Connor Golden, Photography by Hailey Magoon, Additional Photos courtesy of Beverly Hills Porsche, Gaudin Porsche, Rusnak Porsche, and Galpin Porsche

The third round of Porsche Classic’s popular Restoration Challenge almost has a winner. 62 cars from 62 Porsche dealerships across the country competed in three distinct categories — Restoration, Preservation, and Individualization – further delineated into three regions. Rennsport Reunion 7 is the final judging stage, with all nine finalists in attendance for a chance at claiming top marks from Porsche Classic.

Ahead of this, Marqued caught up with the three finalists — and a bonus People’s Choice winner — of the Area West region. We talked about the cars, the process, the methodology, and the motivations behind these pinnacle Porsche builds, and what competitors can expect for next year’s contest.

Individualization: Beverly Hills Porsche’s 1991 Porsche 911 Carrera 4

If left in Rennsport Reunion’s infield parking lot – which always brims with neon GT3s, pastel 356 hot rods, and candy-colored Carrera RSR tributes – Beverly Hills Porsche’s black 964 Carrera 4 wouldn’t stand out in the slightest.

We tuned every contact point the driver has with the car. The steering got better, the brakes got better, and the clutch is lighter but more engaging.

Photos courtesy of Beverly Hills Porsche

But, that’s just how the restoration team planned it. “There are a lot of little details that don’t stand out at first glance,” says Derek Haines, Marketing Manager at Beverly Hills Porsche. “But once you get into the project and start to really feel what we were trying to accomplish, it becomes clear.”

As Haines tells it, the project goal was twofold: first, it’s a reimagining of what a hypothetical 964 Carrera 4S might look like had it ever existed, all while promoting and leaning on Porsche Classic’s remarkably extensive catalog of genuine parts. In pursuit of the former, nearly every dynamic aspect of the coupe was tweaked and twisted through the lens of the 1990s.

“We tuned every contact point the driver has with the car,” explained Haines. “The steering got better, the brakes got better, and the clutch is lighter but more engaging.” Operating completely within the confines of the 964 and 993 generation, the resultant hot-rod is a greatest hits album for the ‘90s Porsche 911.

Photos courtesy of Beverly Hills Porsche

The springs are from a 964 RS and the front brakes are sourced from a 964 Turbo, while the rear brakes and steering rack are plucked from the 993. The original 3.6-liter engine is bored out to 3.8-liters in a streetable “RSR” spec, according to Haines. This gave the builders the chance to upgrade the 964’s standard hardware, now incorporating head gaskets. “We were able to go back and fix all these nuances and issues that were known about that generation,” says Haines. “You can go back and get new parts, and the parts are even upgraded and designed to be retrofitted into the car.”

Aesthetically, it’s an amalgamation of all the 964 generation’s best bits — three distinct versions of the 964 converged for the front fascia alone. Inside, the vinyl appointments were ripped out in favor of leather upholstery with extended yellow stitching to match the special 75th Anniversary gauges and engine fan-blade. Look closer, and you’ll notice other little details, too, like a balsa wood shift knob and a PCCM Plus infotainment upgrade.

Photos courtesy of Beverly Hills Porsche

Why a 964? And, why a Carrera 4? “We were trying to encapsulate the big step forward in the 911 [that was the 964],” Haines explains. “There was also more room for improvement, a lot we could do with it.” He says one of the biggest focuses was eliminating the Carrera 4’s tendency to push in the canyons, and buttoning up the body control, describing the end result as “a really fast, driver-centric road car.”

When asked what the future holds for this hot-rod C4, Haines replied, “It wasn’t made just for us, but for generations to come. It’s going to last a lot longer than your typical restored car will. We’re planning on keeping this car, we’re not going to sell it.”

Preservation: Gaudin Porsche’s 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo

“Sometimes a car isn’t just a thing to get from one place to another. Sometimes, a car is a place,” said Allison Mello in Gaudin Porsche’s Restoration Challenge video. Her late father’s 1996 Porsche 993 911 Turbo took home top honors in the West Area’s popular Preservation category, no-doubt bolstered equally by Mello’s emotional story and the Gaudin team’s attention to detail.

We’re very fortunate that the owner wanted to participate, and that the daughter of the owner wanted to participate because she grew up in this car from the time she was five years old

Photos courtesy of Gaudin Porsche

According to Gaudin’s Classic Sales/Service Manager Steve Thiel, Mello’s 993 Turbo was far too compelling to pass up. “It honestly fell into our lap. It was quite amazing,” he told Marqued during a call. “We were on the hunt for a good car, but we wanted a car that we could do something good with that both Porsche and enthusiasts would appreciate.”

The car came to Gaudin via a local Porsche shop, where the owner was looking to sell the car prior to his passing. Learning of the story, the Gaudin team purchased the car and made the preservation of both the car and the memory of Mellos’ father the project’s top priority. “We’re very fortunate that the owner wanted to participate, and that the daughter of the owner wanted to participate because she grew up in this car from the time she was five years old,” explained Thiel.

Meet the Top Porsche Restoration Challenge Cars from Area WestMeet the Top Porsche Restoration Challenge Cars from Area West

Photos courtesy of Gaudin Porsche

Despite sitting for an extended period of time, the car presented in fairly good condition with a remarkable level of originality. The paint was carefully cleaned and corrected, and the drivetrain was refreshed with factory-correct parts. Today, the car is entirely as it left the factory almost 30 years ago with the exception of an upgraded Bilstein set-up developed specifically for the 993 Turbo.

The interior proved trickiest. This car left the Zuffenhausen factory with 21 exclusive leather options, and each one had dried and hardened with age. After carefully and meticulously removing each piece, Gaudin worked with a leather reconditioning specialist to return the hides to their original condition. “It was amazing,” says Thiel. “They pulled the old chemicals out, re-treat them, and bring out the supple feeling of leather.” The same conservation was performed on the 993’s array of redwood trim.

Photos courtesy of Gaudin Porsche

Now, Gaudin’s 993 Turbo is ready for the Rennsport stage — and a new owner. Following the final showdown in Monterey, the Speed Yellow coupe will be available for sale and a new chapter in its history.

Restoration: Rusnak/Pasadena Porsche’s 1968 Porsche 911L

As the restoration team at Rusnak Porsche tells it, this year’s challenge wasn’t easy, as it entailed moments of stress, frustration, and vocal disagreements that arose as the deadline loomed. “The allotted time was 8 months, and these types of restorations are a 2 to 3-year restoration,” said Classic Porsche Tech Bill Manuel. “It was a miracle, as far as I’m concerned.”

The mission was to show our customers what we’re able to accomplish at the dealership, and we’re showing our skills.

Photographed by Hailey Magoon

But as they only built 499 1968 911Ls, the Rusnak team always expected this would be a challenge. Better still, that was the primary reason they picked this particular car in the first place. “We chose this particular car not only because it fell in our lap, but because it would be difficult,” explains Rusnak Parts Director Ron Wachtler. “If we could pull this off, it would give us a leg up on the competition.”

In this age, most longhood 911s aren’t particularly tricky to restore, especially if you take even the slightest detour into restomod territory. 911Ls, however, are some of the most difficult thanks to low production numbers specialized U.S.-spec smog hardware exclusive to the model, not to mention a bundle of L-specific trim and tinsel that made this rare car the most comfort-focused 911 of its time.

Meet the Top Porsche Restoration Challenge Cars from Area WestMeet the Top Porsche Restoration Challenge Cars from Area West

Photographed by Hailey Magoon

Wachtler was in charge of hunting down the rarest parts, oftentimes from all across the country. “We went down to a shell, and everything was either plated, replaced, remanufactured, or sourced. I think we went through 20 different vendors,” he laughs. The smog equipment proved predictably treacherous, requiring the team to commission a custom one-off bearing from a specialty Illinois bearing shop. It wasn’t cheap.

The 911L was purchased from the second owner, who had enjoyed the car since 1977. It arrived wearing a striking hue of Gulf Blue as an homage to the 917s that roared on-screen in the legendary 1971 film Le Mans, still semi-fresh from a recent repaint. It looked good, but as the competitive Restoration category demanded factory perfection, the team returned it to the original Irish Green.

Photographed by Hailey Magoon

An executive decision to pause other builds in-progress and clear out the shop with an all-hands-on-deck missive pushed the car over the finish line. The result? A rare 1968 911L that looks cleaner than the day it rolled out of Stuttgart.

Carlos Lopez, one of the restoration team members, shares the belief that all this effort was worth it. “The mission was to show our customers what we’re able to accomplish at the dealership, and we’re showing our skills.”

People's Choice: Porsche Santa Clarita’s 1988 Porsche 930 Turbo

Here’s the winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award. With sparkling Rubystar paint and a full Turquoise interior, could there possibly be any other winner? It’s outrageous. It’s audacious. It’s shocking! It also might be the most capable car in the competition.

“My plan was to create an RS of its time – like a GT2, GT3 RS,” explained Edvin Ghorghanian. “Make it as light as possible, make it as fast as possible, and make it handle.”

Photographed by Hailey Magoon

First came the power. The engine is bored out to 3.5-liters, wearing individual throttle bodies, bigger turbos, and a custom oil system to boost output to a mind-melting 850 hp. Suspension hardware from a 997 GT3 RS manages this absurd firepower, backed by a limited-slip transaxle. Big power to back the fuchsia coupe’s big presence isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that the donor car was a factory Flachtbau—or flat-nose. According to the team, the 930 came to them with corrosion and fire damage but was still a running car. As part of the overhaul, genuine X83-spec body panels were sourced from Porsche—arguably the most shocking part of the build, considering how rare the original cars are.

Meet the Top Porsche Restoration Challenge Cars from Area WestMeet the Top Porsche Restoration Challenge Cars from Area West

Photographed by Hailey Magoon

I’d really like to get it on a track and see what it can do. That’s how we’re going to show the extent of what we did.

Aesthetically, the team envisioned what a blank-check Sonderwunsch project might have looked like back in 1988, pulling primary inspiration from Porsche executive Tilman Brodbeck’s legendary turquoise-accented 1984 Porsche Carrera company car. “This is what it might have looked like if you really wanted to build a car that [you could only build] if you had enough connections at the factory,” said Ghorghanian.

Photographed by Hailey Magoon

Recover from the turquoise overload and you’ll notice other striking details, like the Pascha-style seat inserts, Rubystar stitching, and that psychedelic racing stripe. The latter is a homage to one of Porsche’s 75th Anniversary graphics, complementing the car’s specialized “75” plate and anniversary gauge design.

We ask what’s next for the car. “I’d really like to get it on a track and see what it can do,” Ghorghanian laughs. “That’s how we’re going to show the extent of what we did.”

More about our subjects

More from Gaudin Porsche, Porsche Santa Clarita, Rusnak Porsche, and Porsche Beverly Hills can be found on their respective Instagrams.

Meet our contributors

You can find more of Conner's writing on his Instagram, and can see more of Hailey's amazing photography on her Instagram.

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